Step-By-Step Guide on Writing a Synopsis for PhD Using the Right Format

PhD Theses

9th July 2024

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Writing a synopsis for a PhD thesis is a critical step in your academic journey. It serves as a concise summary of your research project, providing an overview of the problem, objectives, methodology, and potential outcomes. A well-crafted synopsis is essential for gaining approval from your academic committee and setting a clear direction for your research. This guide will walk you through how to write a synopsis effectively, using the right format and providing a PhD synopsis example to illustrate key points.

What is a Synopsis?

A synopsis for a thesis is a brief but comprehensive summary of your research proposal. It outlines the main aspects of your research, including the background, objectives, methodology, expected outcomes, and significance of the study. The purpose of the synopsis is to present a clear and concise overview of your research plan to your academic supervisors and committee members.

Importance of a Well-Written Synopsis

A well-written synopsis is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Clarity and Focus: It helps clarify your research objectives and keeps your project focused.
  2. Approval Process: A well-structured synopsis is essential for gaining approval from your academic committee.
  3. Guidance: It serves as a roadmap for your research, helping you stay on track throughout your PhD journey.

How to Write a Synopsis for Your PhD Thesis

Follow these steps to write an effective synopsis for thesis:

Step 1: Understand the Requirements

Before you start writing, familiarise yourself with the specific requirements and guidelines provided by your academic institution. These may include the length of the synopsis, formatting guidelines, and any specific sections that need to be included.

Step 2: Title Page

The title page of your synopsis should include:

  • Title of the Thesis
  • Your Name
  • Institution
  • Department
  • Supervisor

Step 3: Introduction

The introduction should provide a brief background of the research topic. It should set the context for your study and explain the significance of the research questions. The introduction should answer the following questions:

  • What is the research problem?
  • Why is it important?
  • What is the current state of research on this topic?

Step 4: Review of Literature

In this section, provide a summary of the existing literature related to your research topic. Highlight the gaps in the current knowledge that your research aims to address. This section demonstrates your understanding of the field and establishes the foundation for your research objectives.

Step 5: Research Objectives

Clearly state the objectives of your research. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Your research objectives guide the direction of your study and define what you aim to achieve.

Step 6: Research Methodology

The methodology section is a critical part of your synopsis. It outlines the research design, data collection methods, and analytical techniques you will use to achieve your objectives. Include the following details:

  • Research Design: Describe the overall approach and design of your study (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods).
  • Data Collection: Explain the methods you will use to collect data (e.g., surveys, interviews, experiments).
  • Sampling: Detail the sampling techniques and the size of the sample.
  • Data Analysis: Describe the techniques and tools you will use to analyse the data.

Step 7: Expected Outcomes

In this section, outline the potential outcomes of your research. Explain how your findings will contribute to the existing knowledge in your field and address the research problem. Discuss the implications of your research for theory, practice, and future research.

Step 8: Research Timeline

Provide a detailed timeline of your research activities. This should include all the major milestones and deliverables from the beginning of your research to the submission of your thesis. A well-planned timeline demonstrates your ability to manage the project effectively.

Step 9: References

List all the sources you have cited in your synopsis. Follow the referencing style specified by your institution (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Proper citation of sources is essential to avoid plagiarism and acknowledge the work of other researchers.

PhD Synopsis Example

Here is a simplified PhD synopsis example to illustrate the structure and content:

Title Page:

  • Title: The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance of University Students
  • Candidate: John Doe
  • Institution: XYZ University
  • Department: Department of Education
  • Supervisor: Dr. Jane Smith


The rapid growth of social media platforms has transformed communication and information-sharing practices. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media usage on the academic performance of university students. Understanding this relationship is crucial as social media becomes increasingly integrated into students’ daily lives.

Review of Literature:

Previous research has explored various aspects of social media usage, including its effects on mental health, social interactions, and academic engagement. However, there is a lack of comprehensive studies examining the direct impact of social media on academic performance. This study aims to fill this gap by providing empirical evidence on the relationship between social media usage and students’ academic outcomes.

Research Objectives:

  1. To assess the extent of social media usage among university students.
  2. To evaluate the impact of social media on students’ study habits and academic performance.
  3. To identify the factors that mediate the relationship between social media usage and academic outcomes.

Research Methodology:

  • Research Design: Quantitative cross-sectional study.
  • Data Collection: Online surveys and academic performance records.
  • Sampling: Random sampling of 500 university students.
  • Data Analysis: Descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and multiple regression analysis.

Expected Outcomes:

The study is expected to reveal significant insights into how social media usage affects students’ academic performance. The findings will contribute to developing strategies for optimising social media use in educational contexts and enhancing academic achievement.

Research Timeline:

  • Month 1-2: Literature review and development of research instruments.
  • Month 3-4: Data collection.
  • Month 5-6: Data analysis.
  • Month 7-8: Interpretation of results and writing of the thesis.
  • Month 9: Review and final submission.


[Include all cited sources in the specified referencing style.]

Need Help With Your PhD Thesis?

Writing a synopsis for your PhD thesis is a vital step that requires careful planning and execution. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create a clear and concise synopsis that effectively communicates your research plan.

Use the PhD synopsis example above as a reference to structure your synopsis and ensure all essential components are included. With a well-crafted synopsis, you will be well on your way to gaining approval for your research and embarking on your PhD journey with confidence.

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