Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy is your opportunity to complete a research project with a component of coursework, including research methodology relevant to your field of study. If you are looking to undertake higher degree study by research, but have limited research experience, this is the right degree for you. 

Key Information

About the Master of Philosophy


The Master of Philosophy, if undertaken full-time, is 1.5 years (maximum 2 years).

Areas of study

The faculty encourages both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary research within the domain of the built environment. Collaborative supervision across disciplines and faculties within the University may be arranged where appropriate.

You can find out more about our Faculty research areas by exploring our research pages or visiting individual staff profiles.

Career opportunities

The Master of Philosophy enhances career prospects in academic, business, government, industry or research related professions in the built environment field. It develops research competence as well as extends creative thinking, problem solving and self-directed learning.


Program details

The coursework component normally comprises three courses (totalling 18 Units of Credit):

  • Research Seminar BENV7020
  • Two electives from a postgraduate coursework program in BE (Built Environment)

Courses are not offered in all terms. Some courses may not be offered every year. Please check course availability prior to enrolment.

The MPhil has the flexibility to be undertaken as a written thesis or as a research by design thesis with a proportionally reduced written component. The program requires submission of either a scholarly written thesis (maximum 40,000 words) or a combined design output and scholarly written component (maximum 20,000 words).

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for the Master of Philosophy are:

  • Appropriate undergraduate degree from UNSW or a qualification considered equivalent from another university or tertiary institution.
How to apply

Before formally applying for enrolment in a MPhil through UNSW Apply Online, UNSW Built Environment requires that you complete the following 4-Step process:

Step 1: Meet Entry Requirements
Make sure that you meet the entry requirements for the degree for which you are applying, including any English requirements.


Step 2: Find a Supervisor
You need to contact prospective supervisors to determine in advance if they are in a position to supervise your research topic. Seek out an appropriate supervisor for your chosen research topic from the UNSW Built Environment website (Find a Supervisor) or UNSW Find a Researcher. Once you have identified an appropriate academic staff member, send him/her, via email, the following:

If the prospective supervisor you have contacted expresses initial interest in supervising your research proposal, then you can progress to Step 3.


Step 3: Meet with Supervisor
Arrange a face-to-face interview to discuss your research proposal in detail and determine who your joint or secondary supervisor/s might be. If you are a local student, you should arrange a meeting. If you are an international student, arrange a discussion via Skype.

  • Please note that this is a crucial step in the process. It is a requirement for university admission and counts towards your ranking for a scholarship.
  • Remember too that an interview provides an opportunity to ensure that you and your supervisor are the right “fit” for each other. After all, the relationship you establish with your supervisor will be critical to the progress of your research project.


Step 4: Application Assessed at Higher Degree Committee (HDC)
Send the following documents to the UNSW Built Environment HDR Team at

  • Completed BE HDR Expression of Interest Form
  • Research proposal
  • Academic transcripts
  • CV
  • Proof of meeting English requirements
  • Details for two academic referees
  • Email from the prospective supervisors stating that they agree to supervise you upon successful admission into the degree

Your application will be considered by the Faculty’s HDC. The Committee meets on the 2nd Wednesday of every month - with the exception of January when no meeting is held.

If the HDC supports your application, you will be advised to formally apply for enrolment through UNSW Apply Online.


Contact the Faculty of Built Environment HDR Team if you have any queries related to the Faculty application process:

Contact the Graduate Research School if you have any queries related to UNSW Apply Online or visit their website
For domestic students:
For international students: 


Please take into account the 4-Step process described above when planning your application. The deadline for EOI submission is 5pm on the Thursday before the HDC meeting to be considered at that month’s meeting.

You need to allow enough time for this process to be completed BEFORE undertaking your formal application for enrolment through UNSW Apply Online. Your formal application will not be processed by the Graduate Research School without providing a successful expression of interest outcome from the Faculty.

If you intend to apply for a scholarship, there are set deadlines. See deadlines for UNSW Apply Online applications and scholarships here.

Please note that the university closes down over Christmas/New Year and many academic and administrative staff take their recreation leave during the month of January.

Contact the Faculty of Built Environment HDR Team if you have any queries:


Postgraduate Research Scholarships (RTP, UPA, TFS): allow at least eight weeks from the time of submitting your application to the Faculty HDC to the closing date for the university’s scholarship rounds. For more information please see the Graduate Research School website. See deadlines for UNSW Apply Online applications and scholarships here.

See the BE website for information regarding Faculty scholarships.

Why UNSW Built Environment
  • Centre of Research recognised by industry and wider community
  • Academic support by highly qualified and experienced academics
  • Supervision by some of the top researchers in their fields
  • Regular knowledge-sharing workshops and seminars
  • Quality research facilities
  • Dedicated research space for every full-time candidate
  • Financial support (additional to any scholarship)