Higher Degree by Research

Our Graduate Centre is home to a thriving research community. We give you the opportunity to maximise your research potential and take your research further.

We have over 80 PhD candidates working on a range of research projects. View our HDR student profiles.

See theses from our graduates at UQ eSpace.

HDR students in our School Graduate Centre receive a number of benefits including:

  • dedicated and experienced academic staff who are able to supervise across a number of fields
  • postgraduate workshops and dedicated training
  • a dedicated Higher Degrees by Research Liaison Officer.
  • a thriving research culture in one of the world's best schools in the discipline


Download our School HDR Handbook for a full description of support available. (Currently being updated.)

How to apply

Joining the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program at the School of Political Science and International Studies requires not only meeting the UQ Graduate School’s entry requirements, but also attaining the support of the School to apply. Obtaining the School’s support can be a lengthy process. To ensure your online application will be considered for a particular scholarship round, please allow sufficient time for the School-based process before the Graduate School’s online application deadlines.

Below you can see the different steps we ask you to follow:

  • Find out about applying for a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) including advice about HDR entry requirements, scholarships and UQ's career development framework. Ensure you meet HDR entry requirements.
  • Browse our academic staff profiles or UQ Researchers to find a supervisor within our School who matches your area of research interest and who has sufficient expertise in your proposed field of PhD research.
  • Contact potential supervisors by email to discuss and refine your research. This email should include a first, rough description of your proposed research project. This initial contact with potential supervisors serves the purpose of you finding out if academic staff at the School have both the expertise and the capacity to act as potential supervisors of your PhD.
  • Once you obtained a general interest by an academic staff member, you then need to develop a full research proposal. This research proposal takes time to write and – in consultation with your potential supervisor – to revise. Your research proposal should be 3,000-5,000 words in length and fully referenced. Your research proposal needs to address the following questions:

RESEARCH QUESTION: What question or hypothesis is your thesis aiming to analyse or test? What question is your thesis trying to answer?

SIGNIFICANCE: How is your proposed question or hypothesis significant for your area of research? What makes the project important or original?

RELEVANT LITERATURE: What is the literature currently saying in relation to your research question or hypothesis? How are you aiming to relate the literature to existing studies? How are you building on, advancing or applying the existing literature?

APPROACH AND METHOD: What theories, methodologies and methods are you proposing to use to investigate your research question or hypothesis?

  • Your prospective supervisors will then consider your research proposal. They will also arrange for an interview in person or online to discuss the proposal. They might ask you to revise your proposal to reach its fullest potential.
  • If the proposed supervisor is satisfied with your research proposal, you will be directed to submit a full application, including your research proposal, online to the UQ Graduate School. Your application may be unsuccessful and declined if you have not made contact with your nominated academic or if they are unable to act as your advisor.
  • The full online application, including your research proposal and referee reports, will be assessed by a School-based committee. The support of the School-based committee is not a guarantee of a scholarship.

If you obtain the support of the School-based committee, your full online application will be assessed by the UQ Graduate School who will make the final determination on whether to support your application.