Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy

Course overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a program of supervised original research. It culminates in the submission of a thesis that demonstrates the ability for critical analysis and research that makes a significant and original contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the field of study.

Your research topic

Applicants need to discuss their proposed research topic with an appropriate research supervisor. Please contact us for details.

You can check the information on potential research advisors in our website

James Cook University will form an advisory panel comprised of a Primary and Secondary Advisor and, in some cases, an Advisor Mentor to assist Higher Degree by Research candidates in their research journey.

Research areas available include: education, social sciences, game design, banking and finance, management and commerce, tourism, psychology, aquaculture, marine ecology, interdisciplinary topics. Other themes can be arranged to meet the needs of candidates

Term 1 (January to June) Term 2 (July to December)
Carousel/Block**: N.A
4 years full time | 8 years part time
Study Mode
On campus

**Carousel/Block intakes are for commencing students only, subsequently, students will progress with the trimester.


Study Program

Candidates are required to complete the core subjects before embarking on the thesis component as per course structure below.

Course Structure

Core subjects

  • Planning the Research: Doctoral Candidates
  • Situating the Research: Doctoral Candidates
  • Professional Development: Doctoral Candidates

+ One of the below

  • Doctor of Philosophy Research Thesis (Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies)
  • Doctor of Philosophy Research Thesis (Education)
  • Doctor of Philosophy Research Thesis (Health)
  • Doctor of Philosophy Research Thesis (Information Technology)
  • Doctor of Philosophy Research Thesis (Management and Commerce)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Natural and Physical Sciences)
  • Doctor of Philosophy Research Thesis (Society and Culture)

For a comprehensive listing and outline of the respective course subjects, please click here

Course Learning Outcomes

Graduates of a Doctoral Degree will have:


  • A substantial body of knowledge at the frontier of a field of work or learning, including knowledge that constitutes an original contribution
  • Substantial knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to the field of work or learning.


  • Cognitive skills to demonstrate expert understanding of theoretical knowledge and to reflect critically on that theory and practice
  • Cognitive skills and use of intellectual independence to think critically, evaluate existing knowledge and ideas, undertake systematic investigation and reflect on theory and practice to generate original knowledge
  • Expert technical and creative skills applicable to the field of work or learning
  • Communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions
  • Communication skills to present cogently a complex investigation of originality or original research for external examination against international standards and to communicate results to peers and the community
  • Expert skills to design, implement, analyse, theorise and communicate research that makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge and/or professional practice.

Graduates of a Doctoral Degree will demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills:

  • With intellectual independence
  • With initiative and creativity in new situations and/or for further learning
  • With full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs
  • To plan and execute original research
  • With the ongoing capacity to generate new knowledge, including in the context of professional practice.

Eligibility & Requirements

Entry Requirements

All applicants must normally demonstrate academic capacity at a satisfactory level (Grade Point Average of Credit or equivalent) in their final year of coursework study that was used as part of the basis for admission.

Applicants must demonstrate the capacity to undertake research at the Doctoral level by the attainment of at least one of the following:

  • A Bachelor’s degree with at least Second Class Honours in a degree program that included a total of at least a semester of supervised project work, the results of which contributed to the Honours grade; or
  • A postgraduate qualification which included: (a) supervised research component(s) of at least one semester or equivalent and resulted in the production of output(s) graded at the equivalent of Distinction or better, and (b) at least one research methods subject; or
  • A Research Masters degree, where at least two thirds of the degree consisted of a supervised research component and resulted in the production of a thesis or equivalent; or
  • A combination of qualifications, research training and experience, considered equivalent to the above and deemed appropriate by the university, e.g., senior authorship of at least one peer-reviewed publication plus completion of an appropriate research methods subject.

Note: Candidates who do not meet any of the above may apply for a higher degree pathway offered in the form of the Graduate Certificate of Research Methods or the Graduate Diploma of Research Methods.

English Requirements

  • Applicants of non-English speaking backgrounds must meet the English language proficiency requirements of IELTS 6.5 (no component lower than 6.0) / TOEFL (Internet Based) 86 (no component less than 21) / Pearson PTE Academic 58 (no component less than 54); or
  • Satisfactory completion of James Cook University Singapore English Language Preparatory Program (ELPP); or
  • Successful completion of other qualifications completed in English Language deemed comparable to Australian standards on a case-by-case basis in accordance to JCU admissions guidelines

Recognition of Prior Learning

Applicants seeking to transfer their Higher Degree by Research candidature from another Australian University should refer to the JCU Recognition of Prior Learning Procedure.

Attendance Requirements

International students holding a valid Student's Pass are required to attend at least 90% of scheduled classes per month. Failure to attend classes is a breach of the student visa conditions. Being absent from classes for a continuous period of seven days or more, or attendance falling below 90% without valid reasons will result in the student needing to surrender their Student's Pass for cancellation.

Domestic students must attend at least 75% of the scheduled lecture and tutorial activities to be eligible for assessment.

Career Outcomes

The Doctor of Philosophy is an essential prerequisite for research and academic careers in most disciplines. Candidates can also look for R&D opportunities in a variety of industry sectors, NGO and government agencies.

Tuition Fees

Domestic** International
S$135,541.50 S$142,408.50

**Fees apply to all Singapore residents (Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and all pass holders excluding those holding a Student Pass).


  • All course fees include the corresponding Singapore Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is 9% in 2024.
  • The details of the instalment breakdown will be provided in your Student Contract. Please contact us for further details.

Note: International students in Singapore on a Student Pass are not permitted to work. For more information please visit

James Cook University is EduTrust Certified. The EduTrust certification scheme is administered by the Committee for Private Education (CPE), a part of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). EduTrust requires all students to be covered under a Fee Protection Scheme. In James Cook University, this is provided through an insurance protection scheme. Further, EduTrust also requires that the students must be covered under a medical insurance coverage which has provision for hospitalisation, surgery and treatment costs throughout their course duration. James Cook University will advise in the Standard Student Contract the total amount of insurance payable.

For more details please visit the Committee for Private Education (CPE), a part of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) website:

Although James Cook University endeavours to ensure the accuracy of this information, there is no guarantee it will remain accurate all year. Applicants are advised to confirm program details with the appropriate school before making an application.

Download the Higher Degrees by Research brochure here.

If you wish to make further enquiries or submit your Expression of Interest, please contact
[email protected]

For the Expression of Interest form, please download here