Doctor of Philosophy
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.
UC invites applications from motivated students to join the university's thriving postgraduate research community which includes over 800 PhD students from 60 nations studying across 80 disciplines.
To find out more about the research interests of staff, start by searching UC SPARK. UC SPARK 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.
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). 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 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 or after 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.
For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy or use the admission requirements checker.
You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.
Qualification structure and duration
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. There are provisions for candidates to apply for part-time study, in which case the minimum period is three years and they should complete their thesis within seven.
Note: approval for international students to study part-time is only granted in exceptional circumstances and has implications on the status of their student visa.
Subjects and courses
Subject areas for the Doctor of Philosophy are:
- Accounting and Information Systems*
- Antarctic Studies
- Art History
- Art Theory (see the Department of Art History and Theory)
- Audiology (see the Department of Communication Disorders)
- Bioengineering (see the Centre for Bioengineering)
- Biological Sciences
- Cellular and Molecular Biology (see the School of Biological Sciences)
- Chemical and Process Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computational and Applied Mathematical Sciences (see the School of Mathematics and Statistics)
- Computer Science
- Cultural Studies (see the Cultural Studies Programme)
- Disaster, Risk and Resilience (see the Department of Geological Sciences)
- Earthquake Engineering (see the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering)
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Engineering Geology (see the Department of Geological Sciences)
- Engineering Management (see the Engineering Management Programme)
- Environmental Science
- European Studies (see the National Centre for Research on Europe)
- Evolutionary Biology (see the School of Biological Sciences)
- Fire Engineering (see the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering)
- Forest Engineering
- Hazard and Disaster Management*
- Health Sciences
- Higher Education
- Human Interface Technology (see the HIT Lab NZ)
- Human Services
- Information Systems
- Mathematical Physics (see the Department of Physics and Astronomy)
- Mathematics and Philosophy (see the School of Mathematics and Statistics)
- Mechanical Engineering
- Media and Communication
- Medical Physics (see the Department of Physics and Astronomy)
- Medical Physics (Clinical) (see the Department of Physics and Astronomy)
- Microbiology (see the School of Biological Sciences)
- Pacific Studies
- Plant Biology (see the School of Biological Sciences)
- Political Science and International Relations
- Science Education (see the College of Education)
- Social Work
- Speech and Language Sciences (see the Department of Communication Disorders)
- Theatre and Film Studies*
- Transportation Engineering (see the Canterbury Transportation Programme)
- Water Resource Management (see the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management)
- Zoology (see the School of Biological Sciences)
* Not open to new enrolments in 2016
How to apply
Find out how to apply for PhD and Doctoral degrees.
For more information see the Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
For advice, contact the Dean of Postgraduate Research.