MBA Dissertation Proposal-A Step by Step Guidelines for Students

In this article, I am going to give a step by step guideline for the students to prepare for the Dissertation Proposal. 

As a part of the Dissertation process,  a proposal is required in the beginning, as a pro forma, which is submitted to the University Supervisors separately. The proposal is a platform, for the dissertation where the student identifies a topic and present necessary argument through it, for conducting the research, thus relating the aims and goals, research question, and problem statement of the investigation. The proposal also entails  various process detail and describes the structure, research method, literary references  based on which the research will be conducted. In short, proposal is a short summary of the dissertation, without last conclusion and analysis.

  • Universities generally give every student a MSc/MBA Dissertation Handbook (Guidebook) which has some specific template (Fig.1) for the proposal. If not then they generally guide the student about the contents to be included in the proposal. This is the sole reason, why Dissertation Handbooks/Guidebooks of every University should be thoroughly read by every students.
  • The length of most MBA research proposals widely vary from 1000-4000 words depending upon Universities and upon the content and length of the dissertation topic. Students should remember that the proposal should be crisp, concise and include practical information.
  • The Research Proposal is often accompanied by a Work Plan of the time schedule that the student will need to complete the task of dissertation. This is represented in a formal way with the help of a Gantt Chart. (NB: A proper representation of a Gantt Chart with related and dependent tasks make good impression than a haphazard piece of excel chart. So here, my advice will be to prepare a neat and clean Gantt Chart, Fig.2).
Fig.1. This is the Plan for the Dissertation Proposal. Example of the Template provided by one of the Universities

Fig.1. This is the Plan for the Dissertation Proposal. Example of the Template provided by one of the Universities

Fig.2. This is a simple Gantt Chart

Fig.2. This is a simple Gantt Chart

  • The Research Proposal should answer the following questions:
  1. WHAT: "What" includes the Research Statement, Research Question, and Research Objectives.
  • (NB: Don't forget to include a section where the definition of key words are given. This makes the proposal more attractive and the supervisor gets the idea that the student is well aware of the topic and its related concepts). Before jumping into a research process, students should understand the area of the research problem and the business context.
  • Be it marketing management, human resource management or customer relationship management, students should focus on the problem area and should ask themselves why the research is necessary. You may need to show your supervisor, in the rationale section of the final dissertation what is the significance of your research and what practical contributions it has.
  • Example: If you are investigating about relationship marketing then you need to find why it is significant in the field of retaining customers or winning new customers.

2. WHY: "Why" the research problem is significant from the current perspective and what more knowledge it will add to the existing literary base?

  • (NB: Many University Supervisors' prefer to see a small paragraph on earlier literature works where it is related what investigation have been done in that topic and recently what are the current update by scholars. Students should reason out from these scholarly work why his/her dissertation is important, and how his/her work is going to add knowledge to the existing literary base).

3. CONTEXT: Students should explain the background/context in which the research is set.


  1. "Follow a quantitative method  to prove statistical significance which need a large data set, and explain the method in short in your proposal" ( Experience from University of Sunderland)
  2. "Try to avoid a subjective topic for your proposal"-Analysis of Large Data set becomes difficult.
  3. Try avoid selecting Mixed Research methods, and choose either Qualitative or Quantitative Research Method.
  4. Try to include a Research Model/Research Design  in the Proposal shown in Fig.3.
Fig.3. Research Model given in the Proposal

Fig.3. Research Model given in the Proposal

Try to Include the following headings in the Table of Contents in your proposal:

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction

2.    Research Rationale

3.    Statement of Aim

4.    Research Objectives

5.    Literature Review

6.    Research Methodology

6.1. Research Problem

6.2. Research Design

6.3. Research Philosophy

6.4. Research Approach

6.5. Research Strategy

6.6. Research Method

6.7. Data Collection Methods

6.8. Sampling Details

6.9. Validity and Limitations


I hope readers will enjoy this post and will know few tricks about writing an A Grade Proposal. Please let me know your Feedbacks!

Happy Reading!


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