Founded in 1966, the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) is proud to be recognised among the earliest generation of Post-World War II research institutions specialising in strategy and defence. Our primary expertise within the board field of Strategic Studies consists of three related research clusters: Australian defence, military studies, and Asia-Pacific security. 

Our postgraduate research scholars form an integral part of our intellectual community. We are excited about working with highly motivated students with an interest in strategic studies and defence who can participate in and contribute to SDSC's research programs. 

The PhD program in SDSC consists primarily of independent research on a topic developed in consultation between the candidate and their supervisor, and compulsory coursework in research design and methods.

The outcome of the PhD program is an original thesis incorporating the research conducted during the program and its results. The thesis must make a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field and relate the research undertaken by the candidate to the broader framework of strategic and defence studies.

Each research candidate works under the direction of a supervisory panel intended to bring together expertise tailored to the specific needs of the topic. The supervisory panel consists of between three and five members of academic staff, one of whom will be the Chair of the panel. The Chair is a member of SDSC, however other staff on the panel may, where relevant, come from elsewhere within the ANU and on some occasions from other institutions in Australia.

A full-time PhD program is a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years in duration. It is important to note that scholarships are usually available for three years and therefore students with scholarships are encouraged to complete their program within that timeframe.

Part-time candidature may be approved in special circumstances, however, this may have scholarship and visa implications.

The progress of research students in the centre is closely monitored in accordance with university and school policies. Students will be required to complete various milestones during their candidature, including several presentations, to ensure that they are meeting progress expectations. Unsatisfactory progress may result in the removal of the student from the program.

The HDR handbook is a good reference for more details about academic milestones. 

Academic requirements

  • To gain admission to the PhD program you will need to have at least an upper second class honours degree (in the Australian system) or its equivalent if you are an international applicant. In the US system, this equates to a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.5/4.
  • We have a strong preference for this degree being in Strategic Studies, International Relations, History or a cognate field.
  • Each year, the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) accepts only a few PhD students. Given this is a very competitive process, we rarely accept applications from students who do not possess a first class honours degree or a GPA of 3.75/4.
  • Admission does not automatically mean you receive a scholarship. The two are handled separately. More information is available on the fees and scholarships page of this site.
  • Meeting these requirements does not automatically ensure you will be offered a place. Final decisions are based on available suitable supervisory support among other factors.

English language requirements

ANU requires international students whose first language is not English to provide evidence of English language competence. For this purpose, it uses the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and requires an overall band score of 6.5, with no individual scores below 6. The test needs to be dated within the last two years.

Full information is available: English Language Admission Requirements for Students.

Domestic students

Expressions of interest must be sent to the department’s HDR convenor as soon as possible, but no later than 31 July.

A domestic applicant who wishes to be considered for an ANU scholarship is required to submit a full application through the ANU Application Manager by 30 September at the latest. This time frame is designed so that we can help you finalise your application package before the scholarship committees meet.

Applications that are submitted after 30 September but before 31 October will still be considered; however, such applications risk being incomplete at the time of consideration as they will not have benefitted from the abovementioned review process.

For non-ANU scholarships, prospective students must express their interest in the department’s graduate research programs to the HDR convenor at least two months in advance of the respective scholarship program deadlines (if formal acceptance to a university is a scholarship eligibility requirement).

International students

Expressions of interest must be sent to the department’s HDR convenor as soon as possible, but no later than 31 May.

An international applicant who wishes to be considered for an ANU scholarship is required to submit a full application through the ANU Application Manager by 31 July at the latest. This time frame is designed so that we can help you finalise your application package before the scholarship committees meet.

Applications that are submitted after 31 July but before 31 August will still be considered; however, such applications risk being incomplete at the time of consideration as they will not have benefitted from the abovementioned review process.

We are keen to hear from prospective PhD Scholars. All inquiries must be directed to the HDR convenor via email.

Before you contact the HDR convenor, please review the information on the academic eligibility and English language requirements. If you meet these, prepare an ‘expression of interest’ before contacting individual academics.

Bianca-Baggiarini

Dr Bianca Baggiarini

HDR Convenor
Strategic and Defence Studies Centre 

hdrconvenor.sdsc@anu.edu.au

Stage 1: Expression of interest

Prepare an ‘expression of interest’ according to the below instructions and send to hdrconvenor.sdsc@anu.edu.au for review and assessment. You will be contacted once the review is completed and the supervisory capacity is established. 

The expression of interest comprises the following parts:

  1. A short cover letter that:
    • Confirms that you will be in residence at ANU for the duration of the program;
    • Identifies specific scholars at SDSC with whom you would like to work (please list names only and do not contact these scholars prior to submitting your EOI to the HDR Convenor); and
    • Explains how you propose to fund the program.
       
  2. A curriculum vitae.
     
  3. University transcripts.
     
  4. A 5-8 page research proposal that addresses:
    • The central research question/s;
    • Why that/those questions are important;
    • How that/those question/s are informed by and will inform theory or conceptual frameworks;
    • Proposed methodology and methods; and
    • Sources.

Stage 2: Formal application

If your expression of interest has been accepted, the next stage is to make a formal application to the University for admission and for any relevant scholarships.

The application process for admission and university scholarships is combined, so you will only need to submit one set of documents and forms.

The HDR convenor will work with you to refine your proposal further and shape your application to maximise your chance of scholarship success.

You will need to ensure you apply to the following courses:

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • International
  • Political and Strategic Studies, with the course code 9510
  • Graduate Research Field Political Science
  • International Relations

Key dates

Expressions of interest are welcome at any time. However, there are some key dates you should consider.

  • The SDSC commencement for PhD students is February of each year.
  • Application rounds for scholarship consideration close 31 August (international students) and 31 October (domestic students) of the previous year.

In order to fulfil the requirements of the University’s internal scholarship application process, prospective HDR must meet a number of deadlines which depend on if they are a domestic or an international applicant.