Hints and tips

Your proposal is unique to you, however there are some expected concepts and themes which we would expect to see included within your writing. Below you will find guidance on the essentials of a research proposal. 

Two key concepts that you need to express with your writing are originality and impact.

Originality and impact

What is impact?

Wherever possible, the beneficiaries of ‘impact’ should consist of a wider group than that of the immediate professional circle who carry out similar research. 'Impact' should show quality and help to enhance the reputation of the University and the UK's attractivenes for research and innovation investment.

Specific beneficiaries might be: researchers in other disciplines; academic organisations; companies, public sector bodies and others who may use the results to their advantage; or policy makers.


  • Who might benefit from this research?
  • How might they benefit from this research?
  • What will be done to ensure that potential beneficiaries have the opportunity to engage with this research?

Demonstrate originality

There are many ways in which you can demonstrate originality:

  • Identify problems, such as inconsistencies or gaps, in existing analysis
  • A fresh, critical discussion of texts, works and/or ideas that have been neglected by scholarship
  • Bring together disciplines and areas of work that have not been brought together before
  • Compare a topic in one country/language/business model/legal system, etc. with the same topic in another (a ‘comparative study’)
  • Analyse an issue from a new perspective, or apply work from another discipline to your own, in order to create new knowledge, learning or practice (e.g.by bringing a theoretical approach to a problem which has not been applied before, at length)
  • A study of the impact of a particular set of conditions, piece of legislation, series of events, government, etc.

Be clear

  • Is it clearly articulated?
  • Is the research problem, question or hypothesis made clear?
  • Is it clear what the impact will be?
  • Be as specific as you can as often as you can!

Be coherent

  • Is it succinct and focused (i.e. doesn’t ramble)?
  • Does it use short sentences and paragraphs that convey your ideas in a concise way?

Be concise

  • Does it flow and link together well?
  • Does it tell a clear narrative of what you want to do, why, and how?