Writing a research proposal for postgraduate research in Islamic finance

Updated on 20 July 2022

This guide was created by the School of Business to help you apply for Islamic finance research degrees and in particular a PhD in Islamic Finance.

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The research proposal is an integral part of your application. It informs us of your research plans and enables us to identify supervisors who have an interest in the area that you propose to do research.

The research proposal along with your academic qualifications will be evaluated in terms of whether you have the necessary key skills to carry out the research work, the academic reasons why you have chosen your topic, the clarity of your research questions, and why you think the topic is important.

Before you start your application 

  1. When you apply to join the PhD programme, you do not identify a supervisor for your work before applying. The School of Business will allocate supervisors if your application is successful.
  2. We expect you to put considerable thought into the research proposal. However, after joining the programme you will refine your proposal with the help of your supervisors so that the proposal fully describes the thesis of your PhD. 

Your PhD research proposal should be between 1500-2000 words.

Your proposal should cover:

1. Your Name

2. A working title of the topic area 

This should convey the key words associated with the proposed research. 

3. General overview of area

By way of introduction this should take the form of a relatively brief abstract of the general area of study and identify the discipline(s) within which it falls. You might also point here to the way in which your background gives you the skills and understanding to work in your chosen area. Create a box for overview.

4. Identification of the relevant literature 

In this section you should start to develop your proposal by demonstrating that you are aware and understand the debates and issues raised in the literature relevant to your thesis topic. References to key articles and texts should be made to show that you appreciate their relevance to your research area. A PhD is an original piece of research and so you should demonstrate that your proposed research topic has not been studied before, where the research gap lies and what contributions your research may make. You need to identify why your research topic is innovative so as to lead to a successful PhD thesis. 

5. Key research questions 

Having set out above your general overview and the literature, it is now time to set out your research ‘questions’ that you will explore during your PhD. Normally, you would set out 3 to 5 research questions. The aim is for the questions to be broad enough to support a PhD thesis but not too broad so that the topic you choose cannot be properly researched in the normal time allowed to complete a PhD.

For example, a question like ‘what determines economic development’ is too broad as it would take a small library of books to start to answer this question. A more manageable question might be ‘the role of primary school education in economic development’. This question is now narrow enough in scope so that you can provide a ‘good’ answer in a PhD. The question might be further narrowed by adding in what country or stage of development the country is in when answering the question.

6. Methodology

In this section, you demonstrate an awareness of the methodological tools available to you and show some understanding of which would be suitable for your research. It may be that qualitative methods, including the analysis of interviews, are appropriate. Alternatively, your approach may involve a quantitative analysis of your topic using econometric modelling, forecasting or a range of statistical tools that are available to examine financial, economic and social data. In some cases you may want to combine methodologies. You need to specify the approach you feel is most appropriate to your research. However, please note that your methodology will be refined later with the help of your supervisor after you arrive in Dundee but it is key that you have some knowledge and understanding of the methodological approaches..

7. Timescale/research planning

Explain what the timescale of your research is so that you can demonstrate to us an awareness of how long it takes to undertake the research and your ability to plan your research to be completed in the time of a normal PhD of 3 years.

8. Bibliography

Include here a list of all the references to articles and books that you have included in this proposal. You can choose any bibliographic style as long as it is applied consistently.

Apply for an Islamic finance research degree

Dr Theresa Dunne

Director of Doctoral Studies, School of Business

Guide category Student support