Doctor of Philosophy

| Entry criteria | Apply | Requirements | Thesis | Supervision | Research Plan | Ethics | Support | Papers |

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is for master degree graduates interested in completing a research-based qualification.

Entry Criteria

Masters degree

Note: when assessing eligibility, please provide original or verified copies of earlier qualifications, which were not completed at the University of Waikato.

To Apply

This is the process your application will take:

  1. Pre-enrolment discussion with the Postgraduate Studies Administrator/Academic staff member
  2. Initial research proposal
  3. Selection of supervisor
  4. Formal enrolment

Once your academic qualifications and grades have been assessed and the availability of suitable supervision is established, your application will be approved.

Programme Requirements

The PhD, comprises of a 120 point thesis during a minimum of three-years of full-time supervised research, which includes a thesis.  A PhD is awarded after examination of a thesis.

DSOE900 Education PhD
SPLS900 Sport and Leisure Studies PhD
STER900 Science and Technology Education PhD


Completing a thesis requires rigorous academic study and commitment over at least a three-year period. A good thesis is coherent, of publishable quality and makes an original contribution to knowledge. Significant parts of the work should be worthy of publication at international level.

The word length for doctoral theses are:
• 100,000 words maximum

General assessment standards for doctoral thesis

A doctoral thesis (EdD/PhD) is examined by two examiners, one of whom is usually based overseas. Your Chief supervisor also provides a report. After you have received your examiners’ reports, you also participate in an oral examination. There are three possible outcomes of the examination process: accepted without amendments; accepted with amendments; not accepted.

The examination procedures for the thesis are available by downloading the Handbook for Research Degrees of MPhil, PhD and EdD at the University of Waikato.

The criteria below have been adapted from those used by the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies for the reviewing of articles. Your lecturer will include similar criteria in course requirements. These give a useful indication of the ‘measures’ used to assess whether or not a paper is written at doctoral level:

  • Some estimation of the importance of the general area of the article;
  • The degree of importance of the author’s own contribution (does it show comprehensive reading of the literature; does it critically engage with the debates, theories and methods in the field?);
  • The fairness and accuracy of the author’s summarising of past work by others (does it engage with the different theories and approaches within the broad field of study; does it engage seriously with differing points of view?);
  • The nature and type of evidence offered to support the arguments of the author’s own contribution; the clarity of presentation of the evidence or argument or analysis (does the author base his or her own conclusions or interpretation on a sound overview of the available evidence or possible approaches?);
  • Any important omissions (are key theories, methods or topics left out?).


The majority of academic staff are available to supervise masters theses. The Centre for Postgraduate Studies administrator can direct you to a supervisor who shares your area of interest. Alternatively search the staff experts file. Allocation of supervision is dependent on staff workloads and academic interests. Sometimes supervision for a nominated topic is not available.

Once you have a suitable supervisor you can discuss your needs with them and begin reading relevant literature and structuring your thesis until the formal enrolment process is complete.

The Research Plan

Refine and plan your topic of research in consultation with your supervisor. Include the following information on your Research Plan:

  • Title
  • Statement of the research topic/problem and overarching question that will guide your research
  • Explanation of the significance of your study
  • Proposed aims/objectives
  • Review of selected literature, including research activity in the field
  • The methods you plan to use
  • A statement of ethical issues your forsee
  • A timeline for completion

Ethical Review

Once your research plan is finalised apply to the Faculty of Education’s Research Ethics Committee for ethical review of your project. Note the dates for ethics submission. This Committee meets a certain times of the year.

(Ethics Application Form)

Postgraduate Support

Staff in the Centre for Postgraduate Studies for all postgraduate enquiries. This includes information about the ethical review process, the supervision process, resources available to postgraduate students such as doctoral workshops, thesis guidelines, scholarship or grant information and information about graduation.