School of Environment


The School of Environment offers excellent facilities for research and study towards a PhD degree.

Currently over 50 students are enrolled for a PhD and the School of Environment is actively seeking to expand its involvement in Doctoral level education. People who enrol in the PhD programme can complete the requirements in about three to four years. Candidates for the degree are assessed on the basis of a thesis only.

For advice about PhD programmes, contact the appropriate programme adviser.

For general advice about PhD enrolment and requirements, contact:


Chair of PG Committee and Head of Postgraduate Affairs

Entry requirements

Entry to the programme can take place at any time during the year. Admission to the Doctoral programme is usually limited to people who have attained a bachelors degree with honours or a masters degree with first class or second class (division 1) honours. However, the major criteria are that applicants have a proven ability to carry out independent research, and that they have appropriate supervision arranged in the School of Environment.

Therefore, students contemplating a PhD project in the School of Environment should contact potential supervisors, or the Head of Postgraduate Research, to discuss their application and to present a written proposal for the thesis project, covering the topic envisaged, logistics and means of funding.

These materials, together with degree transcripts, letters of reference, and evidence of English language proficiency are then formally presented to The University of Auckland and The School of Environment through the online Application for Admission (AfA) system.


Transitional arrangements

In some instances, students will need to complete a number of masters courses before being considered eligible to apply for PhD enrolment. In addition, some students may be asked to continue English language training, as part of their enrolment.


How to apply

Application for doctoral study
It is important to note that due to financial constraints, The School of Environment can only support thesis projects which fit into its areas of expertise and have a good chance of being adequately funded.

If you are interested in studying for a PhD, please read The University of Auckland’s doctoral application requirements.

To provide the Graduate Centre with sufficient detail to assess your application you will need to fill out the online Application for Admission (AfA) form. This link can be found at the website mentioned above.


Structure of the PhD programme

First Year
During the first year The University of Auckland requires that candidates complete a fully developed research proposal and present a seminar to the School of Environment.

In the School of Environment we will schedule your seminar date during the first six months of your enrolment. This is to enable you to make any necessary changes to your research plans, while still allowing plenty of time for you to progress your research during the first year.

Both the seminar and the research proposal must be approved by the School of Environment's Postgraduate Research Committee before the end of the first year at the latest.

In addition to preparing and presenting your research proposal, you are also required to complete a substantial piece of writing during your provisional year. In many cases, this will be the literature review and/or other preliminary chapters of the final thesis. Many students also make significant progress with their research in the first year, by identifying field sites, obtaining ethics approval for their research (if required), and developing their expertise in the methods they will use for their research.

Confirmation of enrolment beyond the provisional year is dependent on satisfactory completion of the above activities. Your research proposal is submitted along with the Doctoral Provisional Year Report (DPYR) for Faculty approval towards the end of your provisional year.

In each of the subsequent years
Each year of enrolment students complete a Doctoral Annual Report in conjunction with their supervisor(s). The Doctoral Provisional Year and Annual Reports provide opportunities for students and supervisors to keep the research on track.


PhD topics

To browse through a list of some the School’s PhD students and their research topics, go to our PhD page.