Doctor of Philosophy (Environmental Science and Management)

Driving change for a sustainable future

The health of our oceans is fundamental to a sustainable future.

Southern Cross University's Faculty of Science and Engineering embraces this challenge through research that is advancing knowledge, changing perceptions and informing strategies.

Candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy (Environmental Science and Management) will study through one of three key Research Centres: the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, Marine Ecology Research Centre, and Forest Research Centre.

All have access to the University’s National Marine Science Centre at Coffs Harbour.

The Faculty's research success is enhanced by strong links with the public and private sector, including community agencies within Australia and overseas.

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

Two scientists in mangroves photography a mud crab

Research Highlight: Finding Nemo isn’t an issue for Southern Cross University marine biologist Dr Anna Scott. Dr Scott is based at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour where the marine park outside her office has the world’s highest density of sea anemones and anemonefish, like Nemo.


Faculty Duration Location CRICOS Code Contact
Faculty of Science and Engineering 3 years, 6 months Lismore, National Marine Science Centre 016172D A/Professor Renaud Joannes-Boyau


A Doctoral Thesis must embody all of the below:

  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
  5. Make an original and significant contribution to knowledge and understanding in the field
  6. Demonstrate a high-level capacity for independent research.

“The first time I saw the ocean, I fell in love. It’s great to see so much new research which will help safeguard the future of ecosystems.”

Kay Davis

PhD Graduate, Faculty of Science and Engineering

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 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

To qualify for admission to a PhD, applicants must:

  • Possess a degree equivalent to a Bachelor's degree from the University with first-class Honours or second class Honours, first division, or
  • Possess a degree equivalent to a Masters degree from the University, with a Relevant Research Component, or
  • Submit other evidence of relevant professional qualifications and experience, or research experience, to satisfy the Dean (Graduate Studies) that the applicant possesses a level of relevant research experience equivalent to an award in either clause (4)a or (4)b; and satisfy such additional requirements for admission to a PhD candidature, if any, as 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 in the Faculty of Science and Engineering is supported by its three key research centres:

Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research: This is the only research group in Australia specifically dedicated to understanding how physical, geological, chemical and biological processes (biogeochemistry) impact on coastal ecosystems. 

Marine Ecology Research Centre: Builds on the internationally recognised marine research reputation of the Faculty of Science and Engineering by incorporating Whale Research and Coral Reef Research.

Forest Research Centre: Researchers investigate the ecology of native forests both in Australia and overseas, as well as studying how native forests and plantations can sustainably produce wood products, environmental services and carbon. 

Contact the Graduate School


T: +61 2 6620 3219

T: +61 2 6626 9186