Postgraduate Research

How to Apply

Applying for a Research Degree

The PվƵ offers a range of research programmes, including MA/MSc by Research, MPhil, and PhD, and you can apply for these via the specific course pages on our website.

Before you submit your application, you will first need to identify a supervisory team or staff member that has expertise in the area you wish to research. You are then encouraged to contact them directly to discuss your proposed project and suitability. You may need to produce a research proposal (depending on the subject area), which provides an overview of the topic you intend to research. We also strongly advise you to check entry requirements for your programme before submitting your application. These can be found on the individual course pages.

Finding a Supervisor

You will need to do some research before applying for your chosen programme to identify potential supervisors at Lincoln whose research interests align with your own.

You can discover more about the PվƵ's key research strengths and latest studies on our main research pages. You can also explore the research being carried out by academic experts across our institutes, centres, and groups.

You may want to search our website for specific subject areas and topics or browse our , where you will find details of academics and research studies relating to your own field. Our College and School sites also offer more information about research expertise and recent projects.

Once you have identified a potential supervisor, you should contact them via email to discuss your application. Details can be found in our . If you have an agreement in principle that a member of staff will supervise your research, you can submit your application with your research proposal. 

Writing a Research Proposal

Some PGR programmes require a research proposal as part of the application. This is a project outline identifying what you want to study, why you want to investigate this area, and how you intend to conduct the research. You are not expected to be the expert, but you will need to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the subject and where your research will make a valuable contribution to the topic.

Remember that your proposal is the starting point of your research. It is normal for your ideas to evolve and develop, and for plans to change as you engage more deeply with the literature and begin working with your supervision team.

Here are some general points for writing your research proposal. Some subjects have specific requirements, so please check the individual course pages or speak to your potential supervisor or supervisory team.

Length of Proposal

For a PhD your proposal should be 3,000 to 5,000 words (excluding references). A Master’s by Research requires a proposal of between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

Structuring Your Research Proposal

There isn’t a prescribed format for the structure of a research proposal but the following section headings are generally considered to be important:

Working Title

A clear and succinct description of your research should be encapsulated in the title. Although this may not be the title of your final thesis, your proposal title should give a clear indication of the area you are interested in exploring.


The introduction should set the context, explaining what you will research, why it is of value, and how you propose to conduct your research. The introduction is your opportunity to demonstrate that your proposed research can make a significant contribution to existing bodies of literature, detailing how your research will fill a gap or develop/complete findings from previous research. Overall, you will be expected to show that you have a good knowledge of the wider context in which your research belongs and that you have awareness of methodologies, theories, and conflicting evidence in your chosen field.

Overview of Your Research

You should provide a short overview of your research and where it fits in existing academic discourses, debates, or literature. This should also cover your research objectives, why the research is needed, and what original contribution it can make. Make sure your overview is intelligible to someone who is not a specialist in this field

Literature Review

You won’t have had chance to review all the relevant literature at this stage, but you should be able to incorporate the major debates and issues, demonstrating that you understand your chosen field. Show how your research is original and how it will address the gaps in current knowledge. The conclusion of the review should include a statement of your research problem or question.


Your methodology section should detail how you will conduct your research and consider the following:

  • Methods of data collection and analysis
  • How you will access and recruit participants (if relevant)
  • Number of participants to be included (if relevant)
  • Ethical implications of your work
  • Any potential problems and challenges with your proposed methods and how these might be overcome.


You should provide a clear plan of how you will carry out the research from start to finish, breaking it down into the main components of the research project and identifying what you expect to do in each year of your studies. 

Top Tips for a Good Research Proposal

  • Have a clearly stated research idea, question, or problem and be persuasive.
  • Demonstrate how it is addressing a gap in the current knowledge and research.
  • Develop a well-structured proposal (poorly formed or rambling proposals may raise concerns that the thesis could be the same).
  • Be reasonable and realistic in terms of scope.
  • Show passion for the topic.
  • Refine and edit your proposal before it is submitted.
  • Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Leave the reader interested, excited, and wanting to know more.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of research methods and research approaches and be clear that these are appropriate for your research question(s).
  • Refrain from using discipline-specific jargon unless it is absolutely necessary to communicating your idea effectively.
Checking Entry Requirements

The University accepts a range of qualifications for its programmes but you should check that you meet the entry requirements for your chosen course as these vary. Please visit the course pages on our website for more information.

For prospective international students looking to apply for a PվƵ postgraduate research degree, it is important that you are aware of the specific requirements that you may need for your chosen course. 

For example, there may be English Language requirements for our courses and other specific qualifications, such as the ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate in order to enrol on certain science programmes. You can find out more information on the individual course pages.

If you would like to discuss your suitability for any our programmes, then please contact the academic listed on the relevant course page or speak to a member of our dedicated Postgraduate Team.

Important Information

We understand that there is lots of information you need when thinking about applying for a postgraduate research degree. This includes start dates, contact details, research areas, entry requirements, assessments, and details of fees and any additional costs you may incur during your studies. Our research degree course pages can provide you with the additional information you will need.

Explore Our Courses
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Submitting Your Application

Once ready, you can make an application to the PվƵ via our website. Simply click the ‘Apply Now’ button on the web page of your chosen course. You'll need to register to create an account so you can save your progress. You do not have to complete your application in one go. If you have already started your application and want to continue or are ready to submit your application, you can access this on the  

You can apply for a research degree at any time, although some subjects encourage you to enrol for specific start dates (for example, January, May, or October). Please see the individual course pages for more details.

Alongside your research proposal (if required for your subject area), you will need to provide two references, copies of completed qualification certificates and transcripts, and evidence that you meet our English language entry requirements where appropriate.

Ian Mifsud

Ian Mifsud

PhD Management (Education)

Ian has spent more than 20 years in education, working in various roles including as a teacher, head of school, and director in the ministry of education in Malta. He is currently Director General at the Secretariat for Catholic Education in Malta, managing an organisation with over 120 employees and coordinating 55 schools that service almost 17,000 students.

I had a really positive experience at Lincoln, which was almost flawless in terms of meeting my expectations. It is a very welcoming place, where people of different cultures meet and strive to grow together. Moreover, the respectful demeanour of academics, who treated fellow students as their equals, was both inspiring and reassuring.

Research at Lincoln

Postgraduate students are an integral part of our vibrant research community and are able to learn from, and work alongside, leading academics, many of whom are working on groundbreaking studies that are addressing major global challenges.

Contact the Postgraduate Team

Brayford Pool Campus


+44 (0)1522 886644