PhD and MPhil

Picture of School of Demography HDR students
School of Demography HDR students

The School of Demography is interested in receiving prospective applications from candidates who will like to study for a PhD in Demography.

As Australia’s national university, the ANU is home to the many of the country’s leaders in demography and population studies. Our researchers examine and study the most pertinent issues facing the world today. Research expertise in the School covers all the major areas of demography, including Asian Demography; Fertility, Family Formation and Change; Mortality, Ageing and Health; and Migration. A PhD in Demography at the ANU offers postgraduate research training which brings together this expertise to inform a new generation of researchers, policy makers and business leaders.

This research degree enable students to undertake an in-depth research project at postgraduate level under the close supervision of academic experts. Through its supportive environment and programs the School encourages new modes of research while it also supports traditional scholarly methods of inquiry. This program, based on clear requirements and transparent principles, is designed to maximise the quality and impact of student research.

For an overview of the application process, please see PhD and MPhil applications in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

How to apply

Prospective PhD candidates please follow these 4 steps.

Step 1: Check your eligibility

To be admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy, Demography PhD program you are required:

  • To have achieved a Master degree or an equivalent postgraduate qualification in demography (or related field: such as geography, mathematics, quantitative sociology, statistics, public health or economics) from an approved university, with results that the convenor deems to be at least equivalent to Australian academic standards.
  • To meet the University’s English Language Admission Requirements for Students.

Inquiries regarding the admission requirements may be addressed to the School of Demography Convenor (

Step 2: Look for a possible supervisor and submit an expression of interest

Please look through the School of Demography’s academics list to search for academics who have the appropriate expertise and research interests to provide advice and supervision on your proposed research activities, and make contact with them via email (with copy to the Convenor,

Email the following documents to the potential supervisors:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Academic transcripts
  • IELTS/TOEFL results (if applicable)
  • A brief description of your proposed research (less than one page)

Your potential supervisors might arrange an interview with you either in person or by zoom.

At ANU, higher degree research students have a primary supervisor, Chair of panel and a panel of associate supervisors (advisors). In most cases, the primary supervisor and chair of supervisory panel fulfil the same role.

Step 3: Write a thesis proposal

After the selected supervisor agrees to work with you, then you can work on a Thesis proposal (7–8 pages) including the following elements:

  • Title: Give a precise and informative description of the project.
  • Abstract: A summary of the proposed research that includes the key research question or hypothesis, the rationale for the research, the region under study, and the method to be employed in the research.
  • Aims & significance: A clearly focused statement of the overall purpose of the proposed research (i.e. 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: You need to demonstrate that you are aware of the wider literature published on the topic, both in national and international journals, and showing how your research can engage with the on-going debates. Therefore, you need to provide 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.
  • Data and Methods: It is crucially important for a proposal to spell out at least initial ideas for the data and methodology to be used during the PhD. Give an explanation of what type of data will be required, and how the data will be gathered and analysed. Similarly, you should discuss how the proposed methods are appropriate for the proposed project, and indicate the likely feasibility of the proposed approach.
  • Timetable: An indication of how the research will be carried out over the duration of a full-time (3.5 years of PhD) candidature.
  • Institutional fit: A statement on why the ANU School of Demography is suitable for your project and an indication of potential supervisors.
  • Bibliography: A list of references cited in or relevant to the proposal.

Step 4: Make a formal application to ANU

Please note:

  • A minimum of 3 letters of reference are required (at least 2 must be academic references)
  • You must have a confirmed supervisor willing to be your panel chair.

Once your selected supervisor has interviewed you and signed off on your proposal, you may then submit an online application to ANU: see

>> Programs and Courses: Doctor of Philosophy, Research School of Social Sciences


ANU International Scholarships

Admission and ANU administered scholarships for HDR degrees are applied for together with the PhD application for admission (an online form). If you are interested in being considered for an ANU administered scholarship you should indicate this in the relevant sections of the application.

The Scholarship ranking process is very rigorous, each applicant must first be internally ranked and recommended by their School or Centre for the Scholarship round. Then a central College HDR Scholarship round committee assesses and ranks each applicant. Many criteria are taken into account, such as:

  • Academic record (including GPA)
  • Support from prospective supervisor and area
  • Research potential
    • Research Proposal
    • Referee reports & questionnaires
    • Publications
    • Prizes, Awards and Scholarships
    • Relevant professional experience
  • English language competency
  • Ranking relevant to others in the graduate research field or discipline area

Following this there is often a University level ranking committee that ranks applicants put forward by the College to reach a final ranked list of applicants.


HDR Convenor
Dr Bernard Baffour
T: +61 2 6125 9030

HDR Administrator

Updated:  10 July 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications