What is a PhD?

PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy and is considered the highest postgraduate achievement you can earn. To complete a doctorate you must produce significant and original research. You’ll develop critical knowledge and understanding of a particular research area. 


A PhD is a doctoral degree with an academic focus. Under appropriate academic supervision, you’ll develop a significant, original piece of research, usually equivalent to 70,000 to 100,000 words.

Professional doctorate

While a PhD focuses on academic research, a professional doctorate makes a significant and original contribution to furthering professional practice. A professional doctorate consists of coursework and a thesis of between 70,000 and 100,000 words.

Impact PhD

A new way to complete your PhD, that is unique to Swinburne. You will complete your PhD as part of a team of research students, from across a range of disciplines, to work collaboratively on a broad challenge identified by a partner. Each team member will focus on a different aspect of the problem. Your team might look at a new or developing innovation, with individual projects focused on areas such as:

  • new technology
  • challenges in community acceptance
  • social impact
  • new legal or regulatory frameworks
  • ethical issues.

You’ll undertake research at the university as well as spending time immersed in the work environment of your industry partner. Through this, you'll simultaneously grow your knowledge of communication, leadership and business as well as develop your research skills. You’ll see first-hand the significance and impact your work can have.

Browse our PhD and professional doctorate degree courses

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