Skip to main content

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.

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 the 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*:

AMME5060 – Advanced Computational Engineering 

BUSS7904 – Advanced Quantitative Methods

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

ARHT5000 – Presenting Visual and Cultural Research

ARHT5006 – Visual and Cultural Research Methods

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 1

GRKA7002 – Classical Greek for Postgraduates 2

LATN7201 – Latin for Postgraduates 1

LATN7202 – Latin for Postgraduates 2

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 Program Management

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

BMET9925 – Introduction to AI, Data and Society in Health

BSTA5002 – Principles of Statistical Inference

BSTA5007 – Linear Models

BSTA5023 – Probability and Distribution Theory

BUSS7902 – Quantitative Research Methods

CIVL5458 – Numerical Methods in Civil Engineering

ECMT5001 – Principles of Econometrics

ECON5005 – Quantitative Tools for Economics

ECON6703 – Mathematical Methods of Econ Analysis A

EDPK5002 – Quantitative Methods

MATH5311 – Topics in Algebra

MATH5430 – Mathematical Models of Natural Phenomena

MATH5431 – Mathematical Models of Natural Phenomena (Alt)

OLET5402 – Basics of Quantitative Research Design

OLET5606 – Data Wrangling

OLET5608 – Linear Modelling

OLET5610 – Multivariate Data Analysis

OLET5616 – Experimental Design for Life Sciences

PUBH5018 – Introductory Biostatistics

PUBH5215 – Introductory Analysis of Linked Data

PUBH5217 – Regression Modelling

SSPS6002 – Qualitative Methods

STAT5002 – Introduction to Statistics

BACH5255 – Qualitative Research Methods

BUSS7903 – Qualitative Research Methods

BUSS7906 – Advanced Qualitative Methods

EDPK5001 – Qualitative Methods

GCST5001 – Beginning Qualitative Cultural Research Proposal

OLET5902 – Qualitative Research for Law and Policy

PUBH5505 – Qualitative Research in Health

SSPS6002 – Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences

AFNR5502 – Remote Sensing, GIS and Land Management

ARCF9001 – Modes of Inquiry: Research and Scholarship

ARCO6002 – Approaches to Deep Time

ARCO6004 – Morphometrics

BUSS7901 – Research Design

BUSS7910 – Philosophy of Business Research

CEPI5205 – Doing a Systematic Review

CEPI5215 – Writing and Reviewing Medical Papers

CEPI5300 – Research Grants: Theory and Practice

DENT6000 – Research Methods

ECOP6031 – Research in Political Economy

EDPJ5022 – Research Methods in Language Studies

EDPK5003 – Developing a Research Project

EDPZ5003 – Thesis Proposal Writing

ENVI5904 – Methods in Applied Ecology

GCST5002 – Representing Cultural Research Proposal

GOVT6139 – Research Design

INFO5993 – Computer Science Research methods

INFO5994 – Advanced Topics in Computer Science

MCGY5604 – Researching Creative Process

MEDF5005 – Health Research Methods and Ethics

OLET5616 – Experimental Design for Life Sciences

OLET5620 – Good Science, Bad Science

OLET5702 – Complex Problem-Solving

PERF5600 – Graduate Research Methods

PHAR6000 – Research Methods

PHYS5020 – Computation and Image Processing

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

ARCO6003 – Fieldwork Experience

CART7006 – Art as Research

ECON5001 – Microeconomic Theory

ECON5002 – Macroeconomic Theory

ECMT6702 – Econometric Applications A

ECON6701 – Microeconomics Analysis 1 A

ECON6702 – Macroeconomics Analysis 1 A

EDPC5012 – Evaluating Learning Technology Innovation

EDPC5021 – Foundations of the Learning Sciences

EDPC5025 – Learning Technology Research Frontiers

GCST5910 – Health, Pleasure and Consumption 

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**

PRFM5901 – Critical and Theory Performance

PRFM5902 – Rehearsal Studies

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 

BMET5907 – Orthopaedic and Surgical Engineering

BMET5911 – Advanced Instrumentation for Nanotechnology

BMET5931 – Nanomaterials in Medicine

BMET5933 – Biomedical Image Analysis 

BMET5953 – Rehabilitation Engineering 

BMET5957 – Bioelectronic Medicine Circuits and Systems 

BMET5962 – Introduction to Mechanobiology

BMET5992 – Regulatory Affairs in the Medical Industry

BMET5944 – Bioinspired Materials: Design and Fabrication 

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

CIVL5351 – Geoenvironmental Engineering

CIVL5460 – Particle Mechanics for Geotechnics

CIVL5701 – Transport Networks, Geography and Land Use

CIVL5999 – Advanced Research and Analysis

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

CSYS5010 – Introduction to Complex Systems

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

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

ELEC9515 – Digital Communication Systems

ELEC9607 – Embedded Systems

ENGG5202 – Sustainable Design, Engineering and Management 

ENGG5204 – Engineering Professional Practice

ENGG5214 – Management of Technology 

ENGG5215 – International Engineering Strategy and Operations

INFO5060 – Data Analytics and Business Intelligence

ISYS5070 – Change Management in IT

MECH8265 – Combustion 

MECH8720 – Sensors and Signals 

MTRX8700 – Experimental Robotics

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

DATA5441 – Networks and High-dimensional Inference

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)

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

*Please note, this is an indicative list and some units may not be available every semester. Please refer to our faculty handbooks for the latest information.

**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 three years full-time or six years part-time.

The Master of Philosophy/Research is usually one to two years full-time or four 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 to 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 the 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 Postgraduate 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

Make an enquiry