Doctor of Philosophy

Course Code5001
CRICOS Code059853A
Course duration /
Study mode

Course duration: Three to four years full-time (or 6 years part-time)
Study mode: On-campus and/or distance education available 

LocationAvondale Campus - Lake Macquarie
Fee Support


*for eligible students, see



The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a complete, stand-alone degree that is an internationally recognised doctoral degree. It is designed for students to develop advanced skills in carrying out independent and sustained research. The thesis should demonstrate a critical application of specialist knowledge and make an independent contribution to knowledge in the area of research.

The course is unique in that it is delivered within Avondale’s Christian education framework. Students of the PhD degree will develop critical thinking skills, ethical scholarship and attitudes that are conducive to personal and collective involvement. These values are applied in the context of Avondale’s values of Excellence, Spirituality, Nurture, Service and Balance. Avondale will ensure that the students gain the necessary introduction to research and provide an opportunity to support the development of their research skills.

The PhD provides students with the opportunity to develop a systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of learning and specialised research skills for the advancement of learning and/or for professional practice. 

Research specialisations can be in the areas of Education, Arts, Nursing, Ministry and Theology.

The aim of the PhD degree is to facilitate students' independent learning and prepare them for continuing professional development. Students will develop and enhance their transferable skills, research techniques and application through various activities which will:

  • enable appropriate evidence of advanced knowledge about a specialist body of theoretical and/or applied topics;
  • encourage a high order of skill in analysis, and critical evaluation through the planning and execution of a piece of scholarship or research; and
  • assist creativity and flexibility in the application of knowledge and skills to new situations, to solve complex problems and to think rigorously and independently.

You will be guided by your supervisor/s and will benefit from online support for specific methodological approaches. In addition, the staff development unit provides research students with support for specific issues such as writing or statistics. 

Career Opportunities

PhD graduates may gain employment in their specific area of research or the following:

  • Professor
  • Academic
  • Tertiary lecturer
  • Management consulting

Admission Criteria


Fully completed applications should be submitted to the Research Services Office - email: [email protected]

Applications may be lodged at any time of the year*. Intending applicants should discuss their proposed research topic with a potential supervisor before submitting an application.

The application must include:

  • A completed application
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts
  • A brief proposal (1,000 words) outlining the proposed research field to be pursued
  • A sample of a major written assignment or mini-thesis submitted for assessment as part of a completed degree

Acceptance is dependent on: (a) the applicant's qualifications; (b) the availability of appropriate supervision; and (c) the availability of appropriate infrastructure.

*Avondale has a shut-down period over the Christmas and New Year. Applications received in the month of December may not be assessed until the end of January the following year.



A person may be admitted to the PhD course who:

  1. has been awarded an AQF Level 9 research master degree, an AQF Level 9 coursework master degree with a self-directed research component of no less than 25%, or an AQF Level 8 bachelors honours degree (first class honours pass) with a self-directed research component of no less than 25% or equivalent; or
  2. holds a qualification that the Research Committee deems equivalent to those prescribed above, and
  3. is able to demonstrate potential to undertake work at doctoral level in the proposed field of study.

Students enrolled in a research master degree at Avondale may upgrade their enrolment to PhD candidature where they have not yet completed the research master degree, and where they have been enrolled in the research master degree at Avondale for not less than 12 months as a full-time candidate or eighteen months as a part-time candidate, and the student has successfully passed the confirmation process where the assessment has been undertaken using the criteria for PhD confirmation.


Acceptance is dependent on: (a) the applicant’s qualifications; (b) the availability of appropriate supervision; (c) the availability of appropriate infrastructure; and (d) the quality and feasibility of the research proposal.

A formal interview conducted by the Assistant Faculty Dean (Research), and in consultation with the relevant Head of Discipline if needed, prior to acceptance for the purposes of establishing areas of interest for the proposed study and identifying a suitable supervisory team.

No compulsory security or health clearances are required for admission purposes; however a student may need to obtain clearances in industries where they are conducting research further into their candidature for example:

Students are required to obtain a Criminal Record Check and Working With Children Check if they are to be researching and/or working with children and have not previously obtained this.

NSW Health Department vaccinations where the area the student will be researching and/or working requires vaccinations.


Overseas applicants will have their entry qualifications assessed in accordance with the Admission to Higher Education Undergraduate Courses Policy as well as the International Students Policy


Courses at Avondale are delivered in the English language. In order to complete the PhD successfully students from a country where English is not the first language must provide documentary evidence that an IELTS score 7.0 has been achieved, with no band score less than 7.0. If the applicant has completed a degree of at least 2 years full time equivalent (AQF level 7 equivalent or higher) where English was the language of instruction and assessment, English language proficiency evidence is not required.

Overseas applicants wishing to reside on campus in Australia whilst undertaking graduate studies at Avondale are required to satisfy Australian Government VISA requirements (see the Department of Immigration and Border Protection [DIBP] website).

Course Structure

Course duration: Three to four years full-time (or 6 years part-time)
Study mode: Distance (online)
Maximum time to complete: Full time - 6 years, Part-time - 8 years

The PhD course is typically offered by distance (online) with some opportunities to meet with supervisors on-campus (depending on the supervisors' availability). Candidates may enrol on a part-time or full-time basis.

PhD candidates may begin their studies at the beginning of Research Semester 1 (mid January) or the beginning of Research Semester 2 (early July) within any given academic calendar year. Application for each semester closes a number of months before the beginning of each semester.


Core structure of the PhD course:

A PhD candidate, whether studying by full-time or part-time study, will normally enrol in two units across the course of their degree:

  • DPHL71000 Doctor of Philosophy Thesis
  • DPHL72000 Doctor of Philosophy Thesis – Under Examination

Nature of learning

This unit is an entirely independent and sustained research unit leading to a thesis or combination of a written thesis and creative/performance practice. There are no timetabled classes or compulsory on campus attendance required. The candidate and appointed supervisor/s will negotiate the necessary workload commitments required by the candidate to complete the requirements within the stated timeframes. Candidates typically meet with their supervisors online but may attend on-campus meetings with their supervisors from time to time, depending on the candidate and supervisors' availability and location.

However, on average, a full-time study load would require 28-40 hours of study per week, whereas a part-time study load would require 14-20 hours of study per week.

PhD Thesis

In the final semester of the degree, the candidate submits a thesis (or equivalent exegesis, or publications) of 80,000-100,000 words.




To find out more about any of the units listed here, copy the unit code and then search for that unit here.

Practical Experience


The PhD degree is accredited under Avondale’s self-accrediting authority, within the terms of the Level 10: Doctoral Degree (Research) in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), and is nationally registered with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). In 2021 Avondale was granted university status by TEQSA. 

Registration and Self-Disclosure


Prior to enrolment, applicants are required to disclose any conditions or history that may impact their capacity to successfully complete the MPhil degree.

Where to get further information

Course Enquiries

Student Administration Services

Phone: +61 2 4980 2377
Email: [email protected]
Monday-Thursday, 9.00am-5pm
Friday, 9.00am-12.00noon


FEE-HELP is available for eligible students, see

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Scholarships are available for Avondale students.  View all scholarship information.


"The beauty of Avondale is the relationships you can form due to the smaller environment and the nurturing lecturers... it's not just about the study. It's about the way you study."
Paul Rankin, Avondale PhD Graduate