Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts)
Visual and Creative Arts
The information on this page applies to future students. Current students should refer to their faculty handbooks for course information.
There will be no new Higher Degrees by Research places for 2017. We will not be accepting new applications for Master of Fine Arts to commence in 2017.
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) is designed to engage visual artists in independent research that constitutes an original contribution to the understanding of contemporary visual arts. The PhD program provides candidates with a critical and intellectual focus to explore a single proposed research topic full-time over three to four years.
Candidates' research may reflect a critical exploration of the history, theory and practice of visual art; the development of new materials or technologies; the relationship between visual art and society; or the relationship between visual art and other disciplines.
Candidates may complete the PhD by:
(1) a thesis comprising a substantial body of creative work for exhibition plus a written text examining the histories and theoretical underpinnings of the creative work, both of which demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge, or
(2) a substantial written thesis that, through a sustained investigation, demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in the field of the history and theory of contemporary art.
This degree is awarded for the successful completion of an approved program of supervised, advanced research which constitutes an original contribution to knowledge.
Further course information and outcomes
Further information about research courses:
How to apply
To be eligible for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts), you must present a portfolio of work that demonstrates you have the level of art practice proficiency expected of an advanced research applicant. In addition, you must have completed the equivalent of the following in visual arts or other subject area related to your proposed research area:
• bachelor’s degree with first class or second class honours or,
• master’s degree by research such as the Master of Fine Arts or,
• master’s degree by coursework with an independent research component such as a thesis, dissertation or research project with a minimum overall credit average.
These criteria constitute the minimum requirements for eligibility and do not guarantee admission. That remains at the discretion of the relevant supervisors and departments, and access to supervision remains highly competitive. The University must certify that there are sufficient supervisory and other resources and facilities available to enable your candidature to be completed successfully.
Applying for admission
1. Find a supervisor within the University whose academic background aligns with your research. You may visit Research Supervisor Connect to start.
2. Contact a research supervisor either through Research Supervisor Connect or email and provide:
• your academic/educational background and research experience with examples such as an academic transcript
• your CV/resume
• examples of your recent art practice
• the area of interest for your PhD
• why you believe your research topics align with this supervisor
3. In conjunction with your supervisor, develop a preliminary research proposal of 7-10 pages that outlines the subject area, objectives and significance of your research. See proposal guidelines.
4. Prepare a portfolio that reflects your recent art practice and demonstrates the level of proficiency expected of an advanced research applicant. Please submit up to 10 examples of your work to date. See portfolio guidelines.
5. If you intend to study part-time towards a PhD, you will also need to supply:
• evidence that shows you will have sufficient time available to plan and carry out the research under the supervision of the University, and complete the course within the maximum period allowed for a part-time PhD enrolment
• a declaration from your employer (if relevant) confirming that you will be permitted to take the time required to effectively pursue your studies.
6. Your research proposal should be submitted along with your portfolio, CV, academic transcripts and other supporting documents.
7. Applications are made via the University’s online application portal. When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply Now’ button on the right hand side of this page.
8. You may be invited to attend an admission interview in support of your application for a research degree. You will be notified if this is necessary.
Additional application requirements
You will be required to upload all of the following documents when you submit your application:
• certified academic transcripts for all your previous tertiary study, if they were not completed at The University of Sydney
• CV, providing a summary of your work experience and other relevant activities
• two academic references (international applicants)
• Research proposal
• Statement for capacity to undertake part-time candidature (if applicable –domestic applicants)
• cover letter outlining your reasons for applying
• evidence that your supervisor supports your application. This can be PDF copies of emails and correspondence between you and your supervisor
• proof of your Australian residency status (a certified copy of the main page your Australian passport, or a certified copy of the main page(s) of your own passport with evidence of your visa)
• English language qualifications (if your prior study was completed at an institution where English is not the medium of instruction).
• portfolio of creative work
Postgraduate Domestic Tuition Fee
This 2016, tuition fee for a domestic postgraduate student represents the fee that is payable by you in the calendar year you commence your course, commencing in 2015 for a standard annual full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). If your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL your fee will differ.
Annual review for postgraduate domestic tuition fee
Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review by the University, and are likely to increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.
Additional incidental fees
For some courses there are incidental fees additional to the student contribution and/or course fee. Some of those fees are significant, for example, faculty-specific materials, tools, protected clothing and equipment. For further information about these additional incidental fees, please visit the University's Future Students' website.
Potential for inaccuracy
Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information in this prospectus, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre for domestic students or the International Office for international students so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about those fees.
The academic requirements that are displayed are applicable to currently available courses only, and are updated annually in October and may be changed without notice. The Faculty Handbook and the University of Sydney Calendar are the official legal source of information relating to study at the University of Sydney, and you are referred to those documents
Please note that if you are classified by the University as a Research Training Scheme student in accordance with the Other Grants Guidelines (Research) 2010, you will be exempt from the payment of any SCA or tuition fees for courses undertaken as part of a Research Masters degree and Research Doctoral degree. More information about your eligibility for this Scheme is available here.
International tuition fees for postgraduate students
This 2016, tuition fee for international postgraduate students represents the fees that are payable by you in the calendar year you commence your course, commencing in 2016, for a standard annual full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). If your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL your fee will differ.
Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review, and are likely to increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.
Additional incidental fees and health insurance
For some courses there are incidental fees additional to the tuition fees. Some of those fees are significant, for example, faculty-specific materials, tools, protected clothing, and equipment. The University's Future Students' webpage has further information about these additional incidental fees for postgraduate coursework students and postgraduate research students.
In addition to the fees indicated here for the course of study, International Students studying on an Australian Student Visa must have appropriate health insurance for the duration of their studies on a Student Visa through an approved provider of the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) scheme. This is a requirement of the Australian Government, unless otherwise exempted by the Government.
Potential for inaccuracy
Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information here, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre for domestic students or the International Office for international students so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about those fees.