The PGR Studio recently ran a workshop aimed at academic staff who might be considering undertaking a PhD. The purpose of the session was to address some of the myths associated with PhD study, particularly negative connotations, and share some tips on the PhD application process. Associate Professor John Mercer, an experienced research degrees co-ordinator at Birmingham City University and site director for the Midlands Three Cities (M3C) PhD funding inititave, outlined his model for PhD proposals, which he has kindly allowed us to reproduce here. So, whether you are a member of academic staff, or someone from another background considering a PhD at Birmingham City University, you should consider the following tips:

Name and contact details

Make sure you have indicated who your are and have provided up to date contact details.


Try to clearly outline what the purpose of your research is. Keep it simple and keep it comprehensible e.g. “The objective of this research project is to…”


Make sure that you explain the scope of your research project and the range of activities that you imagine this will involve e.g. “The Following tasks will be undertaken as a part of the proposed research…”


You will need to explain why you think that this research is needed. There are specific things to consider here.

Indicate that you know what work already exists in your chosen field (if any).

What do you imagine the wider benefits of this research will be?


Clearly explain what methods you will use to conduct your research demonstrating that you have:

Explained the reasons for your choice of methodology and why it is appropriate.
Thought of potential problems that you may encounter.


Are there specific facilities that you will need to conduct your research? e.g. Do you need specific pieces of software or technical equipment?

If so are these already in place? e.g. Have you discussed these needs with a potential supervisor?

How do you propose to fund your research? Being confident that you are able to pay fees is vitally important.


Provide a bibliography indicating the sources that you have referred to in your proposal and indicative sources that you imagine you will use.


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