How to Write a Masters Dissertation Proposal

You just received your masters dissertation project and your first step is – no, and panic when faced with this daunting task. Getting the proposal right will make the rest of your masters dissertation go more smoothly and hopefully more successfully. No pressure, right?! Wrong!

While you might have written an undergraduate dissertation, it may not have required a proposal. That’s because it was not necessarily as in-depth in terms of writing and research like your masters dissertation. This guide will walk you through how to write a masters dissertation proposal so you can get started. However, we understand that you may want additional assistance.

Getting Started

Getting started on a masters dissertation proposal requires a number of steps:

  • Develop a list of topics that you are interested in as well as that will benefit from the creation of more research. Often, for a masters dissertation, topics may also be provided.
  • Consult with your adviser or tutor (or maybe even your professor) on the research topics you have compiled and identify the one that is the most appealing and relevant to serve as the foundation for your masters dissertation proposal.

What to Include

To begin your masters dissertation proposal, you need to know what to include. You will most likely be given a handbook with instructions about what to include and the format to use. Here is a brief description of what you will need to include in the masters dissertation proposal:

  • Project Summary or Abstract: This summarises what is contained in your proposal.
  • Table of Contents: This lists the main sections of your proposal.
  • Project Description: This includes an introduction, objectives, and aims.
  • Literature Review: This should be a somewhat detailed examination of the available research on your topic, which will be expanded later on in your masters dissertation.
  • Research Methodology: This should explain the type of research tools and methods you plan to use. You will also want to address any perceived limitations as well as why you selected this method over other available tools and processes.
  • Timeline: It is important to include a very specific timeline or schedule for how you will complete the masters dissertation. This is often represented as a Gantt chart.
  • Conclusions: This will summarise the main points of your proposal.

The Research and Writing Process

The above list is a great place to begin an outline. You can start to fill in each section, which will keep you organised and on task. Use notes that you have taken from the research to further flush out each section of the masters dissertation proposal. Don’t worry about getting it right the first time as you will need to revise, reread, and maybe reorganise your thoughts a number of times. Be sure to share your drafts with your adviser or tutor so that they can help you if you are having problems with the project.


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