A Master of Philosophy(MPhil)degree will provide you with research training, resulting in an original piece of research in the format of a research thesis. Candidates are expected to produce a thesis that demonstrates independent thought, enhanced disciplinary knowledge, analytical skills and mastery of appropriate methodology.

The Master of Philosophy is an internationally recognised research degree that sits between a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). It also provides a pathway to a PhD program. It requires between one and a half to two years of full-time equivalent study and completion of a written thesis. The length of a Master of Philosophy thesis varies but generally is limited to 40,000 words. The thesis examination is conducted by independent members of the Australian and international scientific academic community.

The thesis is the primary focus of this program; however, a component of coursework is also required. Coursework for the MPhil is determined in consultation with supervisors. It equates to three or four standard UNSW six Unit of Credit (UoC) courses or equivalent research training as approved by the Postgraduate Coordinator.


There is a single Master of Philosophy program: Science (2475) for UNSW Science. Within this program, you’ll select your specialisation. At UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, you can choose the following specialisations:

  • Biological Science
  • Environmental Management
  • Geoscience



The minimum requirement for admission to a Master of Philosophy are:

  • An appropriate UNSW Bachelor degree in a relevant discipline at a level specified by the Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC); or
  • An equivalent qualification from a tertiary institution as determined by the Faculty HDC.

The minimum requirement for UNSW Scholarship with admission to a Master of Philosophy is:

  • A four-year Bachelor's degree with First Class Honours from an Australian institution or equivalent research qualification experience. This qualification must be in a field relevant to the proposed area of research.

Supervisor Approval

Before you apply, you must contact and receive approval to apply from an academic research staff member of UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences to be as a primary supervisor. Our School does not determine potential supervision or approve for you to apply via general expressions of interest. It’s your responsibility to contact potential primary supervisors independently. Available and eligible BEES Supervisors are listed on the Find a Supervisor page.

Once you have identified a potential primary supervisor, you must participate in a pre-admission interview. This interview can be conducted either face-to-face or via online video conference call (through Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other messaging services). The purpose of this interview is to provide you with an opportunity to determine whether your research interests and working style are compatible with your potential supervisor. It will allow you to discuss your proposed research project. It’s also an opportunity for your potential supervisor to explain their supervisory philosophy and determine whether they have the resources to supervise your project.

Once supervision is confirmed and before you can apply, you’ll need to develop a research description and fulfil any additional Faculty requirements.

Your research description should be approximately one page in length and include the following:

  • Title of your research project
  • Statement of the research problem and its significance
  • Outline of how you plan to address this problem
  • Details of any previous research and/or publications you’ve undertaken in your area of interest (if available)

Note that further checks on appropriate supervision and resources will be completed during the assessment process. Approval to apply does not guarantee an offer.

English Requirements

All applicants, whether domestic or international, must provide evidence that their English language ability meets the minimum UNSW English Language Requirements.

Fees, Costs & Financial Details

The costs associated with enrolment in a research higher degree program vary depending on whether you are a domestic or international candidate. Learn more about the fees and costs associated with your preferred higher degree research program at UNSW Fees and Costs. 

All applicants, whether domestic or international, must complete a Financial Declaration Form. You may also be required to submit evidence of capacity to fund all living costs, fees and other associated costs. As an applicant to UNSW, you must demonstrate that you can financially support yourself (and any dependants) for the duration of your studies and, if an international applicant, that you’re a Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE). This may be through applying for a UNSW Research Scholarship, an alternative scholarship or sponsorship (provided by a source external to UNSW) or through self-funding.

Submit an Application

Once you have secured a supervisor, held your interview, developed a research description and prepared your supporting documents, you’re ready to lodge your application. Only full applications (i.e. with all required documents) will be processed for assessment.