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Postgraduate research

Make an impact through research
Embarking on a research degree with us is an opportunity to work alongside some of the world's brightest and most accomplished academics.

Our postgraduate research program is designed to develop students with an excellent academic background into intellectual leaders who will contribute to business education and research that makes meaningful, real-world impact in the 21st century.

We have the drive to challenge traditional ways of thinking, and will provide you with supportive and collaborative research community to develop your research skills and build a knowledge base in your chosen discipline.

The Postgraduate Research Program usually requires four years and contains coursework and research components. All students must complete at least five units of study: Research design; Philosophy of Science; Quantitative research methods; Qualitative Research methods; and either Advanced quantitative methods or Advanced qualitative methods. In addition to these units, students are encouraged to take any additional units deemed important for their research training.

Students are also expected to develop their research program under the guidance of their supervisors. Students must submit their thesis proposal within 12 months of commencement of their candidature and undergo annual progress reviews leading to the completion of their dissertation.

To be considered for a research degree in the University of Sydney Business School you need to submit an application through Sydney Student via one of the following links:

Applications must be submitted by the following dates:

  • 31 October for Research Period 2 (start date 1 March)
  • 15 March for Research Period 3 (start date 1 July)

The documents you need to provide with your application will vary depending upon which discipline you are applying for, see the admission requirements table (pdf, 67.8KB) for more information.

Current scholarships available for postgraduate research students at the Business School include:

Industry Partnered Scholarships

The Business School fosters research partnerships with Australian and international industry. These partnerships provide students the opportunity to conduct rigorous academic research in real business settings in collaboration with their industry partners and under the supervision of their academic advisors. Students will receive stipend support and tuition fee coverage.

Please email Ben Breeds at b.breeds@sydney.edu.au for more information.


Grow professionally and academically through a paid 3-6 month internship with an industry partner as you complete your degree.

The University of Sydney has partnered with Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (APR.Intern) to provide domestic and international HDR students with internship opportunities in a range of sectors and disciplines.

A paid internship will allow you to:

  • Develop competencies that will contribute to your research
  • Gain industry experience, develop skills and build networks
  • Enhance your employability
  • Develop competencies that will contribute to your research
  • Earn additional income

Why study with us?

Open PhD positions

Discover PhD positions available at the University of Sydney Business School. 

Self-Supervised Learning over Graphs

Recent years have witnessed an enormous growth of graph-structured data being generated across many high-impact applications, such as fraud detection in financial networks, cyber security in computer networks, and social network analysis. Graph data is known to have complicated structures, where nodes represent instances that are often characterized by rich content features, and edges represent relationships or interactions between nodes. As a result, how to develop deep learning methods to analyse graph data has attracted considerable research attention over the past few years.

There are two significant challenges:

  1. Label sparsity: graph data with inter-connected nodes is arguably harder to label, so only a small fraction of labelled data is available for training.
  2. Label dependency: there exist strong dependencies between graph topological structure, node features, and sparse labels. 

This project aims to develop self-supervised graph neural networks (GNNs) that can best utilize the unlabelled data and learn expressive representations to improve model generalisation and robustness. The newly developed GNNS can support graph related tasks such as node classification, link prediction, and graph classification in various business domains.

Supervisors: Dr Jie Yin and Professor Junbin Gao

Graph Neural Networks and Their Applications in Customer Recommendation Strategies

Graph Convolution Network (GCN), the extension of convolution from the Euclidean domain to the graph domain, is finding its way into business applications explored in graph learning tasks. In the recommendation system concept, intensive research has been dedicated to how to more effectively embed users and items in order to forecast a user's preference for projects/items, given the easy access to  abundant relationship information such as historical user-item interaction and similarity information among users and items. The main purpose of this project is to explore efficient new pooling algorithms for deep GCN under the context of customer recommendation systems.

