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The Australian National University

PhD study

The National Security College PhD program develops experts in security policy with strong research skills. Each PhD student is supervised by an academic with relevant expertise.

PhD Information Evening

The information evening is an opportunity for aspiring PhD candidates to meet and hear from College researchers, including Academic Director Associate Professor Matthew Sussex and current doctoral scholars. The NSC’s PhD program convenor, Dr Tim Legrand, will be available to advise you on the application process, potential research topics and opportunities.

We are seeking highly motivated graduates to undertake doctoral studies in the fields of:
> Asia-Pacific security affairs
> Australia’s foreign and security policy
> Australia-China relations
> Civil-military relations
> Cold War studies
> Complex systems science
> Crisis management
> Critical security studies
> Cyber security
> Energy security
> Ethics and norms in security
> Ethics of cybersecurity
> Maritime security
> Middle East security
> Post-war security history
> Security in the Indo-Pacific
> Strategic change in Asia
> Terrorism and Counter-terrorism security
> Transnational security threats

Date: 22 September 2016, 5.30-7.30pm
Venue: Canberry-Springbank rooms, Level 1 Crawford Bldg #132, 1 Lennox Crossing, ANU (light refreshments will be served)
Further information: Dr Tim Legrand,

Register here via Eventbrite


Admission requirements

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. Admission is also dependent on the availability of an appropriate academic supervisor.

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.

The application process

Candidates interested in undertaking PhD study at the NSC should:

1. Review the general information on applying to undertake PhD study at ANU.

2. Review the NSC website to check the research interests of academic staff

3. 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 three (3) 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

Your preliminary thesis proposal should address the following questions:

  • What is the central research question you want to answer?
  • What is your argument or hypothesis?
  • What are the competing explanations (brief summary of other views on these issues)?
  • How would you conduct your research?
  • What do you anticipate would be your contribution to the academic literature on the topic?
  • Why would your contribution be important?

After the potential academic supervisor at NSC receives your Expression of Interest, he or she may invite you to a meeting to discuss your proposal.

4. 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 students 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.

PhD program coordinator

For further information on the academic requirements of PhD study, contact:

Dr Tim Legrand
Lecturer, National Security College
The Australian National University
+61 2 6125 6483

The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and the ANU. Main image, Shipping density (commercial), courtesy of B.S. Halpern (T. Hengl; D. Groll) on Wikimedia Commons.

Updated:  9 September 2016/ Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/ Page Contact:  Web administrator, National Security College