All research higher degree candidates must be supervised by a supervisory team with at least two UNSW Sydney researchers. Your supervisory team must include a primary supervisor who works within your preferred School/Faculty, and either a joint or secondary supervisor. 

Most Faculties require you to contact potential primary supervisors independently, while others require you to submit an Expression of Interest, after which they will connect you to appropriate supervisors. Your primary supervisor will help identify a secondary or joint supervisor to join the team. Please check the Additional Faculty Requirements information below for your Faculty's requirements.

Once you have secured a primary supervisor in your research area, you will need to develop a research description and fulfil any additional Faculty requirements before submitting an application for admission. For more information, please refer to the HDR Supervision Procedure and HDR Supervision Guidelines.


Determining your research area

UNSW Sydney conducts world-class research in key areas of research strength encompassing health and social policies, climate change, sustainability, renewable energy, life-saving medical treatments and therapies, ground breaking technologies and innovative processes.

Before searching for potential supervisors, you should investigate the research activities and projects that are currently being undertaken within the University, and find a Faculty or School that aligns with your area of interest.

We recommend that you use the UNSW website to determine your research area and locate an aligned Faculty/School. Good places to start your search are the Faculty/School websites:


Faculty Expression of Interest

The majority of Schools/Faculties require you to independently contact potential primary supervisors, and nominate the one you wish to work with in your application.

However, some Schools/Faculties will help you connect with potential supervisors during the application process:

  • Law applicants should contact the Faculty for guidance before submitting an application;

  • Arts, Design & Architecture applicants should first contact a supervisor (see below), then once agreement has been received, submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Faculty. If successful, you will be invited to submit an online application for your chosen degree. 


Finding a Supervisor

There are a number of ways to search for a potential supervisor:

  • UNSW Find a Researcher tool

  • Look at the research being carried out at UNSW’s Faculties

  • Conduct a literature search in your area of interest

UNSW is home to many leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, and their details can be found here

If you are applying for an Engineering, Medicine, Science or UNSW Canberra HDR program, you must contact a UNSW researcher and the researcher must provide written agreement to supervise you. Applications submitted without a UNSW researcher name on the application form and evidence of agreed supervision will not be processed.

If you are having difficulties finding a primary supervisor, you may want to contact your School of choice for assistance. Send an email to the School’s Postgraduate Coordinator outlining your research interests, qualifications and research experience and they will endeavour to help identify people to contact.


Pre-Admission Interview

Once you identify a potential primary supervisor you would like to work with, you must participate in a pre-admission interview. This interview can be either face-to-face or via Skype (or other such video messaging).

The purpose of this interview is to provide you with an opportunity to determine whether your research interests and working style are compatible with those of your potential supervisor, and discuss your proposed research project. It is also an opportunity for your potential supervisor to explain their supervisory philosophy, and determine whether they have the resources to supervise your project.

Once supervision is confirmed, you will need to develop a research description and fulfil any additional Faculty requirements before submitting an application for admission.


Developing your research description

Requirements of a research description (e.g. word count and level of detail) differ between Faculties and their research degree types. You must read the 'Additional Faculty requirements' section below prior to submitting your application.

As a general guide, your research description should include the following:

  • Title of your research project

  • Statement of the research problem and its significance

  • Outline of how you plan to address this problem

  • Details of any previous research and/or publications you’ve undertaken in your area of interest (if available)

If you have any further queries regarding your research description, we recommend discussing this with your prospective supervisor or the School's Postgraduate Coordinator


Additional Faculty requirements

A number of Schools/Faculties have additional admission requirements. For instance, the School of Art and Design requires all applicants to submit a portfolio of their work before submitting an application.

We recommend that you refer to the Faculty/School website for further information on Faculty requirements before proceeding with your application:

Contact Us

Have questions? Contact the HDR Admissions and Scholarships team

Phone: +61 2 9385 5500

General enquiries:

Domestic applicants:

International applicants: