Writing a PhD Research Proposal

"This course offers unique opportunities to refine your research questions under extensive coaching of two of our highly qualified supervisors within the domain of health professions education." - Pascal van Gerven, PhD, course coordinator

Programme information

The aim of this course is to learn how to write a high-quality PhD research proposal, consisting of a series of studies that are expected to be of interest to international peer-reviewed journals. Participants will acquire the relevant knowledge and skills to conduct an in-depth literature study on a topic in one of the four themes that are supported by our school (evaluation, instruction, assessment, or implementation), to formulate relevant research questions, and to choose an appropriate research methodology. After completing the full course, participants can apply for admission to our international PhD programme by submitting their research proposal to the director of the SHE research programme.

The course consists of two parts in which workshops, supervision and presentations sessions take place. Part 1 takes five days and part 2 takes four days. Between the two parts, there is a five-month period in which the research proposal is further refined. Two personal supervisors will be assigned to each participant. These supervisors provide feedback and coaching during all parts of the course. At the end of the course, participants will have completed a final version of the PhD research proposal, which is ready to be submitted to our school. The proposal is presented to the SHE research community in the second part of the course.

Around two months after part 1 of the course, a binding advice will be provided by the two supervisors. This advice determines whether the participant may progress to part 2 of the course or not. The whole course takes a total of 360 hours (12 ECTS credits; European Credit Transfer System).


  • part 1: October 2-6, 2023, part 2: March 19-22, 2024 (application deadline: July 7, 2023)
  • part 2: March 4-8, 2024, part 2: to be determined (application deadline: January 19, 2024)

Course fee: The course fee is to be paid in two installments: €3.000 for part 1 and €1.800 for part 2 of the course. Those who cannot proceed to part 2 only pay the first installment.

Related information: 


Participants will acquire the relevant knowledge and skills to write a PhD research proposal in a relevant domain, to formulate research questions, and to choose an appropriate research methodology. At the same time, the course offers participants the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the SHE research programme and the SHE research community.

Student profile

Are you planning a career in health education research and do you want to take the first step? Do you have a special interest in research in medical or health professions education? Do you want to write a doctoral dissertation in this field and obtain a PhD degree?

The purpose of this course is to help you define your research plans. Doctoral dissertations begin with writing a research proposal. This course teaches you how to progress toward becoming a PhD candidate. At the same time, the course offers you the opportunity to get acquainted with the SHE research programme and the SHE research community: both staff members and other PhD candidates.

Programme details and overview of topics

  • Introduction: how to work in this course and formulating research questions
  • Use of theory
  • Introduction to qualitative research
  • Application of qualitative research
  • Time management
  • Being a PhD candidate at SHE
  • Challenges and pitfalls when working on a PhD project within SHE
  • Peer feedback
  • Expert feedback
  • Presenting the pre-final version of your research proposal to the SHE community

Working methods

  • Workshops
  • Meetings with personal supervisors
  • Group discussions
  • Group presentations
  • Self-study

Fazna Saleem, SHE PhD student and Master of Health Professions Education alumna.

  SHE has contributed immensely to my career and my experience with the MHPE encouraged me to pursue a PhD.