4 year(s) full-time


Program Code

AUD$ 41,700 per annum (per 1.0 EFTSL) for students enrolled in 2024
AUD$ 44,300 per annum (per 1.0 EFTSL) for students enrolled in 2025

English Language Requirements
Equivalent English qualifications (PDF)

International Admission by Country
See full entry requirements

Program level
Doctorate by research

Degree overview

  • Contribute to the progress of science and technology in an area that interests you.
  • Flourish in a technology hub of theoretical, applied and cross-disciplinary research.
  • Become part of a research team with active connections to national and international institutions, and industries.
  • Work alongside world-class supervisors on industry-based projects.
  • One of Australia's leading universities for Engineering research.1
  • Home to the multi-million dollar Future Industries Institute – transforming the industries of today and seeding the industries of tomorrow.
  • 100% of our assessed research rated at or above world-class.2

1UniSA’s Engineering research rated well above world-class – 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

22018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), 4-digit Fields of Research

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, you will learn and apply advanced research methodologies to produce new knowledge and provide solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. Completing a research degree means becoming an expert in your field. It’s your opportunity to take a topic that interests you, explore it in depth, tackle intellectual, creative and practical challenges, and communicate your findings.

Depending on your area of interest, you can study a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Professional Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy (by Portfolio of Publications) or Master of Research.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (up to four years full-time equivalent) provides you with advanced training and education, and the capacity to conduct research independently at a high level of originality and quality.

By the end of your program, you will be capable of independently designing and executing original research that generates new knowledge.

Professional Doctorate

A rigorous program of advanced study and research, designed specifically to meet the needs of industry, end-users and professional groups. Professional doctorates usually consist of a blend of coursework and research (three to four years full-time equivalent), encouraging close cooperation across university, industry and the profession, as well as providing a framework for integrated professional expertise and scholarly inquiry.

Doctor of Philosophy (by Portfolio of Publications)

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

Master of Research

A Master of Research (two years full-time equivalent) enables you to analyse your thesis topic at an advanced level, and apply research methodology and techniques to contribute new knowledge in your field, under appropriate supervision.

Please note, a master 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 our research projects.

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?


When you study a research degree with UniSA STEM, you are immersed in a flourishing technology hub of theoretical, applied and cross-disciplinary research. Our innovative degrees will provide you with advanced academic and professional research skills. The majority of research degrees are offered at Mawson Lakes Campus, however some aspects may be offered at the City East or City West Campuses.


We welcome applications - and have supervisory teams available in - mechanical engineering, robotics, mechatronics, agricultural engineering, sustainable energy, nano-technology, nano composite, advanced manufacturing technology, supply chain management, manufacturing management, signal processing, wireless sensor networks, telecommunication networks, applied physics, biological motion processing, autonomous systems, systems engineering, engineering management, socio-technical systems, complex systems, autonomous systems, unmanned systems, and robotic systems, geotechnical, structural and other civil engineering specialisations, construction management, project management, geomatics, geospatial Information science; including remote sensing, and land surveying.

Science, Technology & Mathematics

We welcome applications - and have supervisory teams available in - computer science, information technology, forensic computing, information management, applied mathematics, mathematical modelling, optimisation and operations research, statistics, biometrics, bioinformatics, biological image analysis, computational biology, mathematical biology, telecommunications, information theory, biodiversity, environmental science, ecology, conservation, biodiversity, soil science, and plant physiology, and environmental specialisations.

Another study option is Dual Awards where students study their UniSA program in partnership with another institution. Further information is available here. These include dual awards (cotutelles) with several French universities:

  • ENIB (Brest National School of Engineering)
  • IMT Atlantique (a school of the Institute Mines Telecom)
  • Nantes University

For more information about a research degree with us, please contact STEM-Research@unisa.edu.au

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

Why this Degree

The University of South Australia has a proud history of furthering education and research in the fields of science and technology to promote innovation locally, nationally and internationally.

The UniSA STEM environment is diverse and multicultural, with over 300 academic researchers and over 330 PhD students, located at our Mawson Lakes and City East campuses. Across our Academic Units, research institutes and research centres work collaboratively in cross-disciplinary teams to produce outstanding learning outcomes and research results.

Home to the multi-million dollar Future Industries Institute – collaborating with complex and growth-focused industries, FII researchers undertake cross-disciplinary, world class research that is informed, innovative and relevant. The Institute undertakes cross-disciplinary research related to five key industry sectors: Healthy Environments; High-Tech Manufacturing; Medical Technology; Smart Energy; and Sustainable Resources. With state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure, new technologies and approaches are being developed to support state and national economic growth. Working closely with industry partners and end-users ensures our researchers and students engage in real world experiences to create local, national and global impact.

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.

We are ranked #1 young university in Australia and #1 in SA for industry research income1 and our commitment to research with an industry focus is unprecedented. Read more about our strengths in research and discover some of our achievements.

1 2022 THE World University Rankings

Career outcomes

Your career

A PhD will give you a competitive edge in the work place. You may choose to pursue a career in academia, or in research with a research institution or university. Alternatively, you may choose to work in industry in your chosen specialisation. A research degree graduate of the University of South Australia:

  • understands current research based knowledge in their field and its methodologies for creating new knowledge. They can create, critique, and appraise new and significant knowledge.
  • is prepared for lifelong learning in pursuit of ongoing personal development and excellence in research within and beyond a discipline or professional area
  • is an effective problem solver, capable of applying logical, critical and creative thinking to a range of research problems
  • can work both autonomously and collaboratively as a researcher within a particular discipline or professional area and within wider but related areas
  • is committed to ethical action and social responsibility as a researcher in a discipline or professional area and as a leading citizen
  • communicates effectively as a researcher in a discipline or professional area and as a leading member of the community
  • demonstrates international perspectives in research in a discipline or professional area and as a leading citizen

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. Visit our scholarships page for more.

More scholarships

What others are saying

Through my PhD I have worked closely with UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, nanoparticle specialist Boutiq Science and Powerhouse Ventures to develop an improved cancer detection system that relies on magnetic rather than radioactive tracers. This new magnetic tracer together with an ultrasensitive magnetometer probe, delivers a more accurate and affordable system for the staging of deep or complex cancers.

Aidan Cousins

Doctor of Philosophy


Aidan Cousins

Doctor of Philosophy

I would recommend undertaking a PhD with UniSA for many reasons. UniSA has great research staff to supervise PhD students and the environment (especially Mawson Lakes campus) is a perfect place for research. I found the labs to be well equipped and I have been provided with necessary equipment for my experiments.

Abdullah Azfar

Doctor of Philosophy

Abdullah Azfar

Abdullah Azfar

Doctor of Philosophy

In my area of expertise, I get to work with an anechoic chamber to perform cognitive assessments, which is amazing technology. It’s typically used in military grade testing, so to have access is phenomenal.

Natalie Francies

Doctor of Philosophy

Natalie Francies

Natalie Francies

Doctor of Philosophy

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.

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