Applying for a PhD

We welcome applications from those wishing to pursue research study at the Lincoln International Business School. Here we offer some guidelines to applicants - please read through this information and contact us at if you have any further questions before completing an application.

Once you are ready to submit your application, please visit Business School Research Opportunities MPhil/PhD and click "Apply Online".

Before submitting your application we strongly recommend that you visit the websites for the research groups:

Please indicate in your application how your proposed research aligns to the interests of a named research group.

Guidelines for Research Degree Proposal, Lincoln International Business School

The research proposal is a key document in the application process. Candidates apply online and submit a 3000 word research proposal. The proposal is considered by a small editorial board who make the first decision based on the quality of the proposal, the mapping of the proposal to research expertise within the school and our ability to offer sustainable supervision. A good proposal will pass through the editorial board to a school wide working group that considers the proposals in more detail. The assessment of the proposal seeks to confirm that:

  1. The research is adequate and appropriate in depth, scale and scope for advanced research degree study
  2. The candidate demonstrates critical thinking
  3. The candidate can communicate ideas clearly
  4. The candidate can select and focus material in an effective and valuable way
  5. The candidate proposes a research project that has both academic and practical relevancy.

We use the proposal in a similar way to a job application in short, the better your proposal, the better chance of being accepted. It is in your interests to demonstrate that you can be a responsible, independent researcher.

At this stage in the process you are not expected to be the expert. Your proposal should be indicative and demonstrate ability to develop. The proposal outlines your area of interest and the research questions you wish to pursue. You will show awareness of the field of study and have a good level of knowledge of the subject that you seek to investigate.

Normally, a proposal includes the following:

Title - Short and pointed description of your research

Introduction - A justification of the research indicating why the research is of value

Literature Review - An initial review of the academic literature in the chosen field highlighting issues that are pertinent to the research questions posed by the research

Research Method - An initial discussion of your choice of research method and indicating how and where you expect to conduct the research

Timeframes - An initial time schedule indicating the key activities and proposed milestones for the research

References - Include full references for cited material using Harvard style of referencing

When developing your title think about the key words that you use to describe the whole proposal. Avoid titles that are general or refer to a significant site of research. The title is a working title only and it is likely that this will change as you refine your study.

The introduction should not only justify the value of research but include here the research objectives. These objectives may take a number of forms such as research questions; hypotheses to be tested; propositions to be investigated or specific problems that require a solution. Be careful to show that you can focus research and that the research has such scope that it can be achieved in the normal timeframes. It is important to include in the introduction a short discussion indicating how your proposed research maps into the current research interests of a research group in the school.

The literature review is your opportunity to indicate your knowledge of the subject under discussion and your ability to identify seminal literature in your field. The literature should be put to use and indicate how your work relates to the existing knowledge.

In terms of method your initial research proposal should provide some discussion of the approach to research that you might use and particular methods. Again, we do not expect you to be expert but to have some knowledge and working experience of research methods. Of particular interest is a short discussion of the mechanisms you may use in the design of your project and how these to relate to the research questions. Please include a discussion of the ethical issues that you believe your research approach raises.

One key criteria that we will use to assess an application relates to the applicants ability to plan and manage a research project. Our expectation is that students will show managerial ability in their research project and complete within the normal timeframes. Hence we would ask you to include a project plan with indicative milestones in your proposal. Please indicate here what you believe to be the main stages and how you believe you would assess progress through the project year on year. This discussion should demonstrate your ability to foresee some challenges and to plan accordingly.

Finally, please ensure that a full reference list is available to support the proposal and use Harvard referencing in this section.

Before submitting proof read, spell and grammar check and then proof read again.

Suggested reading:

Baxter, L, Hughes, C and Tight, M (2007, 3rd edn) How to Research, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Bell, J (2010, 5th edn) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-time Researchers in Education & Social Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. and Lowe, A. (2002) Management Research: An Introduction. Sage Publications.

Philips, E and Pugh, D (2005, 4th edn) How to get a PhD: A Handbook for Students and their Supervisors, Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Punch, K. (2006): Developing Effective Research Proposals (2nd edn) London, Sage.

Riley, M., Wood, R.C., Clark, M.A., Wilkie, E. and Szivas, E. (2000) Researching and Writing Dissertations in Business and Management, Thomson Learning.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2000) Writing your research proposal, Pearson Education.

Thomson, P. and Walker, M. (Eds) (2010): The Routledge Doctoral Student's Companion: Getting to grips with research in Education and the Social Sciences, London and New York, Routledge.

Lincoln International Business School. University of Lincoln, Brayford Wharf East, Lincoln. LN5 7AT