Midyear entry, applications closing soon Apply now

4 year(s) full-time

Program Code

Study as
Full-time or part-time

Program level
Doctorate by research

Fees for research students that have exceeded their RTP entitlement are calculated at the course level. Refer to the Research Training Program

Degree overview

  • Join a community of passionate researchers and explore research topics across allied health, exercise and sport science, human movement, health science, and public health.
  • Deliver high-impact research in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of global health issues.
  • Partner with industry to address global health challenges and work collaboratively to solve real-world problems.
  • Independently design and execute original research which generates new knowledge.
  • Learn from highly qualified research supervisors and renowned academics at South Australia’s No.1 university for human movement and sports science research.1
  • Study at a university with above world-class research in clinical sciences.2
  • UniSA is an unstoppable university for unstoppable people3. As one of the World’s Top Young Universities4, we’ll ensure you get the experience your future profession demands so it’ll feel like you’re studying one minute and in a career the next.

1The only university in SA to have all its assessed Human Movement and Sports Science research rated well-above world standard. 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). 22018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). 3UNSTOPPABLE® is a Kellogg Company trade mark used under licence. 4Ranked #43, 2024 THE Young University Rankings.

What is a research degree?

A research degree is an advanced program of study allowing you to investigate a topic relevant to your field. Under the supervision of world-class researchers, higher degree research candidates learn and apply advanced research methodologies to produce new knowledge and find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Completing a research degree means becoming an expert in your field. It’s your opportunity to take a topic which interests you; explore it in depth; tackle intellectual, creative and practical challenges; and communicate your findings.

You can study a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Philosophy (by Portfolio of Publications) or Master of Research.

Research degrees offered at UniSA

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Produces graduates with the capacity to conduct research independently at a high level of originality and quality. By the end of the degree, PhD students are capable of independently designing and executing original research which generates new knowledge (three to four years full-time equivalent).

Doctor of Philosophy (by Portfolio of Publications)

Allows formal recognition of established researchers and/or scholars who don’t already hold a PhD qualification, and who have produced a significant body of research of international standing in their field, with an ongoing record of academic publication (work).

Master of Research

Students analyse their thesis topic at an advanced level, applying research methodology and techniques to contribute further knowledge to their field, under appropriate supervision (one to two years full-time equivalent). Some research-relevant coursework is available within the Master of Research.

Please note, a master’s degree by coursework (such as an MBA) involves enrolling in selected courses and participating in lectures and tutorials (online or on campus). It is different to a Master of Research.

Find out more about what you can study.

Why do a research degree?

UniSA research is inspired by the challenges and opportunities of today. In the 2018 Australian Research Council Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluation of Australian universities, all of our assessed research was rated at world class or above. We are vibrant, outward-facing and responsive. We partner with industry, government and communities to seek answers to questions that arise in the real world. 

Learn more about our research.

The transformed PhD

UniSA intends to deliver industry and end-user informed research that supports employer-relevant curriculum. To achieve this, and to produce entrepreneurial and business-aware graduates, we have developed the transformed PhD.

We have added a structured component to research degrees including enhanced skill development, supervisory panels and a technology-enabled oral defence of the thesis. Through these activities you will develop a set of professional, transferable skills relevant to our knowledge-based enterprise economy.

The aim of the transformed PhD is to increase your employment prospects in any career path. You will possess the knowledge, expertise and confidence to meet the emerging needs of academia, industry, government and the community.

Four good reasons to do a research degree

  1. Challenge yourself. You will need to work hard, be dedicated and think analytically at a high level. You will tackle completely new research and different research methods, or extend research already undertaken.
  2. Increase your career opportunities. A research degree provides evidence of independent thought and the ability to manage a research project in a given timeframe. Your research could allow you to develop a new specialisation, academic field or career. A research degree at UniSA will also allow you to develop a skillset which sets you apart, putting you at the centre of your professional development.
  3. Make your ideas public. Your research findings may be published, presented at conferences, provide a commercial return and have a positive impact on society.
  4. Contribute to society. Discover new methods, understandings and techniques, and solve a real-world problem.

