PhD studies in Physics

Start your research career in physics here. Our PhD students work on cutting-edge research at the frontier of physics. Join them!

Research projects for PhD and Masters by Research students

The University's Graduate Research Opportunity Tool is a directory of PhD and Masters by Research projects – search by course, field of research or location to find a research project that you're excited to join.

Explore research opportunities

Four scenes of scientific research: a horse, an abalone floating in the ocean, a petri dish full of fungal growths, and a visualisation of light bending

What does a PhD involve?

Over 3 years (or longer if part time), you’ll complete a research project that adds key knowledge to your chosen field. You’ll write up your findings in an 80,000-word thesis.

Throughout your PhD you’ll be guided by a supervisor who’s an expert in their field.

Your research work will be supported by state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure at the School of Physics.

Be sure to read all the general information on the Doctor of Philosophy – Science, in addition to this page.

What can I study?

Some of the areas you can specialise in when you study a PhD with us are:

  • Astrophysics
  • Atomic, molecular and optical physics
  • Complex systems
  • Condensed matter physics
  • Cosmology
  • Particle physics
  • Physical bioscience
  • Quantum information.

We are one of the largest and most successful physics departments in Australia. We have world-class research programs in all areas of modern physics, with our academic staff leading a variety of projects within several Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence.

Melbourne University is consistently one of highest ranked Australian Universities in the Times Higher Education World Rankings and in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Read more about research in the School of Physics

Where will this take me?

A PhD is an essential qualification for a research career in physics. It’s also a ticket to international research opportunities.

Our graduates have a strong track record of employment, both in academia and in the private sector. They find rewarding careers in:

  • Research and teaching in universities
  • Public research organisations such as the CSIRO
  • Consulting and professional services firms
  • Commercial sectors including the defence, banking, and energy industries.

Pathways to a PhD

Our PhD students come to us after undertaking research training either:

  • In a graduate degree – for example the Master of Science (Physics)
  • As part of an undergraduate degree – for example via an honours year in the Bachelor of Science (not available at the University of Melbourne).

We're looking for outstanding students, who have a passion for working on problems at the frontier of physics, and who have developed a strong foundation from advanced graduate-level courses in physics, typically in quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and statistical mechanics.

Read more about the PhD entry requirements

How do I find a supervisor?

To find potential supervisors, browse the research areas in the School of Physics or use Find an Expert to search for keywords.

Before submitting an application, you must have the written support of a supervisor. To obtain this you should contact the supervisor directly or email the School of Physics at In both cases, you should provide the following documents and information:

  • Your curriculum vitae (CV)
  • All higher education transcripts
  • A brief summary of your intended area of research
  • The names of at least two prospective supervisors that align with your intended area of research.

The School will consider your past academic performance and whether there is an academic available to supervise your study.

How to apply

All the details about how to apply can be found with the general information for the Doctor of Philosophy – Science.

We offer both the Doctor of Philosophy - Science (PhD) and the Master of Philosophy - Science, but most applicants apply directly for a PhD.

Scholarships and fees

Most domestic and international students who are offered a PhD place with us will also be offered a Graduate Research Scholarship.

Receiving this scholarship means you’ll pay no tuition fees. You’ll also receive a living allowance and relocation grant (if relocating to Melbourne).

When you apply for a PhD with us, you’ll be automatically considered for a Graduate Research Scholarship. There’s no need to apply separately.

A huge variety of other scholarships are also available. Search our scholarships to find the ones you’re eligible for.


Before getting in touch, please read this page carefully, plus all the information available for the Doctor of Philosophy (Science).

If you still have questions, we’ll be happy to help.

Email us at