MA Dissertation Proposal Planner

Designing your research project: A successful research project requires a lot of careful planning. Often research projects fail simply because they lack focus and the details have not been thought through carefully enough.

This Dissertation Proposal Planner will help you to define and plan your proposal by asking you seven questions about what you want to study and how you plan to go about it. The process that it takes you through is one that you can use in the future development of your final dissertation.

What you will get: At the end of this section you will have

a form that will include a detailed definition of your project and

a draft timetable for completion of the proposal forms.

This should be a good basis for subsequent discussion with a supervisor after your proposal has been submitted and reviewed.


Your Name:

Your E-Mail Address:

The maximum length for your dissertation is:

Your dissertation deadline is:


First consider the general area of your dissertation.

A dissertation offers you the opportunity to explore an area that you are interested in. You are welcome to think broadly about what interests you within the subject area. Your dissertation is often the place in which you can explore an area in greater depth.

1. What is your chosen topic?

[Write one sentence only]

Drug trafficking in to the EU and Europol as institution or mechanism for combating it.

2. What is it that interests you about this area?

Research in drug trafficking and control is an area that I am interested in because I have been concerned with the way in which this affects lives of countless people. I am also interested in understanding how Europol as an inter-governmental system can combat this, given that free internal market in Europe makes trafficking that much easier to do and difficult to combat by national police or systems alone. I am interested in understanding and critically analysing whether Europol can play a role in this area and if it can, to what extent will this be effective.


Providing more focus for your dissertation.

The area you have identified is a good starting point for your research. However, many projects are too broad to start with and a viable research project usually requires more focus.

So now you should focus on any aspects of your topic that you are particularly interested in.

3. What aspect of your topic are you most interested in? Be as specific as possible.

I am interested in understanding the role that Europol can play as an European mechanism for combating drug trafficking in the European countries.

4. (a) What are your research questions? [List at least two or three]

Research questions:

What is the extent of drug trafficking in Europe?

What powers does the Europol have that are aimed at combating drug trafficking in Europe?

Has Europol proved to be an effective mechanism for combating drug trafficking in Europe or are there gaps in the structure or framework of Europol that come in the way of effective combating of drug trafficking?

(b) And what issues are you facing in addressing them? [Think about challenges]

One of the challenges that I can face while doing this research is that I may not be able to conduct any primary research due to the pandemic. This means that I will have to rely on the secondary sources of data to gain insight into the areas related to the research questions. Another challenge that I may face is locating the secondary data for this research as I will have to rely on the databases alone for collecting this data.


What information do you think you are going to look at to help you find out about your area of study?

5. What secondary sources do you know of already?

[In addition to your primary sources what other sources are you going to use to find out about your subject? Secondary sources are usually materials that have already been published. They typically include books and article, as well as reports. You may need help from the library.]

You should provide a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 reference sources relevant to your topic.

Chaudary, S., 2011. Trafficking in Europe: An analysis of the effectiveness of European Law. Mich. J. Int'l L., 33, p.77.

Giommoni, L., Aziani, A. and Berlusconi, G., 2017. How do illicit drugs move across countries? A network analysis of the heroin supply to Europe. Journal of Drug Issues, 47(2), pp.217-240.

Eventon, R. and Bewley-Taylor, D., 2016. An overview of recent changes in cocaine trafficking routes into Europe. background paper for EU Drug Markets Report.

Rozée, S., Kaunert, C. and Léonard, S., 2013. Is Europol a comprehensive policing actor?. Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 14(3), pp.372-387.

König, F. and Trauner, F., 2021. From Trevi to Europol: Germany’s role in the integration of EU police cooperation. Journal of European Integration, 43(2), pp.175-190.

Gerspacher, N. and Lemieux, F., 2013. 4 A market-oriented explanation of the expansion of the role of Europol: filling the demand for criminal intelligence through entrepreneurial initiatives. In International Police Cooperation (pp. 80-96). Willan.

Fijnaut, C., 2016. Intergovernmental Cooperation on Drug Control: Debates on Europol. In The Containment of Organised Crime and Terrorism (pp. 449-460). Brill Nijhoff.

De Moor, A. and Vermeulen, G., 2010. The Europol Council Decision: A New Legal Basis for Europol. New Journal of European Criminal Law, 1(2), pp.178-198.

Klimek, L., 2014. European Police Office (Europol): past, present and future. Present and Future (January 1, 2014).

Rosanó, A., 2016. Protecting Europe beyond its Borders: The Agreements between Europol and Third States or International Organizations. Cadernos de Dereito Actual, 4, pp.9-21.

De Moor, A. and Vermeulen, G., 2010. Shaping the competence of Europol. An FBI perspective. EU and International Crime Control, 4, pp.63-94.

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Magdalena Stambøl, E., 2016. EU initiatives along the ‘cocaine routes’ to Europe: Fighting drug trafficking and terrorism by proxy?. Small Wars & Insurgencies, 27(2), pp.302-324.

6. What primary data sources are you considering? And what experience do you have and need of collecting data? [Think about what skills you need]

[What are the main sources of information you think you are going to use to investigate your subject? Typically your primary source material should be something that tells you about your subject directly. Explain how you will be able to access this material]


Setting out a practical schedule to get the work done.

Developing a research plan is an important part of undertaking a dissertation. How well you organise your research will be a critical factor in the success of your research

7. Provide a timetable of what you will do month-by-month [Using a table is a good idea]

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