Doctoral Study

Trees shaped as heads in different stages of leafing

The School offers doctoral study in any area of psychology, speech-language pathology, dysphagia or audiology.

We can supervise doctoral research in many areas and welcome inquiries from within New Zealand and overseas.

Doctoral students (and postgraduate students generally) are encouraged to take up teaching assistantships, and play an active part in the school.

Doctoral Study in Psychology

Doctoral study at UC can be undertaken in any area of psychology (from basic neuroscience to philosophical issues in psychology). The PhD degree at Canterbury is wholly a research degree, although some additional course work may be required by the PhD supervisor. It is a minimum of two years full-time work, although it often takes three to four years (it can also be undertaken part time).

We can supervise doctoral research in many areas of psychological science and welcome inquiries from within New Zealand and overseas. We encourage doctoral students (and postgraduate students generally) to take up teaching assistantships, and play an active part in the Department.

Entry requirements for all Postgraduate Study in Psychology and Applied Psychology are:

165 points from PSYC courses with at least 135 points at 200-level and above, including:

  1. PSYC105 and PSYC106
  2. PSYC206 and at least three from PSYC207 - 213, and
  3. 75 points at 300-level PSYC courses.
  • PSYC344 is required for postgraduate study in Psychology and Applied Psychology.
  • An average of at least a B grade over three PSYC 300-level courses (B+ grade for a BSc(Hons)).
  • Equivalent courses from other universities are accepted.

Clinical Psychology

There are additional requirements for the Clinical Psychology programme.

Students whose preparatory courses in Psychology were taken before 2005 should consult the HoD or a College Academic Advisor before enrolling in further PSYC courses.

To begin the enrolment process, please check you meet the entry requirements. Please be aware that all enrolments for Honours, Masters (including thesis only), PhD degrees and Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, must be approved each year by Coordinators before enrolment.

Students can enrol in Postgraduate studies at any time up to the commencement of the academic year in February.

  • All new Honours and first-year Masters students should discuss their options with the 4th Year Postgraduate Coordinator, Professor Simon Kemp. Email psyc400coord@canterbury.ac.nz to make an appointment.
  • Students enrolled for PhD and Masters theses should see the Postgraduate Thesis/Doctoral Coordinator, Associate Professor Roeline Kuijer.
  • MSc in Applied Psychology students who have been accepted into the programme should seek further information from the Director of the APSY programme, Dr Joana Kuntz.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology students who have been accepted into the programme should seek further information from the Director of the Clinical Programme, Professor Martin Dorahy.

Margaret Paterson is the Liaison Librarian for Psychology. Margaret is available to help you make the best use of the resources available through the Library. An appointment can be made to:

  • Provide assistance with locating resources for your research area
  • Provide advice on searching databases to find journal literature
  • Help you learn to use EndNote to manage your references
  • Help you keep current with literature in your subject area.

For further information email: margaret.paterson@canterbury.ac.nz or phone (ext. 93921)

All forms are available on LEARN. If you do not have access to the Psychology PG Research page, please contact Yifang Parker.

Before applying for a Doctoral scholarship contact the Department of Psychology.

Contact the Scholarships Office for help with scholarship applications.

Doctoral Study in Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology

The main aim of the PhD programme is to provide students with the skills to conduct independent research at the highest level. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy comprises an advanced course of study and research, the results of which are presented in a thesis. The thesis is a systematic exposition of a piece of independent research carried out over the period of enrolment. It makes an original contribution to knowledge or understanding in the field of study and meets recognised international standards for such work.

The Department of Communication Disorders provides excellent facilities and resources for PhD students. These include research facilities in specific areas, library resources, office space and computer facilities. Our PhD students also receive excellent support from academic supervisors both within and, in some cases, outside the University of Canterbury who are leaders in their fields.

If you are interested in applying for the PhD, you should contact the member(s) of academic staff closest to your area of research interest. Details of the research interests of staff can be found on the Departmental website and in the UC Research directory, UC SPARK. Applicants should contact a potential supervisor directly to discuss their research ideas and determine whether suitable supervision is available. Applicants must identify a potential supervisor before submitting a formal application to enrol in the PhD. Please note that identifying a potential supervisor does not guarantee that your application will be successful.

Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee and Dr Rebecca Kelly are responsible for oversight of the PhD programmes in the speech-language sciences and audiology/hearing science respectively. They are happy to answer general enquiries about the application or the programme and can help you identify a suitable research supervisor who will guide you through the development of your preliminary research proposal.

Applicants will normally have achieved a First or Second class honours undergraduate degree (or equivalent) or a Master’s degree (or equivalent). They must also satisfy all entry requirements of the University.

Doctoral students will work with their research mentor towards development of a thesis topic and the preparation of a formal thesis proposal. The thesis proposal must be approved by the Dean of Postgraduate Studies within six months of enrolment. Once the proposal has been approved, both the candidate and the topic are registered by the Postgraduate Office, which also formally appoints supervisors. Supervision usually involves a senior supervisor and one or more associate supervisors.

During the second six months of enrolment, the student will continue to develop the proposal. At 12 months post enrolment the student will undergo a confirmation process, which includes submission of an expanded proposal and an oral presentation.

There is no formal coursework required by the University, but students must enrol in either CMDS 790 (speech-language-dysphagia) or CMDS 795 (audiology) each year of their studies. Supervisors may require their students to enrol in other coursework as a condition of continuing in the programme (e.g., in cases where students lack formal coursework in statistics, research methods or other background subjects). PhD students are expected to be active participants in the activities of the chosen area of research. In particular, they are required to give seminars on their research work (normally one during the early phases and one towards the end) and attend Departmental research seminars. The Department is concerned with the professional development of PhD students and endeavours to make teaching, lecturing and outreach opportunities available where possible. 

The PhD degree involves a minimum of two years of full-time research. There is a maximum time limit of four years but the normal period is three to four years from the date of registration for full-time students. A part-time candidate has seven years. The thesis is read by two examiners, one of whom conducts an oral examination of the candidate with respect to the subject matter of the thesis and the general field of study to which it belongs.

Once the proposal has been formally accepted, progress reports are required by the University after six months, on the anniversary of the original enrolment and every twelve months thereafter.

The student should provide:

  • A summary of progress since the last report
  • An outline of the proposed programme for the next six months
  • An outline of any difficulties experienced in respect of supervision, resources or otherwise.

This is normally combined with a report from the supervisor on the student's progress, along with candidate's comments, and both are submitted via the Head of Department to the Dean of Postgraduate Studies. Non-compliance with the reporting regime could lead to a range of sanctions including termination of enrolment.

Normally, two individuals from outside of the University are invited to examine the thesis and the candidate, one from within New Zealand and one from overseas. Sometimes, both examiners will be from overseas if it is difficult to find someone in New Zealand. The supervisors recommend two external examiners to the Head of Department. The Head then forwards a recommendation to the Dean of Postgraduate Studies for approval. It is normal practice that the candidate is informed of whom the examiners might be before they are formally appointed. The senior supervisor also completes a form outlining the role he/she has played in supervising the thesis.

When the examiners’ reports are returned to the Postgraduate Office, an oral examination is scheduled and is normally conducted by one of the two examiners, with questions also supplied by the non-attending examiner.

The examination is normally chaired by a senior academic who is not an examiner. The examinee is allowed up to two persons present at the examination as observers. A recommendation is made following University guidelines, and outlined in the Final Joint Report of PhD Examiners Following the Oral Examination.

Find out more about PhD study at UC