Doctor of Philosophy

Welcome to the RegNet PhD – a unique doctoral program applying regulation and governance insights to solve critical problems that enhance the world’s social justice, sustainability and wellbeing. In the RegNet PhD, you are not just a student – you are a colleague.

What sets us apart from other PhD programs internationally?

An interdisciplinary outlook: Whether your background is in anthropology, criminology, development studies, history, international relations, law, political science, psychology, public health, sociology or another social science, this degree gives you the critical theory, research and communications skills you need to bridge different fields of knowledge. You will choose the the disciplinary mix that works for you and we will support you with the necessary skills and training.

An Asia-Pacific orientation: RegNet draws on the expertise at the Australian National University, which is the world leader in research focused on Asia and the Pacific.

Collegiality: RegNet is renowned as a place where you will find supportive peers, friendly staff and world-class faculty committed to your success. Together, we work to make every student’s experience a rich and fulfilling one.

Educational excellence: We offer a demanding curriculum that fulfills your intellectual curiosity. Our formal coursework, hands-on workshops, peer-learning modules, fieldwork and independent study are guided by experienced supervisors. We develop your theoretical and methodological sophistication and expand your understanding of regulation and governance in a globalized world.

World-class supervisors: RegNet academics are renowned for the quality of their supervision. View the ‘supervisors’ tab to see who is currently available to work with incoming students.

Global Networks: Our adjunct faculty and visitor programs draw renowned scholars from the world’s leading universities and think tanks. Our global network opens doors for our graduates in Australia and overseas.

Multiple career pathways: You will study with a cohort of Australian and international peers who are seeking to make a policy impact with their work in universities, the public sector, regulatory agencies and non-governmental organizations. We produce highly trained scholars who go on to be leaders in their fields.

In Australia, the PhD is also called a Higher Degree by Research (HDR). Learn more by looking at the following pages and by contacting us. For information on CAP HDR programs, please see the CAP HDR Student Guide.

Please note that Dr Deb Cleland will be taking over the convening role as of 1 July 2020.

A PhD normally takes between three to four years full-time or up to eight years part-time. Students are required to submit a thesis of up to 100,000 words that makes a substantial contribution to the relevant scholarly literature and demonstrates how their research relates to their discipline. PhDs by publication are also possible, but require consultation and approval by your primary supervisor.

PhD students are also required to take 18 units of formal coursework. In semester 1, students complete Regulation and Governance (REGN 9052) and Governance and Social Theory (REGN 9053). In semester 2, students complete Methods in Regulation and Governance (REGN 9076). In addition, students can participate in a suite of workshops to facilitate their research.


At RegNet, PhD students have a primary supervisor and a panel of supporting supervisors. The primary supervisor chairs the panel. RegNet supervisory panels for PhD students are typically made up of experienced professors, mid- and early-career researchers working in the student’s field of interest from the ANU and may include one or more colleagues from disciplinary or professional areas that relate to the student’s topic.

Not sure who might be the supervisor for you? Under the ‘supervisors’ tab you can view available supervisors and their interests and get in touch.

If you are interested in working with a supervisor not on this list, please contact RegNet directly ( in advance of the application deadline.

Admission criteria

Admission to the PhD Program requires that the candidate already hold, or be about to complete, an Australian Bachelor Degree with at least Second Class Honours - Upper (though First Class Honours is often required for a scholarship) or its international equivalent, or, a Postgraduate Degree with a significant research thesis component.

All applicants must meet the University’s English Language Admission Requirements for Students.

Application deadlines

PhD applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. However, please keep in mind that: (a) there are deadlines for scholarships; and (b) there are significant advantages to commencing study at the beginning of the Australian academic year (February).

To meet ANU scholarship application deadlines, prospective students should express their interest in the RegNet HDR Program (see ‘How to apply’ tab) at least one to two months in advance of the scholarship deadline 31 August (international students) or 31 October (domestic students). For all other scholarships, prospective students should express their interest in the RegNet HDR Program at least two months in advance of the scholarship deadline (if formal acceptance to a university is a scholarship eligibility requirement).


Domestic students

Domestic research students are not required to pay tuition fees as they are enrolled under the Research Training Scheme. The RTS provides funding for the research program up to a maximum of two years (full-time) for a Masters program.

International students

Annual indicative fees for international students for 2020 are A$45,864.


Domestic (i.e. citizens of Australia and New Zealand and permanent residents of Australia) and International students are eligible for an Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) Stipend Scholarship. The AGRTP is funded by the Commonwealth government and provides support to students completing a research degree program.

All other students (whether domestic or international) are required to pay International Student Fees (ISF) unless these are covered by a scholarship.

Most RegNet students are successful in obtaining scholarships to fully or partially fund their study in Canberra. AGRTP Scholarship applicants are very competitive. Thus, international students should consider applying to other eligible schemes, such as the Australia Awards Scholarships.

If you enrol in additional subjects/courses during your enrolment you may incur tuition fees.

Step 1: Check your eligibility

See the ‘Scholarships and admissions’ tab on this page.

Step 2: Explore your options

Please look through the RegNet website to see what types of projects are currently being pursued by students and supervisors, and view the ‘supervisors’ tab on this page.

Note: Please do not contact potential supervisors at this stage of the process.

Step 3: Express your interest

To express your interest in pursuing a research degree at RegNet, email electronic copies of the following documents to RegNet directly (
1. Completed expression of interest form (PDF, 904KB)
2. Curriculum vitae (CV)
3. Academic transcripts
4. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)/ Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) results (if applicable)
5. Thesis proposal (5-10 pages)

Please note that your expression of interest form & accompanying documentation should be submitted 1-2 months prior to any formal application process directly to the School.

