The Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning offers three research degrees: the Master of Philosophy (Architecture), the Doctor of Philosophy and the Doctor of Science in Architecture.
Master of Philosophy (Architecture) (MPhil(Arch))
The research master's program allows a candidate to undertake research and advanced specialisation in any of the five research groups established in the School. Entry requirements for the MPhil(Arch) include a bachelor's degree with first or second class honours in a relevant discipline. The program is generally completed in four semesters of full time or eight semesters of part time study. The final thesis for the conventional Master of Philosophy (Architecture), including those completing a thesis with publications, is expected to be in the range of 30,000 – 60,000 words.
However, there are variations to the above. Where a student has been formally admitted to the MPhil option based on completing an approved creative works mode (as referred to in the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degrees by Research Policy 2015), candidates will produce an exhibition-type presentation of their work (openly available to the academic community) that is accompanied by text no more than 15,000 words in length, except by permission of the relevant Head of Discipline.
Where a student has been formally admitted into a design based MPhil option (previously referred to as Studio-based MPhil option in the School MPhil resolutions of this Handbook), students may produce an agreed design work accompanied by text no more than 15,000 words in length. Alternatively, they may produce a thesis in the normal 30,000-60,000 word range.
For all MPhil options, the thesis type and submission requirements, including word length, will be confirmed with the student, supervisor, the Design PhD Director (if applicable if the student is enrolled in that mode) and the Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) at the students Confirmation of Candidature hearing. After discussion with their supervisor or Design PhD Director (if applicable), students need to clearly identify the type of MPhil submission option they are applying for at the time of application.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This research degree is awarded for a thesis considered to be a substantial, original contribution to knowledge in one of the five research groups in the School. Entry requirements include a research master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree with first- or second-class honours in a relevant discipline. Alternatively students may be admitted having passed a qualifying examination at an equivalent standard. This examination could be completion of a period of relevant advanced study and research towards a master's degree at the University of Sydney. The PhD is normally completed within eight semesters of full time or 16 semesters of part time study. Students will be eligible for assessment through either the conventional submission of a written thesis of 60,000 to 80,000 words, which may include a thesis with publications. However, there are variations to the above. Where a student has been formally admitted into a PhD option based on completing an approved creative works mode (as defined in the University Higher Degree Research and Procedures Policies 2015), students will produce an exhibition-type presentation of their work (openly available to the academic community) that is accompanied by a text of 30,000 to 50,000 words that frames their creative works.
Where a student has been formally admitted into a Design based PhD option (previously referred to as Studio-based PhD option in the School PhD resolutions of this Handbook), students may produce agreed design work accompanied by a text no more than 30,000 to 50,000 words in length. Alternatively, they may produce a thesis in the normal 60,000 - 80,000 word range.
For all PhD options, the thesis type and submission requirements, including word length, will be confirmed with the student, supervisor, the Design PhD Director (if applicable if the student is enrolled in that mode) and Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) at the students Confirmation of Candidature hearing. After discussion with their supervisor or Design PhD Director (if applicable), students need to clearly identify the type of PhD submission option they are applying for at the time of application.
Doctor of Science in Architecture (DScArch)
This degree is awarded for published work that, in the opinion of the examiners, has generally been recognised by scholars in the field concerned as a distinguished contribution to knowledge or creative achievement. The candidate shall be a graduate of at least five years standing. If the candidate is not a graduate of the University of Sydney he or she must have been a full-time member of academic staff of the University for at least three years or have had similar significant involvement in the teaching and research of the University.
The Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning is a multidisciplinary school. Within the structure of the school there are no formal schools or departments. However, to assist research students to maintain a close relationship with other students and academics of similar academic interest to them, a range of disciplines has been established. These are:
- Architecture Science
- Urban and Regional Planning and Policy
Each discipline is under the leadership of a senior academic staff member, and usually closely involves research students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars as well as academic staff of that discipline. Their purpose is to promote a stimulating and productive atmosphere for research and research students and to promote discussion among like-minded research students and academics about their own research and other contemporary topics. This is usually done through a regular research seminar.
As part of their probationary requirements, research students are expected to make a public presentation of their research topic before the end of the first 12 months of candidature. The primary audience, apart from the supervisor, auxilary supervisor, and other academic staff and researchers with close interest in the subject, is students in the discipline. It is anticipated, however, that such presentations will be made known to the entire school staff and research student body, and that at least one academic staff member from outside the research student's indicated discipline, along with the candidate's supervisory committee, will be invited to serve on the panel assessing the presentation of the proposed research.
Note that disciplines have no official status for students and are not recorded on academic transcripts. Students are directed to a discipline on the basis of the academic interests of the intended supervisor. However, it is up to the student to take an interest in that group or any other group.
