Doctor of Philosophy

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Doctor of Philosophy


Program summary

Become an expert in your field.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is an advanced research program that fosters the development of independent research skills, scholarly analysis and an ability to communicate research findings.

The University of the Sunshine Coast has a team of enthusiastic and experienced academics able to provide supervision across a broad range of research areas.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission to Doctor of Philosophy candidature, applicants are normally required to hold:

(a) a Bachelor Honours degree (AQF Level 8) with a significant research component with a minimum of Class IIA from a recognised higher education institution; or

(b) a Masters degree (AQF Level 9) with a significant research component equivalent to Honours degree research component from a recognised higher education institution; or

(c) a Bachelor degree (AQF Level 7) from a recognised higher education institution, and shall have achieved by subsequent work and study a standard equivalent to at least Class IIA Honours as may be approved by the Research Degrees Committee; or

(d) a record of research or professional qualifications deemed by the Research Degrees Committee to be of a standard equivalent to at least Bachelors Honours degree Class IIA and providing a suitable background for the doctoral research the candidate is proposing to undertake.

Refer also to the University’s English language requirements.

Research areas

The Faculty of Arts, Business and Law supports research in the following areas:

  • Communication and media studies
    • Screen and media studies
    • Internet media studies
    • Journalism
    • Public communication and promotion
    • Public relations and advocacy
  • Creative arts
    • Art and digital design
    • Drama
    • Creative writing and literature
    • Interactive technologies and games
  • Mental health and wellbeing
    • Psychology
    • Counselling and psychotherapy
    • Accident and safety research
  • Society and culture
    • Geography, anthropology and development studies
    • Indigenous studies
    • Language studies
    • Historical studies
    • Politics and international relations
    • Social work and policy
  • Environment and sustainability
    • Climate change
    • Coastal management
    • Tourism, leisure and events
    • Planning
    • Natural resource management
    • Plantation and native forest research
  • Management and business
    • Management
    • Entrepreneurship and innovation
    • Economics, finance and accounting
    • Property economics and development
    • Marketing
    • Information technologies
  • Law

The Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering supports research in the following areas:

  • Aboriginal health
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Best practice in nursing education
  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Changing roles in nursing
  • Chronic disease adaptation
  • Dementia care
  • Education
  • Environmental epidemiology
  • Equine influenza
  • Genecology Research Centre
  • Health promotion
  • Human health and performance
  • Infectious diseases
  • Injury prevention
  • Maternal and child health
  • Maternal and infant nutrition
  • Mental health
  • Motion analysis
  • Nutrition and dietetics
  • Obesity
  • Outdoor education/outdoor environmental studies
  • Promoting young mothers success at university
  • Skin health
  • Smoking cessation and relapse prevention
  • Sports biomechanics
  • Women’s experiences of midwifery practice

Application and admission advice

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Contact Student Central
+61 7 5430 2890
Ground floor, Building C, Sippy Downs

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What will I study

Program structure

The Doctor of Philosophy is the main Doctoral degree offered by this University.

It is awarded solely on the basis of a thesis produced under supervision that makes an original, significant and extensive contribution to knowledge in the relevant field of study, as judged by independent experts applying accepted contemporary international standards.

As a candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy, you may be required to undertake study, such as a research methodology course or other specified courses, seminars or reading activities, in addition to and as a support for your research.

Where such activities are required, they shall be specified as a condition of candidature by the Committee and undertaken under the direction of the relevant Associate Dean (Research) or nominee.

Alternative thesis presentation

Doctoral candidates may be permitted to present a collection of thematically linked research articles in lieu of a thesis.

This approach may only be pursued with the advance permission of the Committee at the time of confirmation.

The research articles must be based wholly on research undertaken by the candidate during their candidature for the Doctoral degree.

The number and type of research articles and the form in which they are to be presented for examination will be specified.

