What is a Research Degree?

A research degree is an advanced study program that gives you an opportunity to deeply explore a topic of your choice.

Research degree candidates are driven by naturally inquiring minds, and have a passion to solve problems and advance humanity. A research degree allows you to conduct your own, unique research, and produce new knowledge and expertise that is innovative, relevant, and enlightened.

Research degrees equip graduates with the transferable skills and attributes necessary for challenging and diverse roles in industry, government and business, as well as in research and academic organisations.

At the University of Tasmania, a research degree is a true mark of endeavour, providing you with the training and skills necessary for a career in academia and beyond.

Entry requirements

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programs at the University of Tasmania include the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Master of Research (MRes) and Professional Doctorates (Prof Doc).

A PhD is an advanced academic qualification and is often considered a requirement for the majority of academic and research positions in a wide range of fields and industries. The aim of the PhD is to foster the development of independent research skills. These skills include the capacity to formulate a significant problem, to develop mastery of appropriate conceptual and methodological skills to pursue investigation, and to relate the research to a broader framework of knowledge in a relevant disciplinary area.

Duration: PhD candidature runs for a minimum duration of two years and a maximum of four years full-time (or part-time equivalent).

Examination: All Candidates enrolled in a Higher Degree by Research must submit a thesis for examination in fulfilment of the award for which they are enrolled. Students are required to produce a thesis of no more than 100,000 words (Exegesis = 20,000-50,000), with the research representing a significant new contribution to the discipline.

Admission: The standard basis of admission to a Higher Degree by Research is a Bachelor's degree with upper second class Honours or higher as per Clause 8 of Rule 4.

The University accepts the following as equivalent to the standard basis of admission, subject to the approval of the Dean of Graduate Research:

  • a Bachelor's degree with upper second class Honours or higher from a recognised tertiary institution;
  • a research Master's degree;
  • a coursework Master's degree or Graduate Diploma which includes a research project or thesis of 10,000 to 20,000 words (must equate to a minimum 25% research component of the entire degree);
  • a qualification at a level from another tertiary institution considered equivalent by the Dean of Graduate Research; or
  • relevant experience (see Pathways to a Research Degree below).

An MRes is an internationally recognised postgraduate research degree that involves undertaking a significant research project. MRes programs aim to train students in analysing their thesis topic at an advanced level; research methodology and techniques; and the application of such methodology by conducting a specified program of research under appropriate supervision. Many MRes students choose to continue with their research in order to obtain a PhD.

Duration: MRes candidature runs for a minimum duration of one year and a maximum of two years full-time (or part-time equivalent).

Examination: The degree of Master of Research is awarded on the basis of a thesis prepared under supervision that presents the results of original research.  The thesis should demonstrate the Candidate's knowledge of the research topic and the discipline/s it embraces, as judged by independent experts applying accepted contemporary international standards. Students are required to produce a thesis of no more than 50,000 words (exegesis = 10,000-20,000), that demonstrates their capacity for critical analysis and application of specialist knowledge.

Admission: The standard basis of admission to an MRes is the University's Bachelor's degree with lower second class Honours or higher as per Clause 8 of Rule 4. The University accepts the following as equivalent to the standard basis of admission, subject to the approval of the Dean of Graduate Research:

  • a Bachelor's degree with lower second class Honours or higher from a recognised tertiary institution;
  • a coursework Master's degree or Graduate Diploma which includes a research project or thesis of 10,000 to 20,000 words (must equate to a minimum 25% research component of the entire degree);
  • a qualification at a level from another tertiary institution considered equivalent by the Dean of Graduate Research; or
  • relevant experience (see Pathways to a Research Degree below).

A Prof Doc is a professional research qualification which has an equivalent status to a PhD. This degree is ideal for mid-career and senior managers who wish to integrate advanced research into their professional lives.

Duration: Prof Docs are usually completed over three or four years, the minimum and maximum degree periods are as approved by Academic Senate.

