Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate Research

Why study a research degree with us?

At Sydney School of Public Health we are passionate about research that creates knowledge and fosters innovation to improve population health. Our research is evidence based, relevant and impactful, and focuses on new discovery as well as translating existing knowledge into improved health care.

Our researchers are active in Australia and internationally, motivated by the need to improve the health of populations. The school is a leader in research into policy, health promotion, prevention of disease and disabilities, and a number of other areas. Researchers’ interests embrace the ethical, social, economic and environmental causes of health.

See what our current students are researching. (Select "HDR" box).

Graduate opportunities

Public Health research graduates have a wide range of career opportunities. Our graduates have moved on to work in universities, government departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), international organisations, private industry, and hospitals both here in Australia and overseas.

Once you complete a research degree employers can expect you to be highly independent and self-motivated. A research degree will train you to become an independent researcher, sharpen your project management and writing skills, provide opportunities to do many presentations and network with experienced researchers as well as improve your analytical skills . It is the degree of choice if you want to work in a research organisation such as a university or research institute.

If you undertake a PhD, you will be expected to discover new knowledge in your chosen field, and publish your findings. You will become a recognised expert in the topic you have chosen to study.

Who can apply?

Eligible candidates are encouraged to apply in plenty of time.

To apply for a PhD you need to demonstrate sufficient prior research experience and capability. In most cases, to be eligible to apply you will have:

  • a Bachelors degree with first or upper second class Honours or
  • a Masters degree performed at a high academic standard, and which includes substantial component of original research, or
  • an equivalent qualification that demonstrates research experience, excellence and capability.

For an MPhil degree you will need to have a Master’s or a Bachelor’s degree (in any subject).

These criteria constitute the minimum requirements for eligibility and do not guarantee admission. That remains at the discretion of the Associate Dean (HDR) for a given Faculty.

Course Options

A full-time PhD takes three to four years to complete. A full-time MPhil takes one to two years to complete.

Domestic students can study either part-time or full-time, international students can only study full-time. Full-time study requires at least 20 hours per week, independent of work and family commitments.


Some research students support their study by winning a scholarship. Others are supported by a grant that their supervisor or their department has won. Some research students develop their own projects; others are supported to complete a component of a larger study. Either way, research students are expected to be highly independent and self-motivated.

Find out about the scholarships available to research students.

How to apply

A research proposal is a required document as part of application for admission to a postgraduate research degree at the University of Sydney. It is necessary to prepare a proposal that clearly summaries your proposed research project. You should prepare this document and it should be reviewed your supervisor(s) before submission with your application for admission. If you are admitted this initial research proposal will be used as a basis for preparation of your final research program in your first year of candidature.

Below are guidelines to help you prepare your initial research proposal for admission. Requirements of Faculties may vary so please contact your supervisor(s) or the relevant Postgraduate Research Coordinator for more information.

  • Min-Max length: up to 2000 words
  • Project Title: Working title for the project
  • Supervisor name(s): Names of supervisor(s)
  • Proposed mode of research: Describe your mode of research? (e.g. creative work, laboratory/field research, clinical investigations, archive/library study)
  • Aims and objectives: What are the overall aims of the work? What objectives are necessary to meet the aims?
  • Synopsis: Briefly describe the key aspects of what you will be investigating
  • Background: Brief review of literature in the area of interest. Describe what research lays the groundwork for your topic.
  • Expected research contribution: Why is the topic/creative work important? Describe how the research may be novel and its impact on the discipline.
  • The proposed methodology: Approach or methodology to be used in the research, the materials/equipment you intend to use, your space/laboratory/studio requirements.
  • Work plan: An initial plan for completion with annual milestones.
  • Resources: Provide details of major resources required for you to carry out your research project. What significant resources are required for the success of your proposed project (e.g. travel, equipment)?
  • References: A short bibliography of the cited literature.
  • Work plan: An initial plan for completion with annual milestones.

Find a research supervisor and lodge an Expression of Interest.

Finding a supervisor is the most challenging aspect of the application process. Each academic can only supervise a limited number of students and so the selection process is competitive. You must make a strong case to show why you should undertake a research degree. For help with finding a supervisor, please email the below information to Susan Martinez.

  1. Curriculum vitae
  2. Academic transcript/s
  3. Research proposal
  4. A statement of support from an academic referee
  5. A sample of your written work (this may include an assignment from an undergraduate program, a thesis chapter, dissertation or a published or unpublished paper), and
  6. A "Statement of Purpose" in which you describe your:
    • Interests
    • Reasons for pursuing an advanced degree, and reasons for pursuing an advanced degree at the Sydney School of Public Health (this should be no more than 1 page)
    • Ultimate goals
    • A clear summary of all your research skills and experience, and
    • How you intend to finance your degree (i.e. scholarship or private funding)

Please note we are unable to guarantee you will be matched with a suitable supervisor.

After meeting with your potential supervisor, if you are interested in undertaking the project and the supervisor is willing to accept you for the project then you can proceed to make a formal application on Sydney Courses. You can use the documents from the Expression of Interest process within your application.

Once you have completed these steps you can apply:

Apply now for the
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Apply now for the
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)