A key part of your application is your research proposal. Whether you are applying for a self-funded or studentship you should follow the guidance below.
View the guidance on how to write your PhD by published work research proposal.
You are encouraged to contact us to discuss the availability of supervision in your area of research before you make a formal application, by visiting our areas of research.
What is your research proposal used for and why is it important?
- It is used to establish whether there is expertise to support your proposed area of research
- It forms part of the assessment of your application
- The research proposal you submit as part of your application is just the starting point, as your ideas evolve your proposed research is likely to change
How long should my research proposal be?
It should be 2,000–3,500 words (4-7 pages) long.
What should be included in my research proposal?
Your proposal should include the following:
- Your title should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach or key question
2. BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
You should include:
- the background and issues of your proposed research
- identify your discipline
- a short literature review
- a summary of key debates and developments in the field
3. RESEARCH QUESTION(S)
You should formulate these clearly, giving an explanation as to what problems and issues are to be explored and why they are worth exploring
4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
You should provide an outline of:
- the theoretical resources to be drawn on
- the research approach (theoretical framework)
- the research methods appropriate for the proposed research
- a discussion of advantages as well as limits of particular approaches and methods
5. PLAN OF WORK & TIME SCHEDULE
You should include an outline of the various stages and corresponding time lines for developing and implementing the research, including writing up your thesis.
For full-time study your research should be completed within three years, with writing up completed in the fourth year of registration.
For part-time study your research should be completed within six years, with writing up completed by the eighth year.
You should include:
- a list of references to key articles and texts discussed within your research proposal
- a selection of sources appropriate to the proposed research
1.1 The Postcode Address File, or PAF, is a list of the 28 million delivery points to which mail items are delivered in the UK. It is currently owned and maintained by Royal Mail, and made available to anyone wishing to use it. PAF has around 37,000 end users, many of whom use PAF as part of a larger product, for example, addressing solutions and software.
1.2 Following a request from Government, and the completion of our work on the new regulatory framework for postal services in March 2012, we undertook a review of PAF.
1.3 To this end, on 7 February this year, we published a consultation document. The consultation closed on 21 March, and we received 32 responses, of which five are confidential.
1.4 Our consultation focused on three key areas: the recovery of the costs of PAF, the simplification of the licensing regime, and the terms on which PAF is made available. We also sought views from stakeholders on quality measurements for PAF.
1.5 On the question of the recovery of PAF costs, the consultation set out our analysis of these costs in line with the six principles of cost recovery, and our primary duty to ensure the provision of the universal service, and proposed that Royal Mail should continue to recover the costs of PAF from PAF licensees. Having analysed the consultation responses, we remain of the view that Royal Mail should continue to recover the costs of PAF from licensees.
1.6 Our consultation also set out our proposal that Royal Mail should significantly simplify the licensing regime for PAF. Since publishing the consultation, Royal Mail and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills ('BIS') have announced plans to review the licensing framework, including some immediate measures to make PAF more easily accessible to charities and small businesses in particular, and next steps for the review. This is in line with our proposals.
1.7 With regard to the terms on which PAF is made available, our consultation proposed that Royal Mail apply the UK Government Licensing Framework principles as part of their review, to help them design the details of the new licensing framework, and set out some objectives for the outcome of the framework review. Our decision, as set out in this document, retains those proposed principles and objectives for the outcome of the licensing review. Further, we consider that the current voluntary profit cap on PAF revenues should be removed. We have also provided some high-level guidance at Annex 1 on the factors we will consider when assessing whether the terms on which PAF is made available are reasonable.
1.8 On the question of quality measurements, our consultation sought views on whether the setting of quality targets for PAF would be constructive, and whether the publication of achievement against those targets would be helpful for users. We have concluded that the setting of such targets and publication of achievements against them would be appropriate, and we expect Royal Mail to develop robust, output based quality measures that are meaningful and constructive for users of PAF, within a reasonable time frame.