Master of Arts (Research)
The information on this page applies to future students. Current students should refer to their faculty handbooks for course information.
The Master of Arts (Research) is designed to meet the needs of students who would like to extend their studies beyond their undergraduate degree, primarily by thesis, but do not have an undergraduate honours degree or other qualification that would allow entry into a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
The satisfactory completion of the MA (Research) degree is a qualification for admission to higher degree research candidature. You cannot upgrade to a PhD without completing the master’s.
The MA (Research) can be undertaken in a range of subject areas by research and thesis only, or a combination of thesis and coursework, as outlined below. The MA (Research) has different admission requirements from both the Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
The MA (Research) may be undertaken in the following ways:
− two postgraduate units of study (12 credit points) and a thesis of 26,000 to 28,000 words or
− one postgraduate unit of study (six credit points) and a thesis of 28,000 to 30,000 words or
− a thesis of 30,000 to 35,000 words
− a thesis on an approved topic is researched and written under the supervision of a member of the academic staff.
Further course information
Areas of research
Master of Arts (Research) candidates may undertake research in one of the faculty's five schools. These are the Schools of Economics; Languages and Cultures; Letters, Art and Media; Philosophical and Historical Inquiry; Social and Political Sciences.
Further information about research courses
Research at Sydney
Your research at Sydney
Research at The University of Sydney is dynamic and always evolving; inspiring the active mind and providing new tools and ways of thinking that lead to innovation. A postgraduate research degree is a training exercise in which the candidate acquires knowledge of research methods and experience in planning, performing and publishing research under the guidance of a supervisor. The success of that training is assessed through a thesis, which in the case of a PhD is expected to provide some evidence of originality and thereby make some significant contribution to knowledge, at least some of which is publishable. A successful research master’s thesis will likewise demonstrate a grasp of training in research methodology but may make a less original contribution than a doctoral thesis. Over the years, The University of Sydney has consistently outperformed other Australian universities in the measure of research performance used by the Australian Government to allocate funding. The numbers are impressive, but what really matters is the research this funding supports. This exceptional outcome is testament to the breadth, depth and scale of Sydney’s research enterprise and demonstrates the superior quality of Sydney researchers in the eyes of their research peers
The supervisor is that member of the academic or, as appropriate, senior research staff, appointed to take primary responsibility for the conduct of a student's research candidature. The supervisor must be available at all stages of the candidature for advice, assistance and direction and is responsible for the progress of the candidature to the head of department/school and the faculty or college. At least one associate supervisor is also appointed. The role of the supervisory team will change over the course of the candidature but will generally always comprise: ensuring sufficient resources are available to support the candidate; providing advice about an initial research plan; ensuring that the candidate is aware of the particular research skills to be acquired and that appropriate techniques are established for gathering and analysing data; monitoring progress made within the context of the research plan; agreeing on a timetable for frequent and regular contact and acknowledging the need for periodic review of these arrangements; establishing agreed indicators of progress; providing regular and constructive feedback on written analysis and drafts; and providing sound advice about relevant administrative matters.
The University of Sydney offers a number of research scholarships to outstanding domestic and international students. Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and citizens of New Zealand are domestic applicants. Scholarships information for domestic applicants http://sydney.edu.au/scholarships/research/ Overseas nationals (citizens of all other countries) are international applicants. Scholarships information for international applicants http://sydney.edu.au/future_students/international_postgraduate_research/costs_scholarships/scholarships/index.shtml
The Research Training Scheme (RTS), http://sydney.edu.au/future_students/domestic_postgraduate_research/costs_scholarships/costs.shtml administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), provides course fee exemptions for Commonwealth-funded higher degree by research (HDR) students for the duration of an accredited HDR course, up to a maximum of four years full-time equivalent study for a doctorate by research (including a professional doctorate which meets the research program criteria), and two years’ full-time equivalent study for a master's by research. RTS students may be enrolled full-time or part-time.
Progression and completion
A candidate for the Master of Arts (Research) will have an annual review at the end of each year and will complete an annual progress report to demonstrate their progress to the satisfaction of the Faculty. In addition to this, the candidate will be interviewed at the end of their first year to review progress and supervisory arrangements and to ensure that their research project has sufficient resources available.
If a candidate is not progressing satisfactorily towards the completion of the degree, they may be asked by the faculty to explain why their candidature should not be terminated.
Annual progress review
The Academic Board has determined that all research candidates are required to undertake an annual progress review (APR). The APR comprises a written report and a mandatory interview. The report requires written statements from the candidate, the supervisory panel, the staff member responsible for coordinating or directing research within the department, and the Chair of the review panel. The interview is conducted by the review panel, which should include the participation of an academic staff member or members from outside the department. Members of the candidate's supervisory panel may be present for part of the interview, but the interview must provide the candidate with the opportunity to speak freely to the review panel without the presence of supervisors. On the basis of evidence provided and the interview, the head of the department recommends the conditions of candidature to apply for the following year.
In order to complete the requirements for the Master of Arts (Research), a candidate shall complete an approved course of advanced study and research as follows:
(a) one postgraduate unit of study as prescribed by the Faculty comprising a total of 6 credit points; and a thesis of 28,000-30,000 words investigating an appropriate topic approved by their supervisor, the relevant postgraduate coordinator and the Faculty; or
(b) two postgraduate units of study as prescribed by the Faculty comprising 12 credit points; and a thesis of 26,000-28,000 words investigating an appropriate topic approved by their supervisory, the relevant postgraduate coordinator and the Faculty; or
(c) a thesis of 30,000-35,000 words investigating an appropriate topic approved by their supervisor, the relevant postgraduate coordinator and the Faculty.
Thesis submission requirements and examination procedure as set out in the Academic Board resolutions for this course and the Higher Degree (HDR) Rule 2011.
The satisfactory completion of the MA (Research) degree is a qualification for admission to higher degree research candidature.
How to apply
(1) To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for a bachelor’s degree from the University of Sydney or equivalent institution, with a major in a relevant subject area, completed with a distinction average.
(2) The Dean or Associate Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of sub-clause (1), provided that the applicant holds a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Dean or Associate Dean, are equivalent to those.
Applying for admission
To apply for a research degree, you may be expected to contact the appropriate faculty with an expression of interest before submitting a formal application. When you submit a formal application online, you will be required to upload some or all of the following documents electronically with your application:
(i) a certified academic transcript or transcripts for your previous study, if they were not completed at The University of Sydney;
(ii) a CV, providing a summary of your work experience and other relevant activities;
(iii) up to two academic references;
(iv) a research proposal;
(v) a one page cover letter outlining your reasons for applying;
(vi) 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);
(vii) English language qualifications (if your prior study was completed at an institution where English is not the medium of instruction).
Some courses have further, specific admission requirements, including other documentation or the submission of a portfolio of work, and/or an interview as part of the application process - see Additional application requirements
Additional application requirements
You must provide references from at least two academics who are familiar with your studies and are qualified to comment on your previous academic achievements and your capacity to undertake a research degree.
For more information regarding admission requirements, please refer to:
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.