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.
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.
- An up-to-date Curriculum Vitae (CV).
- Academic transcripts from your previous degree(s).
- 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.
All applicants should include a section in their application detailing the viability of their project in the context of COVID restrictions. This section should either (a) explain how the project is not dependent on travel and/or fieldwork and therefore feasible regardless of restrictions in these domains, or (b) provide a 12-month plan outlining how the project will proceed if the current restrictions on fieldwork and travel continue. Applicants should discuss the viability of their research project under COVID restrictions with their proposed supervisors prior to submitting the application.
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 Joseph MacKay.
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.
In order to fulfil the requirements of ANU’s internal scholarship application process, prospective HDR (Higher Degree Research) must meet a number of deadlines which depend on if they are a domestic or an international applicant.
For International students: the applicant must send an initial expression of interest to the Department’s HDR Convenor as soon as possible, but not later than 31 May. An international applicant who wishes to be considered for an ANU scholarship will subsequently be required to submit a full application through the ANU Application Manager by 31 July at the latest. This time frame is designed so that we can help you finalise your application package before the scholarship committees meet. Applications that are submitted after 31 July but before 31 August will still be considered; however, such applications risk being incomplete at the time of consideration as they will not have benefitted from the abovementioned review process.
For domestic students: the applicant must send an initial expression of interest to the Department’s HDR Convenor as soon as possible, but no later than 31 May. A domestic applicant who wishes to be considered for an ANU scholarship will subsequently be required to submit a full application through the ANU Application Manager by 30 September at the latest. This time frame is designed so that we can help you finalise your application package before the scholarship committees meet. Applications that are submitted after 30 September but before 31 October will still be considered; however, such applications risk being incomplete at the time of consideration as they will not have benefitted from the abovementioned review process.
For non-ANU scholarships, prospective students must express their interest in the Department’s graduate research programs to the HDR Convenor at least two months in advance of the respective scholarship program deadlines (if formal acceptance to a university is a scholarship eligibility requirement).
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 Joseph MacKay.