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2014 2015
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    • 2014 2015

Doctor of Philosophy PhD

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy involves extensive, sustained and original research and study in a subject of your choice, with the results being presented in a thesis which will contribute to intellectual knowledge of the field. It is normally the highest academic qualification available and is a mark of intellectual ability, self-discipline and commitment. A PhD prepares you for an academic career in your chosen subject, and also many other career paths.

The thesis must meet recognised international standards and presents the outcome of the research, placing it in the broader framework of the discipline or field of study. Carried out under qualified supervision, study towards a PhD promotes intellectual independence and the capacity to embark on further research at an advanced level.

PhDs are offered in a wide range of subjects at the University of Canterbury (see below).

UC invites applications from motivated students to join the university's thriving postgraduate research community.

Entry requirements

Enrolment in a PhD requires completion of an honours or master’s degree to a high standard (typically first-class or second-class division one). To enter directly into a PhD programme, you must have completed an independent research project/dissertation or thesis as part of your previous degree(s).

Applicants with qualifications from outside New Zealand must have been granted Ad Eundem Statum admission to the University. Our admissions team, in consultation with the host department, look at your qualifications and transcripts to ensure that you have the background required to complete a PhD. It is possible that you may be required to complete preparatory courses prior to admission into a PhD programme.

In exceptional circumstances applicants without the typical academic background but who can demonstrate the ability to pursue a PhD may be admitted at the discretion of the Dean of Postgraduate Research.


Before applying for a PhD, it is important that the applicant contacts a potential senior supervisor who supports their application. This supervisor must be an academic member of staff at UC, to ensure that the University has expertise in their intended area of research.

To find out more about the research interests of staff, search the UC SPARK, a directory that provides information about individual researchers, the projects they are working on, the research groups they belong to, the specialist equipment that they use for research and their affiliations.

If you are unable to contact a potential supervisor then please contact the Dean of Postgraduate Research.

How to apply

The application form can be downloaded here.

You can apply for admission prior to completing your qualifying degree and be given an offer of enrolment, conditional on your satisfactory completion of the qualifying degree.

If you are an international student you can apply for admission prior to completing the English test but your enrolment offer would be conditional on meeting those English language requirements prior to enrolment.

English language

Prospective international students who have not completed their tertiary qualifications in the English language are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency by means of an English language test result that is no more than two years old. We accept the IELTS test — with an overall score of 6.5 or higher and no section lower than 6.0 — and the TOEFL Internet test — with a score of 90 or higher, and a minimum score of 20 for Writing. Other tests may be accepted on application.

See the admissions site for further information.


Candidates may begin a PhD on the first day of any month of the year and regard study and research as a full-time occupation throughout the calendar year.

The minimum period of enrolment for a full-time candidate is two years and they should normally complete their thesis within four years. Candidates can apply for part-time study, in which case the minimum period is three years and they should complete their thesis within seven years.

More information

For more information on studying towards a PhD at the University of Canterbury see the Postgraduate Studies website or contact the the Dean of Postgraduate Research through the Postgraduate Office.

Subject areas for the PhD are listed below. Contact the relevant school, department or programme directly on the link below for postgraduate information about these subject areas.

More information

For full requirements see the Regulations for the Doctor of Philosophy (University Regulations website).

For course advice contact the relevant College/School:

For information on Scholarships available at PhD level, visit:

For more information see the Postgraduate Studies website or contact the Postgraduate Office.