Melbourne School of Design has an international reputation for excellence in graduate research. Our researchers are experienced scholars, leading debate and engaging with industry, policy-makers and the community towards real-world outcomes.
We carry out creative, fundamental and applied research projects into the past, present and future of our built and natural environments. Our research makes real and lasting impacts and critically informs the teaching of future generations of practitioners, researchers and designers. Our research is led by experts who are internationally recognised leaders in their fields, and through dynamic research units, centres and institutes embedded within the Faculty.
Graduate researchers at MSD have a unique opportunity to embed their research in a progressive, multidisciplinary built environment context. Read more below about the courses and pathways available, and the support provided to our candidates.
Master of Philosophy
An internationally recognised masters (by research) degree, advancing our student’s skills in conducting independent and sustained research. The thesis demonstrates a critical application of specialist knowledge and makes an independent contribution to existing scholarship.
Doctor of Philosophy
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) indicates advanced knowledge and expertise and high-level research, conceptual, creative and writing skills. It is a sustained piece of research that examines a specific problem and, upon completion, makes a significant new contribution to knowledge.
Our graduate researchers
The Melbourne School of Design has over 120 innovative Graduate Researchers who are advancing our knowledge of the built and natural environment.
PhD pathways to success
Our pathway groups offer collaborative opportunities and are accessible to all PhD candidates of the Faculty. Led by expert colleagues, our pathway reference groups support candidates and their supervisors to access key knowledge, resources, training and peer support for the unique methodologies and approaches that underpin their doctoral work.
While many of our candidates produce a fully written thesis, we also support those with creative methodologies and outputs, and recognise an emerging cohort of industry-focused scholars. Our PhD pathway groups consolidate our support for these different approaches to built environment doctoral research.
Creative practice research is actively supported at MSD. Design-led experimentation is complemented by creative and critical design theories and methodologies. A spectrum of interdisciplinary design and creative projects are supported, reflecting the diversity of disciplines that are accommodated in the Faculty. The supervision of doctoral students is grounded in our internationally recognised expertise across design, architecture, and heritage, landscape architecture and urban design, placemaking and indigenous knowledges, digital design and fabrication technologies.
Pathway leader: Hélène Frichot
Our industry-focused pathway recognises projects that aim to address urgent challenges observed in society in close collaboration with industry. We welcome and support a variety of projects that can demonstrate formal engagement with key stakeholders from industry, government and/or profession to respond to a diverse range of challenges related to our built environment. These partnerships intend to advance knowledge in academia and practise through ambitious applied research frameworks that focus on the design, performance and experience of the built environment through its various scales and agents. This pathway is suitable for PhD projects that have a formal partnership with a partner through implementation of funded research and/or placement.
Pathway leader: Christhina Candido
Soon-Tzu Speechley graduated from the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning with a PhD in Architectural History in 2022. He now lectures in Urban and Cultural Heritage at the Melbourne School of Design and will this year publish a book on Malayan classicism, the first of its kind.
Tania Davidge is an architect, advocate, writer and researcher, and the co-founder of the architectural research practice OoPLA. Tania has a PhD from the University of Melbourne focused on developing creative strategies for engaging public audiences with architecture and the public realm.
Supporting your research
As a graduate researcher in the MSD, you will have access to academic leaders across built environment disciplines. Our PhD supervisors, chairs and advisory committees support candidates through each stage of candidature, providing critical academic guidance to develop a successful thesis. Read more about our academic staff here.
Funding and resources
The MSD provides several funding opportunities to support graduate research students to undertake their research. PhD students can apply for funding to support conference presentation and to conduct fieldwork. Our graduate researchers are part of our academic community and can access excellent facilities including dedicated workstations, computers and printing, meeting rooms and workspaces in our award-winning building. Read more about scholarship and award opportunities here.
Our candidates receive Faculty and University level training in a range of methodological approaches, writing techniques and research methods. We offer regular research seminars and reading groups and a renowned public lecture and events series.
Guidance and support for graduate researchers is provided by the dedicated team in our Research Office. The team offers comprehensive support for graduate researchers throughout their candidature from enrolment and induction, through each milestone, and on to examination and completion. Current students can log-in to access our Graduate Research Community pages. Comprehensive information for all candidates is available on the University's Graduate Research Hub.
Research Students Association
Our thriving Research Students Association (RSA) is an independently run student group that supports and advocates for the needs of our Graduate Research cohort. The RSA hosts events and activities that promote an engaging and enriching experience.
The RSA proudly produces Oculus, a publication featuring work from the MSD's graduate research cohort.