Master of Science (Plant Science)

Planting the seed of new knowledge

Southern Cross Plant Science produces internationally competitive research that underpins the cultivation and utilisation of plants in agricultural systems.

Study a Master of Science (Plant Science) at Southern Cross University and you will expand knowledge of how genetic and environmental factors contribute to end-use properties of crops and other added-value natural products. With expertise ranging from breeding to plant chemistry, we have topics to suit a range of interests.

Through this world-class degree, students enhance their skills and knowledge in an exciting and diverse research environment.

You will also participate in training that includes workshops in scientific writing, data and information management, statistics, bioinformatics and lab management. Opportunities for short-term work-integrated learning are also available.

Academic staff in the Faculty of Science and Engineering can provide supervision for various discipline areas. Please search for a supervisor on our Find a Supervisor page.

Meet your supervisors

Woman wearing lab coat in greenhouse studying plants

Research Highlight: A single Australian tree may be the source of the $3 billion international macadamia industry, according to research from Southern Cross Plant Science and the University of Queensland. Our researcher, Dr Catherine Nock, helped to map the varieties of macadamia from its origin in Australia.


Faculty Duration Location CRICOS Code Contact
Faculty of Science and Engineering  2 years Lismore 077723F A/Professor Renaud Joannes-Boyau


A Masters by Thesis work must show evidence of competence in research and scholarship including:

  1. Reviewing literature in a critical and focused manner
  2. Deploying analytic, comparative and critically reflective skills as appropriate
  3. Gathering and analysing material and interpreting results in an informed and competent manner
  4. Utilising and justifying appropriate methodologies, techniques and processes.

The Thesis must be clearly, accurately and cogently written and suitably documented. The work must demonstrate originality and a thorough understanding of the field of study.

Course fees

Domestic students:

Eligible applicants can apply for a Research Training Program-supported place. This will provide a tuition fee offset funded by the Australian Government's Research Training Program. Southern Cross University will then supplement this cost to cover the full program tuition fees.

If unsuccessful in obtaining a Research Training Program place, students may be required to pay fees.

Applications are considered on a case by case basis and the process can be highly competitive.

International students:

Course fees for International Students are $30,000 per annum, unless a tuition fee waiver has been approved as per the below detailed information. 

A request for a tuition fee offset can only be approved by the Dean, Graduate School providing there is support from the Principal Supervisor, DHDRT and Associate Dean (Research). For a request to be considered, the following criteria need to be taken into account:

  • Academic quality of the student is of high standing
  • Appropriate level of English proficiency (International English Language Test Score (IELTS) Academic (or equivalent) equal to or above 7.0, with a minimum 7.0 in Writing and no other band less than 6.5)
  • Expected research outcomes, quality of the project and how it fits with the Supervisory team research areas
  • Whether the Faculty and Supervisory team have the resources and facilities to support the project
  • If the HDR applicant is not on a scholarship, evidence must be provided that they can support themselves during their candidature.

The Dean, Graduate School, will assess the request according to these criteria together with the application for admission to candidature and will seek further clarification if the above-mentioned criteria are not satisfied. If the tuition fee offset is approved by the Dean, this is recorded in the Student Administration System and conveyed to the student in the letter of offer for admission to candidature.

Tuition Fee Offsets that are not approved will mean the applicant will be required to pay full fees. If it is not obvious that the HDR applicant’s project will enhance the research output of the University and that of the Supervisory team, fees will apply.

Admission requirements

An application may be submitted at any time.

Admission is subject to availability of facilities and supervision.

Applicants must:

  • Possess a degree equivalent to a Bachelor's degree from the University
  • Satisfy additional requirements, if any, that may be prescribed by the Dean (Graduate Studies).

All candidates are expected to be proficient in English comprehension and expression.

Apply online now

Research proposal

Research strengths at Southern Cross Plant Science which sits under the umbrella of the Faculty of Science and Engineering include:

  • Crop and forest tree genetics
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Abiotic stress proteomics
  • Agronomy
  • Plant secondary products
  • Nutritional composition of grains.

Postgraduate research projects on offer address: food security, nutrition, crop adaptation to climate change, agricultural soils, agronomy, pre-breeding, abiotic stress tolerance, and crop genetic diversity.

Contact the Graduate School


T: +61 2 6620 3219

T: +61 2 6626 9186