The Masters by Research degree program within UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences provides training in key areas of scientific research. During this program, you’ll work on an independent research project to produce a research thesis that demonstrates a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the field of study.

A Masters by Research requires completion of an original piece of research that, given the timeframe, is more limited in scope and nature than that required for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Candidates are expected to demonstrate independent thought, mastery of appropriate methodology, enhanced disciplinary knowledge and analytical skills through the production of their thesis.

All Masters by Research programs require between one and a half to two years of full-time equivalent study and completion of a written thesis. The length of a Masters by Research thesis varies but is generally limited to 75,000 words. Throughout your research, you will make a distinct contribution to the knowledge within their specific discipline, often concurrently resulting in the publication of original research findings in peer-reviewed journals of international standing. The thesis examination is conducted by independent members of the Australian and international scientific academic community.



The minimum requirement for admission to a Masters by Research is:

  • An appropriate UNSW Bachelor degree with lower second honours or higher; or 
  • An equivalent qualification from a tertiary institution, as determined by the Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC).

The minimum requirement for UNSW Scholarship with admission to a Masters by Research 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. 

If you wish to be considered for a scholarship, indicate this on the application form and select the applicable scholarship round for your preferred term start date. For more information on applying for a scholarship, please visit Graduate Research Scholarships.

Scholarship application deadlines can be found at Key Dates.