Research plan

Before the end of their first year of study, doctoral candidates must prepare a research plan, which will be included in their doctoral student activity report. This plan may be refined and improved over the candidate’s period of doctoral study. It must be approved by the candidate’s thesis supervisor and must specify the methodology that will be used and the objectives the research aims to achieve (Table of Contents and expected length - Research Plan template).

For students registered since September 2023, according to the new Real Decreto July/2023, the Research Plan must also include a Data Management Plan (Data Plan template) and a Learning Plan.

Find here the basic guidelines for the full documentation required (Research Plan, Data Management Plan and Learning Plan).

The first presentation of a candidate’s research plan will take the form of a public defense, which will be assessed by a committee.

The academic committee is responsible for appointing members of committees responsible for evaluating research plans (thesis proposals) and assessing their conclusions in order to provide additional instructions to students and their thesis supervisors.


Whenever possible, an effort will be made to ensure that:

  • One member of the committee is a person in charge of a research area other than the one corresponding to the candidate’s thesis.
  • The second member of the committee will be a member of the Department who works in the research area of the thesis.
  • The external member must have a good knowledge of the thesis topic.

Members of the committee should be provided with a report on the research plan at least one week before the public defence.

The Defense: Before the defense, each member will be provided with a copy of the slides used.

Duration: The presentation made to the committee will last no longer than one hour and will be followed by a discussion that will also last no longer than one hour.

Following the defense of the research plan, the committee will award a mark and prepare recommendations, which the members will discuss with the student. The mark and recommendations will then be sent to the doctoral programme coordinator. This information will be included in the candidate’s doctoral student activity report and later reviewed in a meeting of the academic committee of the doctoral programme. The academic committee of the doctoral programme may make additional recommendations to the student and thesis supervisor regarding the research plan.

Exclusion from the doctoral programme

A positive assessment of the research plan is required to continue on the doctoral programme. If the research plan is deemed unsatisfactory, the doctoral candidate will be given six months to prepare and submit a new plan, which will be assessed by the academic committee of the doctoral programme. If the research plan is deemed unsatisfactory in two consecutive assessments, the candidate will be excluded from the programme.

If a doctoral candidate decides to change their thesis topic, they must submit a new research plan.