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 that fits the research program of our school, to formulate relevant research questions, and to choose an appropriate research methodology. After completing the course, participants can apply for admission to our international PhD programme by submitting their research proposal to the board of the SHE research programme.

The course offers many opportunities to connect with the SHE community through informal meetings, workshops, supervision, and presentations sessions. The course takes five days on campus. After that, there is a six-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 the course. A pre-final version of the research proposal will be presented to the SHE research committee. 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.

Around three months after the start of the course, a binding advice will be provided by the two supervisors. This advice determines whether the participant may continue with the course or not. The course takes approximately 360 hours (12 ECTS credits; European Credit Transfer System).


  • On-site part: 7-11 October, 2024; on-site or online presentation of the research proposal: March 2025 (application deadline: 1 July, 2024)

Course fee: €4,800. Those who cannot proceed with the second half of the course because of a negative binding advice, receive a refund of €1,800.

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.


Overview of topics

  • Introduction: how to work in this course and formulating research questions
  • Use of the university library (e.g., literature search)
  • Use of theory
  • Choosing an appropriate (qualitative and/or quantitative) methodological approach
  • Methodological consultation
  • Time management
  • Being a PhD candidate at SHE
  • Challenges and pitfalls when working on a PhD project

Working methods

  • On-site and online workshops and consultation sessions
  • Meetings with personal supervisors
  • Meetings with SHE staff and PhD candidates
  • Feedback from peers and experts
  • Group discussions
  • Group presentations
  • Self-study
  • Presenting the pre-final version of your research proposal to the SHE community

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.