Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a thesis-based research degree that allows you to explore an area of research interest in depth.

It takes a minimum of three years full-time or six years part-time study to complete.

Why do a PhD?

Most PhD candidates are motivated by two factors; professional advancement and intellectual curiosity.

Professional advancement

A PhD is the staring point for a long-term research career either at university or privately funded institutes and organisations.

Professionals who have a PhD in their specialist area greatly increase their immediate and long-term career advancement.

Intellectual curiosity

Driven by a naturally enquiring mind, a candidate can look forward to using all their abilities as individuals or part of a research team.

A candidate would have a passionate drive to understand, to discover, solve problems or strive for break-though knowledge and understanding.

Entry requirements

You must hold or have completed all the academic requirements for:
(i) a Master’s degree or higher qualification, a Masters by coursework must contain a research component of 25% of one year’s full time enrolment
(ii) a Bachelor’s degree with any grade of second class honours or first class honours; or
(iii) a Bachelor’s degree and either relevant professional experience or a portfolio of works as determined by the Faculty.

You must have some evidence of prior research training and/or research experience, that is roughly equivalent to an honours year in an undergraduate degree

If you hold a Masters or Bachelor's Degree and can demonstrate research experience gained through employment which is equivalent to a first or upper second degree honours degree this may be deemed suitable as meeting the entry requirements.

If you do not meet the entry requirements of a PhD, you may be offered entry into our Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree with the option to transfer to the PhD only after completion of that degree program or after at least one year of satisfactory progress.
You can apply to upgrade to a PhD after your candidature has been confirmed (this usually occurs a year into the candidature, at an annual progress review). Upgrading requires the support of your supervisor and the School's Postgraduate Coordinator. Your supervisors need to attest that your research project is substantive enough for a PhD and that you are capable of undertaking it.

In addition, the School will need to certify that your proposed research project is appropriate - see application procedures for more information.

Course structure

Commencing: You may start your PhD in January, March, July or October. However, it is advisable that you apply at least two months in advance. For international students, the lead times are longer.

Local students can complete their PhD on a full-time or part-time basis. International students can only undertake a PhD on a full-time basis.

Full-time - a minimum of three-years study
Part-time - a minimum of six-years study

For the PhD you must write a thesis on a topic of your choice. During the degree you will work closely with your supervisors who will help you clarify your topic and assess your progress. You are required to give a presentation about your PhD during your first year, and research-in-progress presentations subsequently throughout your degree - see the important information for research students for further information.

Because the PhD is a thesis-based research degree there are no coursework classes to attend. However, all research student enrolled with the School of Public Health may undertake free-of-charge, any of the School's Masters coursework units that are approved by your supervisor as relevant to your PhD studies, up to a maximum of 12 credit points.

Choosing a topic

You will need to have decided on a basic topic of study before you apply for the PhD, as part of the application procedure is a two-page research proposal. The proposal must include a clearly defined topic, study population and research method. It is also essential to have chosen a basic area of research as you must discuss your proposed research project with an academic member of staff and/or your preferred supervisor before completing your application form.

As the range of topics available within public health is very wide, to help you narrow your topic area down you may like to explore the research interests of our academic staff. As there are currently more than 100 PhD students in the School, you may also wish to explore current students' research topics. There are also existing research opportunities within the School, offering specific topics and projects on which you can complete your PhD.

Support and resources

To support you in you in your research we have extensive facilities. If you are a full-time PhD student the School endeavours to provide you with shared office space with a desk and computer, while part-time students are generally based at their place of employment or work from home. All students are given free email and web access, including links to all University libraries and their databases. You will automatically be subscribed to a postgraduate email list to receive important information about seminars, workshops and courses.

In the Current Students section of this site you can find all the relevant information and resources you will need as a research student in the Sydney School of Public Health.