Graduate & Higher Degree by Research Programs

With a strong tradition of engaged, relevant sociological research and teaching excellence, the School of Sociology offers future students a unique opportunity to learn from and become a valued member of Australia's leading community of sociologists. Our graduate qualifications equip you with specialised knowledge drawn from constructive engagement with the "big issues" facing Australia and societies across the globe. Study at this level enables you to upgrade your qualifications, develop professionally, change careers or explore one subject at a time.

Higher Degree by Research programs

A Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program with the School of Sociology fosters a sense of discovery and offers candidates the opportunity to develop independent research skills in their particular field of study. Our innovative academic staff is among the best in the world and is complemented by high calibre visitors from across the globe who enhance and contribute to our unique research culture. Currently, we offer a wide range of expertise and can supervise students in the following thematic areas of research activity:

  • Environment and Society (environment; rural livelihoods; industry and organisation)
  • Embodiment and Health (embodiment; health and illness; affect; humour)
  • Crime and Risk (criminology; gambling; drugs and alcohol)
  • Inequality and Power (stratification; gender; education; youth)
  • Culture and Identity (social networks; globalisation; mobilities; cultural politics)
  • Citizenship and Politics (genocide; religion; resistance; biopower)

Candidates of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program normally take between three and four years full-time to produce a thesis of 100,000 words. A Master of Philosophy (MPhil) requires the submission of a thesis of up to 60,000 words. In both programs, the thesis must make a substantial contribution to learning and demonstrate a capacity to relate the research done by the candidate to the broader framework of the discipline(s) within which it falls.

Our HDR candidates develop the ability to formulate a topic or proposal, develop the skills and methods to investigate particular aspects of the topic and relate the chosen topic to the broader knowledge of the discipline. Completing a HDR program demonstrates that the candidate can undertake critical analysis and can pursue scholarly research in a methodical manner at an advanced level. We can provide the supervision, the resources and the support to assist you in this task.

HDR candidates can satisfy their own quest for knowledge in a particular area and often progress on to careers in academia, public administration, business and government.

Further information on HDR programs within the College of Arts and Social Sciences is available on the CASS website.


Admission to a PhD or MPhil normally requires an Honours degree (at Honours 2A or above), or equivalent prior studies (such as a Graduate Diploma or a Masters degree) that include a substantive research component.

Research students may enrol at any time of the year and the program can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

The first step in applying is locating a potential supervisor for your research. To do this, you should contact the Convenor of Higher Degree by Research studies in Sociology, by emailing, outlining in broad terms your area of interest and your educational background. The convenor will assist you in locating a potential supervisor by circulating your details to all staff members to identify the best person for your project.

For further information on applying to undertake a HDR program, visit Programs and Courses.

Financial support for HDR students

The main scholarships available for study at the ANU are offered by the Australian government for Australian and New Zealand citizens (Australian Postgraduate Awards). The ANU also offers scholarships (for example, ANU PhD awards; Graduate School Scholarships; Re-entry Scholarships for Women). A few International Postgraduate Research Scholarships are also available for people who are not Australian citizens.

Deadlines for scholarship applications vary: 31 August for International Postgraduate Scholarships; 30 September for Re-entry Scholarships for Women; and 31 October for most other ANU and APA scholarships.

Visit the ANU scholarship page for more information about scholarships.

Updated:  17 October 2022/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications