Master of Philosophy (Science)

The information on this page applies to future students. Current students should refer to their faculty handbooks for course information.

The Master of Philosophy (Science) opens the door to the world of scientific research. MPhil (Science) students become independent researchers of exceptional quality. They learn to manage extensive projects, use advanced scientific tools and write reports fit for publication. Their skills enable them to go on to prominent careers, not just in research, but also in policy, industry, management, government, business and international development.

As a University of Sydney student, you can choose from eight different science departments to complete your two-year degree, which will culminate in a thesis written about your particular area of expertise.

Your training will take place in the top ranked university in Australia in terms of scientific output (SCImago World Report 2013). Our reputation for scientific excellence attracts the best researchers and significant research funding, creating an outstanding learning environment for the next generation of scientists and global leaders.

The Master of Philosophy is predominantly a research degree. You will develop advanced skills in research methods as well as in planning, performing and publishing research under the guidance of a supervisor. There is also the opportunity to undertake some coursework units to support your studies.

If you choose to continue with research, the MPhil (Science) will give you excellent preparation to embark on the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). If you don’t, your superior ability and substantial research experience will give you a competitive edge and enhanced employment opportunities, both in Australia and overseas.

The Master of Philosophy is available across the following disciplines:

• Agriculture (from 2017)
• Chemistry
• Geosciences
• History and Philosophy of Sciences
• Life and Environmental Sciences
• Mathematics and Statistics
• Physics
• Psychology
• Veterinary Science (from 2017)

Course outline

The Master of Philosophy is an excellent program if you are considering pursuing a career in scientific research or if you wish to upgrade your qualifications to give you a competitive edge and enhance employment opportunities, both in Australia and overseas, by demonstrating superior ability and substantial research experience. 

The Master of Philosophy is a research degree in which you will undertake supervised research leading to the production of a thesis. There is also the opportunity to undertake some coursework units to support your studies. This provides you with substantial preparation for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) if you choose to continue your research.

The Master of Philosophy is available across the following disciplines:

  • Agriculture (from 2017)
  • Chemistry
  • Geosciences
  • History and Philosophy of Sciences
  • Life and Environmental Sciences
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Veterinary Science (from 2017)

Further course information

Areas of research


  • Biological Sciences

  • Chemistry

  • Geosciences

  • History and Philosophy of Sciences

  • Mathematics and Statistics

  • Molecular Bioscience

  • Physics

  • Psychology

Further information about research courses

Please refer to the Faculty of Science website for further information about research programs in Natural Sciences.

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.

Supervision

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.

Scholarships

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. Find out more about scholarships for domestic applicants.

Overseas nationals (citizens of all other countries) are considered international applicants. Find out more about scholarships for international applicants.

About RTS

The Australian Government provides funding to the University under the ‘Research Training Scheme’. The Research Training Scheme enables the University to offer eligible domestic Higher Degree by Research students an exemption from paying a tuition fee for enrolment in their Higher Degree by Research course (‘RTS Students’). The University’s allocation of funding under the Research Training Scheme is governed by the Higher Education Support Act 2003 – Other Grants Guidelines (Research) 2012 (as may be amended or replaced from time to time) and relevant Conditions of Grant prescribed by the Government (‘Relevant Laws’).

Subject to a student’s continued eligibility under the Relevant Laws, you may be allocated as a RTS Student by the University, and entitled (depending on your course offering) to either a maximum of four years full-time equivalent study for a Doctorate by Research or two years of full-time equivalent study for a Master’s Degree by Research. Please note that, when a student has exhausted the maximum period of RTS entitlement, the University must terminate their entitlement. If they wish to continue their enrolment in the same degree, they will be transferred to a domestic fee paying place and may be liable for tuition fees at a rate determined by the University at the time.

Please note that a student’s RTS Student status is subject to change consistent with Relevant Laws and University rules and policies. The University determines this Government support and the processes by which this support is managed. Please consult the Australian Government’s website at: www.education.gov.au/research-training-scheme for information on the Research Training Scheme and eligibility requirements.

Progression and completion

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.

Completion requirements

A candidate for the Master of Philosophy (Science) is required to:

(a) carry out an original investigation on a topic approved by the Head of Department; and

(b) write a thesis embodying the results of this investigation, stating in the thesis the sources from which the work of others has been used, and the proportion of the thesis claimed as original work.

Thesis submission requirements and examination procedure as set out in the Academic Board resolutions for this course and the Higher Degree (HDR) Rule 2011.

Further study

Many of our graduates have successfully pursued further study in a range of internationally recognised academic programs. If you would like to continue to be a part of Sydney's research community, you may wish to consider applying for admission to a PhD. Students completing a PhD undertake supervised research in specialised area of science and submit a written thesis at the completion of their studies which normally lasts for 3 years. You can search for potential research projects and supervisors at Research Supervisor Connect.

