Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Education or Social Work

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the best known of the research doctorates offered by the faculty. It requires original research that is (at least in principle) publishable in a peer-refereed academic journal. The program is designed for practitioners seeking to extend their professional or academic qualifications. Candidates are assigned a supervisor and an associate supervisor.


Entry requirements

Prospective candidates may apply enter the program by one of two qualifying pathways: direct entry or Pathway A entry. In both instances, admission is subject to acceptance of the intending candidate's research proposal of 500–1000 words.

Direct entry

Prospective candidates may qualify for direct entry into the PhD program if their research proposal (see above) is accepted and they satisfy one of the criteria listed below.

  • a bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis based on primary data not literature review
  • a master's degree by research in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis that draws on primary data
  • a master's degree by coursework, with a research thesis or dissertation of 12,000–15,000 words that draws on primary data not literature review, with a grade-point average of at least 80 per cent in the degree.

Pathway A entry

Pathway A entry is open to people whose research proposal (see above) is accepted and who satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • a bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study, but which did not include a research thesis
  • a master's degree by coursework (with no thesis or dissertation component) with a grade-point average of at least 75 per cent and an amount of scholarly writing and/or research expertise which, in the opinion of the admissions committee, is equivalent to a master’s research thesis. (Copies of these writings must be submitted with the application.)


Program structure

Study may be full time or part time. Full-time candidature is usually completed in four years. Part-time candidature can take up to eight years. Students are required to complete a probationary year (or part-time equivalent), the content of which depends on whether their admission was by direct entry or Pathway A entry, and whether their PhD is in social work or education.

At the completion of their probationary year, candidates must submit an extended thesis proposal for presentation to their thesis committee. This proposal should be 8000–10,000 words and include a critical review of relevant literature and an outline of the student's proposed methodology. The final decision regarding acceptance of the thesis proposal rests with the student's thesis committee. If the committee decides a candidate has not met all the conditions of their probation (including coursework, where indicated), they will be required to change candidature to the MPhil degree.

At the end of the PhD candidature, examination is by presentation of a thesis, the normal length of which is about 80,000 words.

Direct entry probationary year

Direct-entry candidates spend their probationary year preparing an extended thesis proposal for presentation to their thesis committee for approval. This proposal should be 8000–10,000 words and include a critical review of relevant literature and an outline of the student's proposed methodology.

Pathway A entry probationary year

In addition to preparing an extended thesis proposal for the approval of their thesis committee, candidates whose entry to the degree is via Pathway A must complete specific units aimed at enhancing their research methodology.

Education PhD candidates are required to enrol in Thesis Proposal Writing (EDPZ5003).

Social Work PhD students are required to enrol in Social Research (SCWK6902).

All PhD candidates on Pathway A must also complete at least one of the following research units:

Candidates may – after receiving approval from their supervisors and the relevant postgraduate research coordinator – replace a research unit with a different graduate-level unit of study. Those who can demonstrate research training or experience equivalent to any of the above research units may request a study exemption.