PhD (Studio)

Course Information

A Studio based work of doctorate quality

This flexible research program contains a thesis of variable length, typically 30,000 to 50,000 words. The length of the thesis will be agreed through consultation with you and your supervising academic.

To apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (Studio), you must hold either a research Master degree or a Bachelors degree with first- or second-class honours. You may also be admitted if you pass a qualifying examination at an equivalent standard.

The Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning has established an innovative studio-based option for the Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) program. For the first time, our PhD students will be able to complete doctorate level studies in design-based research and creative work.

The Studio-based PhD program is intended for students who plan to produce a creative body of work that will be accompanied by a text of 30,000 to 50,000 words, rather than producing only text-based thesis expected in the more convention PhD program.

“The diversity of our research options is further enhanced by this announcement,” Associate Dean (Graduate Research Studies) William Martens said. “This option enables our PhD candidates to demonstrate their mastery of both theory and practice and will produce a new generation of scholars.” PhD candidate Sarah Breen Lovett believes this positions the Faculty as an innovative, international player in higher degree research focused upon design and creative practice.

“The University of Sydney is already renowned for its intellectual and theoretical rigour, and now we have the chance to supplement that with the demands of creative practice. It is groundbreaking,” Breen Lovett said.

Breen Lovett believes that this PhD option allows candidates to become better equipped as academics, researchers and designers.

"It provides candidates with a deeper understanding of a specific area of practice, which can enhance their ability to teach future design students," she says of the PhD’s engagement with studio work. “But it will also advance career prospects in the field due to a higher engagement with practical demands.”

“Our students graduate with remarkable design skills,” Associate Professor Glen Hill said. “But a traditional PhD doesn’t always allow graduates to utilise those design skills. Those completing the new studio-based PhD will be educated in order to use that expertise in order to address problems in design.”

It is perfect timing for the commencement of a studio-based PhD, as it encourages a deeper investigation of changing technologies that are rapidly shaping our society. The Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning prides itself on a long history of sitting at the forefront of societal trends. Having produced the country’s first PhD graduate in architecture, Peter Smith, it is fitting that the Faculty is giving new opportunities to students to push the boundaries of research.

“The studio-based PhD entails research-by-design, which is about looking into the future to theorise how projects are going to affect all the stakeholders involved,” Hill said.

“New technologies and techniques are appearing rapidly at the current moment, and, if you want to understand their impact, a studio-based PhD is crucial,” Breen Lovett said. “It is about a higher engagement with new technologies, but also about re-visiting old technologies to uncover what has been overlooked or missed.”

Martens says that this new PhD option “will allow candidates to explore new links between their creative outputs and the theories that inform architecture and design practice”.

“Theory and practice push and pull on each other for a new understanding, so this PhD option makes sense,” Breen Lovett said. She also believes that the interdisciplinary opportunities are great and varied.

“The reaction so far has been one of excitement,” Hill said. “There are a lot of past and present students who hadn’t considered undertaking a traditional PhD, who are now considering the prospect of coming back for further study.”

Learn more or find out how to apply here