Guidelines for Research Students

Research Degrees

A research student shall complete a thesis based on an independent research component, in addition to the completion of relevant courses of the degree programme, if any. A candidate registered for the Doctor of Philosophy degree programme of the PGIHS shall submit a thesis for the fulfillment of the requirements of the degree. A thesis submitted for the PhD degree programme shall not be less than 60,000 words. A candidate registered for the Master of Philosophy degree programme shall submit a thesis for the fulfillment of the requirements of degree programme. A thesis submitted for MPhil degree programme shall be within the range of 30,000-50,000 words.


All research students shall be required to submit a synopsis of the research intended to carry out with the application for the admission to the degree programme. Admission to a postgraduate research programme depends on both academic ability of the student and the availability of interested and suitably qualified supervisors. The research synopsis will help identify supervisors at the time of admission of a candidate.

Research Proposal

Once admitted to follow a research degree based on the application and synopsis submitted, a student shall be assigned a supervisor/s and required to develop synopsis to a full research proposal in consultation with supervisor/s.

A postgraduate research proposal submitted by a candidate should clearly define the topic that he/she is interested in studying. The candidate needs to show that he/she has begun to identify and develop an interest in the research problem in relation to his/her chosen topic. The candidate’s research proposal should, therefore, demonstrate that he/she understands his/her intended research area, is able to identify research problems, and has some understanding of how to conduct research by providing evidence of project work or relevant research experience.

The supervisor/s of the candidate shall recommend the submission of the full proposal by endorsing the Research Proposal Submission Form. The length of the proposal may be 1500-3000 words for an MPhil degree and 3000-4000 words for a PhD degree. The proposal shall be prepared according to the format prescribed by the PGIHS. The language of the research proposal should be English or in the medium of registration of the candidate.

A candidate shall lead a presentation of his/her research proposal to a panel of evaluators. The panel of evaluators consists of supervisor/s and two members appointed by the relevant Board of Study from the relevant field of study. The main supervisor shall be the Chairperson of the evaluation panel. The Chairperson of the evaluation panel shall inform the Chairperson of the relevant Board of Study in writing of the successful/unsuccessful completion of the research proposal in the prescribed from.

Format of the Research Proposal

(i) Title Page

This includes:

  1. Title/topic of the dissertation/thesis
  2. Full name of the candidate and his/her institutional affiliations, contact information (telephone, email, fax) etc.
(ii) Table of Contents
(iii) Summary

This includes an outline of the candidate’s research proposal, what his/her research will involve, the research problem or hypothesis, research methods and how he/she will analyze data. This should be about 200–300 words.

(iv) Background

This shall explain the reason(s) for choosing the particular research topic and things that prompted the candidate's interest in the topic, relationship with previous research and the ways in which the particular thesis is different or unique.

(v) Research Problem and Objectives

Incorporate the following sections:

  1. Review of Literature: The existing knowledge on the proposed research project needs to be discussed. A review of the relevant literature the candidate has read so far sets your research in context. It identifies the direction that the candidate will take from among several possible theoretical directions
  2. Statement of the Research Problem
  3. Objectives of the Study
  4. Research Hypotheses (if any)
  5. Importance of the Study
(vi) Research Methodology: Research Design and Methods

In this section, the candidate must identify the methodology that underpins the chosen research and must give a rationale for the selected approach. The candidate may need to identify the research paradigm and epistemologies that underpin his/her research. Show how the candidate has used the review of the literature to construct his/her own research methodology.

The candidate needs to outline how data shall be obtained. Through extensive reading the candidate shall become familiar with methodologies adopted by previous researchers and will explore possible research methods. Also the candidate may become aware of the problems that the preceding researchers have encountered and would be able to design his/her own research and acclimatize methods for the intended research. Outlining the methods the candidate may use along with the problems anticipated. The candidate must state whether the research is qualitative or quantitative, whether statistics, interviews, questionnaires, experiments, observations, etc will be used. This also may consist of the ethical considerations of research. This section needs to include the following sub-sections:

  1. Research Design (survey, experimental, etc)
  2. Selection of subjects (population, samples, etc)
  3. Description of instrumentation (questionnaire, etc.)
  4. Assumptions (if any)
  5. Methods of presenting data/analysis. This section indicates as to how the candidate may use his/her data. Reiterate the aims of the research, and state the intended means of analyzing the data along with any tools for analysis intended to be used.
  6. Limitations of the study
(vii) Outline of the Thesis/Dissertation

Outline the tentative format of his/her thesis. Suggest how many chapters that the thesis will have, chapter headings and the order of presentation.

(viii) Timeline

The candidate needs to include a timeline to guide him/ her and keep his/ her study on track. For example, estimate the time needed for tasks and assign tasks for each month.

(ix) Budget and Resources

The candidate needs to outline the resources he/she needs and propose a budget (optional).

(x) References

Follow a standard method: MLA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.

Note: The requirements for individual disciplines can, sometimes, vary, so please consult the relevant Board of Study to check whether their requirements differ.

(xi) Formatting Instructions
  1. The proposal shall be preferably in English or the medium in which the degree is followed.
  2. The length of the proposal:
    1. PhD: 6 to 8 pages
    2. MPhil: 4 to 6 pages
  3. The Times New Roman font with 12 point font size should be used. The page margins should be 1 inch on all sides.
  4. All pages should be numbered using Arabic numerals.
  5. Proposals must be submitted in triplicate.
Thesis Supervision

Once the research proposal submitted by the candidate is approved, the candidate shall carry out the research and writing the thesis in consultation with supervisor/s. All research students should contact their supervisor/s regularly and keep records as required by the PGIHS.

Progress Reports

Research degree students shall submit bi-annual progress reports through supervisor/s to the Director of the PGIHS. Progress reports shall be approved by the relevant Board of Study. Progress reports which are unsatisfactory or not received may carry the penalty of cancellation of registration. All students who received University Scholarships should submit their progress reports to the Director of the PGIHS using the prescribed form.

Final Progress Report and Presubmission Seminar

A candidate who almost completed the thesis shall submit the final progress report three (03) months before the submission of the thesis for examination and lead a public seminar on his/her thesis. The main supervisor of the candidate may chair the session. The Chairperson of the session may inform the Director/the Chairperson of the relevant Board of Study in writing the successful/unsuccessful completion of the pre-submission seminar. The student may submit the thesis once the pre-submission seminar is completed.

Originality of the Research

The thesis shall consist of the candidate’s own account of his/her research. It must form a distinctive contribution to knowledge and afford evidence of originality shown by the exercise of independent critical power and/or by the discovery of new facts. The thesis must be satisfactory in terms of literary presentation. A candidate shall not submit a thesis or part thereof on which a Degree has been conferred upon him/her by any other University. A candidate may incorporate into his/her thesis any published work which has not already been embodied in an earlier thesis of the candidate.

The candidate should declare in the thesis that his/her work is authentic and is free of unauthorized parts of another work. The thesis submitted by students should not contain any part of work done by another person/s without due acknowledgement and authorization. Plagiarism is a serious examination offence of the University and disciplinary actions will be taken under Examination Procedure, Offences and Punishments of the University.