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Overview

Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research and write a thesis on an approved topic or for practice-led research such as Sydney College of the Arts (SCA); a thesis comprising a written component and exhibition of creative work. All research is done under the supervision of a member of our academic staff.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sydney is consistently ranked as one of the world's most outstanding academies for research in the humanities and social sciences.

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is offered in disciplines ranging across the visual arts and art history, archaeology and classics, diverse languages and their cultures, economics, English language and literature, ancient, medieval and modern history, philosophy, the global political economy and international governance, sociology and cultural studies, media and communications, education and social work.

From 2021, Higher Degree by Research students will be required to complete some coursework as part of their candidature. Students will have access to a range of specialist units of study relevant for research students.

Subject areas
Shared pool

Entry, fees, funding & how to apply

Depends on your qualification, citizenship status
The details on this page based on your selections are a guide only, and are subject to change.

Your entry requirements

English language proficiency

Find out if you need to prove English language proficiency (depends on your country of origin and educational background).

For academic requirements check the ‘Admission requirements’ section on this page.

Your fee

How to apply

Applications are open all year round. Apply well in advance (at least 6 weeks prior to your start date) to allow for a timely response to your application. If your application cannot be processed in time, it will be considered for the next possible research period. Separate scholarship application deadlines apply.

Candidates seeking admission with Sydney College of the Arts are advised to apply by 31 October to be considered for Research Period 2. Applications are reviewed by an admissions panel in November, with offers to be issued in December. Applications received after 31 October will be assessed the following year.

Research intakes

Research Period 2: Start date 1 Mar

Research Period 3: Start date 1 Jul

SCA: Research Period 2 only

Refer to key research dates on the `How to Apply website.

Applications are open all year round. Apply well in advance of your start date to allow for a timely response to your application and necessary visa and travel arrangements. If your application cannot be processed in time, it will be considered for the next possible research period. Separate scholarship application deadlines apply.

Candidates seeking admission with Sydney College of the Arts are advised to apply by 31 October to be considered for Research Period 2. Applications are reviewed by an admissions panel in November, with offers to be issued in December. Applications received after 31 October will be assessed the following year.

Research intakes

Research Period 2: Start date 1 Mar

Research Period 3: Start date 1 Jul

SCA: Research Period 2 only

Refer to key research dates on the `How to Apply website.

Research areas

PhD candidates in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences may undertake research in over 40 subject areas located in the faculty's six schools. These are the Schools of Economics; Education and Social Work; Languages and Cultures; Literature, Art and Media (including Sydney College of the Arts); Philosophical and Historical Inquiry; and Social and Political Sciences.

Research may also be undertaken in association with prominent humanities and social sciences research centres or groups.

What you'll study

Changes to higher degree research in 2021

From 2021, the University is introducing a new coursework curriculum to support research success. PhD students will complete 12 credit points of coursework and be able to choose from a pool of 270+ units from any faculty. The pool comprises a range of development opportunities that include specialist analytical methods, professional development units and discipline-specific subjects relevant for research students. Browse all available units here.

There is no separate tuition fee cost for the coursework units of study you will undertake, it is part of the tuition fee for the course. See the 'Your Fee' section for fee information. Additional non-tuition course costs vary depending on the units of study.

You will be able to see and enrol in any of the units available, subject to capacity constraints and your own background. Note that your faculty may elect to make certain units compulsory for a given PhD degree pathway.

Units of Study

Applying for admission

  1. Find a supervisor within the University whose academic background aligns with your research. You may visit Research Supervisor Connect to start.
  2. Contact a postgraduate research coordinator and provide: your academic/educational background and research experience with examples such as an academic transcript your CV/resume the area of interest for your PhD why you believe your research topics align with this supervisor. For the Sydney College of the Arts practice-led PhD these will include a portfolio of recent creative work.
  3. In conjunction with your supervisor, develop a research proposal, 2-4 pages in length (at least 1000 words) that outlines the subject area, objectives and significance of your research.
  4. Obtain two academic referee reports , each one written by a referee who is familiar with your previous academic achievements.
  5. If you intend to study part-time towards a PhD (international student visa holders must enroll full-time), you will also need to supply: evidence that shows you will have sufficient time available to plan and carry out the research under the supervision of the University, and complete the course within the maximum period allowed for a part-time PhD enrolment, and a declaration from your employer (if relevant) confirming that you will be permitted to take the time required to effectively pursue your studies.
  6. Submit your application along with your research proposal, CV, portfolio (SCA), academic referee reports, academic transcripts, supporting evidence (where required) and other supporting documents such as identification and evidence of residency status. Applications are made via the University's online application portal.
  7. When you are ready to apply, select the `Apply Now' button on the right hand side of this page

Please note: Except for IPRS and USydIS scholarships for international students, you must complete a separate scholarship application

Completion requirement

To satisfy requirements of the degree candidates must:

  • complete a probationary year and produce an extended thesis proposal (10,000 to 12,000 words) at the end of their first year of full-time (or the part-time equivalent) candidature; and,
  • complete a minimum of 12 credit points in units of study from Table R; and,
  • conduct research on an approved topic; and,
  • write a thesis of approximately 80,000 words embodying the results of the research.
  • In the case of the practice-led PhDs (SCA) submit creative work for exhibition and a reserach paper of 40,000 - 50,000 words; the examiners will examine the creative work and the reserach paper at an oral examination.

Examination is by presentation of the thesis, which is set out in the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degree by Research Policy 2015.

Admission requirement

To be eligible for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences), you must have completed the equivalent of one of the following in a subject area related to your proposed research area:

  • bachelor's degree with first class or second class honours or, master's degree by research; or
  • master's degree by coursework with an independent research component such as a thesis, dissertation or research project with a minimum overall pass average of 75% or above or demonstrated appropriate experience and alternative qualifications in the field of study.

Applicants who do not meet these admission requirements may be issued an offer to consider a place in the Master of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences), or Master of Fine Arts (Research), or  Master of Philosophy (Education), or Master of Philosophy (Social Work).

Transfer from University of Sydney Master of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences), (Education), or (Social Work)

Outstanding candidates who successfully complete up to one year full-time or equivalent part-time of the University of Sydney Master of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences), or Master of Fine Arts (SCA) or Master of Philosophy (Education), or Master of Philosophy (Social Work) may apply for transfer into the Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences) and be granted credit for work already completed: with approval from the supervisor and school meeting all higher degree by research progression requirements completing 25 000 words of a thesis to the satisfaction of the department; providing evidence that their research is of a sufficient scope and depth to sustain a doctoral thesis. See the progression and completion requirements of Master of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences), (Education), or (Social Work) respectively.

These constitute the minimum requirements for eligibility and do not guarantee admission. This remains at the discretion of the relevant supervisors and departments. The University must certify that there are sufficient supervisory and other resources and facilities available to enable your candidature to be completed successfully.

Course opportunities

The faculty is home to more than 90 research and teaching centres including the the faculty’s newest research centre, the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC). Along with our world-renowned schools, these provide abundant PhD research opportunities with academic staff members who are experts and leaders in their fields of research.

Career Pathways

Graduate opportunities

Through the completion of a PhD, students gain deeper understanding of a subject area and develop analytical, problem solving, communication and project management skills. These skills are highly valued by prospective employers. PhD graduates may pursue careers in industry, academia and research organisations.

Domestic students

International students

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.