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The Master of Philosophy (Science) opens the door to the world of scientific research. MPhil (Science) students become independent researchers of exceptional quality. They learn to manage extensive projects, use advanced scientific tools and write reports fit for publication. Their skills enable them to go on to prominent careers, not just in research, but also in policy, industry, management, government, business and international development.

As a University of Sydney student, you can choose from eight different science departments to complete your two-year degree, which will culminate in a thesis written about your particular area of expertise.

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.

Your training will take place in the top ranked university in Australia in terms of scientific output (SCImago World Report 2013). Our reputation for scientific excellence attracts the best researchers and significant research funding, creating an outstanding learning environment for the next generation of scientists and global leaders. 

The Master of Philosophy is predominantly a research degree. You will develop advanced skills in research methods as well as in planning, performing and publishing research under the guidance of a supervisor. There is also the opportunity to undertake some coursework units to support your studies.

The MPhil (Science) program will provide you with substantial research experience and will give you a competitive edge and enhanced employment opportunities, both in Australia and overseas. If you choose to continue with research, the MPhil (Science) will give you excellent preparation to embark on the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

The Master of Philosophy is available across the following disciplines:

  • Agriculture
  • Chemistry
  • Geosciences
  • History and Philosophy of Sciences
  • Life and Environmental Sciences
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Veterinary Science

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.

Starting date

Research Period 1: Start date 1 Jan
Research Period 2: Start date 1 Mar
Research Period 3: Start date 1 Jul
Research Period 4: Start date 1 Oct

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.

Starting date

Research Period 1: Start date 1 Jan
Research Period 2: Start date 1 Mar
Research Period 3: Start date 1 Jul 
Research Period 4: Start date 1 Oct

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

Research areas

Master of Philosophy candidates in the Faculty of Science may undertake research in the following areas:

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. MPhil students will complete 6 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 MPhil 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 research supervisor through Research Supervisor Connect 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
  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. More information
  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 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, 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

A candidate for the Master of Philosophy (Science) is required to:

  • (a) carry out an original investigation on a topic approved by the Head of Department; and
  • (b) write a thesis embodying the results of this investigation, stating in the thesis the sources from which the work of others has been used, and the proportion of the thesis claimed as original work.

Thesis submission requirements and examination procedure as set out in the Academic Board resolutions for this course and the Higher Degree (HDR) Rule 2011.

Admission requirement

To be eligible for admission to the Master of Philosophy (Science), 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 a minimum overall credit average in the senior level unit(s) of study relevant to the proposed area of research or,
  • master's degree or,
  • University of Sydney Graduate Diploma in Science with a final mark of 80.

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

Inherent requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo,);
  • ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree IslandNarrabri and Camden);
  • ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • hold a current scuba diving license;
  • hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

The academic requirements that are displayed are applicable to currently available degree only and are updated annually in October and may be changed without notice. The Handbooks Online and the University of Sydney Calendar are the official legal source of information relating to study at the University of Sydney, and you are referred to those documents.

Graduate opportunities

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

This degree will give you excellent preparation to embark on the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

It will also give you a competitive edge and enhanced employment opportunities in sectors that require research experience, analytics skills and communications.

Domestic students

International students

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