The professors here are experts in their fields and have lots of collaborations around the world. This brings out your research strengths and gives you an advantage. 

They're very understanding and passionate about their research.

PhD GraduateErlyn Macarayan

Erlyn Macarayan

Research and Higher Degree training

The Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) enrolls Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students from a wide range of disciplines to undertake a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Master of Philosophy (MPhil).  

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree enables you to undertake a substantial piece of independent and sustained research on an original topic under academic supervision. The research is expected to make a significant and innovative contribution to the discipline.

HDR students have the opportunity to work with professors and senior researchers on relevant or existing research projects, or topics advertised by ISSR academics on UQ Researchers. 

As the largest social science research institute in Australia, with a track record of high-quality, high significance engaged research, the Institute is uniquely placed to offer high quality research training and HDR advising.

Institute staff currently advise over 60 research higher degree (PhD and MPhil) students across a range of scientific disciplines including: sociology, public policy, psychology, statistics, criminology, mathematics, political science, anthropology, and architecture.

Work in the Institute is distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • A concern with significant “real-world” questions and problems that have relevance beyond disciplines and beyond the academy
  • A multidisciplinary perspective that recognises the importance of social structures, cultures, institutions, individual differences and human/environment interactions in shaping outcomes and processes
  • A commitment to advanced theories and methods of social enquiry
  • A reliance on large-scale high quality empirical data
  • High levels of engagement in research, research training and other activities with Australian and international researchers, government, industry and the not-for-profit sector
  • Opportunity to work on existing large-scale externally funded research projects
  • Work on applied social research and analysis of policy in social context
  • Research support funding and internship opportunities


ISSR aims to provide its students with a distinctive study experience which is characterised by applied research, teaching and commercial opportunities. To support this, the Institute requires our students to sign a Student Intellectual Property and Confidentiality Agreement (SIPCA) as a condition of enrolment, pursuant to UQ’s policy on Intellectual Property for Staff, Students and Visitors. Independent legal advice is available to students free-of-charge through the UQ Student Union (see

HDR students are encouraged to link their research to either existing ISSR research projects, or to topics advertised by ISSR academics on their UQ Researcher pages. 

The strategy of linking to an existing project or theme has a number of advantages over “curiosity-driven” solo projects, as it:

  • Provides students with experience of “real-world” research on significant topics and questions that are of interest and importance to different stakeholders and end-users
  • Allows access to levels of project resourcing that exceed what can be offered to students working on solo projects
  • Replicates actual research processes in universities, industry, government and the not-for-profit sector
  • Allows for training in team-based and multi-disciplinary research, and transferable skills such as grant and tender preparation, budgeting and project management, time management, and the meeting of deliverables and milestones
  • Provides opportunities for interaction, engagement and networking with researchers, partners and stakeholders
  • Aligns the interests and students and advisors in ensuring good HDR outcomes, because these outcomes are central to the success of the advisors’ research projects.

ISSR is committed to providing the highest quality experience for HDR students that foster the development of independent research skills.

ISSR’s research training and professional development initiatives are designed to create a nationally distinctive and internationally recognised Social Science HDR graduate. We believe that we can offer students a program that is informed by an evidence-based understanding of the diverse pathways into the Research Higher Degree, the diverse jobs and employment arrangements graduates subsequently experience, and the HDR experiences and training that most effectively equip graduates for research and employment in these diverse settings.

Each year ISSR offers it’s HDR students the opportunity to participate in free research methods and statistics courses, via our MFSAS workshop series. Research training is a central institute priority and these course offerings represent a significant investment by ISSR in the research training of our HDR candidates.

Three, two-day workshops are scheduled throughout the year specifically for HDR students. The courses include:

  1. Dealing with Data (Introductory)
  2. Modelling Cross-Sectional Data
  3. Longitudinal Data Analysis

Candidates can attend the courses multiple times, however priority is given to those attending for the first time.

ISSR enrolled RHD candidates should email the ISSR postgraduate administration officer at least two weeks prior to the course date to enrol in one of the above courses.

Overall the ISSR HDR training program provides opportunities for:

  • High level training in key aspects of research methodologies
  • Broad disciplinary training rather than narrow focus on a thesis topic
  • Formal interactions and networking with established researchers
  • Working closely with supervisors and peers in disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research teams
  • Presentation of research findings at national and international conferences
  • Internships and research experience with potential employers
  • Training and experience in transferable research skills such as writing for academic and non-academic audiences, project management, project budgeting, tender and grant preparation
  • Experience engaging with stakeholders and end-users in government, industry and the not-for-profit sector

HDR students have access to:

  • Research support funding to help with costs of fieldwork, conference attendance, data management and collection, specialised software and fees for specialised training
  • Resources commensurate with the requirements of the research project and thesis preparation
  • Shared office accommodation
  • ISSR seminar/training room
  • Onsite IT facilities and computers with statistics software
  • A handbook for HDRs with induction material and relevant policies and procedures
  • Expertise in data analysis
  • Existing large-scale data sets

The Institute has some of the most advanced social science research infrastructure in the country, including:

  • Australia’s largest university-based, fully commercial survey research facility with Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)
  • Quantitative and qualitative social science data archives that are part of the Australian Data Archive, Australia’s national repository for social science data
  • Hardware and software for advanced social science data management and analysis

How to apply

Scholarships & fees

To find an advisor or project, see the:

Postgraduate Administration Officer -

UQ Graduate School contacts