Why Choose a Research Proposal as an Assessment?

This term, I have had some weird assignments. Namely, I have to write a research proposal and a project proposal to be assessed for two of my modules. My first question on both occasions was, “what’s wrong with a good old essay?” I mean, I’m here to learn and then show what I have learnt and how I can apply that to my own work. That is why we write essays.

To be honest, it was a good opportunity to practice writing one for my PhD applications next year but I thought that would be all it was. Then I started writing the research proposal. It turns out that not only is writing a research proposal concisely really tough (how do I know what I need to explain and what I don’t) but it also requires a lot more knowledge than I thought it would, both of the subject and the methodology. So I’ve been refreshing my memory on the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, who’s in dire need of a reassessment, reading up on politeness (crucial and not restricted to the British) and trying to make sense of notes from my textual analysis seminars. In other words, I have had to put a lot more work into this proposal than I expected.

So do I now understand why we’ve had such weird assessments this semester? If this research proposal is anything to go by, our tutors and lecturers are trying to prepare us for the “Real World”. Let’s face it, the reality is that we won’t be writing essays for the rest of our lives, unless you become an academic. No matter what job you are in, you are probably going to create proposals of one nature or another at some point. So being assessed on our ability to create a convincing proposal is probably a lot more useful than another “good old essay”.

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