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Postgraduate research degrees

Apply your theory-driven research to the real world
Work alongside some of the world's brightest and most accomplished academics, access high-calibre facilities, and discover our new curriculum.

We're unlearning the world's greatest challenges

Our research is driven by the big picture. Ranked second globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings and in the top 45 of research universities around the world*, the University of Sydney is home to leading researchers who are finding solutions to the world's most pressing issues by changing the way they look at them. 

We are home to 90 world‑renowned multidisciplinary research and teaching centres that tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as health, climate change and food security. These centres include the Charles Perkins Centre, the Brain and Mind Centre and The University of Sydney Nano Institute

Our interdisciplinary approach means that students are part of a community of scholars that unites experts in fields as diverse as medicine, arts, social sciences, engineering, information technologies and science. 

As a researcher at Sydney, you'll work alongside some of the world's brightest and most accomplished academics. You can access high-calibre facilities and unique international partnerships with top-ranked institutions, including Stanford, UCLA, the University of Edinburgh, Utrecht University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the University of Hong Kong.

Types of research degrees

A master's degree by research at Sydney:

  • is the second-highest qualification on the Australian Qualifications Framework
  • can be a gateway to study at a PhD level
  • is usually one to two years full-time or two to four years part-time (part-time is available to domestic students only)
  • is awarded based on a supervised thesis, which makes a substantial contribution to knowledge of the subject concerned.

A PhD at Sydney:

  • is our premier research award and the highest qualification on the Australian Qualifications Framework
  • comprises of independent research and writing on an approved topic toward a thesis for examination
  • may be undertaken in all faculties and divisions, or across disciplines
  • is usually three years full time or six years of part-time study (part-time is available to domestic students only).

A professional doctorate at Sydney:

  • allows candidates to pursue rigorous scholarship alongside advancing their practice in many fields
  • is usually three to four years full-time or six to eight years of part-time study (part-time is available to domestic students only).

New coursework curriculum 

To support the research capabilities and success of HDR students, and in response to a changing world, we are introducing a new coursework component to our PhD degrees and broadening the coursework options for our other postgraduate research degrees.

You will have the opportunity to create a distinct research pathway by selecting from 270+ units from any faculty – a first of its kind in Australia – with study areas ranging from specialist analytical methods and professional engagement courses, to discipline-specific subjects.

This flexibility allows you to:

  • Choose a unique combination of units that will best equip you to succeed in your research.
  • Build your network and enhance your multidisciplinary knowledge while working with students and researchers from a broad range of backgrounds.
  • Graduate with a robust set of skills sought-after by employers, for a career in academia or industry. 

How will this affect my postgraduate research degree?

You will be able to enrol in any of the units available at no extra cost, subject to unit capacity and your research background, as some units vary in levels of capability. 

Your faculty may elect to define certain units of study as mandatory for a given degree pathway. 

Coursework units are available in the following areas:

