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Doctor of Philosophy (Science)

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The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in the Faculty of Science will allow you to pursue research from one of a number of fields in which the faculty has expertise. Candidates will complete the degree in three to four years during which time they will undertake research culminating in the submission of an 80,000 word thesis.

PhD candidates in the Faculty of Science may undertake research in the following areas:

You can search for potential projects and supervisors via Research Supervisor Connect.

Learn more about research areas in science.

Subject areas

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

What you'll study

Units of Study

Applying for admission

  1. Find a supervisor within the University whose academic background aligns with your research. You may visit Research Supervisor Connect to start.
  2. Contact a research supervisor through Research Supervisor Connect and provide: your academic/educational background and research experience with examples such as an academic transcript your CV/resume the area of interest for your PhD why you believe your research topics align with this supervisor
  3. In conjunction with your supervisor, develop a research proposal, 2-4 pages in length (at least 1000 words) that outlines the subject area, objectives and significance of your research.
  4. Obtain two academic referee reports, each one written by a referee who is familiar with your previous academic achievements.
  5. If you intend to study part-time towards a PhD (international student visa holders must enroll full-time), 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.
  6. Submit your application along with your research proposal, CV, academic referee reports, academic transcripts, supporting evidence (where required) and other supporting documents such as identification and evidence of residency status. Applications are made via the University's online application portal.
  7. When you are ready to apply, select the `Apply Now' button on the right hand side of this page

Please note: Except for IPRS and UsydIS scholarships for international students, you must complete a separate scholarship application

Admission requirement

Eligible candidates are encouraged to apply in plenty of time, and even before completion of their current qualifying degree. In these circumstances, referee reports are essential as part of the application for admission.

To apply for a PhD, you need to demonstrate sufficient prior research experience and capability.

In most cases, to be eligible to apply for a PhD 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 a substantial component of original research, or
  • an equivalent qualification that demonstrates research experience, excellence and capability.

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.

Inherent requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo,);
  • ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree IslandNarrabri and Camden);
  • ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • hold a current scuba diving license;
  • hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

The academic requirements that are displayed are applicable to currently available degree only and are updated annually in October and may be changed without notice. The Handbooks Online and the University of Sydney Calendar are the official legal source of information relating to study at the University of Sydney, and you are referred to those documents.

Course opportunities

The Faculty of Science offers a series of free (and catered) workshops and events to our HDR candidates.

The overarching goals of these workshops are to provide relevant onboarding and training to you, to achieve your desired research outputs, increase your skills base and productivity.

Year 1 workshops

  • Faculty orientations
  • School inductios
  • Effective Research Planning & Training

Years 2 & 3 workshops

  • Effective Science Communication, 
  • Thesis Writing & Thesis Examinations
  • Impactful Publications & Grant Success
  • Faculty 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

Available for all years

  • Writing a Journal Article in the Sciences
  • Improving Your Statistical Inferences
  • Careers Conversations: Academia and Beyond


You may have the opportunity to complete a paid internships program during your candidature, or whilst your thesis is under examination, to further develop your skills and experience and apply them in a "real world" context.  Generally, HDR internships will involve completing a project or period of work in a workplace not strictly related to your research area. 

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