Components for a successful musicology Topic Proposal

At TTU, as part of the dissertation process, a topic proposal is required to be presented and defended by PhD Fine Arts (Musicology) candidates [Department of Musicology also encourages all candidates, Honors, MM or PhD, required to write a thesis of any sort, to consider drafting a Topic Proposal as a useful exercise and guarantor of success]. At the proposal defense, faculty in music would typically expect to read the document for clear explication of the following, engage with the candidate in explanations/discussion of any unclarities in the following, and provide feedback, timetable, expectations, mentoring, etc.

Checklist for Topic Proposal elements. The successful Topic Proposal would likely contain some variant of the following components, presented in discrete sections and clearly articulated in effective prose.

  • Table of Contents
  • Clear, original, insightful, and significant thesis
  • Description of methodological perspectives and sources
  • Literature review
  • Description of specific cases or pieces of evidence to be analyzed and interpreted, preferably including sample writing
  • Concluding section detailing original scholarly contributions, suggestions for future work, and implications for other scholarship

Certainly no TP would have to contain all these elements in their entirety, but in musicology, a clear plan and prospectus containing the above sorts of elements is evidence for a solid proposal.