  • BUSS7904 - Advanced quantitative methods
  • AMME5060 - Advanced computational engineering 
  • DATA5441 - Networks and High-dimensional Inference
  • DATA5710 - Applied statistics for complex data 
  • DATA5711 - Bayesian Computational Statistics
  • OLET5602 - Computational analysis for omics data
  • STAT5003 - Computational Statistics Methods
  • STAT5610 - Advanced inference 
  • STAT5611 - Statistical Methodology 
  • ENGL5000 - Research Infrastructures for English
  • ENGL5001 - Presentation and Impact in English Studies
  • OLET5122 - Cultural Competence for HDR Students
  • OLET5704 - Creative thinking and innovation
  • OLET5706 - Collaboration in complex environments
  • PERF5610 - Arts and creative industries placement
  • SCIE5001 - Science HDR Internship Experience
  • SCIE5004 - Learning in STEMM in Higher Education 
  • BETH5202 Research Ethics
  • OLET5043 - Fieldwork ethics*
  • OLET5618 - History of research ethics
  • MEDF5005 Health Research Methods and Ethics
  • SSPS6004 - Social Research Ethics
  • ARHT5006 - Visual and Cultural Research Methods
  • ARHT5000 - Presenting Visual and Cultural Research
  • ASNS6010 - Asian language acquisition 1
  • ASNS6011 - Asian language acquisition 2
  • ASNS6012 Asian Language Acquisition 3
  • ASNS6013 - Asian language acquisition 4
  • GCST5002 - Representing cultural research proposal 
  • EUST7010 - European language acquisition 1
  • EUST7011 - European language acquisition 2
  • EUST7012 - European language acquisition 3
  • EUST7013 - European language acquisition 4
  • GRKA7001 - Classical Greek for postgraduates I
  • GRKA7002 - Classical Greek for postgraduates II
  • LATN7201 - Latin for Postgraduates I
  • LATN7202 - Latin for Postgraduates II
  • SRSU5101 - Language-Based Cultural Research Proposal
  • ENGG5205 - Professional practice in project management
  • PMGT5875 - Project innovation management 
  • PMGT5876 - Strategic delivery of change
  • PMGT5879 - Strategic portfolio and program management
  • PMGT5896 - Sustainability and intelligence in PM 
  • PMGT5897 - Disaster Project Management
  • PMGT5898 - Complex project leadership
  • PMGT6871 - Project planning and governance 
  • PMGT6872 - Project leadership and communications
  • PMGT6873 - Project economics and investment 
  • PMGT6891 - Risk dynamics and resilience
  • ECMT5001 - Principles of econometrics
  • ECON5005 - Quantitative tools for economics
  • ECON6703 - Mathematical methods of Econ analysis A
  • EDPK5002 - Quantitative methods
  • SSPS6002 - Qualitative Methods
  • BUSS7902 - Quantitative research methods
  • BMET9925 - Introduction to AI, Data and Society in Health 
  • CIVL5458 - Numerical methods in civil engineering
  • BSTA5002 - Principles of statistical inference
  • BSTA5007 - Linear models
  • BSTA5023 - Probability and distribution theory
  • PUBH5018 - Introductory biostastics
  • PUBH5215 - Introductory analysis of linked data
  • PUBH5217 - Regression modelling
  • MATH5311 - Topics in algebra
  • MATH5430 - Mathematical models of natural phenomena 
  • MATH5431 - Mathematical models of natural phenomena (Alt)
  • OLET5606 - Data wrangling
  • OLET5608 - Linear modelling
  • OLET5610 - Multivariate data analysis
  • OLET5616 - Experimental design for life sciences
  • STAT5002 - Introduction to statistics
  • EDPK5001 - Qualitative methods
  • GCST5001 - Beginning qualitative cultural research proposal
  • SSPS6002 - Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences
  • BUSS7903 - Qualitative research methods
  • BUSS7906 - Advanced qualitative methods
  • BACH5255 - Qualitative research methods
  • OLET5902 - Qualitative research for law and policy 
  • PUBH5505 - Qualitative research in health 
  • ARCF9001 - Modes of inquiry: research and scholarship
  • OLET5702 - Complex problem-solving
  • AFNR5502 - Remote Sensing, GIS and Land Management 
  • ARCO6002 - Approaches to Deep Time
  • ARCO6004 - Morphometrics
  • ENVI5904 - Methods in Applied Ecology 
  • EDPJ5022 - Research methods in language studies
  • EDPK5003 - Developing a research project
  • EDPZ5003 - Thesis proposal writing
  • GCST5002 - Representing cultural research proposal
