Doctor of Philosophy

CRICOS 063715K

About this course

The Doctor of Philosophy is a research degree in a theologically related area, with often a strong focus on its relevance for interdisciplinary studies. It is expected that the candidate in pursuing their research with independence and intellectual freedom will make an incisive, original, and substantial contribution to the discipline(s) pursued. This will result in a written thesis that will contribute to a significant advancement of academic knowledge, methodologies, and skills associated with the area of study undertaken by the researcher. There are two pathways to the Doctor of Philosophy, the first is PhD by New Thesis, the second PhD via prior publication, open to established researchers who do not yet have a Doctorate.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is an AQF level 10 research doctoral award. It meets the specifications for a Doctoral Degree (Research) set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. 

The Doctor of Philosophy provides the opportunity to pursue advanced study in a theologically related area by research at the highest academic level. It is designed for those who seek to further their study in such an area, including interdisciplinary study, for academic, vocational, professional and/or personal reasons. It also offers research training and experience that would support an academic or professional career involving research.

Applications are open all year round. Apply well in advance (at least 8 weeks prior to your start date) to allow for a timely response to your application. If your application cannot be processed in time, it will be considered for the next possible research period.

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The Sydney College of Divinity may admit to candidature in the PhD those persons who have attained:

  • A Bachelor (Hons) degree or equivalent with results at Class II, Division 1, from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  • A Graduate Diploma with a GPA of 3+ and one 18 cpt research unit at Distinction level from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  • Qualifications deemed by the College to be equivalent to or higher than those above.
  • A person my apply for admission to the PhD by prior publication (PPP), if he or she does not already possess a Doctorate and can demonstrate an existing body of peer reviewed publications that can be integrated into a thesis.


In all cases, prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theological discipline.


English Language Requirements

Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction normally require a minimum IELTS (or equivalent) overall score of at least 7.0 with no subtest below 7.0.

The Doctor of Philosophy is an entirely research-based degree, resulting in a thesis of 80,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices, under the direction of a supervisor and an associate supervisor.


The PhD by prior publication is a collection of original existing peer reviewed academic publications, integrated into a Thesis of 80,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices.


Compulsory participation in the Research Degree Workshop and eight Research Seminars is also required of the candidate.


Some thesis topics may require competence in ancient and/or modern foreign languages or other relevant areas of knowledge.

  • systematic and critical understanding of the chosen theologically related research area
  • mastery of a substantial body of material at the frontier of knowledge in the field, including knowledge that constitutes an original contribution
  • expert understanding of theories pertaining to the filed
  • substantial knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to field



Expert and specialised cognitive, creative, and technical skills in the field of research, so that they are able independently and authoritatively to:

  • critically evaluate existing knowledge and ideas pertaining to the field of research
  • systematically investigate and integrate other information potentially relevant to that area, including potentially relevant theories
  • demonstrate and apply theoretical understanding of the field
  • develop or adapt research methodologies to extend existing understanding of the field
  • communicate results of research cogently and appropriately to specialist and non-specialist audiences, using the English language competently and effectively for the purpose


Applications of Knowledge and Skills

As a practitioner or learner in relation to the inter-dependent building up of the church and good of the wider community, ongoing capacity to:

  • plan and execute a coherent, significant and original piece of research with intellectual independence and authority
  • generate significant and original knowledge in the field
  • contribute expertise to academic discourses in the field
  • take initiatives, think creatively and make innovations in new situations and/or undertake further learning
  • assume full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs


Graduate Attributes

PhD graduates will:

  • Be able to identify, analyse and articulate problems and issues in discourses current in their academic, professional and social communities
  • Recognise the level of their own understanding
  • Demonstrate creativity and originality of thought in solving problems and dealing with complex and abstract conceptual matters
  • Be able to access information efficiently using the means most appropriate to purpose and context
  • Value academic integrity and rigour and exercise critical thinking forming judgements
  • Work autonomously and with an open mind
  • Understand the distinction between information and argument and be adept in marshalling information as evidence in argument
  • Hold responsible values and attributes as members of academic, professional and social communities, based in part on their experience as SCD research candidates
  • Be able to communicate their thinking coherently and effectively, with appropriate English proficiency, in public debate and printed word
  • Have confidence to engage in public discussions of faith and ethics
  • Appreciate and act on opportunities for lifelong learning and encourage others to recognise learning opportunities for themselves
  • Be willing to assume high-level leadership in their academic, professional and social communities as needed

International students are subject to the conditions of their Australian student visa and are required to maintain a full-time enrolment. If you are planning to enrol as an international student, you have the responsibility to ensure that you comply with your visa conditions at all times.

Fees are the same for all students. International students are not eligible for FEE-HELP, an Australian loan scheme that assists eligible full fee paying students pay their tuition fees at university and other higher education providers. International students will be required to pay the tuition fee at the beginning of each semester.

Higher Degree by Research students are exempt from the restricted work hour conditions that apply to undergraduate and postgraduate (coursework) international students. This means that you may be able to work unlimited hours thus adding to your finances once you are in Australia. Always check the conditions of your visa before you decide to commence any work.

Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction will be required to demonstrate competency in English by an IELTS result of 7.0 in all bands of the test and may be required to attend such English language courses as prescribed by the Sydney College of Divinity.

A graduate research degree provides a unique opportunity to follow and focus on an area of interest, and make an important contribution to the development of your chosen area. The decision to enter into a research degree should not be taken lightly. The study requires substantial time and financial commitment, and the capacity for innovative, independent research; critical thinking; time and project management skills; and skills of organisation and communication of information. Typically, full-time candidature requires an average of thirty hours per week and part-time candidature requires an average of fifteen hours per week. These hours should preferably be achieved through regular weekly commitment, but they may be achieved through varying periods of more and less intensive work.

International students and others not using FEE-HELP will be required to pay the tuition fee at the beginning of each semester. The Graduate Research School may discuss payment plans if paying upfront presents difficulties.

From 1 January 2021, higher education domestic and onshore international students commencing in 2021 will need a Unique Student Identifier (USI)

  • to be eligible for FEE-HELP (domestic students only)
  • to receive your degree, if you intend to complete your study at the end of 2022 and graduate in 2023.