What this means is background about the topic. NOT background on research accomplished so far. So, it provides more of the who what when where why of the topic. If you say you’re going to study contemporary student protests in Nigeria, for example, then in this section you’d sketch the recent history of student protests and the larger political/economic/social context they arise from on universities and more broadly. This section is hard to write because of course it could be a book in its own right, but it must be no more than about 2 paragraphs. But this is critical to show us the larger CONTEXT of the proposed topic, so that we see the proposed new research on that topic as being something both legitimate and interesting.