What can I research?

Research students can complete exciting and innovative research topics that span areas such as:

  • anthropometry
  • epidemiology
  • health services research
  • high performance in sport and industry
  • musculoskeletal health
  • neuroscience
  • nutrition
  • pain sciences
  • public health
  • rehabilitation
  • rural health

Our research is also facilitated by research concentrations and groups, including:

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA): evaluating the role of exercise, nutrition and activity for promoting health and performance.

Innovation, IMPlementation and Clinical Translation in health (IIMPACT): focused on solving grand health challenges such as persistent pain, stroke recovery, persistent breathlessness and the rural health inequity.

Australian Centre for Precision Health (ACPreH): aimed to prevent disease before it strikes; creating innovative solutions to address issues focused on health and wellbeing. 

Find a research area

To find a research area, you'll need to match your qualifications and interests to the research projects offered at UniSA. These have been developed by teams of academics who will supervise you during your research degree.

Scholarships and projects

A scholarship allows you to focus on your research without needing to do paid work. At UniSA, you can explore high achiever scholarships, vacation research scholarships, as well as Vice Chancellor and President’s scholarships.

We also offer thematically-based scholarships. These scholarships will not only address local, national and international grand challenges, they will also ensure you work across the University, with industry, and with community partners.

Learn more about available scholarships.

Graduate outcomes

There are seven identified graduate qualities and outcomes that result from doing a research degree at UniSA. Importantly, these competencies are transferable to the workplace, whether academic or professional. In brief, a research degree graduate of the University of South Australia:

  • understands, can contribute to and critique current research-based knowledge in their field
  • is prepared for lifelong learning in pursuit of ongoing personal development and excellence
  • is an effective problem solver and researcher
  • can work both autonomously and collaboratively as a researcher
  • is committed to ethical action and social responsibility
  • communicates research knowledge effectively
  • demonstrates international perspectives in research

Read about our research degree graduate qualities in more detail.

Why Doctor of Philosophy

Lih Yin Tan, PhD.jpg

UniSA provides a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment to explore your own ideas under the supervision of some of Australia’s leading researchers. As Australia’s University of Enterprise, we focus on finding pragmatic solutions and creating new knowledge to address globally significant issues. In fact, 100% of our assessed research rated at or above world-class.1

We offer a research environment with highly experienced and engaged supervisors, extensive connections to industry, government and communities, and a focus on addressing globally significant issues. We encourage you to connect with our researchers and find out the possibilities.

You can explore research areas across allied health, exercise and sport science, human movement, health science and public health.

UniSA is also ranked as the No.1 Young University in Australia for industry income.2 Our commitment to research with an industry focus is unprecedented. Read more about our strengths in research and discover some of our achievements.

12018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), 4-digit Fields of Research. 22024 THE Young University Rankings.

Career outcomes

Your career

A doctoral qualification will advance your career possibilities and give you a competitive edge in the workplace.

You may choose to further your career in industry or, academia; or in research with a research institution or university locally or internationally.

How to apply

Before applying, you will need to do some investigation. Our step-by-step guide will take you through the process of preparing your application to maximise your chances of success.

Please check the research degrees calendar for all key dates.


Every year, over 2,500 UniSA students are supported in their studies through scholarships and grants worth millions of dollars. Check out the scholarships below. One of them may be perfect for you. 

Discover more scholarships

Your campus

We have six campuses in metropolitan and regional areas, each with modern facilities including lecture theatres, libraries and laboratories, as well as spaces that simulate real work environments.

Location This degree is delivered at the following campus.

Your study spaces

City East.jpg

We offer unparalleled learning facilities, and are committed to continually investing in and upgrading our laboratories and technical capabilities. Some of our specialised spaces include:

  • Clinical Trial Facility: modern, purpose-built, dedicated clinical research spaces.
  • a variety of purpose-built laboratories to measure brain function, fitness, health and performance.

Ask UniSA

More FAQs