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Research Proposal


Admission requirements

Only students who are admitted to the master’s programme Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology can take part in this course.


The research proposal is written as preparation for the fieldwork or internship and the Master Thesis Project.

The research proposal is a paper with a minimum of 15 pages. A research proposal must deal with the following issues:

  • Motivation and justification of the research question

  • Knowledge of the area of research (literature survey)

  • Theoretical motivation of the research question

  • Further specification of the research question.

  • Motivation of the methodologies used and implications of the proposed methods for addressing the research question.

  • Depending on the methodologies used, it may be necessary to define and explain the operationalization of the employed concepts.

  • Motivation of the proposed fieldwork methodologies and research techniques and their implications for the research process.

  • Preliminary plan for data analysis following field research.

  • Work plan, time schedule, and budget.

These issues can be integrated within the research proposal as follows:

I Introduction

  • Research motivation, research framework and (preliminary) research question.

  • Justification of choice of research subject.

  • General conditions: description of the situation in the research area on basis of a literature survey.

  • Short social scientific description of the area. Aspects related to the subject will be addressed here.

II Problem definition and theoretical foundation
On the basis of a literature survey, theories and theoretical debates related to the research topic are addressed, as are the following points:

  • General definition of the problem

  • Exposition of the conceptual model on the basis of the literature survey

  • Description of specific questions and hypotheses. These should be related to the research population and the selected methods and techniques

III Definition and operationalization of concepts
In this section the concepts used in the general and specific research questions should be defined and operationalized It should be clear that, in most cases, decisions regarding the research population and the relevant methods and techniques should precede the operationalization

IV Methods and techniques of research
Decisions about which techniques will be deployed in the research and justification thereof.
Possible sample. To what extent is a sample necessary and possible? How can research units be selected? Are the research units accurately defined? Are observations and interviews held once or several times and why?
Data analysis. In the proposal the student should explain what analytical methods will be used for the processing of data.

V Organization of the research
Both a time schedule and a budget are required. The time schedule should cover the entire research period, comprising all three phases: preparation, field research, report on field research.
The budget should be submitted with the research proposal. Commonly, it includes travel expenses, accommodation, insurance, cost of maintenance, materials, interpreter etc.

Methods of instruction

Individual supervision.


Dependent on research topic and area.


The research proposal is graded by the individual supervisor of the Master Thesis Project.


By individual appointment with the supervisor during October-December for students starting in September or during February- March for students starting in February.