Research Degrees

Digital research project

The Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning places a high emphasis on its research activity. We have a vibrantly diverse community of scholars and practitioners, many who have taken national and international leadership roles in their fields. The faculty offers the opportunity to pursue research degrees, both Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy in four disciplines:

  • Architecture
  • Architectural Science
  • Design Lab
  • Urban & Regional Planning & Policy

You may elect to study in any of these fields, or to pursue interdisciplinary studies in a combination of fields with the faculty or between the faculty and elsewhere in the university. The University and the Faculty have formal links, including exchange agreements and memoranda of understanding, with institutions throughout Asia, Europe, Scandinavia and North America, these translate into research opportunities for students as well as staff. We support these degrees with a wide range of resources, including extensively equipped laboratories and comprehensive workshop facilities.


The Faculty offers two research degrees; Doctor of Philosophy and the Master of Philosophy (Architecture). These research programs involve study of research methodology and in-depth study by research in a specialised area. A research student undertakes a major thesis supervised by a staff member. It is possible to upgrade from the Master of Philosophy (Architecture) to a Doctor of Philosophy, provided satisfactory progress is made in the first year.

Master of Philosophy (Architecture), MPhil (Arch)
The research masters program allows a candidate to undertake research and advanced specialisation in any of the areas of scholarship and research undertaken by the Faculty. Entry requirements for the MPhil(Arch) include a bachelor degree in a relevant discipline. This degree may be undertaken in any one of the Faculty's research areas and may include the requirement for some coursework (up to a maximum of 24 credit points). The program is generally completed in four semesters full-time (2 years) or eight semesters part-time (4 years). The final thesis for the Master of Philosophy (Architecture) is expected to be in the range of 30,000 – 60,000 words.

The Master of Philosophy (Architecture) is also available as a studio-based program. Please contact the Faculty for further details on this option.

It is possible to upgrade from the Master of Philosophy (Architecture) to a Doctor of Philosophy, provided satisfactory progress to a PhD standard is made within the first year. Details are available from the Student Administration Centre.

Doctor of Philosophy, PhD
This research degree is awarded for a thesis considered to be a substantial, original contribution to the discipline concerned. Entry requirements include a research masters degree or a bachelors degree with first or second class honours. Alternatively you may be admitted having passed a qualifying examination at an equivalent standard.This examination could be completion of a period of relevant advanced study and research towards a masters degree at The University of Sydney. The PhD is normally completed within eight semesters full time (4 years).

Students will be examined for the degree by completing a body of work presented as a substantial written thesis of 60,000-80,000 words that, through a sustained investigation, demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge.

Design PhD
The Design PhD is a program for architects and designers seeking to be at the forefront of their field and are driven by a commitment to expand the frontiers of their practice.

The Design PhD thesis consists of an experimental design project to develop new knowledge or understanding of the possibilities of the built environment and design and a written work of 30,000 to 50,000 words. The thesis is supported by research methods training, one to one supervision and a collegial research studio with other candidates and Faculty members.

More information about the Design PhD