How to Apply - Research Programs @ Sydney Law School

Before you Apply: The Postgraduate Research Experience in Law

There are two steps involved in making an application to a research program:

  1. Expression of interest

  2. Formal application for admission

Expression of interest

Prior to making a formal application, you are required to provide information on the following form about your area of intended research, academic qualifications, professional or other qualifications, details about your original research activities and publications, and any other information relevant to the application.

Expressions of Interest are generally due:

Domestic applicants at least 3 months prior to formal application closing date
International applications at least 6 months prior to formal application closing date

Late Expressions of Interest may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Associate Dean (Research) will consider the Expression of Interest on the basis of your eligibility to enter the postgraduate research program as well as research supervision capacity within the relevant research area.

The Expression of Interest should be submitted at least 3 months for domestic applicants and at least 6 months for international applicants prior to the formal application closing date. This will allow the minimum time to assess the Expression of Interest and to make a formal application. Late Expressions of Interest may not be considered in time to make a formal application.

Formal application for admission

A formal application should only be submitted after your Expression of Interest has been accepted.

Application form and information

Once you have been advised to proceed with a formal application , you should complete the relevant application form and provide supporting documentation listed below.

Commencement date

Applicants may only apply to commence their candidature on the official start date of:

  • Semester 1 (March)
  • Semester 2 (July)

See important dates

Online application forms

Please ensure all application documents are available for uploading before commencing the online application process.

Domestic applicants

If you require assistance with making an online application, please contact the Direct Applications Team, Student Centre. For postgraduate law research course enquiries, please contact the Postgraduate Team, Sydney Law School

International applicants

Supporting documentation

The completed application form must be submitted together with the following supporting documentation.

Name of academic contact/proposed supervisor

Law applicants should indicate “Expression of interest accepted by Faculty” in this section of the application form.

Official academic transcripts

Official transcripts of all academic qualifications attempted. The transcripts must contain the name of the award, awarding institution, conferral date, class of honours, course duration, overall course average or grade point average attained. For overseas qualifications, please provide academic transcripts including explanation of grades and the level of passing grade at the awarding institution. Applicants whose transcripts are not in English must provide original transcripts together with original translations of the transcripts.

Proof of residency

Proof of Australian / New Zealand citizenship or Australian permanent resident status i.e. certified Australian birth/citizenship certificate or photo page of valid passport (and permanent resident visa if applicable).

Evidence of name change

Original marriage or name change certificate

Evidence of satisfactory English language proficiency

Evidence of English language proficiency

Research proposal

Prospective research students should include a detailed research proposal (approximately 10 pages). This should provide the following information:

  • Proposed research title
  • Aims of the research
  • Background to the research, including a survey of the relevant literature and law (including case law, where appropriate) and a clear statement of the area to be researched
  • Rationale for the research and a statement of why it is significant
  • Working hypotheses or research questions
  • Research methodology including theoretical and empirical considerations for the research
  • Consideration of ethical requirements and obligations of the research, including all research projects and teaching practicals involving human participants as subjects require ethical approval. For information, please visit Research Support
  • The Writing a Thesis Proposal guidelines are a good starting point for preparing to write your research proposal
  • To see past awarded theses, please visit Sydney University Library eScholarship Repository

Thesis completion timetable

Thesis completion timetable including attendance and completion of the compulsory units Legal Research 1, 2 and 3. Master’s research candidates are required to complete Legal Research 1 only. The timetable should also take into consideration of any proposed field trips, time away to conduct research/interviews etc as well as the application timeline for seeking ethics approval.

SJD applicants only

Indication of the coursework units you are planning to undertake in conjunction with the thesis and the units Legal Research 1, 2 and 3

Referee report

Two referee reports from an academic and/or relevant professional outlining your academic performance, research potentials and demonstrated ability to undertake a research degree.