In this project, you will have opportunity to work with a group of researchers consisting of academic researchers and other PhD researchers on a number of research tasks:

  1. Design better deep GCN models based on Haar framework with innovative pooling strategies to harvest abundant information;
  2. Nonlinear pooling algorithms based on deep kernel mapping with information geometry awareness;
  3. Gaussian process assisted nonlinear embedding for graph customer-item data for preference forecasting.

Supervisors: Professor Junbin Gao and Dr Jie Yin

Digital Humans: Realistic Real-time Avatars and Agents

The MOTUS Lab at the University of Sydney Business School has a proven track record in international and local collaborative research. Our team is building a cutting-edge program of digital human user experience (UX) research to enable the adoption and acceptance of complex technologies with a very specific facial representation for each individual.

We aim to help people with the use of digital human technology. This comprises two approaches. First, by creating digital assistants with natural faces, as new forms of assistive communication. Second, by both capturing a person’s own face in the form of a digital avatar their own communication with their environment can be improved (augmented communications). In our lab we work with a network of partners to create the technology. We will carry out all-important user acceptance testing and the research necessary to transition these emerging technologies into actual use cases and contexts.

The research aims to determine the feasibility and acceptance of Digital Humans to people by building a series of test research systems. The key is how to design these systems for those who have to use them in their everyday lives.

Supervisor: Dr. Mike Seymour

Data Science – Interdisciplinary Research

As an interdisciplinary field, data science is the confluence of emerging technologies, domain expertise and machine learning approaches, and aims to produce knowledge and insights from large quantities of data (structured and unstructured). Knowledge discovery through data science is a non-trivial process, and requires a thorough understanding of the application domains, relevant analytical processes, and best practices. Needless to say, it presents many challenges to practitioners and researchers.

Opportunities are available for suitable candidates to join data science research studies undertaken in the Discipline of Business Information Systems (BIS). The studies place a strong emphasis on the assessment of business outcomes, impact on society, relevance to policy makers; and cover a variety of perspectives and contexts (individual, organisation, community, non-profit, and government). Ideal candidates will engage in all aspects of a study including the design, development, and evaluation of artifacts, as well as communicating the research through scholarly presentations and publications.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Manoj A. Thomas

Taxation of the digital economy

The rise of the digital economy poses significant challenges to the existing international tax regime, which was developed largely well before the invention of the internet. The concept of physical presence in the taxing right allocation principle is not only outdated but also providing ample tax avoidance opportunities. The general rule of treating each company as a separate taxpayer - even if the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of a corporate group - contradicts the economic substance that the group operates as one single enterprise. This issue is exacerbated by the digital economy. Multinational enterprises have been implementing tax structures that take advantages of the outdated tax principles and successfully avoiding billions of tax. A paradigm shift is necessary to redesign the existing international tax regime to suit the 21st century digital economy as well as to address the base erosion and profit shifting issues.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Antony Ting

Information gathering, information exchange and data protection: Unexpected Evidence Law Consequences

Fintech and Regtech are now the reality. They are taking an increasingly important role in tax administration and the regulation of international financial crime. Data collected as a result of applying Fintech and Regtech give rise to questions about whether they could be admitted as evidence in court. This project aims to contribute to answering these questions through Fintech and Regtech case studies.

Supervisor: Dr Eva Huang

Corporate Finance

This PhD project will investigate issues in Corporate Finance according to the interest of the PhD candidates. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, capital structure, mergers and acquisitions, corporate payout policy, corporate investment, agency issues, behavioral corporate finance, corporate governance, banking and financial crises, etc. The research topic can be empirical and/or theoretical in nature.

Asset Pricing

This PhD project will investigate issues in Asset Pricing according to the interest of the PhD candidates. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the long-run risks model, habit formation, heterogeneous agents, investment-based asset pricing, and incomplete markets, etc. The research topic can be empirical and/or theoretical in nature.

Market Microstructure

This PhD project will investigate issues in Market Microstructure according to the interest of the PhD candidates. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, liquidity, transaction costs, trading strategies, market fragmentation, high frequency trading, market design, and market crashes. The research topic can be empirical and/or theoretical in nature.