Examination: Assessment involves coursework and a thesis of up to 80,000 words representing a significant contribution to your discipline of research.Admission: Prof Doc admission is determined by the Dean of Graduate Research as per the Higher Degree requirements approved by Academic Senate and set out in the UTAS Course and Unit Handbook for the applicable course.

Additional information:

Rule 4 - Rules of Graduate Research

Higher Degrees by Research Admissions Policy (PDF 331.3KB)

English is the language of instruction at the University of Tasmania. All Higher Degree by Research applicants for whom English is not their first language will be required to provide evidence that they are able to read, write, speak and understand English to a sufficient standard before commencing their Higher Degree by Research.

An application which does not include evidence of the applicant's English language ability may still be assessed. If the application is successful, the offer of enrolment will have a condition that the applicant must meet the English language requirements before beginning their research degree. Information on English language classes at the University of Tasmania may be obtained from the English Language Centre.

Proof of English language ability may be demonstrated by providing official test scores for one of the following tests:

Test

Minimum Overall Score

Minimum Additional Scores

IELTS (International English Language Testing Service)

6.5

6.5 for writing and speaking and no other band less than 6.0 (academic module)

TOEFL (Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language)

92

26 for writing and speaking, and 20 for reading and listening

PTE Academic 58

58

58 for writing and speaking with no other score lower than 50

UTAS Access Level 7 English Language Training

65

65 for writing and 65 for speaking and no other test score less than 60

CAE (Cambridge Advanced English)

B

Equivalent to the Council of Europe level (CEFR) of C1 or above

OR

Completion of a course of study, of at least two years' duration, from an accredited university where English is the official language of instruction. The study must have been instructed and examined in English and completed within the last two years prior to the date of application for the Higher Degree by Research. Evidence of the language of instruction in the form of a letter or certificate issued by that university must be provided.

There are different paths you can take to start your journey in completing a Research Degree at UTAS.

The chief requirement is prior research experience in the form of an Honour's or Master's Degree, or relevant professional experience and training.

Honour's Degree

An Australian Honour's Degree is the standard pathway for entry into a Research Degree, providing you with the experience and skills to take on advanced postgraduate research. An Honour's Degree is a program of study which involves deeply investigating a research topic and writing a thesis, usually full-time over one year. Entry requirements for an Honour's Degree vary by program. Most Honour's students complete the program during an "Honour's year", an additional year of study following completion of a Bachelor's Degree. Students can also complete Honour's "on-course", where the Honour's component is embedded in the Bachelor's Degree over four or five years.

Master of Research

Another standard pathway for entry into a Research Degree is a Master of Research (MRes).  An MRes contains a research component of 66% or more of the total degree and includes a significant research project.  Many MRes candidates choose to continue with their research in order to obtain a PhD.

Transferring from a Master of Research (MRes) to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

If you would like to do a PhD, but don't have the necessary qualifications, an MRes is a good place to start. Like a PhD, an MRes involves completing an in-depth research project. To apply to transfer to a PhD, you must have completed no more than 75% of your MRes at UTAS and have demonstrated strong academic progress.  This option is often appealing to candidates who don't immediately qualify for a PhD, but have professional experience directly relating to their proposed research project.

Postgraduate Coursework

A Master by Coursework Degree provides another entry-point to a Research Degree. To be accepted for a Research Degree, your Master Degree must contain a research component of at least 25%, such as a research project or a research methods course.

Relevant Experience

Your professional experience may also satisfy the admission requirements for undertaking a Research Degree at UTAS. For example, working as a research assistant and publishing research outcomes are strong evidence of relevant research experience. You may have a passion for research in a field where you can already demonstrate expertise. We value professional work experience in our Research Degree candidates and also consider experience such as leading large projects and implementing your research into organisational change.  With your application, please submit supporting documentation that addresses your competency in the following skill areas:

  1. Conceptual and theoretical understanding/knowledge of the field;
  2. Research design, data collection and data management skills/ability to undertake research;
  3. Analytical and interpretative skills (e.g. data analysis, critical analysis, problem solving); and
  4. Communication skills