Research projects/honours theses

List of research projects, master’s and honours theses (fully written in English) including the following details:

  • name of the degree for which the project or thesis was completed towards
  • percentage (%) of research component within the overall degree e.g. the degree comprised of 60% master’s thesis (60,000 words) and 40% coursework (undertook 4 subjects)
  • research project/thesis title
  • type of research e.g. honours thesis
  • submission date
  • word length
  • Grade e.g. 90% Honours I, 90% High Distinction or A+ (90%). If you have been awarded Honours I, please indicate the minimum grade required to receive an honours award e.g. honours cut-off mark is 80%.
  • Please provide relevant supporting letter or information e.g. reference letter from supervisor or conferring institution to explain the grade, content and structure of the project/thesis undertaken. Please note it is not necessary to provide the actual project or thesis with the application (unless advised otherwise)

Scholarly publications

List of scholarly publications (fully written in English) including details of:

  • type of publication i.e. published book, refereed journal or conference paper
  • name of publication
  • state whether you were the sole or co-author or the main contributor of the publication
  • name of Publisher
  • publication date
  • Academic journals must either be:
    i) listed on Thomson Reuters’ Master Journal (ISI) list, or
    ii) listed on the Scopus database and then verified as peer-reviewed on Ulrichsweb, i.e. ‘Refereed – Yes’
  • Evidence of publication i.e. Publisher’s acceptance letter
  • scholarly publications must be published or accepted for publication by a reputable publisher in the relevant field of research within the last 5 years. Self-publishing, publications by vanity publisher or in publications which lack basic publishing standards will not be considered.

Professional experience

Statement indicating your relevant professional experience at a responsible level or direct research since graduation. Please list position title, employer’s name, duration of position held (start/finish date and total number of years/months), attendance status (part-time or full-time) and responsibilities undertaken. Documentary evidence such as a letter from the employer must be provided detailing the above.

Statement of availability

Statement detailing your availability for study. If your proposed candidature will be part-time, you should attach a statement to indicate that you will be substantially free to pursue your candidature. Your statement should show that you will have sufficient time available to complete the course within the maximum period. It should also show that you will plan and carry out the intended research; and for the purposes of this research, that you will be under the supervision and control of the University. If you are employed, your statement should include a declaration from your employer confirming that you will be permitted the time required to effectively pursue your studies.

Statement of funding support

Statement indicating how you will be able to sufficiently fund your proposed field work or overseas study/research (if applicable). Explain why this work is essential for completion of your degree.

Transfer of research candidature

In addition to formal documentation required for application (as above), applicants who have already commenced a research degree and are seeking to transfer to another research degree, are required to provide the following additional information:

  • Reasons for applying to transfer
  • Statement (no more than 1,000 words) indicating the progress of your thesis to date. This should include an outline of the thesis plus a brief summary of each chapter, including information about what stage draft the material has reached.
  • Supervisor’s report detailing the rate and standard of your thesis progress made to date.
  • Evidence of ethics approval for all relevant previous research undertaken.
  • Non-University of Sydney applicants: provision of an official enrolment notice issued by the home institution confirming the number of full-time equivalent semesters of enrolment consumed under the government’s Research Training Scheme.

For further information, please refer to University policies relating to research candidatures.

Research application closing dates (including course transfers)


Application must be received by:

Semester 1, 2016 (March) 30 September 2015*
Semester 2, 2016 (July) 22 April 2016 

* International applicants who wish to be considered for a scholarship must submit their formal application for admission to the International Services by 31 July of the previous year for Semester 1 (March) commencement and 15 December of the previous year for Semester 2 (July) commencement. Scholarships are extremely competitive. Only applicants with an Honours 1 or equivalent degree, a strong track record of scholarly work (written in English) published by a University recognized reputable publisher(s) and relevant professional experience and who have satisfied the Faculty’s English language requirements at the time of receiving an offer of admission are eligible to apply for a scholarship.

The formal admission application will be assessed by academic members in the relevant Research Cluster Group and the Postgraduate Research Committee. Applications will be assessed on the basis of a range of criteria, including the academic credentials, research/publication and relevant professional experience of the applicant, the strength of the research proposal, and research supervision capacity in the relevant legal area.

Please note that entry into the postgraduate research program is highly competitive. Due to the volume of applications and limited supervisory capacity in certain fields, applicants must comply with the prescribed closing date in order to have their application assessed by the Postgraduate Research Committee.

Late applications may be considered on a case-by-case basis.