Writing a Good PhD Research Proposal

As a PhD in Denmark, during your three years of employment you are not SU-eligible. You must therefore get funding for your salary by applying for a PhD position.

You can apply for posts with the universities (see our list of websites where vacant PhD positions are posted). You can also seek external sources of funding from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

It is always a good idea to talk to your supervisor at the university. It may be that you have ideas for a research area and need help to seek external funding.

Job posting

The universities regularly post PHD positions you can apply for. Please note that there are formal requirements for applications for advertised PhD positions. Among other things, you need to prepare a detailed research project description. Read more about the requirements on the university’s website.

A career coach in IDA can help you formulate your research proposal and set up your CV. The articles here are designed to help you do that, so it is a good idea to start by reading them.

Research proposal

Your proposal should include a project description "visualising" the project so that the reader is convinced of the usefulness of the results gained from your research.

Here are three key elements that your project description needs to include in your PhD application.

1. Excellence

Describe how your upcoming PhD project exceeds the state of the art. Your CV should indicate that you have experience with initiating and implementing projects.

You should also highlight good grades and relevant course choices. By doing this you demonstrate that you have a solid foundation for completing a PhD project and have ambitions to take your research to the front line of your field - and may even continue as a researcher after your PhD. 

2. Impact

What will we be able to achieve if the project is carried out with the results that you hoped for? / What can it be "used for" - also in an academic research context?

3. Implementation

Is the research described in a way so that the project seems viable?

Please remember that your application, as in all other job applications, should point out that you are highly motivated to kick-start your PhD research.


Why do you want to go ahead with your research?

How much do you enjoy facing unexpected challenges without a given solution, and with an uncertainty as to whether you will achieve the expected results at all?

Motivation is also about how bad you want to solve the tasks that are part of a PhD research.

It can, for example, be teaching, solving complex issues, project management, work in a dense academic environment (whether it is alone or in group), communicate in peer-reviewed journals.

Do you need help with your PhD application?

You are always welcome to contact our career coaches to get qualified assistance with your PhD application and CV layout.