  • ECOP6031 - Research in Political Economy
  • GOVT6139 - Research design
  • SCWK6902 - Social research
  • WRIT5001 - Writing a Thesis 1: Starting a Thesis
  • WRIT5003 - Writing a Thesis 3: Completing a thesis
  • WRIT6000 - Professional Writing
  • WRIT6001 - Professional Editing
  • BUSS7901 - Research design
  • BUSS7910 Philosophy of Business Research
  • MCGY5604 - Researching creative process
  • PERF5600 - Graduate research methods
  • INFO5993 - Computer Science Research methods
  • INFO5994 - Advanced Topics in Computer Science
  • CEPI5205 - Doing a systematic review
  • CEPI5215 - Writing and reviewing medical papers
  • DENT6000 - Research methods
  • MEDF5005 - Health research methods and ethics
  • PHAR6000 - Research methods
  • CEPI5300 - Research grants: theory and practice
  • OLET5616 - Experimental Design for Life Sciences 
  • OLET5620 - Good Science, Bad Science 
  • PHYS5020 - Computation and Image Processing 
  • ARCO6003 - Fieldwork Experience
  • CART7006 - Art as Research
  • ECON5001 - Microeconomic Theory
  • ECON5002 - Macroeconomic Theory
  • EDPC5012 - Evaluating Learning Technology Innovation
  • EDPC5021 - Foundations of the Learning Sciences
  • EDPC5025 - Learning Technology Research Frontiers
  • GCST5910 - Health, Pleasure and Consumption 
  • PRFM5901 - Critical and Theory Performance
  • PRFM5902 - Rehearsal Studies
  • ECMT6702 - Econometric Applications A
  • ECON6701 - Microeconomics Analysis 1 A
  • ECON6702 - Macroeconomics Analysis 1 A
  • GCST6905 - Gender in Cultural Theory 
  • HSTY7003 - Becoming a Historian
  • PHIL6101 - Research Topics in Ancient Philosophy*
  • PHIL6102 - Research Topics: 20th Century Philosophy*
  • PHIL6103 - Research Topics: Early Modern Philosophy*
  • PHIL6106 - Research Topics in Moral Psychology*
  • PHIL6109 - Research Topics: Mind and Metaphysics*
  • PHIL6110 - Advanced Topics in Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL6112 - Epistemology and Language*
  • WMST6902 - Arguing the Point
  • WMST6904 - Modernism, Modernity and Modern Culture 
  • AERO5301 - Applied Finite Element Analysis* 
  • AERO5760 - Spacecraft and Satellite Design* 
  • AERO8200 - Advanced Aerodynamics 
  • AERO8750 - Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems 
  • AMME5271 - Computational Nanotechnology
  • AMME5292 - Advanced Fluid Dynamics
  • AMME5310 - Engineering Tribology 
  • AMME8101 - Energy and the Environment
  • AMME8510 - Vibration and Acoustics
  • AMME8520 - Advanced Control and Optimisation 
  • AMME9450 - Design and Production 
  • MECH8265 - Combustion 
  • MECH8720 - Sensors and Signals 
  • MTRX8700 - Experimental Robotics
  • BMET5907 - Orthopaedic and Surgical Engineering
  • BMET5911 - Advanced Instrumentation for Nanotechnology
  • BMET5931 - Nanomaterials in Medicine
  • BMET5962 - Introduction to Mechanobiology
  • BMET5992 - Regulatory Affairs in the Medical Industry
  • BMET5933 - Biomedical Image Analysis 
  • BMET5944 - Bioinspired Materials: Design and Fabrication 
  • BMET5953 - Rehabilitation Engineering 
  • BMET5957 - Bioelectronic Medicine Circuits and Systems 
  • BMET5995 - Advanced Bionics
  • BMET8790 - Introduction to Biomechatronics
  • BMET9802 - Biomedical Instrumentation
  • BMET9921 - Biomedical Engineering Technology
  • CHNG5001 - Process Systems Engineering
  • CHNG5003 - Green Engineering
  • CHNG5004 - Particles and Surfaces
  • CHNG5005 - Wastewater Engineering
  • CHNG5006 - Advanced Wastewater Engineering
  • CHNG5008 - Nanotechnology in Chemical Engineering
  • CHNG5601 - Membrance Science
  • CHNG5602 - Cellular Biophysics
  • CHNG5603 - Advanced Process Modelling and Simulation
  • CHNG5604 - Advanced Membrane Engineering
  • CHNG5605 - Bio-Products Laboratory to Marketplace
  • CHNG5606 - Advanced Food Processing 
  • CHNG5607 - Advanced Biochemical Engineering
  • CSYS5010 - Introduction to Complex Systems
  • ENGG5202 - Sustainable Design, Engineering and Management 
  • ENGG5204 - Engineering Professional Practice
  • ENGG5214 - Management of Technology 
  • ENGG5215 International Engineering Strategy and Operations
  • CIVL5351 - Geoenvironmental Engineering
  • CIVL5460 - Particle Mechanics for Geotechnics
