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Project description

Read more here about what a good project description should contain. Please note that you should always refer to the specific PhD fellowship advertisement and its requirements.

Requirements for the length of the project description

The project description must not exceed 12,000 characters (5 pages of 2400 characters each) including title, table of contents, characters, spaces, schedule, figures, footnotes and references etc. but excluding bibliography.Content of the project description

Overall, the project description must:

  • Be well structured and have a clearly defined focus and goals
  • Be centrally located within the research profile of the department you are applying to
  • Explicitly relate to the specific fellowship posting
  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the existing research in your field
  • Be theoretically and methodologically sound
  • Contribute to current research, e.g. by providing new perspectives and/or expanding existing knowledge
  • Be innovative 

The introduction should include

  • A precise and interesting project title
  • Your motivation for the project: relevance, topic, contribution to research
  • A delimitation of the project in terms of theme, history, geography, institution, etc.
  • Project type: empirical, theoretical, etc.
  • Problem statement 
State of the art

In this section, provide an overview of the existing research in your field of study. You should outline the most important research in the field, both nationally and internationally, and explain how your project relates to existing research. If you have previously conducted research in the same field, this should also be included.

You must also argue in favour of the societal relevance of your project and suggest which research environments your project can become part of – again, both nationally and internationally.

Theoretical framework for project

Present and substantiate your choice of theoretical framework.

Choice of methodology 

Provide a brief description of the methods you will use. For example, quantitative and/or qualitative approaches, discourse analysis, literature analysis, interviews, media ethnography, etc. You should also explain your choice of data (documents, films, interviews, focus groups, archives, etc.) and your approach to your data (e.g. do you need access to archives or consent to use interviews?). You should also assess whether there are any ethical considerations related to your methodology and clarify them here.

Project schedule

It is crucial that your schedule reflects that this is a thoroughly prepared project that can realistically be completed in 36 months.

The schedule is also a great management tool for you. During your PhD programme, you can use the project management schedule to keep track of whether you are reaching your goals or if the project has changed direction.

Provide a clear overview of how you intend to spend your six semesters of PhD study, i.e. when you will attend courses, conduct your data collection and analyses, write your thesis, when you will carry out your dissemination activities and your change of environment. Feel free to lay out your schedule in a table.

If you anticipate special expenses related to the project (questionnaires, fieldwork, extended stay abroad, special equipment, etc.), specify these in the application form.

Anticipated results 

Discuss the anticipated outcomes of your project and how they will benefit society or research. In this respect, you should also explain how you will disseminate your results, i.e. whether you will write a monograph or anthology, as well as any other plans for dissemination.



Include a bibliography of all the literature you refer to in your project description. The bibliography is the only thing that does not count towards the 12,000 characters that the project description can take up.

Tips and advice 

Lastly, we have brought together some useful general tips and advice:

  • Be precise, concrete and understandable
  • Write clearly and concisely
  • Write in such a way that non-specialists can understand your project description. The application is often evaluated by researchers from very different disciplines
  • Emphasise innovative elements of your project in comparison to previous research
  • Be ambitious and realistic: it is better to research one thing excellently than many things unexceptionally.