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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

  • Benefit from our extensive national and international research links, and strong record in winning national competitive grants.
  • Undertake exciting and innovative research in a range of disciplines.
  • Work under the guidance of experienced and highly qualified research supervisors.
  • Learn from visiting scholars and artists.
  • We have been widely recognised for our world-class research in visual arts, design, creative arts and writing, language, communication and culture, design and contemporary art1.
  • UniSA is an unstoppable university for unstoppable people. As one of the World’s Top Young Universities2, 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. Ranked #52, 2023 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, understandings and insights, 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 that 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, a PhD student will be capable of independently designing and executing original research that generates new knowledge, understandings and insights (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 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 methodologies and techniques to contribute new knowledge, understandings and insights to their field, under appropriate supervision (two years full-time equivalent).

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 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?

We offer Master of Research candidates the opportunity to undertake exciting and innovative research in the following disciplines:

  • creative industries
  • design
  • contemporary art
  • architecture
  • planning
  • digital arts 
  • media and communication
  • creative writing
  • performing arts
  • music
  • film studies
  • journalism
  • media arts

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 where you are encouraged to explore your own ideas under the supervision of some of Australia’s leading researchers.

We are widely recognised for our world-class research in contemporary art, design, creative arts and writing, language, communication and culture, architecture and the built environment1.

In addition, we will ensure you graduate with transferable career skills that complement your research experience and enhance your global capability when you complete the Engaged Higher Degree by Research program. As part of this degree, you will complete skill development workshops and master-classes aligned to your interests.

12018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

Career outcomes

Your career

A Master of Research will give you a competitive edge in the workplace. 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 your chosen specialisation. A research degree graduate at the University of South Australia:

  • understands current research-based knowledge in their field and its methodologies for creating new knowledge, understandings and insights within a critical context.
  • 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.
  • 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. 

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

Opportunities exist to study at Magill and City West campuses, depending on your area of research.

Magill campus:

Magill campus is on stunning grounds, with campus features including:

  • multimedia studios and editing suites
  • theatre for stage productions
  • TV and radio studio
  • gym and outdoor sports field 

City West campus:

City West is a state-of-the-art campus in Adelaide’s west end. Campus features include:

Your study spaces

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