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The research proposal is the most important component of a Ph D application - and it plays a big role in defining the early stages of a doctorate.
Scholarship is the expert understanding of your subject area that enables you to conduct valuable research.
Once you’ve carried out your literature review, you’ll move from scholarship to research.
With that said, there are a few components that are part of most Ph D experiences. It also explains why your work is worthwhile and why it fits with the expertise and objectives of your university.
But they form part of the vast majority of Ph D experiences. All of this means that, even though the proposal precedes the Ph D itself, it plays a vital role in shaping your project and signposting the work you’ll be doing over the next three or more years.
Upgrading from MPhil to Ph D registration usually involves a form of oral exam – similar to the viva voce that concludes a Ph D.
But, unlike a full viva, the MPhil upgrade is less formal and only covers part of your thesis.
In other cases you’ll wait until you have a full dataset before reviewing and recording your conclusions.
At UK universities it’s common to register new Ph D students for an MPhil before ‘upgrading’ them to ‘full’ doctoral candidates.
The aim will be to see how this work can inform your own research: whether it includes findings you need to take account of, presents useful methodologies to incorporate or even reaches conclusions you plan to challenge.
Whereas the bulk of a Ph D involves original research, the literature review is where you demonstrate skills in scholarship.