It should delineate what topic and area the dissertation will explore; discuss why this topic and area merit such exploration; and include a provisional chapter outline and as complete a bibliography as possible.
The outline should be as precise as possible, even if it is very likely to be modified in the course of writing the dissertation. Finding, defining, and communicating a topic that is at once significant and of realistic scope are tasks that require discussion and cooperation between the dissertation writer and faculty members.
Therefore, the dissertation writer is encouraged to show drafts of the prospectus to his or her dissertation committee and other faculty members. After these initial consultations, the writer will submit the final version of the prospectus for formal approval by the committee. The committee will then meet collectively with the candidate to discuss the project and its implementation.
There is no single recipe for a good dissertation prospectus. But all writers should answer, to the best of their abilities at this early stage of research, certain fundamental questions:. This problem can be theoretical, critical, or historical; but it should, in most cases, be presented as a question or related set of questions to which the dissertation will attempt to find answers.
It is important that the problem and hypothetical answers be stated from the outset, so that your research will not risk becoming random, and your exposition will not lapse into mere description. The sense that an argument is being made should be constantly kept in mind. Has this topic been treated before? How does your approach differ from earlier ones? Has new evidence appeared for example, a new primary source since previous treatments?
Outlining a sequence of potential chapters will help you clarify the argument of your dissertation and check the balance of its parts in relation to one another. A chapter should be conceived as approximately double-spaced pages.
What work has, and has not, been done in this field and on this problem? Discuss relevant scholarship critically.
It is not necessary to criticize specific failings; but show what is understood to be the merits and limitations of relevant works. How do you propose to develop, challenge, or depart from existing positions or themes in historical literature?
Outline an approach to the subject. If the conception has theoretical aspects, discuss them critically.
Have scholars in other fields developed concepts of potential interest to the topic? Think about method and theory, even if there is a decision not to engage much with external perspectives and theory.
Guidelines for Preparing a Thesis/Dissertation Prospectus This section should describe the problem you wish to study and its interest or significance. State. A dissertation prospectus is a paradoxical piece of writing. If the major sections of your dissertation seem likely to exceed this length, plan to subdivide them.
The faculty neither encourages nor discourages such engagement, but cautions that original historical work should not simply illustrate other people's ideas. Give an account of the sources for the subject. Stress primary sources, the difficulties they present, their location print, manuscript, or any other form , and their accessibility. Identify the principal libraries and repositories as well as other locations and persons.
Do not overlook unpublished doctoral or master's research. Draft a tentative chapter outline and schedule of tasks and stages for the writing of the dissertation.
Allow time for research, travel to collections, writing, and revision. Presentations last for 30 minutes. For the first 15 minutes students present their prospectus, and the remaining 15 minutes are reserved for questions from the audience.