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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Course

This course entry should be read in conjunction with information provided in the 'Faculty information' section of this Handbook by the Faculty of Engineering

Managing facultyEngineering
Abbreviated titlePhDEng
CRICOS code041044D
Standard duration of study (years)4 years FT, 8 years PT
Study mode and locationOn-campus (Clayton, Gippsland, Sunway)
Off-campus (Clayton, Gippsland, Sunway)
Admission, fee and application details
Contact details



The PhD is awarded by the University to candidates who write and submit a thesis that represents a significant contribution to knowledge or understanding and which demonstrates the capacity to carry out independent research. Major areas of specialisation include those outlined below.

Research areas

Chemical engineering

Research in the Department of Chemical Engineering falls into 4 major areas:

  • energy, fuels, biorefining and sustainable processing
  • biotechnology, food and pharmaceutical engineering
  • functional nanomaterials
  • surface and colloidal science and molecular rheology

Within these diverse research areas, technologies being developed include clean coal conversion processes, CO2 capture, advanced particle engineering, interfacial and adsorption science, pulp and paper technology, rheology, biochemical engineering, food engineering, solid-liquid separations, corrosion, design and synthesis of adsorbent materials using nanotemplating techniques, and nanostructured materials and membranes.

Civil engineering

Structural engineering, geoengineering, water resources and environmental engineering, transport and traffic engineering.

Electrical and computer systems engineering

Computer systems and software engineering, control engineering, electronics, telecommunications engineering, electrical power systems, biomedical engineering and robotics.

Materials engineering

Engineering light alloys, advanced polymer science and engineering, biomaterials and tissue engineering, electronic and magnetic materials, thermo-mechanical processing, corrosion, nanomaterials, materials characterisation, modelling and simulation of processes and properties, structural and functional ceramics.

Mechanical engineering

Aerodynamics, fluid mechanics, turbulence, structural mechanics, aerospace engineering, composites, heat transfer, micro/nano fluid and solid mechanics, biological engineering, robotics, mechatronics, railway engineering and maintenance engineering.


The objective of the course is for students to demonstrate a thorough understanding of relevant research techniques in their field through a review of the relevant literature. They will also demonstrate their ability, under supervision, to apply relevant research techniques to their chosen field of study. Through their research they must make an original contribution to their field of study.

Students will also be able to:

  • identify and define a research question
  • identify the appropriate research methods to address the research question
  • demonstrate mastery of their chosen research methodology
  • communicate their research findings in a format appropriate to their academic discipline
  • write up their research into a high quality document containing all the required components of a PhD thesis.


Probationary candidature

A candidate for a PhD will normally undertake the first year of studies on probation. During this probationary year, the candidate may be registered either for a Master of Engineering Science (Research) (MEngSc(Research)) or for a probationary PhD. Candidates who do not possess an honours degree in either the first or upper second class must register initially for an MEngSc(Research) degree.

Probationary PhD and MEngSc(Research) candidates are assessed after 12 months candidature and, if suitable, may convert to full PhD candidature. The transfer to full PhD status will be initiated by the Research Graduate School Committee in the case of a candidate who is registered for a probationary PhD or by the candidate's department or school in the case of a candidate who is registered for a MEngSc(Research). In either case, on receipt of a positive recommendation concerning the candidate's progress during the first year of research, the candidate will be permitted to transfer to full PhD candidature.

The maximum period of candidature for PhD is four years (full-time) or eight years (part-time). In most cases, where a candidate has converted from the MEngSc(Research),candidature for PhD is backdated to the start of MEngSc(Research) candidature.

Full-time and part-time candidature

Candidature is either on a full-time or part-time basis as determined by a committee of the faculty board. The duration of candidature is three to four years for full-time candidates and eight years for part-time candidates. Every two months of part-time study counts as one month of full-time study for the purpose of calculation of duration of candidature. There are no levels of candidature other than part-time or full-time.

Part-time candidature is permitted under the following guidelines:

(a.) The supervisor shall be a full-time member of the academic staff of the University. An associate supervisor may be an appropriately qualified member of an external organisation. If the associate supervisor is from an external organisation, frequent communication with the supervisor should be maintained.

(b.) The topic of the thesis shall be decided by the candidate in consultation with the supervisor.

(c.) A candidate may undertake part-time studies subject to the following contstraints:

(i.) In order to undertake part-time candidature, a candidate must be able to devote the equivalent of a minimum of two days per week to the pursuit of the research project.

(ii.) Where the postgraduate's research work involves the systematic use of the University facilities, the faculty may require that these two days be weekdays.

(iii.) Where the candidate is engaged in full-time employment, the head of the department or school will be required to certify that the head is satisfied that the candidate is able to spend the equivalent of two days a week in pursuit of the research project.

(d.) The candidate must discuss progress with the supervisor in person at least once each calendar month.

(e.) The candidate must attend the University frequently and on a regular basis; one day per week on average is considered the minimum necessary.

(f.) The candidate must attend all such courses, seminars, workshops etc as are deemed necessary by the head of department (in the case of a regular seminar or lecture series a minimum of 80 per cent attendance may be deemed adequate).

(g.) The supervisor and head shall certify that the requirements for candidature have been met and an annual report of attendance and progress will be presented.

(h.) The thesis is to be available for publication.

(i.) Off-campus equipment and other facilities may be used with the permission of the head and supervisor. Whenever feasible, on campus facilities shall be used or developed in preference to off-campus.

The research office will maintain a master list of all candidates enrolled on a part-time basis.

There may well be circumstances in which to ensure equity with regard to duration of candidature, a supervisor may wish to recommend that a part-time candidate be registered as a full-time candidate who is undertaking field work.

All requests for admission to part-time candidature and for transfer from full-time to part-time candidature will be decided on their merits.

All requests for admission to part-time candidature and for transfer from full-time to part-time candidature will be decided on their merits.

External candidature

In special circumstances, external candidature for the PhD is available for interstate and international students. All external candidates are admitted on a probationary basis. External candidates must demonstrate personal maturity and research experience to pursue independent, sustained and structured research off-campus. In addition to the conditions above, external students must satisfy an annual five-day on-campus attendance requirement each year or equivalent over the period of candidature.

Regular interactive communication between candidate and supervisor should take place at least once a month via telephone, video conference or other interactive communication.

Candidates may be permitted to transfer between standard and external candidature in special circumstances, as assessed on a case-by-case basis. External candidates are permitted to transfer to external PhD candidature under the same guidelines which apply to standard candidature. All external candidates are admitted on a probationary basis.


The candidate develops a research program, in consultation with the supervisor/s, and submits a thesis which significantly contributes to knowledge in the chosen area of research.


Candidates are required to undertake a program of supervised research and complete a thesis (normally not exceeding 100,000 words) in one of the areas of specialisation outlined above under 'Research areas'. The thesis must represent a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the discipline concerned and should demonstrate the capacity to carry out independent research.


Doctor of Philosophy