PhD (Architecture & Design)


  • Program code: DR207
  • Campus: City Campus

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The School of Architecture and Design is widely recognised for innovative leadership and contribution to excellence in design research.

At RMIT we contend that research is conducted through designing and that the process of designing, as a means of increasing knowledge, parallels research in other areas in fascinating ways.

The province of the PhD is the exploration of new territories of design research, contributions to the knowledge base of the discipline, and steps toward the redefinition of aspects of design. The program also develops advanced technical research skills to prepare you for a career in industry, academia and other settings in which systematic and critical analytical skills are required.

Research is conducted through designing and the process of designing as a means of increasing knowledge. Candidates are supported and engaged in communities of practice where learning is fundamentally a social phenomenon; where knowledge is integrated in the life of these communities that share interests, ideas, discourses, ways of doing things and exploring the boundaries of design thinking.

The Doctor of Philosophy may be undertaken in a project, thesis by publication or thesis mode.


3-4 years full-time, 6-8 years part-time.

Program structure and features

You will undertake the PhD program under the supervision of an appointed research supervisor.

The PhD program is structured to enable you to:

  • complete a compulsory research methods course
  • receive training in research integrity and ethics
  • select studies in qualitative and quantitative research techniques
  • complete a thesis/project which demonstrates your original contribution to the field and your ability to communicate complex or original research for peers and the community to an international standard.

In this PhD you will develop the skills required to conduct independent research and contribute to the knowledge base of design research in the field of architecture, industrial design, interior design or landscape architecture by undertaking a substantial and rigorous research project.

These skills will include the ability to:

  • speculate through design
  • organise and frame concepts emerging from design practice
  • apply technology in innovative ways
  • extend and explore the boundaries of design thinking
  • argue and demonstrate findings publicly
  • achieve a high level of reflection on the processes of design research
  • achieve insights that arise from the research.

You are required to complete:

Research integrity online modules

  • Research integrity
  • Copyright and intellectual property

Research Methods for biological, medical and health sciences

Research methods courses step you through the literature review and preparing your research proposal for confirmation of candidature. They are taught in large discipline groups.

You may need to complete an ethics module to ensure your research is ethical and responsible.

You may elect to take (where relevant):

Research Techniques

Electives in qualitative or quantitative research techniques once data collection has begun. You can use your own data to explore different research analysis techniques. Your supervisor will help you decide when you should take these electives.

Co-curricular activities

You are encouraged to participate in activities offered by the university, college and school according to your needs and interests.

This PhD may be undertaken in a project, thesis by publication or thesis mode. Prospective candidates should discuss these modes of submission with their potential supervisor/s prior to application.

Learning and teaching

Time spent on research

Full-time candidates are expected to commit at least four days per week (or at least two days per week for part-time candidates) to their research. The academic year is 48 weeks.

Regular contact with your supervisor

A schedule of meetings with your supervisor/s must be established to assess progress against milestones and timely completion.

Resources, facilities and support

You will have access to online resources through the myRMIT student portal. You will be part of an active research community and have access to resources and workshops to help you succeed.

More information about training and development for research candidates.

School of Graduate Research

The School of Graduate Research works with Schools to further support candidates during their postgraduate research degree.

Handbook (program guide)

To see what students are currently studying and to access additional program and course information, visit the program handbook (program guide).


Upon graduation you may pursue an academic career in a university or be employed in senior positions in galleries, museums, festivals, non-government organisations, art organisations, companies, venues and studios.

You will also have the capacity to work as research fellows and postdoctoral research fellows on postdoctoral research projects in university and government organisations.

Entry requirements

You must meet the University entry requirements for this type of program.

If you satisfy the following requirements you will be eligible for selection; however, there is no guarantee that you will be selected as demand for the program varies each intake.

Program entry requirements

As an applicant for the Doctor of Philosophy you must have:

  1. a degree of Masters by Research from RMIT; or
  2. a degree of Masters by Coursework from RMIT which includes a research program with a duration of at least one semester full-time (or part-time equivalent); or
  3. a degree of Bachelor from RMIT with a minimum upper second honours; or
  4. another award as deemed equivalent; or
  5. such qualifications or experience as RMIT considers appropriate; or
  6. current candidature for an RMIT Masters program approved for transfer to the Doctor of Philosophy program.



Selection tasks

These entrance requirements are the minimum academic standard you must meet in order to be eligible to apply for the program. You will need to complete a selection task as part of your application. See the Postgraduate Research Admission Application Form (PDF, 736KB, 7 pages) for more details.

The School of Architecture and Design does not accept applications to its research programs before a potential applicant has satisfied a Pre-application Process, which should be completed before lodging a formal application with RMIT’s School of Graduate Research, or with RMIT International. See the A&D Pre-Application document (PDF 93kb 1p) for more details.

How to apply

1. Find a supervisor.

2. Check program entry requirements and confirm you're eligible.

3. Check and complete the selection tasks (if applicable) by the relevant closing date - these tasks are listed in the program entry requirements.

4. Check the application method and application closing dates.

5. Complete and submit your application.

6. Your application will then go through the research selection process.


Tuition fees vary according to each program and are adjusted annually.

Fee assistance

If you are an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or New Zealand citizen you may be eligible for a Research Training Scheme (RTS) place where your full tuition costs are funded by the Commonwealth Government.

RMIT awards more than 2000 scholarships every year to recognise academic achievement and assist students from a variety of backgrounds. Learn more about RMIT research scholarships.

Other fees

In addition to tuition fees you will also pay the Student services and amenities fee (SSAF). You may be able to defer the fee through the SA-HELP loan scheme.

There may be other additional expenses and administrative fees associated with your studies.


Learn more about pathways or if you are eligible for credit transfer and recognition of prior learning.

Owning school

Architecture & Design

Contact details

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330 Swanston Street (cnr La Trobe Street)
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel. +61 3 9925 2260
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Although RMIT 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.