Higher Degree by Research

Higher Degree by Research (HDR)


Dr Anikka Lems
HDR Convenor
E: Annika.Lems@anu.edu.au

HDR Program and Student Coordinator                                                               
E: hdr.hal@anu.edu.au                             

Enrolled students can also consult the SoAA HDR Hub on Wattle here

General Enquiries and Applications  
Leave of Absence, Extension, Change Intensity  
Coursework Enrolments  
Travel, Funding and Reimbursement  
Thesis Submission & Graduation  
Space allocation ( Banks Building and SRWB)  

Overview | How to apply | First Year Programme | Later Year Programme | Travel and Funding | Office space


The School of Archaeology and Anthropology (SoAA) offers HDR students a unique opportunity to conduct research in a diverse range of research disciplines:

Interdisciplinary and Cross Cultural Research (ICCR)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) should take four and two years respectively. The full-time HDR candidates will typically spend a minimum of three years (PhD) or one and a half years (Mphil) at ANU.

These research degrees enable students to undertake an in-depth research project at postgraduate level under the close supervision of academic staff. Through its supportive environment and programmes the School encourages new modes of research while it also supports traditional scholarly methods of inquiry. These programs, based on clear requirements and transparent principles, are designed to maximise the quality and impact of student research.

The HDR program at SoAA offers:

  • The opportunity to work with staff members, adjunct faculty, post-doctoral fellows and visiting academics – all with international reputations in a range of disciplines
  • Office space with computing facilities and access to state-of-the-art research facilities
  • In-house IT training
  • Opportunities to present work-in-progress in a number of fora, including conferences, seminar series, and workshops
  • Involvement in a structured program of education in humanities and social science research, including an introductory seminar, a conference preparation workshop, a proposal writing workshop, and a thesis writing group
  • Participation in occasional visiting scholars programs and master classes
  • Access to some of the most extensive library and archival holdings in Australia including the National Library of Australia
  • Funding for fieldwork and conference attendance

How to apply

Prior to preparing an application for admission prospective students should consult the Postgraduate Research Students pages on the ANU website. This provides information for both Australian and international students and includes advice on the University, degrees, fees, scholarships, procedures, rules, etc. For further information on how to make an application to the ANU, please refer to the PhD and MPhil applications website.

First Year Program


The graduate program begins with an “Induction” process. This is meant to welcome students to the School and to the University, as well as to familiarise them with their opportunities and responsibilities. It also includes social events that allow new students to meet the other students, faculty and support staff who comprise the School community.

Induction day usually occurs during March.

Thesis Proposal Review (TPR)

In accordance with university rules students must complete a thesis proposal, to be reviewed and approved by their supervisory panel, before the end of the first year of full-time study.

This review formally assesses whether a student’s program will:

  • continue as specified in the Thesis Proposal and Annual Plan (with any necessary amendments)
  • be significantly revised (and subsequently reviewed)
  • be converted to an MPhil (if in a PhD program); or
  • be terminated.

Students in Archaeology, Bioanthropology and ICCR have the opportunity to present a paper based on their initial research and which discuss the nature and scope of their research projects, as well as the methods and theoretical approaches they intend to incorporate. These papers are given as part of a student conference normally held in October.

Anthropology students will also have opportunities to present a similar paper as part of the anthropology seminar series. These opportunities will provide a useful forum for feedback on projects and normally form part of the TPR, and the student’s supervisory panel are expected to attend.

 Students should produce a proposal in consultation with their supervisor:

  • A clear indication of the project’s scope (eg. time period to cover, sites to consider, objects to document and analyse, populations to study)
  • A description of its empirical elements (eg. the location and accessibility of data, the number and nature of subjects to analyse)
  • A review of the methodologies to be employed, and a rationale for their use in light of the object of inquiry, the project’s scope and the data to be considered
  • A review of its theoretical underpinnings (its orientation in light of theoretical and/or historiographical work in the field)
  • An indication of its originality (in the nature of the inquiry, and/or the project’s scope, and/or its empirical base, and/or its selected methodologies, and/or its theoretical perspective)
  • A budget and timetable for proposed fieldwork.

Later Year Program

Workshops and other training

From time to time, students in the School may participate in visiting scholars program, master classes and other workshops and symposia. Many of these opportunities arise in conjunction with conferences and faculty visits. The School website provides an up-to-date list of events.

Final year thesis seminar

In the final year (normally between 3 and 6 months before the thesis submission date) SoAA students must present a final seminar on their research. Students may present an overview of the research and discuss its significance and outcomes. Members of the supervisory panel are expected to meet with students after their presentations and to provide comments and advice.

Thesis Writing Workshop

Although students in the School are engaged in a wide variety of research projects, all students must adhere to standards set by University policy and ultimately produce a thesis that meets examiners’ academic expectations. Support and encouragement, as well as critical feedback, are provided though thesis writing group meetings, attended by students who have begun to write chapters and/or to prepare multi-media components of their theses.


Students are entitled to a fixed amount of funding to support their research. Funding may be used for fieldwork, to attend academic conferences and other presentations, or other research activities as approved.

Applications for funding must express a clear statement of the purpose and a rationale for the funding.

Applications should be developed in consultation with the principal supervisor and approved by the principal supervisor and the HDR Convenor (Associate Professor Tim Denham).

Procedures for Applying  for Travel and Funding

HDR students must complete the Application for Research Funding (link below) in accordance with the Research Funding Guidlines (link below) for travel with or without funding. This must be completed by a HDR student before completing the ANU Travel e-form.  Please contact HAL HDR Administrator, if you have any queries in relation to the completion of the form.

NOTE: A Remote First Aid certificate is now a requirement for all HDR students irrespective of where they are travelling to.
HDR RESEARCH FUNDING GUIDELINES: See document at end of page

Office Space

Limited office spaces are available to research students within our school. To arrange a workspace, please contact HAL HDR administrator. Please note that all workspaces are assigned on a case-by-case basis, and in the event that space is not available within the school, an alternative workspace will be arranged as an itermim measure until a desk within ADH or SRWB becomes available.

Updated:  15 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications