Postgraduate

 

Most PANGEA researchers offer MSc by research or PhD projects periodically. Prospective postgraduate research students from Australia or overseas should contact PANGEA academics directly via e-mail well ahead of their intended application to discuss the possibility of undertaking a research project. Applicants will need to participate in an interview prior to any PANGEA academic agreeing to supervise a successful applicant.

All applications for enrolment in postgraduate programs and for scholarships are submitted and assessed centrally through the University's Graduate Research School. Applications for degree and scholarships must be submitted separately. You will need to have established contact with a prospective supervisor prior to your application.

Information about undertaking a postgraduate research degree in the School of BEES can be found here

The School of BEES Postgraduate Handbook can be downloaded here.

 

Tips for finding a postgraduate research supervisor and project

Many prospective postgraduate research students will have recently undertaken an honours or masters research project and will have some idea of the topic they would like pursue for their research.  If this sounds like you, then you may already have established the connections required for the next phase of your study. Speak to your supervisor, mentors, colleagues and collaborators – they will often have ideas and know of options which you had not considered.

In many other cases, though, finding the right supervisor and project can be somewhat more challenging. You may have been working for some time in a non-academic position and be newly approaching/returning to a research environment, or you may have realised that the particular topic you pursued in your previous research was not for you. While it can be intimidating to approach a new field of research as a relative outsider, it can also be highly rewarding.

The first step for any postgraduate research is to identify a research area. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already interested in one of the many diverse research areas within the palaeosciences. There are a few key things to consider at this stage:

  • What knowledge and skills do you already have? Even if you haven’t completed an undergraduate program in the palaeosciences, it may be that the skills and knowledge you do have are transferrable. For example, a background in anatomy or medical sciences may well be compatible with a project in evolutionary biology.
  • What are you passionate about, and where do you want this research to take you? This may well be the longest time you will ever spend working on a single project without interruption. It is important to find a topic which not only develops the skills necessary for the next stage of your career, but one which will maintain your interest.
  • How does it fit into your lifestyle? It is often possible to have external supervisors from other institutions in addition to your main supervisor if particular expertise is required, but sometimes it may be necessary or advantageous to relocate.

Having identified an area of research, a specific research group, or perhaps even a particular supervisor, the next step is to initiate contact. Try looking at the PANGEA lab pages to get an idea about current research and research interests and have a look through the individual researcher profiles. Even browsing the postgraduate student profiles may help give you some ideas.

Sometimes specific projects may be advertised on notice boards or in various places online. This is most often the case where the project is already funded and may be accompanied by a scholarship. These opportunities are usually highly competitive and only account for a small proportion of overall postgraduate research projects.

Generally, once you have identified an appropriate supervisor (or set of supervisors), it is up to you to negotiate a project with them. Some researchers may suggest pre-conceived projects or ideas which stem from a component of their own research. More often than not, though, it is up to the student to devise the aim and the details of their own research. This is a process which most supervisors are happy to undertake with you collaboratively – you are not expected to be a fully independent researcher at this stage in your training – but it is important to discuss your expectations in this regard with your supervisor priorto commencing a project.

Finally, it is important to consider the financial aspects of your research. No matter the project, it is important to discuss the funding requirements with your prospective supervisor. How much funding do they expect the research may require? Are they willing to provide funding from their own research allocation? Do they have sufficient funding of their own to support you?  If you are considering seeking out your own funding opportunities (i.e. research grants), be clear and realistic about your plans and prospects, and consider a backup plan.

Similarly, it is important to consider your own source of financial support throughout your candidature. Though there are part time study options, full time candidature is generally preferred. There are a number of scholarship opportunities available for full time research students, many of which your supervisor may not be aware of. Be sure to check a variety of internal and external sources and explore the wide range of possible funding bodies which exist.