Struggling with writing a PhD proposal.

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easack123
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Anywhere online that gives examples of PhD proposals, specifically for English Literature? All the examples I can find are science based and so not as helpful - I'm struggling largely with formatting. Specifically, what is a chapter breakdown? Is that just giving proposed chapter titles or do I also need to describe the chapters in some detail? How many chapters (roughly) should an english PhD contain? Thanks.
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threeportdrift
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You wouldn’t necessarily be expected to have a chapter breakdown at this stage, that’s too much detail or supposition about the research.
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ZeroTillage
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(Original post by easack123)
Anywhere online that gives examples of PhD proposals, specifically for English Literature? All the examples I can find are science based and so not as helpful - I'm struggling largely with formatting. Specifically, what is a chapter breakdown? Is that just giving proposed chapter titles or do I also need to describe the chapters in some detail? How many chapters (roughly) should an english PhD contain? Thanks.
I think your best bet is just to look at the guidance offered by the specific programs you want to apply to. They usually have a fairly detailed list of things they expect you to include, but the overall formatting is up to you. Once you've got a draft that covers all the necessary components you can share it with prospective supervisors, and they'll probably give you more advice on how to refine it/adjust the structure.
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Tesdytes
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Scroll to the bottom of the page for four examples:https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/admiss...earch_prop.htm
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Keele Postgraduate
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(Original post by easack123)
Anywhere online that gives examples of PhD proposals, specifically for English Literature? All the examples I can find are science based and so not as helpful - I'm struggling largely with formatting. Specifically, what is a chapter breakdown? Is that just giving proposed chapter titles or do I also need to describe the chapters in some detail? How many chapters (roughly) should an english PhD contain? Thanks.
I had to write a chapter breakdown and draft as part of my application for funding so I've included a short extract from that below in case it's helpful!

"Chapter 1 interrogates Nicholson’s implication that by 1700 Arthur was merely a myth suitable for bawdy folk-tales or children’s fables. Following the Glorious Revolution, Purcell and Dryden revived a historicised version of Arthur in their semi-opera King Arthur, or the British Worthy (1691), a warrior conscripted to the Jacobite cause but ignoring the mythology of Camelot. Reaction to Blackmore’s Spenserian attempts at Arthurian epic in Prince Arthur (1695) and King Arthur (1697), reviled by Pope and other members of the literati, evidences the descent of the mythological Arthur to a subject of mockery. Fielding’s 1734 play The Tragedy of Tragedies, or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great, sees Tom as a great hero at Arthur’s court despite his diminutive stature, showing the relative contempt extended to Arthurianism, as well as the increasing portrayal of Arthur as infantile and incompatible with enlightened thinking."

To be honest, it really is a very rough guide to what you intend to include that shows you've roughly thought about the shape of your thesis, the primary texts and approaches you'll cover etc. You may well find yourself deviating in terms of the specifics during the course of the PhD - I've moved Fielding's play into Chapter Two for example as my research is indicating it's a better 'fit' there and that the 1690s texts are best contained in a chapter in their own right. So don't feel the proposal is something that you will be bound by for the rest of your PhD - there's room to deviate as your research develops, and it is usually expected that you will do so to some extent!

In terms of number of chapters, I was advised to have no more than 4 with an introduction and a short coda - and to try and make each chapter about the same length. This breaks down into roughly 20,000 words a chapter in my case, plus up to 20,000 words for the introduction and coda. How you break this down will depend on the topic of your thesis, the texts or text you are covering, and the eventual length you need to submit - so I would advise discussing thesis structure and chapter breakdown with potential supervisors who can support and help you with this element of your application.

Hope that helps!

Amy Louise
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easack123
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
You wouldn’t necessarily be expected to have a chapter breakdown at this stage, that’s too much detail or supposition about the research.
I've been told by my supervisor a chapter breakdown is essential
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easack123
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(Original post by Keele Postgraduate)
I had to write a chapter breakdown and draft as part of my application for funding so I've included a short extract from that below in case it's helpful!

"Chapter 1 interrogates Nicholson’s implication that by 1700 Arthur was merely a myth suitable for bawdy folk-tales or children’s fables. Following the Glorious Revolution, Purcell and Dryden revived a historicised version of Arthur in their semi-opera King Arthur, or the British Worthy (1691), a warrior conscripted to the Jacobite cause but ignoring the mythology of Camelot. Reaction to Blackmore’s Spenserian attempts at Arthurian epic in Prince Arthur (1695) and King Arthur (1697), reviled by Pope and other members of the literati, evidences the descent of the mythological Arthur to a subject of mockery. Fielding’s 1734 play The Tragedy of Tragedies, or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great, sees Tom as a great hero at Arthur’s court despite his diminutive stature, showing the relative contempt extended to Arthurianism, as well as the increasing portrayal of Arthur as infantile and incompatible with enlightened thinking."

To be honest, it really is a very rough guide to what you intend to include that shows you've roughly thought about the shape of your thesis, the primary texts and approaches you'll cover etc. You may well find yourself deviating in terms of the specifics during the course of the PhD - I've moved Fielding's play into Chapter Two for example as my research is indicating it's a better 'fit' there and that the 1690s texts are best contained in a chapter in their own right. So don't feel the proposal is something that you will be bound by for the rest of your PhD - there's room to deviate as your research develops, and it is usually expected that you will do so to some extent!

In terms of number of chapters, I was advised to have no more than 4 with an introduction and a short coda - and to try and make each chapter about the same length. This breaks down into roughly 20,000 words a chapter in my case, plus up to 20,000 words for the introduction and coda. How you break this down will depend on the topic of your thesis, the texts or text you are covering, and the eventual length you need to submit - so I would advise discussing thesis structure and chapter breakdown with potential supervisors who can support and help you with this element of your application.

Hope that helps!

Amy Louise
Thankyou!
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