School of Population Health

Image - apply to postgraduate research programs

Step 3: Prepare a research proposal

The next step is to prepare a research proposal which must be approved by your supervisor.  See details below for proposal requirements based on which research you are applying for:

  • Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) - Program code: 2713
  • Masters by Research in Public Health (MRES) - Program codes: 2845, 2960, 2885 or 2810
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD) - Program code: 1835 or 1841
Research Proposal Requirements
Masters by Research in Public Health (MRES), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

image - Step 4: Prepare a research proposalSPH Applicant Guidelines for Research Proposals

The School of Population Health requires a detailed proposal (3-5 pages) which includes a time line. You should finalise this proposal with the input of your proposed supervisor.

Suggested Headings for Research Proposal

1. Abstract (max: 250 words)
2. Project title
3. Background / rationale

  • Establish what the problem is drawing on evidence from peer reviewed references. A comprehensive literature review is not required. But must draw on a few key references to clearly explain and justify the problem that the research will address.
  • Identify clearly the gap in the literature that the proposed research will address
  • Should include research purpose/aim, and research question(s) and/or hypotheses all of which are well aligned. These should also align well with the proposed research design.

4. Sub-questions/ objectives (if relevant)

  • These should align well with the main research questions

5. Research design

  • Brief description of the broad research approach (qualitative or quantitative or mixed method) drawing on some evidence to justify the appropriateness of the proposed research approach.
  • Brief outline of the research setting, methods of data collection (example survey, qualitative interviews etc.), who the participants would be and a brief explanation of how participants will be accessed.
  • In this section you are not required to provide details of sample size calculation. Identifying minimum sample size required would be helpful.  
  • Not required to include details of how data will be analysed.
  • Most important aspect for this section is the alignment and appropriateness of the research approach.  Research approach and data collection methods must align well with the problem, the research aim and research hypothesis/question. Proposed research approach and methods of data collection must be appropriate to the research aim.
  • If this research is a part of a bigger research project, provide a brief description of the overall research project and a brief explanation of how this proposed research fits into the bigger research project.

6. Anticipated outcomes / significance (point form)

  • Indicate the novelty of the proposed research in terms of contribution to either the global body of knowledge, or existing theory, and practice.

7. Timeframe
8. Anticipated budget

For further information on formatting your research proposal and the criteria for the review process please refer to the SPH Applicant Guidelines for Research Proposals.

Both a PhD and a Masters by Research are awarded on the basis of a thesis alone. Although students may take preparatory coursework, this is not counted as part of the award (this is quite different to US universities). This means that demonstrating a capacity for independent research, and a readiness to begin working on your chosen topic is an important part of the application.

The MPhil is awarded on the basis of successful completion if coursework and a thesis. Applicants are still required to submit a detailed research proposal.

Note: As part of the application process, your proposal will be peer reviewed to see if it is a viable research proposal.

Should your research proposal be deemed unsatisfactory, you will be required to revise and resubmit for a second peer review. Please therefore ensure that your proposed supervisor is satisfied with the standard of your research proposal and that it reflects what is laid out in the SPH Applicant Guidelines for Research Proposals.