How you structure your research proposal may be dictated by the requirements of your specific college or school, or even supervisor based on the nature of your project. It is your responsibility to find out what the expectations are.

In the table below, we list some subtitles that are typical of research proposals in the Sciences, and Humanities and Social Sciences. Whether you adopt or adapt these headings to better meet your needs, remember that your task is simply to communicate the what, why, and how of your intended project.

Typical sciences and humanities and social sciences proposal structures
SciencesHumanities and Social Sciences
  • Title page
  • Introduction, including a broad indication of the research aims and approach
  • Literature review
  • Background / case studies
  • Research question(s) or aims and scope of the project
  • Research significance
  • Methods / materials
  • Variables
  • Hypotheses / predictions / expected outcomes, that are based on your review of the literature (in lieu of a 'results' or 'discussion' section)
  • Limitations and potential problems
  • Significance of expected findings
  • Timeline / schedule
  • Budget
  • Reference list
  • Title page
  • Introduction, including a broad indication of the research question and approach 
  • Literature review
  • Research problem, question(s), scope, research approach
  • Research design / methodology
  • Methods of data collection
  • Methods of data analysis
  • Significance / contribution to field
  • Thesis structure (chapter outline)
  • Timeline / schedule
  • Budget
  • Reference list




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