Postgraduate research

Research degrees

The Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning offers two research degrees:

Doctor of Philosophy

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) requires the satisfactory completion of all requirements including a research thesis with an upper limit of 80,000 words on an approved topic, under the supervision of an academic panel.

Candidature is for a minimum of three years full-time or six years part-time, and for a maximum of four years full-time or eight years part-time. Candidates must successfully complete a 12 month probation period and all coursework requirements.

Details on course structure and entry requirements can be found on the application for admission page of the University website and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning website.

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is a University degree governed by resolutions and policies by the Academic Board available at the Policy Register

Master of Philosophy (Architecture, Design and Planning)

The research master's program allows a candidate to undertake research and advanced specialisation in any of the areas of expertise in the School.

The program is generally completed in eight research periods of full time study or sixteen research periods of part time study.

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a faculty degree. Details on course structure and entry requirements can be found in the Course Resolutions of the Master of Philosophy (Architecture, Design and Planning).

Entry requirements can be found on the application for admission page of the University website and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning website.

The requirements for the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) are set out under the University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule 2011

Research Areas

The Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning is a multidisciplinary school with the following research areas:

Note that Research Areas have no official status for students and are not recorded on academic transcripts. It is up to the student to take an interest in a selected Research Area.

Annual Progress planning and review

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidature is managed through Research Education Candidature System (RECS).

You are required to submit a progress report annually (usually either May or October- based on your commencement date), regardless of when you commenced your candidature. This is reviewed by your supervisors, your progress review panel and the Associate Dean (Research Education).

You will be notified of the result of this review, when any problem areas or training needs are identified. Related documents are available at the Policy Register:

Information about the University and School Milestones is available at Research Progress on the Current Student website.

Probationary requirements

To ensure that students progress satisfactorily, all research students are placed on probation and are required to fulfil certain criteria. Please refer to the ADP Probation Guidelines for HDR for the requirements for satisfactory completion of the probationary period.

Once the requirements have been completed satisfactorily, candidature will proceed on a permanent basis.

Suspension of candidature

If you need to suspend your candidature, you should first consult with your supervisor and then enter your request (stating the reasons) via RECS.

This request will be forwarded for review and approval. You will receive written confirmation of the suspension by the Higher Degree Student Administration Centre.

Suspension of candidature is by research period, and except with the approval of the Associate Dean (Research Education) you may suspend your candidature for a maximum total of one full academic year only.

For domestic students, during suspension your Research Training Scheme entitlement will be suspended, as will any scholarship payments. You will be granted an extension to your candidature equivalent to the length of the suspension.

International students may be required to leave the country while their candidature is suspended and should seek advice from the Scholarships Office before taking any action.

Leave of absence

If you need to take a break from your research for less than a research period, a leave of absence may be granted. You should follow the same procedure as for suspension (see above). You will not be granted an extension to your candidature for a leave of absence but you may, if not quite finished by the due date, apply for an extension equivalent to the length of absence.

Extension of time

If, as your latest submission date approaches, it becomes obvious that you need more time, you are urged to discuss this with your supervisor or the Associate Dean (Research Education) at the first available opportunity. Late submission of theses is a serious concern for the school and the earlier we know about it the easier it will be to take action to help you.

Coursework for research students

Starting from 2021, students in research degrees are required to take 12 credit points of coursework in their studies, including Modes of Inquiry: Research and Scholarship.

Students who require some background in a particular area that is of relevance to their research may, with the approval of their supervisor, request to enrol in other undergraduate or postgraduate units of study offered by this school or other faculties.

There will also be additional modules that will be required for completion, these may change from time to time. You will be advised upon enrolment of which modules will need to be completed during your probationary period.

The University of Sydney introduced a new coursework requirement for Higher Degree by Research students commencing from Research Period 1 2021. Coursework is intended to give students the opportunity to take units of study that expand their existing skills or work toward developing novel capabilities that will complement their research and career development.

The units of study students can choose to fulfil the Higher Degree by Research coursework requirement are listed in Table R of the Interdisciplinary Studies Handbook. Students can enrol in units of study in Sydney Student and plan professional and academic development activities with their supervisors in the Research Education Candidature System. Award requirements for each degree are outlined in the respective course resolutions.

The unit of study listed below is a probationary requirement for all MPhil and PhD students in the school.

ARCF9001 Modes of Inquiry: Research and Scholarship

Credit points: 6 Session: Semester 1,Semester 2 Classes: Refer to the unit of study outline https://www.sydney.edu.au/units Assessment: Refer to the unit of study outline https://www.sydney.edu.au/units Mode of delivery: Block mode
Note: Permission required unless enrolled in a research degree. This unit is a probationary requirement for all MPhil and PhD students in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.
This unit is a seminar with mini-lectures, presentations by members of the academic staff about research and scholarship methods in which they are most expert, critical review of readings, discussions based on the seminar material, and research pre-proposals. Objectives and Learning Outcomes: To provide newly admitted research students with a fundamental understanding of the nature of inquiry through research, the philosophy of scientific research and interpretive scholarship and a range of fundamentally different epistemologies or 'modes of inquiry.' The modes of inquiry explored include (1) empirical, field-based epistemology used heavily in architectural science, urban planning and other field-based research, including experimental, quasi-experimental, survey, naturalistic, ethnographic and case study methods; (2) text-based, interpretive epistemology used heavily in architecture and the allied arts and other humanities, including archival, historical, theoretical, interpretative, discourse analysis and other text based methods; (3) computationally-based epistemology used heavily in design computing and other IT-based disciplines, including axiom and conjecture based, simulation, virtual reality, and prototype development methods; and (4) policy-oriented, communication-contingency and modelling epistemologies used heavily in urban and regional planning and other policy-based disciplines, including archival, strategic and evidence-based policy research, communications and morphological analyses and quantitative modelling; as well as (5) interdisciplinary combinations, triangulations and mixed modes.