Applying for Higher Degrees by Research

26 Jun 2018

Apply for Higher Degrees by Research (HDR)

Step 1: The Expression of Interest

The first step is to send an email to the HDR Liaison Officer (HLO) that expresses your interest in, and qualifications for, HDR candidature.

Please complete the Expression of interest form and email it to

You must describe the proposed topic of your HDR thesis, and identify your proposed principal and associate supervisors.

You will have to attach your full academic CV, your academic transcripts and an academic writing sample of at least 2000 words. If you have IELTS or TOEFL results please attach.

The HLO will send your email to a HDR Deputy Director in the relevant discipline. If he or she judges that you meet UQ’s entry requirements, that the School has the capacity and the expertise to supervise you, and that the proposed supervisory arrangements are appropriate, you will have passed step 1 and will be invited to write a full research proposal.

Step 2: Writing the Research Proposal

Your detailed research proposal should be approximately 1,000 words, excluding the bibliography. It must cover the following points:

Research Question: What is the major problem or issue that your thesis will attempt to address? What major question will it try to answer? What will your thesis be about?

Significance: Why will your thesis be significant? What makes it important or original? In what scholarly field will it make a contribution to knowledge? In short, why does it matter?

Relevant Scholarship: What does current scholarship say about your major question? How does your thesis relate to what is already written on the topic?

Method and Evidence: What methods will you use to conduct your research? Will you use particular theories and/or schools of thought? What evidence or texts will you be using? How will you conduct your research? What will the outcomes be?

Step 3: Gaining the Support of the Supervisors and the HDR Deputy Director

Your prospective thesis supervisors will review your research proposal. If they are satisfied with the proposal, you will be invited to an interview, in person or via the internet, with them and the HDR Deputy Director. If they judge that you have the ability to complete a high-quality HDR thesis, they will inform the School’s HDR Director that you have their support.

Step 4: Gaining the Support of the HDR Director

If the School’s HDR Director judges that the case has been made for the School to support your application, you will be invited to submit an online application to the UQGS.

Further Information

Check that you meet the entry requirements of your chosen program. More information about UQGS entry requirements for HDR admission and HDR scholarships can be found on the UQ research degrees page. In order to find prospective supervisors whose expertise appropriately matches your area of interest, you will need to browse the profiles of the School's academic staff.

Please note that the English Language Proficiency requirement for international HDR students in the School of Communication and Arts requires an overall IELTS score of at least 6.5 with a minimum of 7 in writing.  Students must complete Advanced Research Methods coursework in the first semester of enrolment so we do not accept applications for remote candidature unless the student already holds a relevant research Masters degree and has successfully completed a thesis and research methods training.

You may be referred to another School at this university or to another institution if a supervisor for your project cannot be found. Unfortunately, we cannot accept your application if we cannot guarantee an appropriate advisory team, even if your academic record is exemplary.

*Different application procedures apply if you wish to pursue HDR studies in Art History by Exhibiton or Creative Writing

Transferring and Readmitting Students

Transfer students should complete the application process for a domestic or international applicant as appropriate. Students also need to supply certified documentary evidence of the duration and attendance status of any previous research higher degree enrolment.

Former candidates seeking readmission should follow the procedures outlined for new applicants. Each case for readmission is evaluated on its own merits. Students may not be able to pursue the same topic or be granted credit for work already done. However, if a major portion of the research work has been completed and the student's application is made within two years of withdrawing, the required period of enrolment may be reduced.

Remote Status

The School expects all HDR students to be enrolled as internal candidates for a minimum of 12 months (full-time equivalent) during their candidature. Provided they have fulfilled (or can fulfil) the course-work requirements of their specific degree, domestic students living more than 250 miles from Brisbane and international students living overseas can apply for remote status.

Creative Writing students are not normally admitted into the MPhilCW or PhDCW programs as remote candidates, though, under special circumstances, they may apply later to study remotely. Occasionally, the School allows HDR candidates in other programs to enrol remotely, but only if they have completed an appropriate level of advanced research training. Such students are still required to fulfil the University's compulsory residency requirements and to complete the coursework requirements for the particular degree.