The National Security College PhD program develops experts in security policy with strong research skills.
As a PhD student you’ll work with increased independence, under the direction of a supervisory panel of experts in the field. Your research will make an original and important contribution to human knowledge, research and development. Each PhD student is supervised by an academic with relevant expertise.
To gain admission to the NSC PhD program, applicants need to have at minimum an upper second class (H2A) honours degree (or its equivalent) in security studies, international relations, political science or another cognate discipline.
Please note that it is a Crawford School requirement that you have confirmation from two proposed supervisors, one from the National Security College and another from the National Security College or Crawford School, confirming that they will supervise you for the duration of your candidature.
A PhD degree normally requires the completion of a thesis (around 100,000 words) over a period of three to four years (full-time). The thesis must make an original and substantial contribution to the academic literature, and it must demonstrate the student’s capacity to situate their research in the discipline of security studies.
Candidates interested in undertaking PhD study at the NSC should:
Send an Expression of Interest to the academic staff member who you have identified as a possible supervisor for your PhD project.
Information in your Expression of Interest should include:
- A proposed thesis topic (be as specific as you can) of relevance to national security policy
- A preliminary thesis proposal of no more than 8-10 pages (see below)
- The name of a potential supervisor from among the NSC academic staff
- A copy of your academic transcript(s)
- A CV including evidence of any work experience
- A sample of your academic writing (published or unpublished)
- A statement on whether your ability to undertake PhD study is dependent on being awarded a scholarship
- The timeframe you envisage for commencing and completing your PhD study at ANU
As part of your application, you are required to prepare a PhD research proposal. The proposal can be used in part to: - Assess the merits of your application (for general acceptance and scholarships where relevant), - The fit of your research topic to NSC, Crawford and the ANU. - Guide you in your studies. Don’t worry though - the proposal is non-binding and often students revise their proposal when they commence their studies. In preparing your proposal to undertake your PhD in the NSC at Crawford, please consider:
Title - A precise and informative description of the project.
Viability During COVID-19 - All applicants should include a section in their application detailing the viability of their project in the context of COVID restrictions. This section should either: (a) explain how the project is not dependent on travel and/or fieldwork and therefore feasible regardless of restrictions in these domains; or (b) provide a 12-month plan outlining how the project will proceed if the current restrictions on fieldwork and travel continue. - Applicants should discuss the viability of their research project under COVID restrictions with their proposed supervisors prior to submitting the application.
Introduction - Context to set the scene as to why the research matters to national security - State the overall aims of your research - A clearly focused statement of the overall purpose of the proposed research (ie, why is it important?)
Research questions &/or hypotheses - The questions that the proposed research will address and/or the hypotheses that will be tested. What cases and/or time periods and why these?
Review of relevant literature - What is the current state of play in your topic area? - What gaps are in this literature that you can address? - Define any key terms/concepts you are drawing on - You need to demonstrate that are aware of the wider literature published internationally on this and related topics and that your research can engage on-going debates. Therefore, you need to provide a preliminary review of the key research that has already been carried out in the field and identification of the gaps in the literature that the proposed research aims to fill.
Proposed methods - An explanation of what type of data will be required to answer the research questions, or test the hypotheses and how the data will be collected and analysed. - Do include some comment on the feasibility of the project. Consider noting if you have any relevant skills or networks to help access the data needed. If not (and it is ok if not!), how will you acquire these skills and access (for example, through undertaking the compulsory methods coursework etc)?
Contribution - What is the contribution you are trying to make with your research? This may be a contribution to the literature, methods and/or policy.
Timetable - An indication of how the research will be carried out over the duration of a full-time (3 years for PhD) or part-time (6 years for PhD) candidature. Note that we generally encourage PhD students to be full time.
Resources - An indication of the funding that will be required over the course of the candidature (eg, for fieldwork) as well any special materials or training that may be necessary for the successful completion of the project.
Institutional fit - A statement on why NSC is suitable for your project and an indication of potential supervisors/advisors.
Reference list - Include here a bibliography of any literature you have cited in the proposal. Proposals at Crawford can be between 5-10 pages and usually at least 7-8 pages in length. Please take the above structure as a suggestion only. Different proposals will address the above factors to different degrees but all will have to address all of them to some degree. We also understand that some projects may be best presented in a different structure. For this reason, we encourage applicants to develop their proposal in consultation with their prospective supervisors.
- If it is established that an appropriate academic supervisor is available, lodge a formal application through ANU. You can apply on an admission-only basis or for admission and scholarship.
More information on applying to undertake PhD study in the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific is available on the Graduate research page of their website.
English language admission requirements for student’s policy
Unless an applicant:
- is a citizen of Australia; or
- a citizen of one of the countries listed in the English Language Admission Requirements for Students policy and whose studies were conducted entirely in English; or
- successfully completed prior full-time study in the medium of English for a minimum of two (2) years in one of the countries listed in the relevant ANU policy, no more than two (2) years prior to the date of the application to ANU
Applicants for this PhD program will normally require either:
- an IELTS overall band score 6.5 with a score of at least 6.0 in all components; or
- a minimum TOEFL score of 570 and a Test of Written English (TWE) score of 4.5 (paper-based test); or 230 and an Essay Test score of 4.5 (computer-based test); or a score of 80, with a minimum of 20 in Reading and Writing and 18 in Speaking and Listening_ _(internet-based test).
English language tests must have been taken no more than two (2) years before the date of application.
After candidates have contacted NSC academics and have been approved to submit an online application, they should submit an application to the National Security College and not Crawford school of Public Policy.
TPR presentations are designed to provide the committee, PhD cohort and others with the important contours of the proposed research project. The presentation should be no longer than 45 minutes, and should cover (1) the motivating research question/puzzle, (2) a mastery of the relevant literature(s) to demonstrate the existence of the puzzle, (3) the theoretical contribution to resolve it and (4) how empirical evidence will be used to do so. The presentation may also, if relevant, want to (5) dwell on the potential policy implications of the research. While all the details of this may take longer than 45 minutes, candidates should select the most important parts to ensure that the presentation stays within that time and allows adequate time for committee and audience questions.
All applicants should include a section in their application detailing the viability of their project in the context of COVID restrictions. This section should either (a) explain how the project is not dependent on travel and/or fieldwork and therefore feasible regardless of restrictions in these domains; or (b) provide a 12-month plan outlining how the project will proceed if the current restrictions on fieldwork and travel continue. Applicants should discuss the viability of their research project under COVID restrictions with their proposed supervisors prior to submitting the application.
Scholarships and fees
National Security College HDR Travel Grant
The National Security College HDR Travel Grant provides additional research funding for new or existing domestic higher degree by research students from the College to undertake fieldwork or attend conferences.
ANU offers a wide range of scholarships to students to assist with the cost of their studies.
Eligibility to apply for ANU scholarships varies depending on the specifics of the scholarship and can be categorised by the type of student you are.
Specific scholarship application process information is included in the relevant scholarship listing.