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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, 45KB) 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.

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.

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: Dr 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.

Social Procurement for Enabling Societal Recovery in a Post-COVID World

Social procurement refers to the use of procurement to create social benefits beyond the value of the goods or services procured by an organization. This emerging practice is aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those focused on decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities and the formation of partnerships to achieve these goals. The importance of social procurement has become even more apparent in recent months due to the impacts on millions of jobs around the world and the deepening of existing inequalities. The wider adoption of social procurement practices has the potential to generate employment where it is most needed and reinvigorate marginalized communities. This project will investigate challenges and opportunities in relation to the growth of social procurement in Australia and generate advice for decision makers in both the public and private sectors.

Supervisor: Dr Jyoti Bhattacharjya

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

Globalising Innovations: Understanding the Path from Laboratory to Market

How does a ground-breaking invention try to reach global markets? This has been the topic of ongoing research by a group of researchers at the University of Sydney. There is now an opportunity to join this research activity, and to build on the findings and conceptual advances that have already been made.

There is scope to craft your own project, but in particular there are two opportunities to build on existing datasets:

  1. conducting oral histories of the founders, scientists and others involved in developing and seeking to commercialize radical innovations originating in Australia. Industries of interest include renewable energy, medical devices, advanced manufacturing and agriculture;
  2. undertaking in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of the innovation and internationalization pathways of biotechnology firms that listed on stock markets (in Australia and elsewhere) since the emergence of the industry in the 1980s.

These research opportunities would suit people from a variety of backgrounds, but a prospective candidate would need an interest both in innovation and in history, i.e., studying how firms and industries evolve.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Catherine Welch

Micro-location of value chain activities: A multi-level analysis of global city characteristics and their effects on MNC location choice and performance

Global city theory suggests that certain international economic activities are more likely to agglomerate in particular cities – or even areas within these cities – due to global connectivity, availability of advanced services, and an overall cosmopolitan environment, which together help reduce liability of foreignness for foreign firms. This project will investigate the specific characteristics of global cities that may influence location choice for specific value chain activities – and how such activities are further embedded, governed, and ultimately producing performance – within a broader network of global value chain activities.

Data and Method: Data will be primary via survey of MNC location decisions, combined with secondary data from available databases. The project will utilize advanced quantitative methodology (e.g, multilevel and structural equation modeling) to analyze data.

Supervisor: Professor Bo Nielsen

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 Maria Rumyantseva

Benchmarking innovation operations in Defence: An international comparative analysis of military innovation systems

The studentship is part of a global review of innovation operations and systems within Defence organisations and associated partners for the purpose of benchmarking. Research will take place across all aspects of innovation from industry–defence–academia relations to workforce-initiated submissions and proof-of-concept activities. It will include, but will not be limited to, the development of precincts or centres for innovation, research centres and associated processes and measure of success. Examples of initiatives to develop a defence innovation capability and culture are makerspaces, hackathons, spark tanks, innovation coaches and mentors, incubators, and agile sprints. The research will apply a discourse lens, including desktop analysis of publicly available information and internal documents as well as interviews with key personnel involved in military innovation and associated partners. The resulting research should provide an understanding of the key elements of successful military innovation operations and systems.

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 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
  • Ulster University
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Yonsei University
  • Zayed University

Contact us

Business School Research Unit

Bonnie Stanway

Female student outside Business School
PhD Candidate
“My research led me to the Business School, and since then I have worked across multiple disciplines, teaching and conducting further research. I saw how the Business School offers ample opportunities for doctoral students to engage in innovative and unconventional research into important issues for industry and business education."
Discover our Doctor of Philosophy

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