2 year(s) full-time


Program Code

AUD$ 39,600 per annum (per 1.0 EFTSL) for students enrolled in 2024

English Language Requirements
Equivalent English qualifications (PDF)

International Admission by Country
See full entry requirements

Program level
Masters by research

Degree overview

  • Join a community of passionate researchers and explore research topics across pharmacy, nursing, midwifery, laboratory medicine, biomedical sciences, nutrition and food sciences.
  • Be at the forefront of clinical discovery through our research into prevention, causes, diagnosis, management and cures of disease.
  • Investigate the best ways to help improve patient outcomes and create positive change in the health industry.
  • Partner with industry, community and government institutions worldwide.
  • Learn to independently design and execute original research that generates new knowledge.
  • Study at a university with well above world-class research in nursing, nutrition and dietetics, biochemistry and cell biology, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences, and medical physiology.1
  • Learn from experienced and highly qualified research supervisors and renowned academics who will support, mentor and guide you through your studies.
  • UniSA is an unstoppable university for unstoppable people.2 As one of the World’s Top Young Universities3, 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.

12018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).
2UNSTOPPABLE® is a Kellogg Company trade mark used under licence.
3Ranked #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 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 (two years full-time equivalent).

Please note, a Masters 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:

  • cancer biology
  • clinical laboratory medicine
  • precision health/nutritional and genetic epidemiology
  • drug and vaccines development
  • health service delivery
  • nutrition and food science
  • mental health and suicide prevention
  • nursing and midwifery 
  • pharmaceutical and chemical innovation
  • physiological and biomedical sciences
  • quality use of medicines and pharmacy.

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

Australian Centre for Precision Health: population health research to improve the future of health.

Centre for Cancer Biology: an alliance between SA Pathology and UniSA, carrying out vital cancer research.

Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation: developing better medicines.

Drug Discovery and Development: providing clinical access to new drugs for a range of therapeutic applications, particularly cancer.

Experimental Therapeutics: developing novel prophylactic vaccines and immunotherapeutics to improve chronic and acute health outcomes with a focus on allergy and cancer.

Health and Biomedical Innovation: leading research into the workings of the body and its interaction with its surrounding environment.

Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics: identifying biomarkers for the early detection of ovarian and gastric cancer.

Mechanisms in Cell Biology and Disease: focusing on medical research relating to diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research and Education: leading initiatives aimed at improving the lives of people in mental distress and at risk of suicide.

Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre: consumer-driven, data-informed research, effective in improving use of medicines and improving patient lives.

Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre: strengthening the role of the nursing and midwifery profession across the health system through the development of a research-driven, evidence-based platform of healthcare.

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

At UniSA, our research degree students solve real world problems, partner with end-users of research, and develop skills for research excellence with career relevance. 

UniSA provides a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment where you are encouraged to explore your own ideas under the supervision of some of Australia’s leading researchers. Our focus is always on finding practical solutions and creating new knowledge with a focus on addressing 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. We encourage you to connect with our researchers and find out the possibilities.

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.

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)

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, 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. Visit our scholarships page for more.

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

We offer unparalleled learning facilities, and are committed to continually investing in and upgrading our laboratories, offices and technical capabilities to ensure researchers have access to the very best resources and equipment needed to carry out world-class research. Some of our specialised laboratories and facilities include the:

  • Bradley Building: UniSA’s flagship research, teaching and public engagement facility.
  • Clinical Trial Facility: modern, purpose-built, dedicated clinical research spaces.
  • Adelaide Biofilm Test Facility: South Australia’s first test facility for antimicrobial agents, pharmaceutical preparations, dressings, materials and coatings.
  • Biophysical Characterisation Facility: houses state of the art equipment for studying bio-molecular interactions.
  • Fully equipped laboratories with advanced synthetic and medicinal chemistry, analytical, genomic, tissue culture and biomedical imaging suites used to support cutting-edge research.
  • Laboratory and pilot scale pharmaceutical development, analysis and characterisation equipment for various dosage forms.
Your study spaces

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