Doctor of Physiotherapy (Research)

School of Health Sciences & Physiotherapy

Are you interested in a research-based degree in the field of Physiotherapy? The University of Notre Dame Australia is dedicated to building a solid and innovative research culture. The Doctor of Physiotherapy Research fits within the category of a professional doctoral degree and, as a research degree, is suitable if you aspire to the highest academic achievement with a particular emphasis on the context of professional practice. Your professional doctorate provides an extension of research training and is likely, through a research thesis of approximately 80,000 words, to examine crucial issues and developments within the profession.

  • Why study this degree?

    The Professional Doctorate is a research degree designed to meet the needs of professionals who aspire to achieve academic excellence and lead the development of knowledge within their profession. The program seeks to examine crucial professional topics and integrate professional experience with scholarly inquiry.

    In particular, it aims to generate a research-based approach, providing answers to questions relevant to the professions or industry and encouraging a systematic way of collecting, analysing and interpreting data. For this reason, we recommend you seek the support of a relevant professional body, employer or industry group in defining your research area.

  • Program summary

    • RSCH7000 Quantitative Research Methods
    • RSCH7001 Qualitative Research Methods
    • RSCH7002 Scholarly Reading and Writing
    • RSCH7003 Developing a Research Proposal
    • RSCH7031 Supervised Research - Physiotherapy

    The Professional Doctorate comprises coursework and a substantial research component leading to the submission of a thesis. The coursework component includes four compulsory research training courses to be completed as a prerequisite to your individual research project. The coursework will provide opportunities for you to formulate substantial elements of your planned research (e.g. topic refinement, identification and justification of the preferred research method(s), preparation of a draft proposal), and to develop personal competencies in critical analysis and scholarly writing relevant to your profession.

    The completion of the coursework is facilitated by a course delivery schedule which takes into consideration that you may also be in employment during your candidature.

    Full details of the program are contained in the Program Requirements.

    More information regarding courses can be found at the course descriptions page.

  • Supervision

    As a doctoral candidate, you are required to have a minimum of two supervisors who will provide support and academic guidance throughout your degree. Your academic supervisors will be complemented by a professional mentor, who has expertise in the industry or profession relevant to your research area.

    Your supervisors and professional mentors will assist you with the preparation of your research proposal, continuing to mentor and direct you throughout the research phase and through the process of examination.

  • Mode of study and assessment

    You may undertake the program either in a full-time or part-time capacity. The standard time for completion (not including periods of approved leave of absence) will normally be three years for a full-time student and six years for a part-time student.

    The assessment of the coursework component consists of written assignments while the research component is assessed by examination of the thesis by three external reviewers.

  • Entry requirements

    The following criteria apply to students seeking admission to the Professional Doctorate program:

    • The Pro Vice Chancellor-Research, on the advice of the Dean of the School, determines admission to the Doctor of Physiotherapy Research Award.
    • Applicants to the doctoral program are expected to satisfy the following criteria:
      • Possession of a research Masters degree by thesis or dissertation appropriate to the professional field of the applicant; or
      • Possession of a Masters degree by coursework appropriate to the professional field of the applicant completed at a superior standard; or
      • Possession of a Bachelor’s degree with Honours (typically 1st Class or Class 2A Honours level or equivalent); or
      • Possession of a Master of Philosophy; or
      • In exceptional circumstances, an equivalent academic or professional background that is considered by the Dean of the School to be an appropriate preparation for independent study and research work at Doctoral level.
    • In addition to the academic criteria listed above, applicants are normally expected to satisfy the
      • have a minimum of 3 years of relevant professional practice;
      • have the support of an industry or professional mentor.

    You may be required to demonstrate an ability to understand and communicate in both written and spoken English at a level adequate for the purpose of pursuing the program of study.

  • Learning outcomes

    Upon successful completion of the Doctor of Physiotherapy (Research), graduates will be able to:

    1. Apply expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills in the design and execution of a substantial research project that makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge, professional practice and/or creative practice
    2. Synthesise, evaluate, and critically analyse a substantial and complex body of knowledge and/or practice at the frontier of a field/s of research
    3. Communicate research findings clearly and fluently, to both peers and the community
    4. Apply knowledge of research integrity, ethics and the rights and safety of others in the conduct of research and dissemination of research findings; and
    5. Conduct research with intellectual independence, creativity, adaptability, responsibility, and accountability.
  • Career opportunities

    Depending on your research topic, a Doctor of Physiotherapy can lead to careers such as a physiotherapist, or clinical laboratory scientist.

  • Real-world experience

    You will learn from our academics, who are leaders in their field. There are no practicum requirements for this program.

  • Scholarships

    Domestic Students

    In accordance with the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017, domestic research students are eligible to have all Higher Degree by Research (HDR) course fees paid for by the Commonwealth Government through a Research Training Program (RTP) Fees Offset Scholarship for the length of their degree.

    Domestic students are also encouraged to apply for stipend scholarships. These scholarships are very competitive and are awarded to students of exceptional research potential. The scholarships are for the purpose of assisting with general living costs for the duration of the research degree.

    International Students

    Unless in receipt of a scholarship, all international research students are required to pay full fees for the length of their research degree.

    The University is keen to support high calibre international students. International students are also eligible to apply for Commonwealth Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships (Fees Offset and/or Stipend) and the University International Fee Remission Research Scholarship (IFRRS). For more information, please refer to the International Prospectus or visit our Scholarships section.

  • Professional accreditation

    Applicants to the Doctor of Physiotherapy Research Award will need to have ‘General Registration’ or ‘Limited Registration for Post-graduate training as a physiotherapist’ with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia as agent for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

  • Fees and costs

    This Program has the following loan scheme(s) available for eligible students:

    The Research Training Program (RTP) provides block grants to support students who are undertaking a Higher Degree by Research such as a Research Doctorate or Research Masters degree. You will receive support for a maximum of two years for a Research Masters and a maximum of four years for a Research Doctorate degree. Your offer will specify for which purpose(s) your grant may be used. This may include offset of your tuition fees, as a stipend for general living costs or as an allowance related to the ancillary cost of research degrees.

    For indicative fees and information on Postgraduate and Research Scholarships available, please visit our HDR Scholarships page.

  • More information

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    Talk to one of our career advisors for a personalised advice session. Our advisors provide support while choosing a program of study and completing our application process. Book my session.

    For more information, please call our Prospective Students Office on +61 8 9433 0533 or email

    All international enquiries should contact the International Students Office on

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