Developing Your Own Research Proposal

Developing a Research Proposal 

As well as applications for a specific funded project and for priority research projects, Abertay welcomes enquiries and applications from prospective research students for Research Degrees in a range of subject or interdisciplinary areas and on topics across different Divisions. You can also search our A-Z of Research Opportunities.

How to apply for Postgraduate Research

1. Meet the academic entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for all our research degrees is an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) at undergraduate level in an appropriate discipline and/or a Master’s degree. In some cases, appropriate professional or experiential learning may be considered in combination with a lower classification of Honours degree.

2. Meet the visa and English language requirements

Visa requirements

If you're not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland, you may need to apply for a visa. You can find out more about applying for a visa and collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) on our Tier 4 visa page. To identify whether or not you need to apply for a visa, please visit the UKBA website.

English language requirements

We accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

For candidates whose first language is not English or your undergraduate/Master’s degree was not awarded from a University from a UKVI designated English Speaking country, you are required to show evidence of one of the following qualifications:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL “My Best Score” to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall with at least 59 in each component.
  • NECO English at B (4)
  • WAEC English at B (4)

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

To identify whether or not you need to apply for a student visa, please see here or visit the UKVI website.

3. Find a supervisor

You can look for potential supervisors by searching keywords, names or publications using Staff Search. This will ensure that we have appropriate expertise within Abertay. You will also gain an understanding of the prior work of the researcher.

You should consider contacting the potential supervisor to discuss your ideas and the possibility of undertaking a research degree under their supervision. Discussion will also help you tailor your application to suit Abertay’s specific expertise in the area. Ask for feedback and be prepared to take those comments into consideration when finalising your research proposal.

You can also contact our Graduate School if you would like advice on potential supervisors.

Please avoid vague blanket emails to several potential supervisors as these are unlikely to be successful.

4. Secure funding

There are two different routes to studying a research degree at Abertay – you can apply for one of our funded studentships or propose your own area of research. Find out more about our funded studentships.

If you are proposing your own area of research, you will need to consider how you will fund your studies – either through self-support or by securing a scholarship or some other form of external funding. See what scholarships are available to Abertay research students.

5. Write your research proposal

This is your opportunity to state your research objectives, to grab the reader’s attention and highlight your suitability for research degree study.

The proposal should be around 6-8 pages in length (including references) and follow the section headings below.

  • Title.
  • Abstract (summary).
  • Introduction/background.
  • Hypotheses, objectives or research question.
  • Proposed methodology.
  • How will you disseminate your findings (pathways to impact).
  • Ethical considerations.
  • Summary and conclusions.
  • References.
  • About you: briefly describe your relevant experience and how it will help you achieve your objectives, explain why you are an excellent candidate for a research degree, and identify your additional professional development and training needs.

Some good practice tips:

  • Be clear and concise.
  • Structure your proposal by breaking up blocks of text into smaller paragraphs (with headings).
  • Reference you work.
  • Justify your objectives.

6. Apply online by the relevant deadline

You can start a research degree at Abertay in February, June or October of each year. You can apply to defer from one entry point to another on one occasion, however, subsequent requests must be supported by an additional full application.

Unless otherwise stated, the deadlines for submitting a full application are:

  • Applications for February entry by 15 December (if you need a Student Visa then the deadline is 30 November).
  • Applications for June entry by 30 April (if you need a Student Visa then the deadline is 31 March).
  • Applications for October entry by 31 August (if you need a Student Visa then the deadline is 31 July).

You will need to include the following documentation when you apply online:

  • Copies of your academic transcripts
  • References
  • Your research proposal

Apply now to start in:


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