Discovering Your PhD Potential: Writing a Research Proposal, MOOC, 5 weeks

This is for you if... you want to learn how to write an excellent research proposal for a postgraduate application.

Please address all enquiries to FutureLearn.

Course description

Course description

  • Next start date: 2 April 2018

A carefully prepared and thorough research proposal is usually crucial for applications for advanced or doctoral study, and can provide the launchpad for the first stages of that postgraduate study.

This online course will give you the awareness, skills and tools to write a well thought-out and achievable research proposal, helping you improve the quality of your postgraduate applications. It will also give you a taste of the self-study required in postgraduate doctoral research.

This course will enable you to:

  • Understand why you want to do a PhD and whether your expectations are realistic
  • Be familiar with the main requirements, structures and problems with aiming to undertake a PhD
  • Know how to set a realistic, manageable and impactful research question
  • Be able to differentiate between deductive and inductive research questions
  • Understand and be able to implement the steps required to writing a literature review, including: doing a literature search, planning, organising and writing the literature review
  • Know what kind of theoretical approach would be useful for your research proposal
  • Be able to differentiate between ontology, epistemology, different research designs and methodology
  • Pull together what you have learned from this course into a first draft of a research proposal

How a MOOC works

MOOCs are flexible courses which allow you to participate at your own pace. Once a course has started you can study the week’s material at a time that suits you. You do not need to be online at the same time as the other students. There is no requirement to visit Leicester - although you would always be very welcome if you want to come and have a look around campus.

If you want to leave your course at any point you may do so, whether or not it has already begun. You can sign up for the same course when it runs again if you want to have another go at it. There is no limit on the number of MOOCs you can take: if you think you have the time to do several simultaneously, that's fine.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements for the current range of MOOCs available from the University of Leicester. You simply need an internet connection and a computer or tablet device. Some other courses may specify expected levels of understanding or experience in certain areas but this will be made clear before signing up for the course.

English Language Requirements

There are no specific English language requirements for our MOOCs. However, to get the most out of this course you should have a reasonable command of written English.

Fees and funding

Fees and funding

UK and EU Students

Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

International Students

Enjoy this course for free - there are no fees for any of our MOOCs.

Careers and employability

Careers and employability

Find out about the range of PhDs offered at the University of Leicester, including details of funding, support and how to apply.

Course structure

Week 1

Week 1

Introduction to doctoral research

In this first week, we will look at what doctoral research involves and how to avoid potential problems. We will also provide guidance on securing funding for your research, where to apply and what to apply for.

As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to being a leading academic institution, we regularly review and update our degrees and modules to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date research, knowledge, ideas and teaching practices, as well as student feedback. We also have to take into account the availability of key teaching staff. If there are major changes to the course that you have applied for, we will contact you as soon as possible to ensure that any disruption to your studies is minimised.

Week 2

Week 2

Problem definition and research question

This week we will help you to consider which problem your research will cover, and how this will be defined. We will look at approaches to your research problem and the impact your research will have, and provide guidance and exercises to help you to write your research question.

As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to being a leading academic institution, we regularly review and update our degrees and modules to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date research, knowledge, ideas and teaching practices, as well as student feedback. We also have to take into account the availability of key teaching staff. If there are major changes to the course that you have applied for, we will contact you as soon as possible to ensure that any disruption to your studies is minimised.

Week 3

Week 3

Literature review

A well-developed literature review is vital for a good research proposal. This week will help you to find the right literature with or without access to a university, and guide you in structuring and planning a structured literature review.

As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to being a leading academic institution, we regularly review and update our degrees and modules to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date research, knowledge, ideas and teaching practices, as well as student feedback. We also have to take into account the availability of key teaching staff. If there are major changes to the course that you have applied for, we will contact you as soon as possible to ensure that any disruption to your studies is minimised.

Week 4

Week 4

Research philosophy, design and methodology

In this week, we tackle the large issues of research philosophy, research design, research methodology and research ethics, which all research touches on.

As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to being a leading academic institution, we regularly review and update our degrees and modules to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date research, knowledge, ideas and teaching practices, as well as student feedback. We also have to take into account the availability of key teaching staff. If there are major changes to the course that you have applied for, we will contact you as soon as possible to ensure that any disruption to your studies is minimised.

Week 5

Week 5

Bringing the proposal together

In the final week of the course we will give guidance on how to construct a good research proposal. We will look at all the elements you need to include in your proposal, and provide a checklist of what to include with your proposal and further resources to help you to submit a successful proposal.

As part of the University of Leicester’s commitment to being a leading academic institution, we regularly review and update our degrees and modules to ensure that they reflect the most up-to-date research, knowledge, ideas and teaching practices, as well as student feedback. We also have to take into account the availability of key teaching staff. If there are major changes to the course that you have applied for, we will contact you as soon as possible to ensure that any disruption to your studies is minimised.

Why Leicester?

International networks facilitate collaborative work focused on theoretical and real-world solutions.

The University of Leicester is one of the UK's leading research and teaching universities with over 25 years' experience of offering high quality distance learning courses.

Teaching and learning

At the end of each week of the course there is often a set of multiple choice questions to test your understanding of what you have learned, and this will count towards your overall course score. Please note that this is a FutureLearn score, and is not valid as credit for other courses at the University of Leicester - although a MOOC is a great 'taster' for university learning and research.

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Course Discovering Your PhD Potential: Writing a Research Proposal Duration 5 weeks Availability Apply Now