Well, it largely depends on the subject but generally the first three chapters would be your dissertation proposal. And the length may be some where 5,000 to 8,000 words. That is at BA level, if you're doing MA or Doctorate then it'll be much bigger!!

My proposal for dissertation was by no means exemplary but I included:

1. A comprehensive overview of my argument/topic

2. The key questions I would ask and explore

3. Contrasts that would form a structure/motor for the thesis

4. A comprehensive list of the main critical voices I'd be engaging with and why

5. If I was resolved to form a clear conclusion then what was my conclusion and show clearly how my arguments led to this conclusion (in other words prove that my argument was logically sound)

Following is an outline on how to write a dissertation proposal or how your dissertation proposal should look like:

If you are writing a dissertation proposal that it should be approximately 40-45 typewritten, double-spaced pages (exclusive of notes and bibliography). It should have:

a) An Introduction which clearly states the problem and its significance. What research questions do you intend to answer in your dissertation? Do you have a preliminary hypothesis or set of arguments?

b) A Discussion or Literature Review which situates the research problem in the context of current debates and research. What are the key unsolved questions in your field and how do you plan to speak to them?

c) An Approach section that sets out the sources, methods, and procedures for the scholarship. What do you need to know in order to write the dissertation? How will you find out?

d) A tentative Outline of Chapters which breaks the project down into manageable sections. Keep in mind that you can’t get too much done in a single dissertation chapter—it is not much bigger than a big seminar paper.

e) A preliminary Bibliography, including all materials reviewed in the Discussion/Literature Review section.

All written material must be presented in accordance with the stylistic regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research and must include appropriate documentation, footnotes and bibliography.

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