Swinburne prides itself on its collaboration with local and international industry, and how our research innovation, collaboration and excellence often results in the commercialization of new ideas and products. At Swinburne we’re committed to a sustainable future. We strive to make our activities ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable, and to ensure that they will continue to be so for future generations.
Swinburne realises that research students are a key component in driving research quality and output. We offer our research students the opportunity to participate in world-changing projects and we back our students with the right levels of funding. Many of our graduates leave Swinburne to go on to successful international careers in academia and industry. Swinburne offers higher degree students supportive, secure and peaceful learning and research environments. We also provide state-of-the-art facilities and buildings, 24-hour late-labs, well-equipped computer labs, Wi-Fi connectivity, and careers and employment services. PhD candidates are also offered extensive induction and training courses to assist them in their journey.
Research Excellence and Impact
Swinburne has an international reputation for quality research that connects science and technology with business and the community. Our focus is on achieving significant innovations that address challenges and advance society. Our researchers foster extensive national and international academic networks and connections with industry, providing excellent opportunities for students. In 2015, Swinburne was ranked as one of the world’s top 400 research-intensive universities by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). The ARWU also named Swinburne a top 100 research university in the field of physics. Our commitment to high-quality teaching and research was also reflected in our ratings in the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia 2015 report. Swinburne was rated ‘well above world standard’ for:
- Physical Sciences
- Astronomical and Space Sciences
- Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma
- Optical Physics
- Physical Chemistry (Incl. Structural)
- Maritime Engineering
- Materials Engineering
Swinburne was also rated ‘above world standard’ for:
- Quantum Physics
- Chemical Sciences
- Computer Software
- Civil Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Communications Technologies
- Language, Communication and Culture
- Communication and Media Studies
Our research is carried out across a range of multidisciplinary fields. Swinburne has particular research strengths in:
- Astrophysics and Physics
- Biomedical and Health Sciences
- Brain and Psychological Sciences
- Civil and Construction Engineering
- Computer Science and Software Engineering
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Maritime Engineering
- Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
- Methodology and Statistics
- Telecommunications, Electrical and Robotics Engineering.
Swinburne’s Research and Innovation Strategy outlines the following objectives, which underpin our research effort:
- Increase our capacity for sustained excellence and world-leading research in science and technology
- Drive economic and social impact through translational research and innovation
- Develop globally competitive higher degree research graduates for rewarding careers within and beyond academia
- Extend the reach, scale and reputation of our research through deep international partnerships
Swinburne’s Research and Innovation Strategy outlines the following high impact outcome areas as our core areas of focus:
- Future Manufacturing
- Sustainable Futures
- Digital Innovation
- Personal and Social Wellbeing
- Inspirational Science and Technology
Our research has produced numerous scientific, technological and innovative breakthroughs. To see our greatest achievements please visit: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/research/strengths-achievements/achievements-recognition/
Higher degree by research programs
Swinburne currently offers three types of higher degree by research programs: Master by Research, Doctor of Philosophy and Professional Doctorate.
Master by Research
The Master by Research degree trains candidates in research methodology and techniques and in their critical evaluation, appropriate to their field of study, and in the application of such methodology by conducting a specified program of research under appropriate supervision. In addition, this degree provides training in analysing the literature and debate in the substantive area of the thesis topic at an advanced level. Candidates enrolled in the Master by Research programs will complete a research thesis of 50,000 to 60,000 words.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
PhD by Thesis
PhD by Thesis is the most popular of the doctoral programs at Swinburne, with the majority of our PhD candidates undertaking this type of PhD. It requires candidates to complete a written research thesis equivalent to 70,000 to 100,000 words.
PhD by Artefact and Exegesis
Within a PhD by Artefact and Exegesis, candidates complete an artefact – which may be a creative work, such as a novel, film, or body of artistic work, a commissioned report, an invention, or another type of product. The artefact may be presented through performance, exhibition, or a written document. In addition, candidates also complete an accompanying exegesis of 20,000 to 40,000 words.
PhD by Including Associated Papers
Candidates completing a PhD including associated papers incorporate a number of high quality papers within the main body of the thesis. The term 'papers' refers to reports of research subjected to academic peer review. The thesis submitted will be equivalent to 70,000 to 100,000 words.
PhD by Practice Based Research
The PhD by Practice Based Research is designed to support the research development of senior practitioners mainly in the fields of management and education. The PhD by Practice Based Research is currently offered in the Faculty of Business and Law on a part-time basis only. The program is currently available to domestic candidates only.
PhD by Clinical Psychology
Under the PhD by Clinical Psychology, candidates undertake a series of assessed, compulsory coursework and supervised placement subjects, which are identical to those offered in the Masters of Clinical Psychology program. In addition, candidates submit a research thesis equivalent to 70,000 to 100,000 words.
PhD by Technology Innovation
The PhD by Technology Innovation enables candidates to acquire a range of entrepreneurial skills, research expertise and innovation strategies. Candidates grouped in cohorts participate in a sequential series of classes, workshops and team-based activities. Candidates enrolled in this program are expected to spend at least one third of their time in an industry environment.
A professional doctorate makes a significant and original contribution to professional practice and comprises up to one third of advanced coursework. At Swinburne, we offer a Professional Doctorate in Psychology, specialising in clinical and forensic psychology. Candidates enrolled in the Doctor of Psychology (Clinical and Forensic Psychology) program are required to complete a combination of assessed coursework, supervised placements and a research thesis of 40,000 to 60,000 words.
Partnered PhD program
Our Partnered PhD program allows approved PhD students to complete their research degree jointly at Swinburne and an international or Australian partner university. Students will be supervised jointly by academics from Swinburne and academics from the partner university to undertake a single joint doctoral degree. Graduates are awarded a testamur that clearly reflects the collaborative nature of the program by bearing the crests of both universities.
For more information about partnered PhD programs, including a list of Swinburne’s current partners, visit: www.swinburne.edu.au/research/research-degrees/degrees-programs/partnered-phd-programs
Our partnered PhD programs allow students to:
- Enhance their research by collaborating with national and international experts while building professional networks.
- Gain valuable national and international exposure and experience in the management of global research projects.
- Broaden their future employment opportunities.
- Learn how to navigate different research and educational systems.
- Access facilities and skills training from two research-intensive universities.
Research students are an important component in what drives quality research. We offer research students the opportunity to participate in world-changing projects and we back our students with the right levels of funding.
Swinburne offers research scholarships each year – so if you are highly qualified and thinking about a higher degree by research, we encourage you to apply.
There are a number of external scholarships available to research students. To find out more visit: www.swinburne.edu.au/research/funding-grants/scholarships
How to apply
Follow these steps to apply for a Master by Research or PhD program at Swinburne.
Step one – Decide on research topic
Before you apply for a research degree, you will need to decide on the research area you are interested in and the project you would like to conduct. Your topic should align with one of our research outcome areas, or areas of research focus.
Step two – Check the entry requirements
For a complete guide to the minimum entry requirements for PhD, Master by Research and Professional Doctorates visit: www.swinburne.edu.au/research/research-degrees/degrees-programs
International applicants are also required to meet the English language requirements as outlined below:
- A minimum IELTS overall band of 6.5 (Academic Module) with no individual band below 6.0 or a TOEFL iBT (internet-based) minimum score of 79 with no band less than 18, no longer than 24 months before submitting your application; or
- Satisfactory completion of Swinburne’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP 5 Advanced level) with overall 70%, all skills 65%; or
- Successful completion of a total of 24 months (full-time equivalent) of formal study where the language of instruction and assessment was English at AQF level 7 or above (or equivalent) at an approved university, no longer than 60 months before submitting your application.
Step three – Check scholarship opportunities
We offer a variety of scholarships for students of exceptional research potential. These can cover your tuition fees, provide an annual payment or allow you to study overseas on a placement. For information on our range of scholarships and external scholarship opportunities visit: www.swinburne.edu.au/research/funding-grants/scholarships
Step four – Find a supervisor
When you have determined your research area of interest and confirmed that you meet the entry requirements, you will need to locate a supervisor for your research project. This is essential, as your application cannot be considered unless you have a willing supervisor.
Swinburne is more likely to provide supervision for students who are completing research in areas aligned with the University’s research strengths. Your first supervisor must come from the faculty you intend to study within (there is a minimum of two academic supervisors).
To locate a suitable Swinburne supervisor use our online ‘Find a Researcher or Supervisor’ system, available at:
Step five – Submit your application
Once you have decided on a research topic and found a willing and appropriate supervisor, you are invited to complete and submit the relevant application form, which can be downloaded from: www.swinburne.edu.au/research/research-degrees/application-process/submit-application
For more information on how to apply visit: www.swinburne.edu.au/research/research-degrees/application-process
Useful links for research students: