Creative Writing research proposals

Some guidelines to assist you in developing a proposal for a research higher degree in Creative Writing at The University of Melbourne (MA or PhD).

The creative PhD at The University of Melbourne is developed and marked as a single thesis, with two major elements: a dissertation and a creative work.

Each part usually contributes 50% to the overall word count. It is possible to increase the dissertation above 50%, but the creative work cannot be more than 50%.

One way to understand the unity of the creative PhD thesis is to consider that there is one overarching research question or hypothesis, which is approached within the thesis in two different manners, a scholarly one and a creative one.

The dissertation is not an exegesis. The dissertation does not offer a commentary on the creative processes or the intentions of the writer. The dissertation is intended to stand independently as a scholarly work making an original contribution to its field or discipline. In creative writing, this field is often interdisciplinary, but it can be characterised as a discipline interested in writerly questions, that is questions that take into account creativity, creative processes, the decision-making that goes into a creative text, cultural and technological influences on writing, questions of genre boundaries (including emerging genres, hybrid genres), and questions that address issues in conceiving of writing as a craft. This is a broad description and it is not exhaustive, but it does indicate that most dissertations are investigating aspects of the act of writing.

In your proposal you should make it clear what your research question is, and how this question fits with or responds to an ongoing critical discourse. You should identify the fields or disciplines you will draw upon, what models of analysis you will adopt, and what critical and creative texts you wish to discuss in your dissertation.

The creative work will need to be articulated in your proposal with some detail, understanding that as with all creative works there will be room for re-considerations and re-drafting. You should show how your creative work addresses or arises from your research question.

Your proposal should include an indicative list of the texts you will consult.