How to write a PhD research proposal?

Successful research requires systematic preparation, planning, critical thinking and dedicated work. This free and open online course might help you answer the above question.

Audun Bjerknes filming Fikadu Balcha, PhD student for the MOOC. Photo: Øystein Røynesdal.

In this course, the candidates will harness the key elements of the main sections in a research proposal and solve common challenges when planning and writing a PhD proposal. Participants will learn how to structure, define and present their research idea in writing. During the course, they will be able to refine their own research objectives and sub-questions, argue for their importance, and outline the context and the setup of the study. Although starting from a focus in health sciences much of the content is relevant in other disciplines as well. 

The MOOC How to write a PhD research proposal is a collaboration between The University of Oslo, Norway, and Jimma University, Ethiopia. It is now open for registration on the FutureLearn platform and runs for four weeks from October 11. 

It is free and available to participants all over the world as long as you have internet access! No admission requirements! 

The main target group is future researchers currently developing a PhD proposal, but it may also be useful to senior researchers who have a role as advisor to PhD candidates, or those aiming at improving their research proposal writing skills. 

We recommend that all participants start from Week 1, to get the full benefit of interacting with fellow participants as well as with the course facilitators from the University of Oslo. However, it will be possible to join the course at any time, throughout the four weeks’ run and the material will be accessible throughout November. 

Course link for more information and registration background


The MOOC How to write a PhD research proposal was developed as a part of the NORPART EXCEL SMART project, and it was based on a course developed and taught in Ethiopia under the NORHED SACCADE project. The core faculty in this course and the MOOC are Director of the Centre of Global Health Dr. Jeanette H. Magnus and Professor Anne Moen from the Institute of Health and Society. 

The Facilitator of this run is Associate professor and Deputy director at the Centre of Global Health at University of Oslo, Mekdes Gebremariam. The role of the facilitator is to contribute to the online discussions between participants, supervise when needed  and respond to questions during these four weeks.  

This will be the fourth run of the course. Previous runs have reached well over 5000 participants from over 160 different countries. 

Published Sep. 24, 2021 12:02 PM - Last modified Nov. 30, 2021 12:00 PM