Eligibility & application

We are keen to hear from prospective PhD scholars. If you are interested in applying to undertake a PhD with us we ask that you review the information on this page and, if you meet the following requirements, prepare an ‘Expression of Interest’. Please note that the Department does not offer MPhil level degrees. We only accept PhD candidates.

Academic eligibility

To gain admission to the PhD program you will need to have at least an upper second class honours degree (in the Australian system) or its equivalent if you are an international applicant. In the US system this equates to a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.5/4. We have a strong preference for this degree being in political science, International Relations or a cognate field.

To maintain quality, the Department only accepts a few PhD students each year. Given this is a very competitive process, we rarely accept applications from students who do not possess a first class honours degree or a GPA of 3.75/4.

Note that admission does not automatically mean you receive a scholarship. The two are handled separately. More information is available on the fees and scholarships page of this site.

Further note that meeting these requirements does not automatically ensure you will be offered a place. Final decisions are based on the position of the Department, available suitable supervisory support and other factors.

English language requirements

The University requires international students whose first language is not English, to provide evidence of English language competence. For this purpose it uses the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and requires an overall band score of 6.5, with no individual scores below 6. The test needs to be dated within the last two years. Full information is available at Policy: English Language Admission Requirements for Students.

Applying: Stage 1

The first step is to prepare an ‘Expression of Interest’ that is forwarded to the Department. This is not a formal application to the University. Instead it helps you make contact with the Department and its staff, and gives us the opportunity to assess whether you meet the entry requirements, what the nature of your work is and what staff for supervision we have available.

The Expression of Interest has three parts to it.

  1. An up-to-date Curriculum Vitae (CV).
  2. Academic transcripts from your previous degree(s).
  3. A PhD proposal.

The PhD proposal should be a well-conceived document, of 5-10 pages in length (c2500-3500 words). It should contain a clear statement of the central question you wish to address, a brief statement of why this is an interesting question, why it is new or different in relation to the existing literature of international relations, a brief statement of the methodology you propose to use, and finally, what you expect it to contribute to our understanding of international politics. Ideally this statement would include a select bibliography of key works. This document is very important as it is our first step towards assessing your potential.

Where do I send my Expression of Interest? What happens next?

Once you have prepared your Expression of Interest it must be forwarded to the HDR (Higher Degree Research) Coordinator in the Department (see Contact). We ask that potential students do not contact individual staff members first. All enquiries should be directed to Dr Feng Zhang.

The HDR Coordinator will initially review your Expression of Interest to assess whether it meets our requirements. If they believe it does meet requirements, the Expression of Interest will be forwarded to the Department. This allows us to arrive at a decision about the potential applicant and to establish if there is sufficient supervisory capacity for that individual.

The HDR Coordinator will send you an email outlining the Department’s decision on whether it wishes to proceed with your potential application.

Key dates

Expressions of Interest are welcome at any time. However, there are some key dates you should consider. The main ANU commencement for PhD students is March of each year. Application rounds for scholarship consideration close 31 August (International) and 31 October (Domestic) of the previous year.

To meet ANU scholarship application deadlines, prospective students should ideally contact Dr Zhang no later than 31 May (international students) or 31 August (domestic students). For all other scholarships, prospective applicants should express their interest in the program at least two months in advance of the scholarship deadline.

Stage 2: Formal application

If your Expression of Interest has been accepted, the next stage is to make a formal application to the University for admission and for any relevant scholarships. The application process for admission and university scholarships is combined, so you will only need to submit one set of documents and forms.

The HDR Coordinator/relevant staff member will work with you to refine your proposal further and shape your application to maximise your chance of scholarship success.

You will need to ensure you apply to the following course:

Doctor of Philosophy, International, Political and Strategic Studies, with the course code 9510 and the Graduate Research Field Pol. Sci. and Internat. Rels.

When filling in the application, you will be asked who you have already contacted. Please indicate that you have contacted Dr Feng Zhang.

Updated:  23 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Su-Ann Tan/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team