Choosing a suitable doctoral research project

One of the most important criteria UK universities consider when they select candidates for a doctoral programme is the research idea... shown by recent research into the recruitment and selection of postgraduate researchers by English higher education institutions.

The extent to which you need to specify your potential research project will depend on the type of doctoral programme and the application route you are taking. If you are applying for a funded studentship, the project may already be specified and you are essentially making an application much as you would for a job.

However, in many cases you will need to submit a research idea or proposal, which will be much easier once you have identified and engaged with a potential supervisor. You will need to discuss with them:

  • whether your intended research project is realistic within a three year doctoral programme
  • whether the necessary technical or research facilities are available
  • whether the concept is too ambitious, or not ambitious enough for a doctoral programme.

They will likely have a lot of experience in what makes a good project so listen to them.

More on writing a research proposal.