Research Proposal Process

During the Stage 1 of Structure I, the research proposal should be submitted within the stipulated period from date of registration of the first semester to the School of Graduate Studies. For Structure II, a student is required to fulfil a minimum number of credit hours of coursework and examinations. Subject to the student’s performance in the coursework component, and the approval of Dean of School of Graduate Studies, a student is allowed to proceed work on his/her research proposal.


  • goals of the research study;
  • relationship of the work to the current body of knowledge in the chosen discipline area;
  • methodologies by which the goals will be addressed;
  • plausible outcomes of the work, together with their significance; and
  • candidate’s capabilities in conducting the research together with the timeline


  • Candidates should conduct an initial literature search and review the existing literature concerned with content and methodology. This is the most critical activity before writing the research proposal. The better that your research is ‘grounded in’ or ‘tied to’ the literature, the greater will be its credibility, persuasiveness and authority.
  • Candidates are required to discuss with their supervisor or supervisory committee member(s) on the focus and purpose of the research proposal as stipulated above.
  • A doctoral research proposal should normally be around YY words excluding appendices and references, whereas a proposal for Master degree programme (Structures I and II) normally comprises about 8000 words.
  • For Structure III, a simple research proposal of about 300 words is required for Master programme by Coursework. This proposal should include the title, purpose(s) of research and methodology used.


Your proposal should be forwarded to your supervisor / supervisory committee for the following actions:

  • Principal Supervisor(s) – to complete Statement of Support for Submission of Research Proposal form;
  • Co-Supervisor(s) – to verify and countersign the form. The Co- Supervisor(s) needs to provide information on their contribution to the supervision of the candidate.
  • For Structure I and II, the supervisor(s) then forwards the research proposal together with the form to the Dean of Graduate Studies for processing.
  • For Structure III, the supervisor(s) then forwards the research proposal together with the form to the Dean of respective schools for processing.

Table of Contents

The table of content for the research proposal shall consist of:

  • Cover
  • Title page
  • Synopsis (about 250 words)
  • Tables of Content
  • References
  • Appendices

Proposal Defence

The defense of the final research proposal by Research Proposal Defense Committee (RPDC) is intended to assist a candidate to work towards the production of a thesis or dissertation that will be acceptable to the examiners.

It enables the RPDC to assess whether, after three semesters or equivalent year of study, the candidate and the supervisor(s) have:

  • appropriate School support;
  • a clear outline of the research topic which constitutes an significant (original) contribution to knowledge;
  • an understanding to the potential significance of the work;
  • determined the methodologies by which the research work will be undertaken; and
  • adhered to the ethical processes and procedures of research.

If, after reviewing the research proposal, the RPDC has any concerns regarding any of these issues, it may hold further discussion with the candidate, the supervisor(s) and/or the other School members.

When it considers it appropriate, RPDC may request a resubmission of the research proposal in full or in part, having outlined specific additions, omissions, or clarifications it wishes to have addressed.

A candidate shall be given 3 opportunities to pass the proposal defense. Failure on the 3rd attempt shall result on the termination of his/her candidature.

Proposal Development

Once the Supervisor(s) has been nominated, the student and Supervisor(s) begin to develop the research proposal. Students are encouraged to consult with their Supervisor(s) for additional guidance. Student need to develop their research proposal with input and consultation from their Supervisor(s).

A clear, well-defined proposal will increase the likelihood of a successful project and insure that the student, Supervisor(s), and all members of Vetting Committee will clearly understand the student research. It is recommended that student interact with the supervisor as often as possible via face-to-face or online methods. After the student consult with the Supervisor(s), student and Supervisor(s) need to define the problem area and begin to develop the research ideas. Student need to submit the proposal to Supervisor(s) for feedback. When the Supervisor(s) is satisfied with the proposal, student needs to be ready for the Proposal Defense Session.

Proposal Approval

After student prepared the proposal with the consultation of the Supervisor(s), students are require to submits final copy of the proposal to Dean for feedback together with Form SGS T001.

Dean of the Respective School will provides feedback on the quality of the proposal by using the Form SGS T002. Dean needs to submit the final proposal with Form SGS T001 and Form SGS T002 to SGS at least one month before the vetting process. After SGS receive the proposal and the form, SGS will acknowledge the receipt of the submission. Dean of SGS will prepare the Proposal Defense Session.

In the Proposal Defense Session, student must formally defend the research proposal to the Vetting Committee. During the proposal defense, the student need to presents the proposal, including the problem identification, background literature and rationale for study, hypotheses, procedural details, analysis plan, and expected limitation. This is the time for dialogue between the student and the committee in order to clarify any questions, discuss and negotiate any suggested modification, recommend resources, and provide support to the research efforts of the student.

Dean of Respective School will nominate the member of Vetting Committee. SGS tables the appointment of member of Vetting Committee for approval in CGS meeting. Vetting Committee will evaluates the proposal and gives comment and recommendation through Form SGS T003.

The task of the Vetting Committee member is to attend the Proposal Defense Session, critically review and evaluate the proposal and sign the approved proposal.