While this information is standard for the Faculty of Science and our inclusive schools and departments, it should be noted that other requirements and processes may need to be observed. Please read your desired degree area carefully and consult your relevant School or Unit within the Faculty of Science.


Research degrees are self-directed, independent study programs that contribute new knowledge to a particular field and are examined by a written thesis. Both your statement of research interest and your research proposal should demonstrate adequate language skills and your ability to successfully complete such a program.

What program should you apply for?

There is a range of research programs available. The one for which you should apply depends on the stage you are at in your academic career.

Research experience is mandatory for entry into a research degree such as the Doctor of Philosophy or Masters programs, normally via completion of an Honours research training year which has included a written thesis. Or, if you have not completed an Honours research training year, you should contact the relevant faculty to ascertain procedures for satisfying this requirement. Normally this will require entry into a one year graduate program in order to satisfy entry requirements.

The first thing you must do...

Before your application for admission to a research degree can proceed, you are strongly advised to have a potential supervisor arranged. Please contact the relevant Faculty or School/Discipline to discuss potential research projects and organise a potential supervisor prior to lodging your admission application.

Admission Procedures

Admission to a research degree differs slightly between Faculties and Schools. In order to expedite processing of your application it is important to clearly outline your research interests.

Statement of Research Interest


The goal of this statement is to determine whether your research interests are aligned with the research interests of the academic staff and whether you have sufficient familiarity with research to be able to undertake a research study resulting in a Masters or PhD thesis.

Each Faculty School/Discipline has a Graduate Adviser. It is advisable to go to the Faculty School/Discipline website listed for more in-depth information about research areas. If you are unsure who to contact, you should email the Graduate Adviser a brief CV and the areas of research you are interested in, and ask for advice on suitable potential supervisors who can assist you in the preparation of the statement of research. Alternatively, use the Research Supervisor Connect database to search for a supervisor whose research matches your interests. The statement of research interest should be approximately 1000-1500 words long (2-4 pages) and should accompany your application for admission to the Masters or PhD program. Please note that research programs developed without any contact with a potential supervisor are generally not accepted and you are strongly advised to nominate a supervisor in your application with whom you have had contact.

Guidelines for the Statement of Research Interest

  • the area of focus of the proposed research
  • any prior research experience and, where appropriate, copies of papers already published
  • key literature references which may be seen as establishing a conceptual framework for the study (references should be cited)
  • details of any prior, relevant work experience
  • a possible methodology or approach to the research, as well as value and potential outcomes if the research is successful
  • the name of the potential supervisor(s) that you have contacted regarding your research proposal

Probation and Progression

In most science related areas, the first year of a PhD is probationary. You need to demonstrate that you are capable of carrying out Masters or doctoral-level research at the University of Sydney and to satisfy any other probationary requirements set by your supervisor in order to move off probationary candidature. During this year candidates are expected to demonstrate the capacity to undertake research at a doctoral degree level. In your first year you will be required to complete an Annual Progress Form and attend an interview with a postgraduate panel.

Satisfactory evidence of achievement, research potential, evidence of scientific writing ability and a committed work ethic are assessed. This feedback is viewed as highly beneficial by postgraduate students and it is very rare that students do not satisfy probation conditions.

The Research Proposal

The development and management of research proposals differs between Faculties and Schools. You should consult with the Associate Dean of the relevant Faculty for details of management procedures.