The thesis proposal is a detailed discussion of the thesis topic.
It should be given to your thesis advisor during the first week of the thesis semester. The thesis proposal consists of 4-5 typed pages, plus a preliminary timetable and a preliminary bibliography. A good proposal will include the following:
- A clear, concise statement of the thesis topic, preferably in the form of a hypothesis which you hope to test or a question you hope to answer.
- A statement of why the topic is worth pursuing.
- A discussion of what literature deals with the topic.
- A description of how you plan to test your hypothesis or answer your question. Data sources are important, and you will need to identify the type of data needed to test your thesis.
- A bibliography that is divided into two parts: works you have consulted, and those that you plan to consult. No doubt, your term paper or thesis will evolve as you go along. The final product may be quite different from your initial thinking on the topic, because research done during the semester will stimulate you to think about new facts, theories and explanations. For this reason, the bibliography you begin with should not be treated as the final one; rather, consider it a starting point for further explorations into the field.
- The preliminary timetable should list each chapter, its topic, and the date you intend to finish writing it.
Even though you do not have to turn in a long written proposal when doing term papers, it is helpful to go through the same planning process as you do for a thesis.