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.

International students are required to have a valid visa at all times. Applying for a visa can be a long process, so please take a look at the information on visas on the ANU website as early as possible.

Step 4: Meet potential supervisors

The Director of Education will inform you within three weeks of receiving your expression of interest whether there is a supervisor available to supervise your proposed topic. If there is, you will be asked to attend an interview (this can be done over phone/Skype if you are not based in Canberra).

Step 5: Make a formal application to the ANU

Once a supervisor has interviewed you and signed off on your proposal, the Director of Education will advise you to apply through the ANU online application process. The RegNet PhD program code is 9560XPHD.

Step 6: Get ready!

You may find it useful to look at our recommended introductory readings on regulatory theory.

  • Is there coursework in the PhD program?

    Yes, students enrolled in RegNet’s PhD program are required to take 18 units of formal coursework. In semester 1, students complete Regulation and Governance (REGN 9052) and Governance and Social Theory (REGN 9053). In semester 2, students complete Methods in Regulation and Governance (REGN 9076).

    In addition, students can participate in a suite of workshops to facilitate their research. They may also undertake other coursework if their supervisor considers it necessary. Attendance at masterclasses and weekly research seminars is also compulsory.

  • Can I complete the PhD remotely?

    In special circumstances, part-time students that live in Australia, but outside of the ACT, will be accepted into the program. However, they will be expected to spend a certain amount of time on campus over the course of their candidature.

    Full-time students are expected to be on campus 40 hours per week except when traveling for fieldwork or conference attendance.

  • What is a thesis panel?

    ANU doctoral students are supervised by a supervisory panel, rather than one single supervisor. The Chair of the Panel assumes primary responsibility for your supervision, and acts as the convener of your supervisory panel. Other members of your panel may be appointed as supervisors or advisors.

    Most panels have at least one primary supervisor and two supervisors. If you are applying to the RegNet program, the Chair of your Panel will be a member of the RegNet staff. However, your supervisors can be from other departments in the ANU or from outside the University.

  • What is a graduate research field?

    ANU graduate research fields bring together graduate students and staff that have common research interests but who may be located in different academic areas. Applications for the RegNet PhD program can be made in any of the following graduate research fields: Asia and the Pacific; economics; environment; gender studies; geographical studies; history; Indigenous culture; law; politics and international relations; public policy; and sociology.

    It is important to have the right research field recorded because your qualification will be a Doctor of Philosophy in the graduate research field. The Head of Postgraduate Programs and your prospective supervisor will advise you on which graduate research field you should declare.

  • What should I include in my thesis proposal?

    To be considered for the PhD program, prospective students must submit a 5-10 page thesis proposal for review. Proposals should include the following:

    Title A precise and informative description of the project. Avoid acronyms and phrases such as “A study of …”

    Abstract A summary of the proposed research (approx 300 words) that includes the key research question or hypothesis, the rationale for the research, and the method to be employed in the study.

    Aims and significance 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.

    Literature review 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.

    Methodology 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.

    Timetable An indication of how the research will be carried out over the duration of a full-time (3 years) or part-time (6 years) candidature.

    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 RegNet is an appropriate ‘home’ for the project and an indication of potential supervisors/advisors.

    Bibliography A list of references cited in or relevant to the proposal.

  • What does a standard PhD candidature timeline look like?

    Year Tasks
    Year 1
    Commencement Enrolment & appointment of provisional supervisor
    Within 1 month Confirmation of supervisory panel chair
    Within 3 months Confirmation of supervisory panel membership
    Within 6 months Submit 1st annual plan
    Within 12 months Complete thesis proposal review (including 30 minute presentation); submit 1st research progress report and updated research plan (in consultation with supervisory panel and approved at a meeting of the full panel); complete research integrity training; obtain ethics approval.
    Year 2
    Within 18 months Complete mid-term review presentation (1 hour)
    Within 24 months Complete fieldwork
    By 30 Sept Submit 2nd research progress report and annual plan (after panel meeting)
    Year 3
    By 30 Sept Submit 3rd research progress report and annual plan (after panel meeting)
    3 months prior to submission Final oral presentation (1 hour)
    2 months prior to submission Notification of intention to submit

    See the Higher Degree Research Guide for more details

  • Do I need a visa to study at the ANU?

    International students are required to have a valid visa at all times. Applying for a visa can be a long process, so please take a look at the information on visas on the ANU website as early as possible.

  • Do I need overseas health cover?

    Yes, all international students are required to purchase overseas health cover (OSHC) in order to obtain a visa. Price of OSHC can vary greatly by providers, so it is worth doing your homework to find the cover that suits you. Compare OSHC benefits and costs at OSHC Australia.

  • What are my housing options in Canberra?

    Please see the Housing Online website (a free service to help ANU staff and students find rental accommodation)

  • What is the cost of living like in Canberra?

    The cost of living in Canberra is quite high relative to other cities in many other countries. There is information on cost of living available on the ANU website which will give you an idea of the cost of everyday items, and housing rental costs in particular.

  • What are the childcare options close to ANU?

    There are a number of childcare providers on university campus. However, due to the high demand in Canberra and particularly at the university childcare centres, if you need childcare during your studies it is best to put your child on a wait list as soon as possible. For more information visit Childcare services on university campus.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet