How to apply for a research program (Domestic students)

The information on this page is for domestic students applying for a postgraduate research program.
Information for international students.


To be eligible for admission to a higher degree of research in the natural sciences, you need to have undertaken a significant research project or thesis in your previous university studies. Examples include the equivalent of an Australian honours degree, a masters by research degree, or a masters by coursework degree with a thesis component.

Application deadline

Domestic students apply directly to the University following the steps below. Applying for entry into a research degree requires some time and preparation.

You will need to take the following steps to apply:

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. If you need help, use our Research Supervisor Connect tool.

When you contact a member of 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 research area you are interested in pursuing.

2) Develop and submit an initial research proposal

Once you have initiated discussions with an academic contact, you should prepare an initial research proposal. Your proposal should be around 2-4 pages in length and be developed in conjunction with your potential academic supervisor.

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.
  • Area: The subject area of your proposed research.
  • 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 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 within your online application.

5) Complete and submit an online application form

All research applications are made online through ‘Find a course’.

You will need to attach supporting documentation to your online application, consisting of:

You will need to scan, upload and attach your supporting documentation to your online application. You will be able to save your application and finish completing it at a later date.

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. More details are available on the application website.

Please note:
Incomplete or ill-prepared applications will take longer to process and may be rejected by the relevant faculty or school. If you have any questions about preparing your application, please contact:

6) Submit your application

Once you have completed the proposal and had it reviewed by your supervisor, you're ready to submit your application.


Closing dates

There are four research periods where you can start your study at Sydney – January, March, July, October. Applications for research remain open year round for these research periods.

Visit the research scholarships website for further details about research scholarships, including scholarship closing dates.