How to apply

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission to the Master of Philosophy (Science), you must have completed the equivalent of one of the following in a subject area related to your proposed research area:

• bachelor’s degree with a minimum overall credit average in the senior level unit(s) of study relevant to the proposed area of research or,

• master’s degree or,

• University of Sydney Graduate Diploma of Science with a final mark of 80.

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.

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.

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 through Research Supervisor Connect and provide:

• your academic/educational background and research experience with examples such as an academic transcript
• your CV/resume
• 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 research proposal, 2-4 pages in length that outlines the subject area, objectives and significance of your research. More information.

4. Obtain two academic referee reports, each one written by a referee who is familiar with your previous academic achievements.

5. If you intend to study part-time towards a PhD (international student visa holders must enroll full-time), 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. Submit your application along with your research proposal, CV, academic referee reports, academic transcripts, supporting evidence (where required) and other supporting documents such as identification and evidence of residency status. Applications are made via the University’s online application portal.

7. When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply Now’ button on the right hand side of this page.

Please note – Except for IPRS and UsydIS scholarships for international students, you must complete a separate scholarship application

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

• two academic references (international applicants)

• Statement for capacity to undertake part-time candidature (if applicable –domestic applicants)

• cover letter outlining your reasons for applying

• research proposal

• statement of capacity to undertake part-time candidature (if applicable –domestic applicants)

• evidence that your supervisor supports your application. This can be PDF copies of emails 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).

Important Fee Information

Domestic students

Indicative Postgraduate Domestic Tuition Fee

The tuition fee for a domestic postgraduate student is an indication only of the 2017 fees payable in Year 1 for a standard full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). Depending on the calendar year in which you undertake your study, and if your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL, your tuition fee will differ from the indicative amount.

Annual review and fee increases

Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review by the University, and will increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.

Domestic Higher Degree by Research Student fee information

The Australian Government provides funding to the University under the ‘Research Training Scheme’. The Research Training Scheme enables the University to offer eligible domestic Higher Degree by Research students an exemption from paying a tuition fee for enrolment in their Higher Degree by Research course (‘RTS Students’). The University’s allocation of funding under the Research Training Scheme is governed by the Higher Education Support Act 2003 – Other Grants Guidelines (Research) 2012 (as may be amended or replaced from time to time) and relevant Conditions of Grant prescribed by the Government (‘Relevant Laws’).

Subject to a student’s continued eligibility under the Relevant Laws, you may be allocated as a RTS Student by the University, and entitled (depending on your course offering) to either a maximum of four years full-time equivalent study for a Doctorate by Research or two years of full-time equivalent study for a Master’s Degree by Research. Please note that, when a student has exhausted the maximum period of RTS entitlement, the University must terminate their entitlement. If they wish to continue their enrolment in the same degree, they will be transferred to a domestic fee paying place and may be liable for tuition fees at a rate determined by the University at the time.

Please note that a student’s RTS Student status is subject to change consistent with Relevant Laws and University rules and policies. The University determines this Government support and the processes by which this support is managed. Please consult the Australian Government’s website at: www.education.gov.au/research-training-scheme for information on the Research Training Scheme and eligibility requirements.

Additional incidental costs

For some courses there are incidental costs additional to the student contribution and/or course fee. Some of these incidental costs are significant, for example, faculty-specific materials, tools, protected clothing and equipment. Further information about these costs is available from your faculty.

Credit card surcharge

Please note that a surcharge of 0.8% will apply for payments made by Visa or MasterCard. The surcharge is subject to review and may change. Information about payment methods and the surcharge is set out at: http://sydney.edu.au/study/finances-fees-costs/fees-and-loans/paying-your-fees.html.

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 so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about fees.

International students

Indicative International Tuition Fees for Postgraduate Students

The tuition fee for international postgraduate students is an indication only of the 2017 fees payable in Year 1 for a standard full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). Depending on the calendar year in which you undertake your study, and if your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL, your tuition fee will differ from the indicative amount.

Annual review and fee increases

Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review, and will 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 costs additional to the tuition fees. Some of these incidental costs are significant, for example, faculty-specific materials, tools, protected clothing, and equipment. Further information about these costs is available from your faculty.

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.

Credit card surcharge

Please note that a surcharge of 0.8% will apply for payments made by Visa or MasterCard. The surcharge is subject to review and may change. Information about payment methods and the surcharge is set out at: http://sydney.edu.au/study/finances-fees-costs/fees-and-loans/paying-your-fees.html.

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 so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about fees.