Research Proposal


Research students at the University of Wollongong are expected to present a research proposal within one year after commencement. The proposal is presented at a seminar attended by fellow students, supervisors and other assessors. Assessors are selected by the Faculty for their understanding of the field and the research involved.

The purpose of a research proposal is to set out a plan for conducting the research and writing the thesis within the available time. It should take account of the availability and guidance of the supervisor. (See Timelines and supervision.)

The starting point for a research proposal is the topic, which is the field of interest in which the research is to be carried out. In introducing the topic, the proposal should clarify the field that it falls into, and the specific part of that field which the research will explore. It should clarify why the topic area is of interest and importance, and how the proposed research will contribute to the area.

The proposal should clarify the research questions, ensuring that these are specific and answerable. It is important to show how these questions relate to the topic area, and how they will advance the student's contribution.

The proposal should detail the research to be carried out, and clarify the research methods, the timeframe and the reasons for selecting particular methods. Where a period of literature review or legal research should precede any empirical research, this should be factored in as part of the research. It is important to estimate any periods of field research, and to flag their duration and cost, in your research proposal. The School of Law may be able to assist with these costs, although the research activity must usually be approved by the Faculty Research Committee (FRC) six months in advance. Use your research proposal to alert your supervisor and the FRC to any call you may make on funds.

You should work through the resources available as a guide to postgraduate research, through the Research section of this website, before preparing a research proposal. See the Overview of Research Resources and use these in conjunction with the coursework seminars. The fifth of those seminars is devoted to discussion of the requirements for preparation of a research proposal.

The research proposal consists of an oral presentation and a written document, covering the above points. At least three copies will be required by the Faculty, one for each of the assessors. The university policy on presentation and assessment of research proposals may be found at 2.9 of the Code of Practice - Supervision.

The oral presentation will be approximately 15-20 minutes in duration, followed by questions and discussion. Check the time available with the postgraduate coordinator or chair of the research proposal seminar before your presentation date, and be sure your material will fit into the time available. You are encouraged to use visual aids in the form of overhead transparencies, hand-outs photocopied onto paper, or 'Powerpoint' presentations. If you intend to use a computer and data projector you must ensure that you have booked the necessary equipment, and that it will operate in situ, in plenty of time for the seminar.

Last reviewed: 22 January, 2014