Doctor of Philosophy - Architecture, Building and Planning

Course DR-PHILABP (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Year and Campus: 2016 - Parkville
CRICOS Code: 056961K
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Research Higher Degree
Duration & Credit Points: Students are expected to complete this research in 4.00 years full time, or equivalent part time.


Professor Paul Walker

Associate Dean – Research

Melbourne School of Design



Currently enrolled students:

Future students:

Course Overview:

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy signifies that the holder has undertaken a substantial piece of original research, which has been conducted and reported by the holder under proper academic supervision and in a research environment for a prescribed period.

The PhD thesis demonstrates authority in the candidate's field and shows evidence of command of knowledge in relevant fields. It shows that the candidate has a thorough grasp of the appropriate methodological techniques and an awareness of their limitations. The thesis also makes a distinct contribution to knowledge. Its contribution to knowledge rests on originality of approach and / or interpretation of the findings and, in some cases, the discovery of new facts. The thesis demonstrates an ability to communicate research findings effectively in the professional arena and in an international context. It is a careful, rigorous and sustained piece of work demonstrating that a research 'apprenticeship' is complete and the holder is admitted to the community of scholars in the discipline.

In scope, the PhD thesis differs from a research Masters thesis chiefly by its deeper and more comprehensive treatment of the chosen subject. It is written succinctly, in English, unless approval has been given for the thesis to be written in a language other than English. The normal length of a PhD thesis is 80,000 words, exclusive of words in tables, maps, bibliographies and appendices. Footnotes are included as part of the word limit. The thesis should not exceed 100,000 words (or equivalent) without special approval from the Research Higher Degrees Committee.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree demands high level research, conceptual and writing skills. Doctoral candidates define research topics that position them in and across the intellectual endeavours of their discipline. Candidates play an important role in the research activities and culture of the Faculty, as they do in the University as a whole. Increasingly, candidates are undertaking PhD projects which have direct industry links or which include a corpus of creative work.
Areas of Research in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning can be seen at:

Learning Outcomes:

See 'Graduate Attributes'

Course Structure & Available Subjects:

All candidates for the PhD will be examined on the basis of their thesis. A candidate will have appropriately experienced supervisor/s and an Advisory Committee who in consultation with the candidate, arranges a course of supervised research designed to suit the individual requirements and interests of the candidate. A candidate may be required to supplement their research program by attendance at, or enrolment in, additional subjects if considered necessary by the supervisor(s).

Entry Requirements:

PhD applicants will be assessed using the criteria described below. The measures include an assessment of a candidate's knowledge of the discipline and evidence of their ability to complete a rigorous research project. Applicants are required to meet the minimum standards described for each of the 6 measures.

In exceptional circumstances, the RHD Committee may consider for admission a person who does not have qualifications equivalent to a four-year honours degree, if it is satisfied that the person's experience in research and the results of that experience are so outstanding that the person is likely to have the ability to pursue the course successfully. In such cases, or where other minimum standards as specified below are not all met, the department may present an evidence-based case for admittance to the Chair Research Higher Degrees Committee.

Normally, the evidence of research equivalence would take the form of a research publication record and/or additional significant research experience that would be equivalent to a fourth year. In the case of a three-year honours degree from the United Kingdom the sponsoring Department may also provide evidence about the quality of the institution and the quality of the degree, compared with a four-year honours degree.

Criteria for assessing applicant's eligibility for PhD candidature

1. Minimum qualifications

Applicants are normally required to have been awarded at least one of the following at equivalent to H2A standard from an Australian university: a coursework Masters degree (with required research component), a Masters by research degree or a four-year honours degree.

2. Minimum level of academic achievement

Applicants should have achieved an overall H1 (80-100%) or H2A (75-79%) grade in the relevant honours or Masters degree.
Applicants who have completed certain professional degrees such as MBBS, BVSc, LLB, JD, BPhysio, BProp&Const, BUrbPl, BArch and BLArch will be assessed individually.

