You will need to familiarize yourself with the process of writing a proposal for your final year project or your final research papers. 

Proposal for Final Year Project:  All final year project students are required to develop the first draft of their proposal in a three-page format (1,200 words) and to bring this, along with your preliminary bibliography to your first meeting (tutorial) with me which should take place within the first four weeks of the semester.  The proposal needs to be somewhat detailed so read through both this section and the following section which describes writing a proposal for a research paper.   There should also be a separate preliminary bibliography of primary and secondary sources pertinent to the subject of your research which must include at least twelve primary and secondary sources.  There are no exceptions to these requirements.  Please be aware that work you are doing for other courses is separate from that which I require of you.

Proposal for Research Paper:  You are required to create a one-page (400 words) typed proposal to be approved before you undertake the writing of your research paper. Along with your proposal you must hand in a one-page a preliminary bibliography containing a minimum of six (undergraduate) and ten (graduate) primary and secondary resources for your research.  Since females comprise of 51% of the planet, I strongly urge you that your bibliography reflect this demographic.  The proposal must be typed and submitted by the deadline specified on the syllabus.  All proposals for undergraduate students must also be reviewed with Continuing Support so that you might understand your grammar, syntax and structural weaknesses. 

The subject of your research paper is for you to craft, but it must be related to the theme of the course and it must specifically examine a topic developed within the framework of the course theme.  Your proposal must engage your research topic from a critical perspective of research such as the texts we have been reading during the semester.  Four of your proposed bibliographical references must be analyzed in the proposal as this is what will give rise to your central argument, your thesis and your overall structure. This is a research paper, not an opinion piece. Your proposals must demonstrate that you have at least four texts which support a cogent argument related to a specific subject within the scope of the module framework.  The research must be applicable to the field of study and must specifically be able to address your research questions within the specified paper length (ie. the topic should be specific and not too vast).  Your thesis must demonstrate that you have a competent understanding of your research problematic and that you can use the theoretical writings from your bibliography to appropriately craft a unique argument which takes up the theoretical perspectives while adding your own critical perspective. 

Please note that you are expected to undertake the quality of research typical for a university undergraduate or graduate student. For this reason, undergraduate students are not permitted to undertake any form of quantitative surveys or questionnaires unless you have the appropriate training in statistics. Graduate students who do have the appropriate training in statistics or qualitative ethnographic research must complete the necessary forms for any and all research (to include surveys) involving human subjects.  Please refer to the office of Research and Graduate Studies for the appropriate forms and procedures. 

Important Notice:  there are two required tutorials during this process of drafting the proposal:

  1. 1.The first tutorial should take place in the first four weeks of the semester wherein you must sign up for office hours to meet with me.  In this tutorial you are required to show me a draft of your proposal as well as expose orally your thoughts on your project. Based on your proposal and verbal presentation I will advise you about further or more appropriate texts, assist you with your thesis, and help you to understand the theoretical demands of the project;

  2. 2.The second tutorial is where, in the days following your submission of your proposal, you must meet with me to receive feedback and further guidance regarding the completion of your final draft.

Failure to make either tutorial will affect your progress on your final paper and this will likely affect your grade. You are responsible for signing up for office hours and keeping up with the required tutorials. Do not email me with drafts of your proposal or requests to accept your proposal. You must follow through with the tutorials and office hour meetings for any questions about your work.  For any assistance outside of these meetings, you should arrange to see Continuing Support.

It is important that your topic is approved before you begin your final work.  Late proposals will be not be accepted, so start thinking of your topic from the first week of class and do not leave the office hour discussion of your proposal until the last minute!

The Purpose of the Proposal

Your research proposal should convey the topic you want to investigate, what your research questions are, and how well acquainted your are with the existing work, theory and methodology in that area. 

Writing your Proposal

The proposal should contain the following points:

  1. the specific theme on which you want to work;

  2. a concise analysis of the theoretical question based on four of your bibliographical sources;

• a preliminary thesis of one or two sentences clearly indicated in bold;

• a brief explanation of the thesis;

  1. the scope and content of your research;

  2. a brief explanation of how you will demonstrate your thesis to include the specific paradigm of study;

• a preliminary bibliography containing primary and secondary resources for your research

The key to this exercise is your preliminary thesis. This will determine the content of your work. A good preliminary thesis should contain the following qualities:

• It should take a position.

• It should warrant discussion. That is to say, your subject should be a problematic point of view, preferably a problem that is not too obvious. This belies your perception and reflection on the readings.

• It should ask a single idea. A thesis that tries to express several ideas confuse your work and readings.

  1. It should be accurate. Your thesis should not be too vague or it will be too difficult to explain in your work.

  2. It should begin by outlining the subject area that you want to investigate. It should address the key theoretical and/or empirical debates in this area.

  3. The proposal should include a brief critical review of the literature in the field (at least four of your required bibliographical references) and you should demonstrate some familiarity with these texts in order to formulate your research proposal and thesis.

  4. It should propose the research questions that you wish to address in relation to your topic, indicating how your secondary sources will help you generate your own theories, where the flaws or gaps lie, where the strengths are, policy or practical implications, and/or problems with existing data/methods/theory.

  5. It should begin a brief literature review expanding on how these theories help formulate your thesis and methodology and finish your proposal with the practical analysis you intend to undertake to demonstrate your thesis. 

Remember that your proposal must be submitted as one page, just like your position papers, and must not contain any subtitles or divisions of any sort.  Your prose should clearly describe what you are going to undertake and I should be able to easily spot your thesis, supporting theories and the practical basis of examination.  

Make an outline before writing your proposal! And then once your proposal has been accepted, write a detailed outline. 

Before you begin writing any drafts, you need to think about the questions: In what order should you explain the various terms and positions you'll be discussing? At what point should you present your opponent's position or argument? In what order should you offer your criticisms of your opponent? Do any of the points you're making presuppose that you've already discussed some other point, first? And so on.  The overall clarity of your paper will greatly depend on its structure. That is why it is important to think about these questions before you begin to write.

I strongly recommend that you make an outline of your paper, and of the arguments you'll be presenting, before you begin to write. This lets you organize the points you want to make in your paper and get a sense for how they are going to fit together. It also helps ensure that you're in a position to say what your main argument or criticism is, before you sit down to write a full draft of your paper. When students get stuck writing, it's often because they haven't yet figured out what they're trying to say.

Give your outline your full attention. It should be fairly detailed. (For a 5-page paper, a suitable outline might take up a full page or even more.)  Making an outline is at least 80% of the work of writing a good paper. If you have a good outline, the rest of the writing process will go much more smoothly.

Moreover, it is important to note that you can change your thesis during the course of your research. Of course, this does not mean that you can change your subject completely without consulting me first. It is understood that your search may change your thesis, so it stands to reason that if your argument changes, you must change your thesis so that it follows your argument.

Preliminary Bibliography

The following are not acceptable secondary references for your preliminary bibliography:




-popular books and magazine


-radio and television broadcasts

-Internet websites

Your secondary references should be coming from scholarly books, journals, and other scientific reviews. If your subject does involve, for instance, the subject of Wikipedia, or if you are in part analyzing a subject covered by the Internet or a radio broadcast, you are welcome to include this, but these resources are in addition to the six scholarly sources.  If you have any questions about the distinctions herein, please visit the university library and ask a reference librarian about this requirement.

For more tips on writing your proposal, please see the links on the right and here below:

How to Write a Thesis Statement

How to Organize a Proposal

How to Create an Outline

How to Write a Proposal

Sample Research Paper Proposal

proposals for research papers and final year projects