Science Grad Dip (Research) - 5304

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Science


Campus: Sydney

Career: Postgraduate

Typical Duration: 1 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 48

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The purpose of the Graduate Diploma (Research) is to provide specialised knowledge and research training in disciplines within the Faculty of Science. It can be used as a higher degree qualifying program (for students who do not meet criteria for direct entry to Honours or MSc/PhD programs), to upgrade existing qualifications or to develop expertise in a different but related disciplinary area from that of the first degree. Students who qualify to enrol in the Honours program would generally be expected to do so rather than enrol in this Graduate Diploma (Research) program.

As part of the program students are expected to complete disciplinary coursework of 18-24 UOC and a significant independent research project of 24-30 UOC. As the Faculty has a diverse range of disciplines the exact proportion of research-based work and coursework may differ by School. Students should refer to the plan pages in this Handbook entry for details of the requirement for their chosen discipline.

In addition to conducting research and coursework students will also be expected to undertake Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) training, attend and present seminars, write a literature review, and write a thesis.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

Upon completion of Graduate Diploma (Research) in the Faculty of Science at UNSW graduates will have the following attributes:
  1. Demonstrate a broad understanding of a systematic and coherent body of knowledge and theoretical concepts with advanced understanding in some areas;
  2. Demonstrate cognitive skills that review, analyse, consolidate, and synthesize knowledge;
  3. Demonstrate critical thinking and judgement in developing new understanding and applying knowledge and skills in diverse contexts;
  4. Demonstrate initiative and judgement in scholarship; Identify and formulate solutions to problems with intellectual independence;
  5. Demonstrate responsibility and accountability for own learning and practice and in collaboration with others within broad parameters;
  6. Demonstrate communication skills to present a clear and coherent exposition of knowledge and ideas to a variety of audiences in a variety of formats;
  7. Demonstrates knowledge of research principles and methods and technical skills in research and design;

Program Structure

    Admission Requirements and Process

    To be accepted for admission into the program students are typically expected to have a Bachelor degree with a good pass in a related, but not necessarily directly relevant discipline to their chosen area of study. Due to the diverse nature of the disciplines within the program, details of acceptable disciplines considered for admission are shown in relevant plan pages in the Handbook. A 'good pass' is considered to be a weighted average mark of 55-64. However, particular disciplines within Science may have additional entry requirements due to the competitive nature of some disciplines and the number of research places available within a School.

    Applicants with substantial professional experience which demonstrates an aptitude for research or significant understanding in a discipline area, will be considered for admission. These students will need to include a written submission with their application detailing their professional experience and its relevance to undertaking a research program, and also a statement of service from their employer verifying the position, role and responsibilities, and duration of employment. This application will be assessed by the Associate Dean (Education).

    To apply for admission to the Graduate Diploma (Research), students should contact the relevant School for information on research projects, available supervisors, and entry requirements. Once students have located a suitable supervisor, they should lodge an application for the Graduate Diploma (Research) via Apply Online.

    No advanced standing will be granted to students upon entry as students are expected to complete a full 48 units of credit to receive the award of Graduate Diploma (Research).

    Program Structure

    The Graduate Diploma (Research) is comprised of 48 units of credit. It typically includes 18-24 UOC of coursework and 24-30 UOC of an independent research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor culminating in a written thesis. The program normally commences in semester 1 and is undertaken full-time over 1 year. However mid-year entry and part-time enrolment may be available at the discretion of the relevant School. For further details of the structure and assessment in a particular discipline, please refer to the plan pages below.

    The following plans / specializations are available in this program:

    Academic Rules

    • Students are expected to complete all the requirements for the program as listed for their chosen discipline in the plan pages of this Handbook. Where a student does not complete a particular requirement of the program, their grade and hence graduation will be withheld until the item is completed.
    • Students must abide by UNSW policies and procedures with regards to Occupational Health & Safety, Ethics, and Research. Details of these will be provided to students by the relevant School.
    • Students will typically complete 18-24 UOC of coursework. This coursework aims to address disciplinary knowledge gaps or to advance knowledge in a given area. Details of the coursework requirements for particular disciplines are listed in the relevant plan page in this handbook. Depending on a student's background and research project, variations to the listed courses may be approved at the discretion of the Postgraduate Coordinator in the relevant School.
    • Students will typically complete a research project of 24-30 UOC. Each student will have a supervisor for their project who is expected to have at least a Masters (AQF level 9) qualification. Students may be supervised by a person external to UNSW, especially where a research project is industry-based. However, where a student has an external supervisor a joint-supervisor must be nominated who is an employed academic of the relevant School.
    • As part of their research project students will be required to complete, at a minimum, a literature review and / or research proposal, present a seminar on their findings and complete a written thesis. Some disciplines may require additional assessment for the program such as additional seminars or reports. Details of all assessable components of the program for each discipline is described in the relevant plan pages of this handbook.
    • All students will be required to complete a written thesis. Details of thesis requirements such as word limits, format, and submission deadlines will be provided by the relevant School. A student’s thesis will be assessed by two markers, which typically will not include a student’s supervisor. One marker should be external to the research group in which the student has completed the project. Where there is a discrepancy of greater than 10 marks, the two markers will confer and where possible reach an agreement in consultation with the Postgraduate Coordinator in the School, however, where agreement is not possible, the thesis will be examined by a third marker. The closest of the three marks will then be averaged to determine the final grade.
    • At the end of a student’s first semester, an EC grade will be awarded provided that all requirements for the semester have been satisfactorily completed, and the supervisor is satisfied with a student’s progress on their project. Where requirements have not been completed or the supervisor feels progress is unsatisfactory, the grade will be withheld and the student given an opportunity to complete the requirement and / or progress their project. If the outstanding requirement(s) has not been completed prior to the commencement of the following semester, the supervisor will discuss this with the Postgraduate Coordinator in the School and the student may be required to withdraw from the program. Once withdrawn from the program a student will need to reapply for admission.
    • Where a student would like to take leave from the program or defer their commencement, they should discuss this with their supervisor and School, and where the School approves, a recommendation for program leave or deferment is submitted to the Science Student Centre for approval as the Program Authority. Please note that program leave and deferment is not always possible as research groups do not always have ongoing funding for research projects.
    • Where a student decides to change their research project, they should discuss this with their Supervisor and Postgraduate Coordinator in the relevant School. Changing of research projects will be at the discretion of the School and may not always be possible. Changes to research projects may only occur within a student’s first semester.


    For suitably qualified students the expectation is that the program would allow entrance to a higher degree research program (MSc or PhD) provided suitable supervision and facilities are available.


    For information regarding fees for UNSW programs, please refer to the following website:  UNSW Fee Website.

    Area(s) of Specialisation