3. Relevance of the Degree

The completed degree must be in an area that is relevant to the intended PhD, including sufficient specialisation such that the applicant will have already developed an understanding and appreciation of a body of knowledge relevant to the intended PhD. Professional experience in the area of the intended MPhil may be deemed equivalent.

4. Evidence of research ability

Applicants are normally required to have completed a research project/component that accounts for at least 25% of their year's work at 4 th year or at Masters level.

Graduates of certain professional degrees, including MBBS, BVSc, LLB, JD, BPhysio, BEng, BProp&Const, BUrbPl, BArch and BLArch are deemed to have met this requirement.
In the absence of the final year research component, other evidence may be provided as to a student's ability to undertake research.

5. Currency of applicant's knowledge of the discipline

The applicant's degree/s and/or professional experience must demonstrate that their knowledge of the discipline in which they plan to undertake their research higher degree is current. It is therefore expected that an applicant will have completed their tertiary studies and/or any relevant professional experience in the 10 years immediately prior to their intended entry to the PhD.

6. Assessment of level of suitability

Based on interview or other verbal communication, an assessment will be made of the level of understanding, motivation and time commitment of the student for the proposed program of study. For example, a full-time student will be expected to devote at least 40 hours a week and a part-time student about half of this.

Applicants must also meet the University’s English Language requirements

Core Participation Requirements:

All PhD candidates are required to complete the equivalent of at least 12months full-time (24 months part-time) advanced study and research at the University unless studying at an outside institution approved by the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC). The RHDC will not approve entirely distance supervision or entirely on-line supervision for research higher degree students.

Throughout their candidature candidates are expected to attend the University in order to benefit from planning, conducting and writing up their research within a University community and environment.

The residency requirement is deemed especially important during the first six months of candidature. During this time the student is expected to interact on a regular basis with the supervisor, the department (including staff and other research students) and the University, so as:

to build the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out the proposed research program
to acquire an understanding of the standards and requirements for an PhD awarded by the University
to make use of support programs and facilities provided by the University through out the candidature

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability will impact on meeting the requirements of this course are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit.

Graduate Attributes:

Doctoral degrees at the University of Melbourne seek to develop graduates who demonstrate academic leadership, increasing independence, creativity and innovation in their research work.
The University expects its Research Masters degree graduates to have the following qualities and skills:
• an advanced ability to initiate research and to formulate viable research questions;
• a demonstrated capacity to design, conduct and report sustained and original research;
• the capacity to contextualise research within an international corpus of specialist knowledge;
• an advanced ability to evaluate and synthesize research-based and scholarly literature;
• an advanced understanding of key disciplinary and multi-disciplinary norms and perspectives relevant to the field;
• highly developed problem-solving abilities and flexibility of approach;
• the ability to analyse critically within and across a changing disciplinary environment;
• the capacity to disseminate the results of research and scholarship by oral and written communication to a variety of audiences;
• a capacity to cooperate with and respect the contributions of fellow researchers and scholars;
• a profound respect for truth and intellectual integrity, and for the ethics of research and scholarship;
• an advanced facility in the management of information, including the application of computer systems and software where appropriate to the student's field of study;
• an understanding of the relevance and value of their research to national and international communities of scholars and collaborators;
• an awareness where appropriate of issues related to intellectual property management and the commercialisation of innovation; and
• an ability to formulate applications to relevant agencies, such as funding bodies and ethics committees.
The University provides a variety of opportunities in addition to the supervised research program, to facilitate a students' acquisition of these attributes.


Application Procedure
Detailed information for prospective PhDl students regarding the application process, including the application form is available at
Prospective MPhil candidates should investigate the Faculty website for information on current research and contact details:

PhD applicants should discuss their research interests with a potential supervisor at the department in which they would like to enrol prior to submitting an application.

There are mutliple application deadlines throughout the year: Application process

Which scholarship can I apply for?

Students can find information about graduate researchscholarships offered by the University of Melbourne at the Melbourne Scholarships Office

Facilities and Supports:
The University makes available a broad range of Research Training and Professional Development for graduate researchers.

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