Program requirements and notes
  1. Prospective applicants wishing to undertake a PhD will need to find a suitable supervisor by contacting the relevant Faculty of Arts, Business and Law or Science, Health, Education and Engineering.
  2. For further information, refer to the Higher Degrees by Research - Academic Policy.
  3. Refer to related policies, rules, plans and procedures.
  4. Refer to the research areas for the Faculty of Arts, Business and Law and Science, Health, Education and Engineering.
Enrolment and fees
  1. Domestic candidates: Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are not required to pay tuition fees for the standard duration of their HDR program. The Australian Government's Research Training Scheme (RTS) covers the cost of HDR tuition fees for these candidates. Research Master candidates are entitled to a maximum of two years full-time equivalent study. Candidates who do not complete their degree within the maximum RTS allowable completion times may be required to pay fees for any additional periods of enrolment. Please refer to Higher Degree by Research fees.
  2. International candidates: tuition fees apply. Refer to International HDR tuition fees.
  3. In any semester, full-time enrolment comprises 0.500 EFTSL.*
  4. In any semester, part-time enrolment comprises 0.250 EFTSL.*
  5. The census date for withdrawal without financial penalty or academic penalty is the Semester 1 or 2 census date.

* EFTSL - Equivalent Full-Time Student Load. One year of full-time study equates to 1.000 EFTSL.

Total units: 0

Recommended study sequence

This recommended study sequence ONLY represents the CURRENT program structure. Students in previous structures should use this sequence to inform order of courses and current course details. For courses in your commencing structure not included in the current sequence, search the course code for current course offerings and requisites.

How to apply

Step 1: Consider entry requirements

Review the admission requirements on the Why study this program tab of your chosen program.

Entry is highly competitive and depends on:

  • your academic background
  • your English language proficiency (if English is not your first language, see step 4)
  • the submission of a suitable research proposal
  • the availability of a registered supervisor
  • the availability of resources to support your proposed research topic

For further information, please refer to the Higher Degrees by Research Candidature – Procedures and the Higher Degrees by Research Admission and Enrolment – Guidelines which include admission pathways into specific higher degree by research programs.

Step 2: Find a supervisor

Use the Research Supervisor Search to find a potential supervisor in your area of research. You may nominate a supervisor on your application form regardless of whether you've been able to contact them prior to submitting your application.

Step 3: Complete an application form

Step 4: Prepare supporting documentation

  • Research Proposal. Download the Research proposal template (Word 13KB)
  • Evidence of academic background  
    • Academic transcripts and completion certificates (transcripts must include a Key to Grading) - Please note, for studies completed outside of Australia you must provide certified copies of documents
    • Formal notification from the qualifying university stating the allocation of marks to research component of a degree where not evident on the transcript
    • If transferring from another Australian university, a statement from your current/former university stating HDR candidature consumed to date, probationary or confirmed status, and tuition fee type
  • Evidence of research publications/experience
    • For example - Abstract (in English), details of publication, copy of the front page of the article/paper, link to article's location
  • Evidence of citizenship or Australian Permanent Residency
    • Birth certificate, passport, citizenship certificate, or visa
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (required for applicants who are not from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America)

Step 5: Submit completed application form

Please note incomplete applications cannot be processed:

  • Email an electronic copy of your application with scanned copies of supporting documents to
  • USC International requires hardcopies of original or certified copies of supporting documents before assessing overseas qualifications. Applicants must post their original or certified copies to:

Graduate Research Studies Management
Office of Research – ML 26
University of the Sunshine Coast
Locked Bag 4
Maroochydore DC Qld 4558 Australia

Additional information

  • International students: Additional information is available for International students.
  • Only complete applications will be considered (including original or certified copies of supporting documents for international applicants).
  • Complete applications take approximately 6-8 weeks to be processed (this may vary during peak periods).
  • Applications can be accepted at any time, however applications must be submitted at least 8 weeks prior to the nominated commencement date.

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