First of all, lay out the bare bones. This includes your thesis title. Don’t worry! It doesn’t’ have to be the final title that you are going to use on your submitted thesis. You can always go back and change – very rarely does the first title you come up with end up being the title you stick with. Your front page should also include information like your student identifier and the department. Your supervisor should tell you exactly what needs to be on this page.
Next up, your abstract. The exact length that your abstract should be does vary from university to university but in short, it is a summary of your study as a whole. The abstract is what people will look at when – in the case of writing their own study – they decide whether or not to use it. Make it eye-catching and include all of the relevant information.
Table of Contents
Following this, your table of contents will lay out exactly what will go where in your study. From the abstract through to the bibliography, this is where you specify what will go on what page. Don’t worry about getting the page numbers perfect at this stage – this is best left until the very end of your study so then you know exactly what will go where.
Your introduction will establish the groundwork of your study. This is the context. It also establishes the problem or subject that your study is intending to focus on. You will want to present your key questions next. These are what you will answer through the data that you will collect as part of the methodology. Following your key questions is the literature review. This is where you examine what has been written on what you are looking into already. This helps to determine the gaps in the data.
Once you have established what is already known and what gaps there are, you can lay out your methodology. This is what you will do to collect the data, and how it will be analysed, as well as why you’ve chosen the approach that you have.
Now comes the fun part – the analysis. This is where you examine what you have found and see whether or not you have been able to answer your research questions.
Well done, you’ve got all of your research findings and you’ve analysed them. Here is where you summarise what you have discovered. Specifically, you need to answer the research questions as well as present anything else that is new that you have discovered in the process.
Put it all together and there you have it – your thesis proposal! At this point in your study, as you are writing this before starting on your study proper, you should write as if you have yet to do it. For example, ‘I will’ or ‘We will’ instead of ‘I have’ or ‘We have’.
One last thing worth mentioning is….. remember to take time to proofread your proposal. There is nothing worse than leaving typos and losing marks just because you missed a full-stop or a comma!!