What is a research degree?

A research degree is an advanced study program that allows you to deeply explore a topic that interests you.

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

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

Studying in Tasmania gives you unrivalled access to nature, industry and passionate people. The research you do will be inspired by the challenges of our unique island and have global relevance.

Which means you’ll become a sought-after expert in your field.

Entry Requirements

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programs at the University of Tasmania include:

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: 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: In accordance with the Research Training Ordinance (PDF 335.8 KB), the Dean may admit to candidature for a Doctor of Philosophy a person who has been awarded a degree from a Recognised Tertiary Institution as being in the appropriate discipline and equivalent to:

  • A Bachelor Honours degree of at least second class upper standard with a Minimum Research Component
  • A Masters of Research Degree with a Minimum Research Component
  • A Masters Degree (Coursework) or Graduate Diploma with a Minimum Research Component

As per Schedule A: Minimum course entry requirements of the HDR Admissions Selection and Enrolment Procedure, qualifying degrees must have been awarded within a 10-year period prior to the date of application for admission to Higher Degree by Research candidature.

Where a coursework masters' degree or graduate diploma is considered as the basis for admission, the research project or thesis must be between 10,000 to 20,000 words and equate to a minimum 25 per cent research component of the entire degree.

Where any of the above standard admission requirements are not met, an application will be considered as part of an application via the alternative entry pathway process (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: In accordance with the Research Training Ordinance, the Dean may admit to candidature for a Master of Research a person who has been awarded a degree from a Recognised Tertiary Institution as being in the appropriate discipline and equivalent to:

  • A Bachelor Honours degree of at least second class lower standard with a Minimum Research Component
  • A Masters degree (Coursework) or Graduate Diploma with a Minimum Research Component

As per Schedule A: Minimum course entry requirements of the HDR Admissions Selection and Enrolment Procedure, qualifying degrees must have been awarded within a 10-year period prior to the date of application for admission to Higher Degree by Research candidature.

Where a coursework masters' degree or graduate diploma is considered as the basis for admission, the research project or thesis must be between 10,000 to 20,000 words and equate to a minimum 25 per cent research component of the entire degree.

Where any of the above standard admission requirements are not met, an application will be considered as part of an application via the alternative entry pathway process (see Pathways to a Research Degree below).

A Professional Doctorate 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: A Professional Doctorate is 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: In accordance with the Research Training Ordinance, the Dean may admit to candidature for a Professional Doctorate a person who has been awarded a degree from a Recognised Tertiary Institution as being in the appropriate discipline and equivalent to:

  • A Bachelor Honours degree of at least second class upper standard with a Minimum Research Component
  • A Masters of Research Degree with a Minimum Research Component
  • A Masters Degree (Coursework) or Graduate Diploma with a Minimum Research Component

As per 3.4.1 Standard Entry Pathways of the Interim HDR Admissions and Enrolment Procedure, qualifying degrees must have been awarded within a 10-year period prior to the date of application for admission to Higher Degree by Research candidature.

Where a coursework masters' degree or graduate diploma is considered as the basis for admission, the research project or thesis must be between 10,000 to 20,000 words and equate to a minimum 25 per cent research component of the entire degree.

Where any of the above standard admission requirements are not met, an application will be considered as part of an application via the alternative entry pathway process (see Pathways to a Research Degree below).

Please also refer to the University of Tasmania Course and Unit Handbook for the applicable course.

As per Schedule B: English Language Proficiency Requirements of the Interim HDR Admissions and Enrolment Procedure, an applicant must provide evidence of their English language proficiency in accordance with the requirements listed below at the time they submit their application.

Results of an English language proficiency test must have been awarded within 2 years of application date.

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 - academic version)

7.0

No band less than 6.5

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

94

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

PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)

65

Minimum 65 for writing and speaking with no other score lower than 58

C1 Advanced (previously Cambridge Advanced English)

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

UTAS Access Level 7 English Language Training (must be completed prior to applying for HDR)

65

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

OR

You are a citizen of and hold a passport from one of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

OR

Evidence of ongoing residence and employment for a period of not less than 5 years within one of the following countries (in an occupation requiring proficient written and verbal communication in English):

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

OR

Completion of a Graduate Degree (equivalent to AQF Level 8 or higher) from a recognised tertiary institution of at least two years duration, where the medium and language of instruction of the degree was entirely in English and where English is an official language of the country.

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 Honours or Master's Degree, or relevant professional experience and training.

Honours Degree

An Australian Honours 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 Honours 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 Honours Degree vary by program. Most Honours students complete the program during an "Honours year", an additional year of study following completion of a Bachelor's Degree. Students can also complete Honours "on-course", where the Honours component is embedded in the Bachelor's Degree over four or five years.

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

If you are currently enrolled in a Master of Research (MRes) at UTAS, it may be possible to transfer to a PhD. 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. Many MRes candidates choose to continue with their research in order to obtain a PhD.  MRes Candidates should discuss this pathway with their supervisory team and school of enrolment.

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