Research degrees - Doctorate (PhD)

At the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering we offer three graduate research awards – PhD, Master of Engineering and Master of Science. As long as you can find a supervisor and we have the facilities available, you can apply to do your postgraduate research with us.

About Doctor of Philosophy Programs (PhD)

Program Code: 1630, 1681
Typical Duration: 4 years
Semester 2 Entry: Yes
Online Handbook: View Online Handbook 1630, View Online Handbook 1681
School Website:

What is Doctor of Philosophy 1630 and 1681?

A PhD degree requires completion of a piece of research that demonstrates a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the field of study. Candidates acquire advanced specialist research training and produce a thesis that summarises the research and provides evidence for independent thought and critical analysis, effective communication and expert knowledge of the discipline in the international context.

For a PhD considerably more original work is required than for a Masters by Research. In some cases, advanced coursework is also prescribed. The nature and level of supervision evolves over the duration of the candidature. The work is closely supervised in the early stages. In the later stages, however, the candidate increases scope to exercise initiatives and is expected to make a significant and original contribution to the research. In the latter part of the program the candidate has acquired sufficient skills to allow independent work and this is reflected in guidance rather than direction by the supervisor. (the 2 paragraphs are from GRS website)

  • The Doctor of Philosophy 1630 is for Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • The Doctor of Philosophy 1681 is for Surveying & Spatial Information Systems
  • an appropriate four year Bachelor's degree with Honours from an Australian University that includes a substantial research component, or
  • a qualification or combination of qualifications considered to be equivalent by the appropriate Faculty Higher Degree Committee.

General entry requirements

In exceptional circumstances, the Higher Degree Committee may consider for admission applicants who do not have qualifications equivalent to a four year honours degree, if sufficient evidence is provided of research experience that clearly demonstrates exceptional research skills and the ability to undertake the proposed research program.

Why do a postgraduate research program?

Whether you choose to undertake a Postgraduate Research program straight after your undergraduate studies or a few years into your career, it will give you the opportunity to create new knowledge and provide real-world solutions to tomorrow's challenges. As an innovator, your work will benefit the community, governments and industry, both locally and internationally.

Our state-or-the-art facilities and collaboration with other research centres and universities, as well as with industry, will place you at the cutting-edge of research in your field.

Program structure for Doctor of Philosophy 1630 and 1681

This program involves a minimum of three years full-time study. Students undertake supervised research leading to the production of the thesis.

The length of a doctoral thesis normally should not exceed 100,000 words of text and should be submitted for examination within 4 years of full-time study.

In some faculties advanced coursework is also prescribed.

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