Courses Catalogue

Research Proposal Development

ACADEMIC PROGRAMME: Environmental Science
COLLEGE/SCHOOL/FACULTY: School of Natural and Applied Sciences
PROGRAMME TYPE: Postgraduate

Course Description

This research preparedness course will review and reinforce doctoral student learning on the research process and enable students to produce a research proposal ready for implementation. In a series of modules, the course focuses on specific aspects of doing research including: literature searching and critical appraisal; reference management; framing the research question and determining research approaches; and ethical issues. Students will develop competence in assessing the validity of the published literature, determining the gaps in the evidence and developing a feasible study design that complies with the principles underpinning responsible research practice.


This course serves to develop student’s research proposals, establishing and expanding their research skills and implementing their work through scholarly writing that is shared through doctoral seminar. Students who have approved research topics are expected to carry on the development of their proposals in the context of working with their respective Doctoral Committees.


By the end of this course, the student should be able to:

Identify a problem suitable for scientific investigation

Situate that problem within the relevant literature and existing evidence and identify gaps in the evidence about that problem (i.e. things worthy of further research)

Develop a (structured) research question which addresses a gap in the evidence about the problem

Plan an appropriate research design to investigate the research question

Use appropriate online databases of research evidence and reference management software

Apply ethical principles of research to shape or modify the research proposal


A doctoral student completing the course is expected to:

Analyze a substantial body of knowledge that is at the forefront of science, technology and engineering

Demonstrate expertise in at least one field of the discipline, and possess a competent understanding of the literature, debates, theories, etc. of at least one additional field in the discipline.

Conceptualize, design and implement research for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline;

Make informed judgments on complex issues in specialist fields, sometimes requiring new methods, interpretations, or insights.

Contribute to the development of academic or professional skills, techniques, tools, practices, ideas, theories, approaches, and/or materials.

Demonstrate the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative incomplex situations;

Apply intellectual independence and ability to be academically and professionally engaged and current;

Practice ethical behaviour consistent with academic integrity and the use of appropriate guidelines and procedures for responsible conduct of research;

Evaluate the broader implications of applying knowledge to particular contexts.

Communicate complex and/or ambiguous ideas, issues and conclusions clearly and effectively.

Demonstrate an appreciation of the limitations of one’s own work and discipline, of the complexity of knowledge and of the potential contributions of other interpretations, methods and disciplines.