Investigating active transport and health of older Australians

Changing demographics, sedentary lifestyles and overreliance on motorised forms of transport, present a cocktail of challenges for transportation and health experts. This PhD investigates these issues for the fastest growing segment of the Australian population, people aged over 65 years. Based in the world-renowned Institute of Transport & Logistics Studies within the University of Sydney Business School, this is an exciting multi-disciplinary opportunity joining a team of transport and public health researchers. The opportunity will appeal to students from a wide range of discipline areas including business, geography, health sciences, planning, public health, psychology and transportation. Interested students with outstanding credentials (Honours 1 equivalent, Masters with thesis) should contact Professor Stephen Greaves or Dr Melanie Crane in the first instance. Scholarships are available to meritorious applicants, including the Enhanced Business School Research Scholarship or the Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship. Both include a generous stipend as well as tuition fees if the recipient requires these to be paid.

Closing date 30th September, 2023.

Supervisory Team: Professor Stephen Greaves (ITLS, Business School), Professor Anne Tiedemann (Faculty Medicine & Health), Dr Melanie Crane (Faculty Medicine & Health)

Logistics and the circular economy

The move away from fossil fuels toward carbon neutrality by 2050 has profound implications for cities and logistics. One such implication is a transition towards the ‘circular economy’, which is a systemic change in the way we produce, assemble, sell and use products to minimise waste going to landfill, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as minimise the consumption of non-renewable resources. The NSW Government has developed a Circular Economy Policy (NSW Circular Economy Policy Statement: Too Good to Waste, February 2019). Recycling and renewable energy generation are important dimensions of the circular economy. The federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has a priority list for recycling (Minister’s Priority List 2021-22). This project will focus on the logistics implications of the circular economy, business models for the reuse, refurbishment, repurpose or recycling of end-of-first-life products, sustainable freight transport and reverse logistics.

Supervisors: Professor Michael Bell and Dr Jyoti Bhattacharjya

Modern slavery risk mitigation in operations and supply chain management

Modern slavery in global supply chains refers to the exploitation of vulnerable adults and children through the use of various forms of forced labour in relation to the production of goods and services. While lack of transparency in international supply chains and poverty in many developing regions around the world have led to the proliferation of modern slavery practices, these forms of exploitation have also been found to occur in  developed countries, including Australia. The institutional responses have included the development and promotion of labour standards by the International Labour Organization (ILO), target setting within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and legislative actions by various governments. In Australia, companies have recently started reporting on their modern slavery risk mitigation efforts as part of the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act (2018). However, such efforts are often impeded by a range of social and technical challenges. This project will involve the design of innovative solutions to help organisations mitigate the risks of modern slavery within their own operations as well as their supply chains.

Supervisors: Dr Jyoti Bhattacharjya and Professor Michael Bell

Autonomous Vehicles: Dawn of a New Age 

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) are anticipated to become an increasingly significant component of the vehicle fleet in the coming years. While the technology matures, legislative processes adapt and the number of CAV on-road trials increases, consumers remain divided in their acceptance, confidence and willingness to embrace this technology. This PhD project aims to provide greater understanding of the drivers behind these consumer attitudes and what policy pathways might facilitate greater acceptance of this technology. Potential methods of investigation could include qualitative approaches (e.g., interviews, focus groups) and/or quantitative surveys employing the latest innovations in choice, gamification and simulation. This PhD opportunity will appeal to students from a wide range of discipline areas including business, economics, engineering, geography, marketing, planning, psychology and transportation.

Proposed supervisors: Professor Stephen Greaves and Professor Matthew Beck

Travel, Health and Wellbeing During/Following a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic represents the single biggest ‘shock’ to modern-day life since WWII with vastly different policy responses and experiences across nations. This PhD project investigates the impacts of the pandemic on travel, health and wellbeing through a cross-national lens. This is an exciting multi-disciplinary opportunity involving transport and public health groups and will appeal to students from a wide range of discipline areas including business, geography, marketing, planning, public health, psychology and transportation.

