Your PhD journey

Follow our step by step guide

Step 1

  • What is a research proposal?
  • Why do you need a research proposal?
  • How do you plan for your research proposal?

Step 2

  • How to write a research proposal
  • Top tips
  • Important do's and don'ts

Step 3

  • Write your personal statement
  • Follow our checklist
  • Watch our videos


Step 1 - Learn more about research proposals 

What is a research proposal?

  • If you are considering undertaking a research degree, many universities will ask you to submit a research proposal as part of your application. 
  • A research proposal is a concise summary of your proposed research project.
  • It should set out the central issues or questions that you intend to address and demonstrate the originality of your proposed research.

Why do you need to write a research proposal?

  • A research proposal allows a prospective supervisor to judge the quality of your proposed project.
  • It helps provide insight into your existing knowledge and writing skills, and that there is sufficient justification for your idea to be undertaken as a research degree.
  • A research proposal also enables you to consider, in detail, what research you would like to complete as part of your studies.

How do you plan for your research proposal?

Before you start writing your research proposal, make sure you:


Step 2 - How to write a research proposal that stands out


Explore our dedicated information

  • What your research proposal should contain
  • How long it should be
  • Top tips
  • Important do's and don'ts

Discover more

At Portsmouth, I’ve learnt that opportunities are there if you want to take them. I’ve gained confidence in my abilities. And how to focus my ideas into an area of research.

Maddie Wallace, PhD Creative Writing and Literary Theory


Step 3 - What to do next

Write your personal statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to tell us about yourself, and to outline why you're a compelling candidate for a research degree with us.

In your statement, you should demonstrate your enthusiasm for your research topic and highlight the skills you've gained from your academic studies and your work or life experience.

  • Your reasons for choosing your topic of research
  • The aspects of your topic of research that interest you most
  • Any skills and abilities gained from work experience, placement or voluntary work, particularly if it's relevant to your subject
  • How your choice of research fits in with your future career plans
  • Why you would like to study in the UK (for EU/International students)
  • If you aren't currently in full-time education, please provide details of your current or previous employment

Follow our checklist

  • Collate all the required documentation
  • Check you've stuck to the appropriate word length 
  • Ask your peers and academic colleagues to read through it
  • Submit your proposal to a potential supervisor before making your final application
  • Write your personal statement 
  • Come to a Postgraduate Open Event and join our Webinars to find out more about Portsmouth
  • Get in touch if you have any questions along the way 

Quick links

Watch our helpful videos

Contact Postgraduate Admissions