The First Minister is due to put a referendum Bill at the heart of the Scottish Government's programme for the coming year.
Plans for a vote on independence in autumn 2014 have already been set out. A Bill for the vote will be one of 15 pieces of legislation introduced to Holyrood in the coming parliamentary year.
With MSPs returning to the Scottish Parliament after their summer recess, Alex Salmond will unveil his Government's legislative programme.
As well as a referendum Bill, the programme may include legislation to introduce gay marriage. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced recently that the Government intends to change the law to allow same-sex couples to wed.
A children's Bill may also be introduced, which will increase free childcare. Mr Salmond pledged to the SNP conference this year that Scotland will have the best free nursery education in the UK, with a legal guarantee of around 600 hours of free nursery education for every three and four-year-old, as well as for two-year-olds who are in care.