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 an internationallyrecognised, stand-alonedoctoral degree which enables students to develop advanced independent and sustained research skills. The thesis should demonstrate a critical application of specialist knowledge and make an independent contribution to knowledge in the area of research. 
PhD students will develop and enhance critical thinking skills, ethical scholarshipand collaboration within the context of Avondale’s values of excellence, spirituality, nurture, service and balance. They will benefit from the opportunity to develop critical understanding of a complex field of learning andspecialisedresearch skills. Researchspecialisationscan be in Education, Arts, Nursing, Ministry and Theology. 
PhD students will develop and enhance their transferable skills, research techniques and application through various activities which: 

  • 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 

  • Foster creativity and flexibility in the application of knowledge to new situations in order to solve complex problems and to think rigorously and independently. 


Personalised Support 
As a PhD student you will benefit from online support by your supervisor(s) 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 as:

  • Professors
  • Academics
  • Tertiary lecturers
  • Management consultants.

Admission Criteria

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidates commence their course at the beginning of semester one or two but can apply at any time of the year. Student Administration Services coordinate PhD applications via Avondale's Research Office.


To qualify for admission, you must have completed:

  • An Australian Qualifications Framework AQF Level 9 Master's by research degree, including a major self-directed research component, from an accredited university or higher education provider; or
  • An Australian Qualifications Framework AQF Level 9 Master's by coursework degree, including a major self-directed research component, from an accredited university or higher education provider; or
  • A Professional Doctorate, including a major self-directed research component, from an accredited university or higher education provider; or
  • An overseas qualification comparable to an Australian Qualifications Framework AQF Level 9 or higher

We may give special consideration for entry into the PhD if you can demonstrate research experience and a capacity to complete a PhD.


The following are the specific criteria for admission:

  • Provide certified colour copies of transcripts from relevant previous qualifications, in original language and official English translations (if applicable), including explanations of grades (often provided on the back of transcript documents); and
  • A brief research proposal (max. 1000 words) outlining the proposed research field you intend to pursue (include the topic, research questions, purpose, background, rationale, theoretical framework (if known), timeframe, methodology, references); and
  • A sample of a major written assignment or mini-thesis submitted for assessment as part of a previously completed degree

Acceptance into the PhD degree is dependent on:

  • Your qualifications and experience;
  • Your ability to communicate and write in English;
  • The quality and feasibility of your research proposal;
  • The availability of appropriate supervision; and
  • The availability of appropriate infrastructure and financial resources.

  • The Director of Higher Degree Research may conduct a formal interview to determine your capacity to meet the above requirements.


    PhD candidates may need clearances in contexts where they are conducting research during their candidature. For example:
    • A Criminal Record Check and Working with Children Check if you plan research that involves children or vulnerable people
    • Government health department vaccinations from the area in which the research would be conducted


    International applicants must meet the Australian Government's visa requirements to reside in Australia while undertaking postgraduate studies at Avondale University.

    For more information, visit


    International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency in one of the following ways:
    • Provide documentary evidence of at least two years of tertiary study conducted and assessed in English in a recognised country^ and completed within the last two years
    • Demonstrate English language proficiency by achieving a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 overall with no sub-band below 7.0
    ^Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom or the United States of America

    Course Structure

    Course duration: 2-4 years full-time/ 4-8 years part-time
    Study mode: On-campus or distance/online available
    Maximum time to complete: Full time - 4 years, Part-time - 8 years

    On-campus attendance is not required and there are no timetabled classes. Candidates typically meet with their supervisors online but may attend on-campus meetings with their supervisors from time to time, depending on the availability and location of the candidate and their supervisors.

    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. Applicants do not need to approach supervisors before they submit their applications.



    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



    • Length of candidature: Must complete within minimum and maximum candidature periods of full-time study, or part time equivalent.
    • Two units: Must complete all units in the PhD course.
    • Early Candidature Plan: Candidates will meet with their supervisors to complete an Early candidature plan when they have been enrolled for three months.
    • Confirmation: Candidates are expected to complete the confirmation process within 6-12 months of their full-time enrolment, or within 12-24 months of their part-time enrolment.
    • Ethics application: If required (check with your supervisor/s), candidates must prepare an ethics application form which is submitted to Avondale’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for review and approval. Not all research projects require approval from the HREC.
    • Publication plan: Candidates are encouraged to publish throughout their degree. Publication of an article during the candidature period is encouraged, but is not a condition of graduation; however, a viable publication submission plan is a minimum requirement that should be developed before graduation. Co-authorship with the candidate’s supervisor/s is positively encouraged and the rules of co-authorship must be clarified and discussed early in their candidature so that candidates are fully informed. The Publication Plan will be managed through the regular Progress Reports. Guidance for how candidates can develop a Publication Plan is provided during the Supervisor and Research Training Program.
    • Progress reports: Part-time candidates are typically required to submit progress reports once per year. Full-time candidates are typically required to submit progress reports twice per year. If special enrolment conditions have been set, part-time or full-time candidates may be required to submit additional progress reports.
    • Final thesis: Towards the end of the candidate’s enrolment in the degree, a thesis of 80,000 to 100,000 words is submitted for examination by external examiners. The degree may be completed entirely by written thesis or by a combination of written thesis and creative and/or performance practice where the research is derived from creative and/or performance research areas. A thesis by publication is also available. The type of thesis presented for examination must be approved by the confirmation panel.


    Nature of learning

    The PhD is an entirely independent and sustained research degree leading to a thesis or combination of a written thesis and creative/performance practice. On-campus attendance is not required and there are no timetabled classes. Candidates typically meet with their supervisors online but may attend on-campus meetings with their supervisors from time to time, depending on the availability and location of the candidate and their supervisors. The candidate and appointed supervisors will negotiate the necessary workload commitments required by the candidate to complete the requirements within the stated timeframes.

    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 PhD 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

    View current information on tuition fees


    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