Proposed supervisors: Professor Stephen Greaves, Professor Matthew Beck, Dr Melanie Crane

Understanding the environmental impacts of travel by university staff and students 

The University of Sydney’s new sustainability strategy has set targets for reducing by 2025 the number of staff and students who drive to campus and the amount of staff travel by air. The University recognises the importance of promoting more sustainable and healthier travel options while also balancing the needs of supporting global research networks. For these twin strategies to succeed, there is a pressing need to understand the current travel patterns of academics, professional staff and students for access to campus and their use of air travel for University business. There is also a need to identify strategies that could impact travel choices as well as understanding the impacts of changing travel on University members. Students interested in this project would have a wide range of approaches to choose from (e.g. travel surveys, ethnographic, human resources perspective) and could also work with colleagues from other faculties.

Supervisor: Dr Geoffrey Clifton

Cross-cultural neurodiversity and its implications for effective cross-cultural management

The Discipline of International Business is seeking a PhD applicant with a background in cognitive science, neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, or cross-cultural studies for a research project on cross-cultural neurodiversity. Cross-cultural management research investigates how cultural differences across and within nations affect the way in which work is performed and business is practiced. Cultural differences in behaviours are often assumed to be the result of differences in underlying values and norms of individuals.

This project will focus on cross-cultural neurodiversity as a different source or consequence of cross-cultural differences. Cross-cultural neurodiversity can be a source of cultural differences, for example as a result of cultural differences in diet, health, or genetics. However, cross-cultural neurodiversity can also be a consequence of cross-cultural differences. For example, sustained exposure to a set of cultural experiences and behavioural practices may affect neural structure and function.

This project will develop new insights and theory about cross-cultural neurodiversity and its implications for effective cross-cultural management of employees in multinational corporations.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Stefan Volk

Digital technologies and open innovation

Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things and robotics, offer new opportunities for innovation in an increasingly digitalized world. A notable trend is the emergence of digital ecosystems in which previously unrelated stakeholders (startups, incumbents, end-users, and policymakers) collaborate and co-create digital products, services, and business models, leading to so-called open innovation. Digital ecosystems and associated open innovation are developed by both business-to-consumer (B2C) companies such as Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb, as well as business-to-business (B2B) companies, such as GE, ABB, and Siemens, leading to digital transformation across various industries, including manufacturing, mining, finance, and healthcare. Despite this far-reaching potential, digital ecosystems are often limited by regulatory, competitive, and trust-related barriers due to which companies are unwilling to collaborate with ecosystem stakeholders, thus hampering open innovation. To break out of this gridlock, this project aims to better understand how to design, manage, and govern open innovation in the light of new advances in digital technologies, emerging digital ecosystems, and platform-based business models. PhD candidates interested in conducting research that addresses – but are not limited to – the following topics are invited.

  • Emergence and evolution of digital platforms and ecosystems 
  • Promoting adoption of digital technologies for innovation
  • Multi-stakeholder engagement, including corporate-startup collaboration
  • Governance of digital platforms and ecosystems
  • Aligning business models for digital ecosystems
  • Open innovation for digital ecosystems
  • Theorizing innovation in the context of digital ecosystems and platform-based business models
  • Transition to digital ecosystems and platform-based business models fostering sustainability

Supervisor: Associate Professor Krithika Randhawa

Engaged innovation research

The Discipline of Strategy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship is seeking PhD applicants with background in science, engineering or business to strengthen its Engaged Innovation Research for Impact project. The unique approach of this project enables simultaneous study of innovation processes while actively contributing to them. This is achieved through the systematic production, translation and mobilization of scholarly knowledge about innovation by multidisciplinary teams into which business school researchers, including PhD students, are embedded. The approach is currently applied in the context of the Sydney Nano Institute, the flagship multidisciplinary research centre at the University of Sydney. The next step is to expand our presence in the local innovation ecosystem. We invite outstanding candidates seeking to leverage and complement their technical training and interested in learning more about business, management and policy perspectives on innovation.

Supervisor: Professor Steven Maguire or Dr Jarryd Daymond or Dr Maria Rumyantseva

Innovation in Established Organizations

Organizations need to innovate to survive in global markets, rapid technological development, hyper-connectivity, sustainability concerns, and shifting consumer preferences. But this is easier said than done. Most established organizations - large and small - are over-reliant on past successes, and they often fail at turning creative endeavours into transient competitive advantage or solutions to pernicious problems. Yet, some organizations successfully innovate time and again. What are these doing differently in terms of innovation strategy, processes, leadership, and organization? I welcome interest in and proposals for PhD projects to study innovation in established organizations (companies, non-profits, and government).

Supervisor: Associate Professor Stefan Meisiek

Growth challenges facing sharing economy platforms

The ‘sharing economy’ and ‘collaborative consumption’ have experienced rapid growth over the past decade, leading many scholars to pay attention to the various growth challenges faced by different types of platform. Many distinguish between platforms that are business-to-customer (B2C) from those that are customer-to-customer (C2C). In the case of B2C platforms, the object being ‘shared’ is owned by a company that facilitates access to the object for a fee through an online interface. The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted many aspects of the ‘sharing economy’, particularly those that are C2C. This studentship will expand on an initial study into the growth of various carsharing platforms in Australia conducted by Associate Professor David Oliver and Professor Pinar Ozcan from Oxford University, and develop new theory on the growth of sharing economy platforms in the time of COVID.

Supervisor: Associate Professor David Oliver

Teaching work in Australia’s 21st century

COVID-19 has had massive impact on organisations, both public and private, on the nature of employment and on workers. In laying the foundations upon which all workers build to attain employability throughout their lives, the teaching profession can be considered the ‘parent’ or all professions and occupations. This research studentship is supported by large, occupation-specific sets of original data on the work, workload and health of teachers prior to, during and beyond COVID-19. The research studentship will inform vital changes in the employment of educators, and education and employment policy. The successful applicant will develop and extend a vibrant suite of research in this area while developing high level research capabilities.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Susan McGrath-Champ

Co-operatives and Mutuals

This project examines the past and present of Co-operatives and Mutuals both in Australia and overseas. These businesses are different from Investor Owned Businesses in that they are owned by members who receive their goods and services. Co-operatives are also based on the principle of one person one vote rather than voting power being based on the number of shares as in Investor Owned Businesses. They can be found in all areas of the economy and include worker co-operatives, consumer co-operatives, agricultural co-operatives and financial co-operatives. The project explores why co-operatives are formed, how they grow and how they can fail. It compares co-operatives and mutuals to other forms of business in areas such as governance, labour management, economic performance and community impact.

Supervisor: Professor Greg Patmore

Research graduate placements

Our higher degree by research graduates have found success with placements at universities and organisations around the world.

  • Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  • Lancaster University
  • Maastricht University
  • Macquarie University
  • Monash University
  • Nanjing University
  • New York University
  • Peking University
  • Shenzhen University
  • Stockholm University
  • Universidad de Chile
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Canterbury
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Luxembourg
  • University of Plymouth
  • University of San Diego
  • University of Oxford
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of New South Wales
  • The University of Newcastle, Australia
  • The University of Queensland
  • The University of Sydney
  • Ulster University
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
  • Yonsei University
  • Zayed University
  • Shanghai International Studies University
  • Australian National University
  • Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
  • National Cheng Chung University
  • Moody's Corporation
  • IBM
  • Ernst & Young
  • Toyota

Contact us

Business School Research Unit

Christopher Day

Christopher Day
Doctor of Philosophy
Undertaking my PhD at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) at the University of Sydney Business School provided me with the opportunity to study under leading scholars and work on a topic that I am passionate about. ITLS is not only one of the best transport research centres in the world, it has strong links with industry and welcomes a broad range of research topics and methods.
Learn more about our Doctor of Philosophy (Business)

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