The Development and Approval of your Research Project Proposal and Getting Ethical Approval

You are required to submit your Project Proposal within three months (full-time students) or six months (part-time students) of starting your programme. Progression on your programme is dependent upon acceptance of the project proposal.

The process must be completed online using ePortfolio.

Students registered on Integrated PhD or professional doctorate programmes normally complete the Project Approval process when they have finished the taught component of their programme and have transferred to the research stage.

Please note if your project proposal has already been reviewed and approved by external peer review, for example if you successfully applied for Research Council funding from the AHRC or ESRC, you are still required to follow this process.

Your supervisory team should support you in the development of your research project proposal. In particular, your team needs to ensure that your project is achievable within the time-scale of the programme, and to confirm that sufficient resources will be available to support it.

All research project proposals are then approved by an independent School/Institute panel, consisting of at least two independent members of academic staff with relevant skills and knowledge.

The panel will evaluate your research proposal against the following criteria:

  • Does your project have clear aims and objectives?
  • Have you (or can you acquire) the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to complete the project successfully?
  • Does the proposed supervisory team have, (or will they be able to acquire), the skills, knowledge and aptitudes necessary to supervise your project to a successful conclusion?
  • Is the project suitable for the programme of study and for the award?
  • Can it be completed within the time-scale for the programme?
  • Are sufficient resources available to complete the project?
  • Is ethical approval required?
  • Where the project involves extended absence from the University on fieldwork or work in collaborating organisations, have the appropriate arrangements been made to support and monitor your progress?

In order to evaluate the above criteria, you should submit the following evidence when completing your Project Approval on ePortfolio:

  • a research proposal
  • a research plan

Your supervisor will also be required to submit a supporting statement before your proposal will be viewed by the panel.

The panel will consider the evidence and make a written report on your proposal. If the panel have any concerns, their report should indicate the steps necessary to address them, and you’ll be asked to resubmit your proposal within three months (full-time students) or six months (part-time students). Your School/Institute will tell you the deadline.

If, even after a reassessment opportunity, your panel still does not approve the arrangements for the project, it will be your Annual Progress Review panel that will be required to make a recommendation regarding your progress.

When the panel is satisfied that your proposal meets the criteria, it will recommend your project for approval to the Head of School/Institute or nominee (such as the Director of Postgraduate Research).

Project proposals must be approved by the independent Panel and Head of School/Institute before being submitted for final approval by the relevant Dean of Postgraduate Studies.

Once your research project proposal is approved by the Dean, you will receive an email to confirm.