Higher degree by research

Higher degree by research


In our Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programs we offer world-class training and supervision across humanities disciplines in either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil).

Undertaking a graduate research program offers you an exciting and rewarding experience which will see you become part of the research community of ANU and, ultimately, produce a thesis that becomes a lasting reference work.

ANU provides an exceptionally rich and supportive research environment. Essential to this are the many opportunities for participating in the discussion of new ideas and testing your own ideas, as well as opportunities for refining your research techniques.

The major component of both research programs is your thesis, which investigates a particular subject or issue. You are also required to complete some coursework, which includes training on research methods, ethics and other topics.

Our research graduates become the scholars of the future at universities worldwide or reach the heights of their chosen industries.

Postgraduate study allows you to become an expert in your chosen field, giving you invaluable skills to take into the next stage of your life. Completing HDR study is an investment in your career prospects.

Our research strengths

The School is an exciting hub of researchers working across humanities disciplines. We offer a unique opportunity to conduct research in a diverse range of research areas:

  • Classics and Ancient History
  • English Literature, Drama and Film
  • Gender, Sexuality and Culture
  • Languages and Cultures
  • Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

Study options

Doctor of Philosphy (PhD)

As a full-time Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate, you will typically spend a minimum of three years at ANU, longer if you choose to study on a part-time basis.

Candidates are normally required to submit a thesis of no more than 100,000 words, and must meet the standard internationally recognised for the degree in the relevant discipline. Your research must make a substantial contribution to the relevant scholarly literature and demonstrate how it relates to your discipline.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degrees are designed for students who require an advanced research qualification, but who want a shorter degree program than the PhD. The MPhil program is offered on a full-time and part-time basis. As a full-time candidate, you will typically spend between one and two years completing your thesis, longer if you study on a part-time basis. The thesis for an MPhil is normally limited to 60,000 words.

Finding a supervisor

Undertaking graduate research provides you with the unique opportunity to work under the supervision of leading experts.

As a doctoral student you will have an advisory panel comprising your supervisor and at least two other advisors.

Your supervisor is the most important person for your research, who will provide advice and guidance to you throughout your candidacy. In choosing a supervisor, think carefully about your interest area, and discuss it with SLLL staffs who share this interest.

Advisors may be staff from the School, or you can draw on the large pool of people working in related areas across the University. In some circumstances an advisor may be external to ANU.

Visit the People section of our website to find out more about our researchers. You can also search ANU Researchers website.


The application process requires you to follow some specific steps including finding a supervisor and providing a research proposal. For more information, visit the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) PhD and MPhil applications page.


A range of graduate research scholarships are available for research students, but competition for them is very high. For information about how to apply for scholarships, including submission dates and criteria, visit the CASS PhD and MPhil applications page.

Further enquiries

Submit an online enquiry or contact CASS Student Office by email or phone on +61 2 6125 2898

Updated:  30 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications