How to Write a Philosophy Proposal

A philosophy proposal must showcase your ideas professionally.

A philosophy research proposal should be clear in what the work sets out to do, and what is its purpose. The key idea that the proposal is based on should be succinct enough to be written on the back of a beer mat, but substantial enough for its description to fill the body of a proposal in a way that is clear and informative. Your ideas for your proposal will probably have been developing in your mind for a while. You need to express them in a clear and logical way, toward a conclusion, so that your reader can look up after reading it and say "I get it."

Check the word count that is required for your proposal. A Master's proposal may have a shorter word count than a Ph.D. proposal.

Focus your ideas into a single theme. Proposals are sometimes not accepted because they try to do too much, rather than focusing well on a clear area of inquiry.

Identify and describe the area of research that your work fits into. If there are a group of writers who have dealt with similar subject matter to the one that you want to study, describe how your work fits into this group, and how it departs from it into your own original perspective.

List and briefly elaborate on each of the areas of inquiry you intend to research. Write about why this is important -- not just to you but to the field of philosophical research. Describe what it is about these questions that makes them compelling and relevant outside of academic research.

Explain how you will research these ideas, listing the methodologies, surveys and other research methods you will use.

Write several drafts until your proposal is as clear and concise as you can make it. Have a non-academic friend or relative proofread it, to make sure that it is reader-friendly and not too cluttered with jargon. Also have an academic supervisor proofread it, to make sure that it is written to the required academic standard.

Give it a title, when you are satisfied that it is finished.

List all primary and secondary sources at the end of the document, using the style guide that you are asked to use -- or that you choose, if permitted.

Nicole O'Driscoll has been writing since 2000. She is published in "The James Joyce Bloomsday Centenary Collection" and has written about social exclusion and incarceration in Samuel Beckett's "Trilogy." O'Driscoll is a qualified nurse who manages a mental-health crisis house. She holds a doctorate in English literature from Newcastle University.