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Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts)

Why study with us?

  • Leading visual arts education

    Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has been Sydney’s premier training ground for contemporary visual artists for more than 40 years.

  • World class research

    The Australian Government's most recent assessment of research excellence awarded SCA the highest possible ranking as a global standard-setter in Creative Arts Research.

Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) is designed to engage visual artists in independent research that constitutes an original contribution to the understanding of contemporary visual arts.

The PhD program provides you with a critical and intellectual focus to explore a single proposed research topic full-time over three to four years. Your research may reflect a critical exploration of the history, theory and practice of visual art; the development of new materials or technologies; the relationship between visual art and society; or the relationship between visual art and other disciplines.

You may complete the PhD by:

  • a thesis comprising a substantial body of creative work for exhibition plus a written text examining the histories and theoretical underpinnings of the creative work, both of which demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge; or
  • a substantial written thesis that, through a sustained investigation, demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in the field of the history and theory of contemporary art.

Specialisations

Entry, fees, funding & how to apply

Depends on your qualification, citizenship status

The details on this page based on your selections are a guide only, and are subject to change.

Your fee

Your funding & scholarships

How to apply

Research areas

Applying for admission

  1. Develop a preliminary research proposal of 7-10 pages that outlines the subject area, objectives and significance of your research.
  2. Prepare a portfolio that reflects your recent art practice and demonstrates the level of proficiency expected of an advanced research applicant. Please submit up to 10 examples of your work to date. You can include:
    • digital photographs of installations, performance, and exhibitions (preferably as one JPG, TIFF or PDF file);
    • showreel or excerpts of film, animation or digital video work (.MOV);
    • website or Vimeo channel (please provide the site address in a Word or PDF document);
    • original storyboards, treatments or scripts for short films (Word or PDF). Maximum length of treatment - 5 pages. Maximum length of screenplay - 25 pages. DO NOT submit screenplays or scripts for feature films.
    • The maximum file size for each document or compressed file upload is 10MB.
  3. If you intend to study part-time towards a PhD, you will also need to supply: evidence that shows you will have sufficient time available to plan and carry out the research under the supervision of the University, and complete the course within the maximum period allowed for a part-time PhD enrolment a declaration from your employer (if relevant) confirming that you will be permitted to take the time required to effectively pursue your studies.
  4. Your research proposal should be submitted along with your portfolio, CV, academic transcripts and other supporting documents.
  5. Applications are made via the University's online application portal. When you are ready to apply, select the 'Apply Now' button on the right hand side of this page.
  6. Although rare, you may be invited to attend an admission interview in support of your application for a research degree. You will be notified if this is necessary.

Completion requirement

You must present for examination:

  • a thesis comprising a substantial body of creative work for exhibition, plus a written 40,000 to 50,000 word text examining the histories and theoretical underpinnings of the creative work, both of which demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge; or
  • a substantial 60,000 to 80,000 word written thesis that, through sustained investigation, demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in the field of the history and theory of contemporary art.

Admission requirement

To be eligible for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (College of Arts), you must present a portfolio of work that demonstrates you have the level of art practice proficiency expected of an advanced research applicant. In addition, you must have completed the equivalent of the following in visual arts or other subject area related to your proposed research area:

  • bachelor's degree with first class or second class honours or, master's degree by research such as the Master of Fine Arts; or
  • master's degree by coursework with an independent research component such as a thesis, dissertation or research project with a minimum overall credit average.

These criteria constitute the minimum requirements for eligibility and do not guarantee admission. That remains at the discretion of the relevant supervisors and departments, and access to supervision remains highly competitive. The University must certify that there are sufficient supervisory and other resources and facilities available to enable your candidature to be completed successfully.

Course opportunities

SCA will provide you with intellectual challenges and creative support, within a community of students and artists. There is a strong record of providing students with exhibition and research opportunities.

Graduate opportunities

Through sustained, rigorous investigation, artists undertaking a research degree make a significant contribution to our understanding of contemporary visual art.

Graduates of this program have the opportunity to pursue a career as a practising artist, academic, art educator, art critic, art historian, curator, gallery professional, and more.  