All students are required to make timely progress with their research and to submit their theses on time. Students commencing from 2005 have the following maximum time limits:
- PhD full-time candidature: 8 semesters
- PhD part-time candidature: 16 semesters
- MPhil full-time candidature: 4 semesters
- MPhil part-time candidature: 8 semesters
It is important that you keep in regular contact with your supervisor, ideally meeting once a week especially during crucial periods of your candidature. Students are required to submit to their supervisor a brief written summary documenting the results of each supervisory meeting. To ensure that students progress satisfactorily, all research students are placed on probation for two semesters and are required to fulfil certain criteria. These are listed below. Once the service requirements have been completed satisfactorily, candidature will proceed on a permanent basis.
Any change in candidature (such as suspension or change in supervisor) must be agreed with your supervisor and notified in writing via Sydney Student to the Higher Degree Student Administration Centre.
The requirements for satisfactory completion of the probationary period include:
- the submission of a satisfactory Research Proposal to the candidate's supervision committee
- the presentation of the Research Proposal to the candidate's committee at a public seminar
- demonstration of adequate English language competency to the candidate's committee
- completion of the unit of study ARCF 9001 Modes of Inquiry: Research and Scholarship in the first semester of enrolment
- satisfactory completion of a structured first year as determined by the Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) in consultation with supervisors in disciplinary areas
- a recommendation from the candidate's supervisor, on the advice of the candidate's committee, that the probationary requirements have been met.
A supervision committee is established for each candidate during their probationary year and consists of your supervisor and one or more other members of the academic staff selected by your supervisor in consultation with you.
The role of the committee is to act both as a resource concerning candidature and as an assessment committee for your probationary requirements. As part of the committee you need to select an auxillary supervisor, if one has not already been appointed.
Guidelines for your research proposal
The first year of the MPhil and PhD is probationary. You need to demonstrate that you are capable of carrying out doctoral or master’s-level research at the University of Sydney and to satisfy the probationary requirements listed in the school resolutions and set by your supervisor. The demonstration of your capacity to undertake research at a doctoral or master's degree level is done through the development, submission, presentation and assessment of a formal research proposal. The thesis research proposal is presented to your supervision committee. It is on the basis of your research proposal that your committee makes a recommendation concerning your continuing candidature.
The research proposal should be 7000 to 12000 words long (15-25 pages) and include the following:
- the area and focus of the proposed research, along with a set of aims and objectives and the importance of the research;
- a critical literature review that establishes the background of the proposed research and identifies gaps that this research proposal will address;
- an indication of ability to make progress with the research;
- a research plan including research design, details of methods, management plan and time lines tied to the objectives; and
- potential outcomes if the research is successful.
Your formal research proposal should demonstrate adequate English language skills and your ability to successfully complete such a program. Research proposals will be presented at a public research seminar.
Criteria used to evaluate research proposals
The general criteria used to evaluate student research proposals are as follows:
- Are the aims and objectives clearly stated, feasible and consistent with the school's research interests?
- Does the student demonstrate knowledge of the key areas of the research literature?
- Is the research plan viable?
- Is the proposed methodology sound and feasible?
- Do the potential outcomes merit the research proposal?
- Are there adequate resources available to enable the candidate to complete the proposed research?
- Do the proposal and its written and oral presentation indicate a satisfactory command of English, sufficient to enable the applicant to undertake MPhil or PhD research at the University of Sydney?
The major part of the research must be completed within the University, although a period of six months leave may be granted by the Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) to enable fieldwork to be completed.
Annual progress report and interview
You are required to submit a progress report annually (usually in October), regardless of when you commenced your candidature. This is reviewed by your supervisor, an academic panel and the Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) and you will be notified of the result of this review, when any problem areas or training needs are identified. As part of your first annual progress review, you will be interviewed by the academic panel to discuss your general progress, facilities, resources and supervision.
Suspension of candidature
If you need to suspend your candidature, you should first consult with your supervisor and then enter your request (stating the reasons) via Sydney Student. This request will be forwarded for review and approval. You will receive written confirmation of the suspension by the Higher Degree Student Administration Centre. Suspension of candidature is by semester, and except with the approval of the Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) you may suspend your candidature for a total of two full-time semesters only. For domestic students, during suspension your Research Training Scheme entitlement will be suspended, as will any scholarship payments. You will be granted an extension to your candidature equivalent to the length of the suspension. International students may be required to leave the country while their candidature is suspended and should seek advice from the International Office before taking any action.
Leave of absence
If you need to take a break from your research for less than a semester, a leave of absence may be granted. You should follow the same procedure as for suspension (see above). You will not be granted an extension to your candidature for a leave of absence but you may, if not quite finished by the due date, apply for an extension equivalent to the length of absence.
Extension of time
If, as your latest submission date approaches, it becomes obvious that you need more time, you are urged to discuss this with your supervisor or the Associate Dean (Research Graduate Studies) at the first available opportunity. Late submission of theses is a serious concern for the school and the earlier we know about it the easier it will be to take action to help you and us.
Students in research degrees may include up to 24 credit points of coursework in their studies, including Modes of Inquiry.
Students who require some background in a particular area that is of relevance to their research may, with the approval of their supervisor, request to enrol in other undergraduate or postgraduate units of study offered by this school or other faculties.
The unit of study listed below is a probationary requirement for all MPhil and PhD students in the school.