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  • A statement of the resources required to complete your work and how you will gain

access to them

  • A description of the results you expect to obtain and why they are of interest to the field

  • A timeline for the completion of your thesis providing realistic dates for finishing

“milestone” events

  • If appropriate, a statement of how you will manage any sensitive data (i.e. information of a personal nature) that you might have access to or create during the course of your research

  • A brief summary of what you have just proposed.

  • A detailed, quality bibliography of work related to your proposed thesis research.

These components can be used to structure your proposal as described in the following section.

5. Typical length and structure of a proposal

The length of a proposal often varies somewhat depending on the area of the proposed work and the topic itself. In general, a proposal is normally between 10 and 20 pages, single column, 1.5 spacing using 12pt font including figures and references. This is a guideline and the actual length of your proposal is best discussed with your advisor. Be aware, however, that excessively lengthy documents may be sent back unread to be revised to provide better focus. An upper bound of close to 20 pages is a good limit in practice. Also, please do not use a font size of under 12pt since your proposal should be easy for the committee members to read!

While the exact structure and organization of your thesis proposal may vary from the following suggested structure, all the material discussed in each item described below should be included somewhere in your proposal and should be presented in a logical order.

An abstract that, in one or two paragraphs, provides a concise summary of the work you are proposing including a statement of the problem that you are trying to solve and how you expect to solve it. This is one of the most challenging parts of the proposal to write since you must provide some detail without the reader having yet been given the background knowledge. It is probably best to write the abstract last!

A concise problem statement that, in one to three sentences, describes specifically what the problem is that you intend to solve. This problem statement can be technical in nature. For example, “I intend to explore the benefits and liabilities of fuzzy logic in the scheduling of work across heterogeneous distributed computing environments.” The problem statement can, if you like, be provided at the beginning of the ‘Introduction’ section but should certainly be somewhere very near the beginning of the proposal to help provide context (for the reader) to the material you later provide. Please note again, that the word ‘problem’ is intended to be interpreted broadly. It is entirely possible that your ‘problem’ might be less specific in nature. For example, “I intent to develop and empirically test a tool for integrating database schemas.”





A title page that includes your proposed thesis title, your advisor(s)’ name(s), and the date of submission.


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