Domestic students

Indicative Postgraduate Student Contribution Amount


The student contribution amount for a Commonwealth Supported Place is an indication only of the amount payable in Year 1 for a standard full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). The exact student contribution that you pay will depend on the calendar year in which you undertake your study, and the specific units of study in which you ultimately enrol. For further information about how to calculate your specific total student contribution, please refer to the University's Tuition Fees website.

Annual review and fee increases


Importantly, student contribution amounts are subject to annual review by the University, and will increase each year of your period of study (subject to a Commonwealth specified cap), effective at the start of each calendar year.

Indicative Postgraduate Domestic Tuition Fee


The tuition fee for a domestic postgraduate student is an indication only of the fees payable in Year 1 for a standard full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). Depending on the calendar year in which you undertake your study, and if your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL, your tuition fee will differ from the indicative amount.

Annual review and fee increase


Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review by the University, and will increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.

Domestic Higher Degree by Research Student fee information


Commencing 1 January 2017, the Research Training Program (RTP) has been introduced by the Australian Government to support postgraduate research scholarships. The RTP enables the University to award eligible domestic and international Higher Degree by Research students (RTP Students) with a RTP Fees Offset, which is a type of RTP Scholarship. This RTP Scholarship is to assist with tuition fees that would otherwise be payable by students. The University's allocation of funding under the RTP is governed by the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and the Commonwealth Scholarship Guidelines (Research) 2017 (as may be amended or replaced from time to time) and relevant Conditions of Grant prescribed by the Government (Relevant Laws).
A student's continued eligibility is subject to Relevant Laws and University rules, policies and procedures (as may be amended or replaced from time to time). A RTP Fees Offset entitles a student (depending on their course) to a period of tuition fee support for either up to a maximum of four years full-time equivalent study for a Doctorate by Research, or up to a maximum of two years of full-time equivalent study for a Master's by Research from the course of study commencement date. Different periods of support apply for a part-time student as set out in University policy and procedures. Please note that, when a student has exhausted the maximum period of support under this RTP Scholarship, or they do not comply with a requirement of the RTP Scholarship as set out in University policy and procedures, the University must terminate the Scholarship. If the student wishes to continue their candidature in the same degree (and they are approved to do so), they will be transferred to a domestic fee paying place and may be liable for tuition fees at a rate determined by the University at the time.
Please note that a student's award of, and continued entitlement to, the RTP Scholarship is subject to change consistent with Relevant Laws and University rules, policies and procedures (as may be amended and replaced from time to time). The University determines the allocation of this Government support and the processes by which this support is managed.
Please consult the Australian Government's website at: https://www.education.gov.au/research-training-program for information on RTP Scholarships and eligibility requirements.

Additional incidental costs


For some courses there are incidental costs additional to the student contribution and/or course fee. Some of these incidental costs are significant, for example, course-specific materials, tools, protected clothing and equipment. Further information about these costs is available from https://sydney.edu.au/students/materials-and-equipment.html.

Credit card surcharge


Please note that a surcharge of 0.8% will apply for payments made by Visa, MasterCard or American Express. The surcharge is subject to review and may change. Information about payment methods and the surcharge is set out at: http://sydney.edu.au/study/finances-fees-costs/fees-and-loans/paying-your-fees.html.

Potential for inaccuracy


Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information here, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about fees.

International students

Indicative International Tuition Fees for Postgraduate Students


The tuition fee for international postgraduate students is an indication only of the fees payable in Year 1 for a standard full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). Depending on the calendar year in which you undertake your study, and if your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL, your tuition fee will differ from the indicative amount.

Annual review and fee increases


Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review, and will increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.

Additional incidental costs and health insurance


For some courses there are incidental costs additional to the tuition fees. Some of these incidental costs are significant, for example, course-specific materials, tools, protected clothing, and equipment. Further information about these costs is available from https://sydney.edu.au/students/materials-and-equipment.html. In addition to the fees indicated here for the course of study, International Students studying on an Australian Student Visa must have appropriate health insurance for the duration of their studies on a Student Visa through an approved provider of the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) scheme. This is a requirement of the Australian Government, unless otherwise exempted by the Government.

Credit card surcharge


Please note that a surcharge of 0.8% will apply for payments made by Visa, MasterCard or American Express. The surcharge is subject to review and may change. Information about payment methods and the surcharge is set out at: http://sydney.edu.au/study/finances-fees-costs/fees-and-loans/paying-your-fees.html.

Potential for inaccuracy


Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information here, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about fees.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.