Master of Philosophy

CRICOS 082668K

About this course

The Master of Philosophy is a research degree in a theologically related area. 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 the advancement of academic knowledge, methodologies, and skills associated with the area of study undertaken by the researcher.

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is an AQF level 9 award. It meets the specifications for a Master’s Degree (Research) set by the Australian Qualifications Framework.

The Master of Philosophy is undertaken by research and thesis alone. It provides the opportunity for candidates to embark on a significant piece of research, which investigates a theologically related topic in a systematic and comprehensive manner that is not available in coursework programs.

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 MPhil 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 those above.


In all cases, the prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theologically related area.


English Language Requirements

Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction require a minimum IELTS (or equivalent) score of 7.0 in all bands of the test.

The Master of Philosophy is an entirely research-based degree, resulting in a thesis of 30,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices, under the direction of a supervisor and an associate supervisor.


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.

The degree provides men and women with 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 that would support research at doctoral level. The possibility of transfer to a doctoral degree exists after the candidate has written 20,000 words of the thesis, subject to the support of the supervisor and the SCD Research Committee.

Graduate Attributes

MPhil graduates will:

  • Be able to identify, analyse and articulate problems and issues in discourses current in their academic, professional and social communities
  • Recognize the level of their own understanding
  • Demonstrate creativity 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
  • conduct themselves with academic integrity and rigour and exercise critical thinking in forming judgments
  • Work autonomously and with an open mind
  • Understand the distinction between information and argument and be able to marshal information as evidence in argument
  • Adopt and practice responsible values and attitudes as members of academic, professional and social communities, based in part on their experience as Sydney College of Divinity 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 further learning
  • Be willing to assume 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