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2 year(s) full-time

Program Code

Study as
Full-time or part-time

Program level
Masters 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 people.3 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.
Ranked #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, research degree students learn and apply advanced research methodologies to produce new knowledge and provide solutions to the world’s 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) and a 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, UniSA’s 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 do not 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?

Through a Master of Research, students analyse a chosen thesis topic at an advanced level, applying research methodology and techniques to contribute further knowledge to their field. This is conducted under appropriate supervision over two years (full-time equivalent).

Research students can complete exciting and innovative research topics which 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): solving grand health challenges such as persistent pain, stroke recovery, persistent breathlessness and the rural health inequity.

Australian Centre for Precision Health (ACPreH): preventing 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 Master of Research

Why this Degree

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 is 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 and benefit 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.

Research entry requirements

There are a variety of recommended pathways to gain entry into a Master of Research.

A Master of Research can be completed in 1-2 years full-time or 2-4 years part-time, depending on entry qualifications:

  • Undergraduate degree (4 years) > Master of Research (approx. 1-2 years full-time) > Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Undergraduate degree (3 years) > Master of Research (approx. 2 years full-time) OR Master of Nursing/Master of Midwifery (minor thesis) > Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Undergraduate degree with Honours (research-based) > Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

If you would like career counselling related to undertaking a Master of Research, the Academic Unit runs a Pathways Session in June of each year.
Please contact the Allied Health and Human Performance Research Team: ALH_Research@unisa.edu.au

Career outcomes

Your career

A master’s degree will advance your career possibilities and is a recognised pathway to a PhD. You may choose to further your career in industry, 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

What others are saying

After working in the community disability sector as a physiotherapist, I was exposed to the robotics program of the paediatric rehabilitation department at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The support of the consultants led me to undertake a Masters by Research, investigating the effects of conventional physiotherapy combined with robotic rehabilitation for youth with acquired brain injuries. Demonstrating that robotics can benefit functional rehabilitation will help embed it into practice at rehabilitation centres and enhance therapy for youth. It’s exciting to work in an area that is at the forefront of rehabilitation.

Chris Innes-Wong

UniSA Physiotherapy graduate and Masters by Research candidate

Chris Innes-Wong.JPG

Chris Innes-Wong

UniSA Physiotherapy graduate and Masters by Research candidate

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

We offer unparalleled learning facilities, and are committed to continually investing in and upgrading our laboratories, offices 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
Your study spaces

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