Making an application

Applying for and obtaining admission to a research degree is a process that requires time and preparation before submission of the application. Incomplete or ill-prepared applications will take longer to process or may be rejected by the relevant faculty or department.

Before submitting your application form you need to complete certain steps.

1. Identify and establish an academic contact/potential supervisor

Firstly you need to contact a suitable member of the academic staff of the University and present them with an initial proposal outlining your proposed topic of research.

When you contact a member of the academic staff, you should provide them with some initial details to help them advise you on your study plans. For example, you could outline your educational background, relevant work experience and the research area you are interested in pursuing.

Please use the Research Supervisor Connect tool to find an academic contact/potential supervisor. For Business School's contacts, please also use their Discipline Postgraduate Research Coordinators list for more information.

2. Develop and submit an initial research proposal

Once you have initiated discussions with an academic contact, you should prepare an initial research proposal.

In general, your proposal should be around 500 words in length. However, some faculties such as the Sydney Law School and the Business School prefer a more detailed written proposal.

Your initial proposal should include the following information:

  • Title: Working title for the project.
  • Academic staff contact: Name(s) of the academic staff with whom you have discussed your proposal and, if relevant a potential supervisor.
  • Objectives: What aims does the work have?
  • Synopsis: Briefly describe the key aspects of what you will be investigating.
  • Background: Describe what research has already been done in relation to your topic.
  • Significance: Why is the topic important?
  • Methodology: Approach or methodology to be used in the research.
  • Resources: Provide details of the resources required for you to carry out your research project.
  • Work plan: An initial plan for completion with annual milestones.

3. Revise and finalise your research proposal

In conjunction with your academic contact(s), refine your research proposal ready for submission of your formal application.

4. Identify and contact two academic referees

To support your application, we will need to receive references from two academic referees who are familiar with your previous academic qualifications/achievements. Ensure they are available and willing to complete a reference for you, and acquire their correct and current contact details.

They will need to complete the academic referee report and submit it to the University. Instructions are provided on the application form or through the online application.

5. Complete the application form

The Postgraduate Research Application form contains detailed instructions about how to fill it in. Make sure you follow these instructions precisely.

To ensure that your application is complete and can be processed as quickly as possible, please ensure you have included all of the required supporting documentation.

If you are sending a copy of an official document (such as an academic transcript), the copy must be correctly certified by an appropriate authority.

You must include the Application Processing Fee for your application to be processed.

Submitting your application

Once you have identified an academic contact/potential supervisor and prepared a research proposal, you are ready to submit an application.

As an international student you can either;

  1. Apply directly to the University of Sydney
  2. Apply through a University of Sydney representative (agent)

1. Apply directly to the University of Sydney

  • First, select the course you want to apply for using Find a Course. Prepare yourself to apply well in advance of the closing date as places are limited.
  • Look at the section for ‘International applicants’, select your entry year and semester, then click on ‘APPLY DIRECTLY’. (Do not click on ‘APPLY THROUGH UAC’ as this option is not available for international research applicants.)
  • You will be directed to the University of Sydney online application portal, where you can fill in your application form.
  • Submit your research proposal.
  • Remember to attach all other relevant and certified documentation.
  • Pay the application processing fee ($100).
  • When you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email from the University.

If you are having difficulty applying online, please contact us for assistance via email on

2. Applying through a University representative (agent)

You can also apply for a course through a University of Sydney representative (agent) in Australia or another country. Note that some agents charge a fee for their services.

A representative may be helpful if you want advice on choosing a course, relocating and living in Australia, or if you need help to complete documentation required by the University of Sydney or the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Important note: As most of the correspondence we send you regarding your application is via email, we strongly recommend you add the University of Sydney to your approved sender list. Also, you should also regularly check your junk mail folder just in case University emails have been misdirected there.