  • CIVL5999 - Advanced Research and Analysis
  • CIVL5701 - Transport Networks, Geography and Land Use
  • CIVL6257 - Concrete Structures - Prestressed Concrete
  • CIVL6264 - Compositive Steel - Concrete Structures
  • CIVL6267 - Steel Structures - Advanced Analysis and Design
  • CIVL6268 - Structural Dynamics
  • CIVL6450 - Analysis and Design of Pile Foundations
  • CIVL6454 - Rock Engineering
  • CIVL6455 - Engineering Behaviour of Soils 
  • CIVL6456 - Energy Geotechnics
  • CIVL6665 - Advanced Water Resources Engineering
  • CIVL6666 - Open Channel Flower and Hydraulic Structures
  • CIVL6669 - Applied Fluid Engineering Computing
  • CSYS5020 - Interdependent Civil Systems 
  • CSYS5030 - Information Theory and Self - Organisation 
  • CSYS5040 - Criticality in Dynamical Systems
  • COMP5045 - Computational Geometry 
  • COMP5046 - Natural Language Processing
  • COMP5048 - Visual Analytics 
  • COMP5313 - Large Scale Networks
  • COMP5318 - Machine Learning and Data Mining
  • COMP5415 - Multimedia Design and Authoring
  • COMP5424 - Information Technology in Biomedicine
  • COMP5426 - Parallel and Distributed Computing
  • COMP5427 - Usability Engineering
  • DATA5207 - Data Analysis in the Social Sciences
  • INFO5060 - Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
  • ISYS5070 - Change Management in IT
  • ELEC5204 - Power Systems Analysis and Protection 
  • ELEC5207 - Advanced Power Conversion Technologies
  • ELEC5208 - Intelligent Electricity Networks
  • ELEC5211 - Power System Dynamics and Control
  • ELEC5212 - Power System Planning and Power Markets
  • ELEC5304 - Intelligent Visual Signal Understanding
  • ELEC5306 - Video Intelligence and Compression
  • ELEC5307 - Advanced Signal Processing with Deep Learning
  • ELEC5507 - Error Control Coding
  • ELEC5509 - Mobile Networks
  • ELEC5510 - Satellite Communication Systems
  • ELEC5512 - Optical Networks
  • ELEC5514 - Networked Embedded Systems
  • ELEC5516 - Electrical and Optical Sensor Design
  • ELEC5517 - Software Defined Networks
  • ELEC8608 - Computer Architecture
  • ELEC9405 - Communications Electronics and Photonics
  • ELEC9505 - Communications
  • ELEC9506 - Data Communications and the Internet
  • ELEC9607 - Embedded Systems
  • ELEC9515 - Digital Communication Systems
  • LAWS6077 - Legal Research 1
  • LAWS7001 - Legal Research 2
  • CEPI5100 - Introduction to Clinical Epidemiology
  • PUBH5010 - Epidemiology Methods and Uses
  • PUBH5216 - Controlled Clinical Trials
  • PUBH5224 - Advanced Epidemiology 
  • PUBH5312 - Health Economic Evaluation 
  • PUBH5317 - Decision Modelling for Economic Evaluation 
  • CMPN5006 - Recording Portfolio
  • CMPN5012 - Graduate Composer Performer Workshop
  • CMPN5114 - Graduate Vocal Composition Workshop
  • EMUS5600 - Historical Performance Practice
  • MCGY5111 - Creative Work Seminar 1 
  • MCGY5112 - Creative Work Seminar 2
  • MCGY5602 - Opera and Society
  • MCGY5603 - Music as Social Science
  • MCGY5605 - Methods of Music Analysis
  • VSAO5022 - Principles of Studio Pedagogy 
  • AFNR5511 - Soil Processes, Assessment and Management 
  • AFNR5801 - Climate change: Process, History, Issues
  • CHEM5101 - Special Topics in Chemistry 1
  • CHEM5102 - Special Topics in Chemistry 2
  • ENVI5801 - Social Science of Environment
  • GEOG5001 - Geographic Information Science
  • MARS5001 - Coastal Processes and Systems
  • MATH5310 - Topics in Algebra
  • MATH5320 - Topics in Analysis
  • MATH5321 - Topics in Analysis (Alt)
  • MATH5330 - Topics in Geometry
  • MATH5331 - Topics in Geometry
  • MATH5340 - Topics in Topology
  • MATH5341 - Topics in Topology (Alt)
  • MATH5410 - Special Topics in Applied Mathematics
  • MATH5411 - Special Topics in Applied Mathematics (Alt)
  • MATH5420 - Deterministic and Stochastic Systems
  • MATH5421 - Deterministic and Stochastic Systems (Alt)
  • DATA5441 - Networks and High-dimensional Inference
  • MATH5550 - Optimal Control and Game Theory
  • MATH5551 - Stochastics and Finance
  • OLET5604 - Health Literacy for Better Lives
  • PHYS5011 - Nuclear Physics
  • PHYS5012 - Radiation Physics and Dosimetry
  • SUST5002 - Food and Water Security

*Not offered in 2021.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need prior research experience?

Yes, all HDR courses require prior research experience. This is because HDR courses are largely self-driven, requiring pre-requisite research, time and project management skills.

If I have no prior research experience how can I get started?

If you do not have any previous research experience, there are ways to gain what you need. Both the one-year Honours and Masters by coursework degrees containing substantial research components are great pathways into research. These courses will allow you to gain the research skills necessary to apply for the PhD.

What is the difference between a Master of Philosophy/Research and a PhD?

The PhD is our premier research award and the highest qualification on the Australian Qualifications Framework. The PhD is usually 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time.

The Master of Philosophy/Research is usually 1 to 2 years full-time or 4 years part-time (part-time is available to domestic students only). A PhD thesis is generally around 80,000 words while a Master’s thesis is 50,000 words.

How do I find a supervisor?

To browse through the profiles of our researchers and learn about their current and past research, please refer to Find a Researcher. Here, you will also be able to access the publications lists and contact details of our researchers. 

My research idea crosses two disciplines - is this a problem?

No! Interdisciplinary research is actually highly regarded in the world of academia and working across disciplines can be very beneficial in developing and demonstrating different analytical skills. Working on research from two perspectives can also offer insight which you would not be able to achieve from one discipline perspective.

What are the English language requirements for a PhD?

Please check your course page on Sydney Courses for the requirements of each course. Generally, the English requirements are between 6.0 to 7.0 IELTS overall or a minimum result of 565 overall for TOEFL – PBT score.

How much do HDR courses cost?

There are no course fees for domestic students, as fees are covered by the government Research Training Program fee off-set. However, fees apply for international students. Please refer to your course page on Sydney Courses for fee details.

What scholarships are available?

We have one of the largest research schemes in Australia. Opportunities include the Australian government funded Research Training Program (RTP) stipend scholarships, and University of Sydney and faculty-specific awards. Explore your options.

Do I have to complete the new HDR coursework?

Yes, if you are commencing your HDR study from 2021 you must complete the mandatory HDR coursework for any HDR course. Generally, this is 12 credit points for the PhD and 6 credit points for the Master of Philosophy/Research.

Can I transfer from the Master of Philosophy into a PhD?

It is possible for students enrolled in the Master of Philosophy to move to the PhD after the first year of study, if you have made satisfactory progress and if the transfer is approved by your Faculty. It is important to inform your supervisor of your plans early so that you can work on a timeline together to achieve this goal.

Am I able to work while studying my HDR course full-time?

Yes, you can work during your PhD. How many hours you take on is at your own discretion, and you must ensure that you still allow time for the completion of your research. International HDR students can generally work more hours than coursework students. Please check your individual visa for specific restrictions.

Will the university employ me during my PhD?

There are sometimes opportunities for PhD candidates to engage in paid employment at the University, but this is not guaranteed and is dependent on the Faculty/Department. If opportunities do arise, they may be in the form of teaching, marking, acting as a research assistant, or other roles.

What support services are available to research students?

There is extensive support for research students at Sydney, including 100+ multidisciplinary research and teaching centres. Other services include library workshops for research skills; dedicated Research Librarians and Research Support Officers; the Careers Centre; access to the Sydney University Postgradaute Representative Association; and the Learning Centre.

Find a supervisor

Search by keyword, location, topic or supervisor name

Contact us

  • Student Centre, Level 3
    Jane Foss Russell Building, Darlington Campus

    Opening hours:
    9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

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