Guide for Writing Project Proposals
This is a summary of how to write good, concise proposals for course
projects. The focus of this summary is on programming or implementation
projects, but the general ideas can be applied to most proposals. The
recommended lengths of sections are given assuming a document length of 3 to 7
pages (when using 11 pt. Times New Roman font in the main body text, Arial font
in headings, and 2.5 cm space on each side of a page.) Use appropriate scaling for longer proposal documents.
The following is a sample outline for a project proposal. Note that all
questions for a section may not apply to your proposal, and should be used as a
general guide only.
(1 or 2 paragraphs)
Briefly state the topic chosen, why it is of interest, the goals, and
how you intend to carry this out. This should be a short paragraph of
about 4-5 sentences:
Background and Motivation
(1 to 3 paragraphs)
|Summarize the problem (1 or 2 sentences)
|Summarize the solution (1 or 2 sentences)
|Describe format of rest of proposal (sections, etc.)
Describe the chosen area, which should be fairly narrowly defined,
giving references to relevant work. This description should be terse and
at a high technical level (e.g. do not spend time defining technical
terms used). Next give reasons why the area is of current interest to
the technical community in general and to you in particular. Finally,
list (at least three) potential problems which merit further
investigation. (Note: your project need not necessarily advance the
state of the art, but it must advance the state of your knowledge and
|What is the history of the problem?
|Why is this problem interesting?
|When and why does the problem occur?
|Is the problem already solved? What is done now?
|Are there any similar systems or solutions to the one you propose? If
so, reference and very briefly explain them.
|Are there are possible improvements to current solutions?
Describe in some detail the problem which you have chosen to attack and
the reasons for its importance in relation to the other problems, if
any, listed above. Describe your proposed method of investigation. Give
some convincing reasons why you believe you will be able to complete the
project as proposed by the end of the semester. It is better to propose
a modest project and complete it successfully by the end of the semester
than to make a vague or grandiose proposal which you are unable to
|What in general will this project achieve? (Do not delve into details or
(3-5 paragraphs - point-form may be used for some of the
|What will the project produce?
(program, report, etc.)
|Describe in relative detail the
features of each of the project's products.
|You may wish to separate
deliverables into phases and indicate optional components given
|Emphasize what your project
contributes or achieves!
(1 paragraph - point-form is suitable)
|Provide an estimated timeline
of project deliverables and important dates. |
|A division of the work into
phases with a timetable for completion of the phases would be
|Architecture and Environment (2-3 paragraphs + figures)
|Diagrams (UML, MS Visio, ...) and figures are useful here if appropriate.|
Describe the project environment (software, hardware, languages,
|What software, hardware, or tools will you use?
Conclusion (1 paragraph)
|Implementation Issues and Challenges (2-3 paragraphs)
|What will be the most difficult issues and challenges in the
|How are you using or extending current tools/systems for your problem?
|What makes your project unique?
|Summarize the project including the problem, motivation, and proposed
solution, and re-state important (planned) contributions. |
You should include Internet or
other references at this stage to relevant research papers or background
articles. The style of references follow that used in some recognized
Computer Science academic publications, such as the IEEE Computer, ACM
Computing Surveys, etc.
|List references used to compile proposal and references that will be
used for project (if already known). |