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NDARC Higher Degree Research Scholarships: PhD, MRes and MPhil

Overview of NDARC’s higher degree research (HDR) program

UNSW Medicine is a national leader in learning, teaching and research, with close affiliations to a number of Australia’s finest hospitals, research institutes and health care organisations.  With a strong presence at UNSW Kensington campus, the faculty have staff and students in teaching hospitals in Sydney as well as regional and rural areas of NSW including Albury/Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) was established at UNSW Sydney by the Commonwealth Government in 1986 to extend the knowledge base required for effective treatment of individuals with alcohol and other drug related problems and to enhance the overall research capacity in the drug and alcohol field. The Centre is highly regarded, both nationally and internationally, for its contribution to drug and alcohol research.

Since NDARC's inception, more than 80 students have successfully completed a HDR program of research at the Centre (Ph.D. and Masters), with a success rate of over 90%. Currently NDARC has 25 HDR students enrolled, including three Aboriginal students (12% of our HDRs) and 17 female students (68% of our HDRs). NDARC students and staff publish in general medical and health journals, and the most influential specialist drug and alcohol publications.

NDARC's research is multi-disciplinary in nature and of high practical relevance to governments and policy agencies, non-government organisations, providers of clinical services and communities. HDR graduates have many career opportunities in a range of organisations, including Australian and international universities, the WHO/UN, the delivery of clinical services, and with policy agencies such as NSW Health, NSW Department of Communities and Justice and in local health districts.

NDARC provides a highly supportive study environment with excellent facilities including desk space, regular training opportunities, computer access and statistical support. 

There are a number of pathways into higher degree research, and NDARC staff are keen to support entry for potential students from a range of backgrounds and with varied educational qualifications. NDARC is particularly committed to building research capacity among Aboriginal researchers and encourages consultation with us about different HDR pathways that may be available. If you have queries about this, please feel free to contact Professor Anthony Shakeshaft (a.shakeshaft@unsw.edu.au) to talk about your options and the available support.

NDARC's HDR scholarships

NDARC is offering scholarships to students who wish to undertake higher degree research on drug and alcohol related projects that align with NDARC’s core workplan areas:

  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Clinical research
  • Physical and mental comorbidity
  • Epidemiology of substance use and harms
  • Justice health and drug policy
  • Indigenous health
  • Health economics and biostatistics
  • Family, communities and society

A number of NDARC projects are currently seeking HDR candidates. Please visit HDR scholarship projects for more information. Alternatively, you could contact a potential supervisor at NDARC whose interests align with yours. Visit find a supervisor for a list of staff and their interests or to discuss your own ideas or those of the potential supervisor.

The scholarship amount awarded to full-time HDR students is $30,000 per annum, tax exempt. PhD scholarship duration is three years (with the option of a six month extension depending on progress). MRes and MPhil scholarship duration is two years. In addition, up to $10,000 may be available for professional development activities and up to $5,000 for other associated research costs across the period of candidature (subject to the availability of funds at the time of application). The scholarship, professional development and research support costs will be adjusted on a pro-rata basis for part-time and Masters candidates. There is opportunity for additional paid employment.


Information about eligibility is provided in the NDARC Conditions of HDR Award document. Briefly, to be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must:

  1. meet UNSW requirements for enrolment in a Higher Degree Research Program 
  2. meet residency and visa requirements
  3. not be concurrently enrolled in a separate HDR program at either UNSW or another university during the tenure of the NDARC-based candidature

Consideration will be given to full and part-time, and international, applicants (consult UNSW’s guidelines for eligibility and tuition scholarship options for international students).

Evidence of previous research or study (e.g. honours or masters degrees) is desirable for entry into a HDR although not essential, as is experience in the drug and alcohol sector or related fields, such as psychology, public health, criminology, sociology, medicine, pharmacology, health economics and biostatistics.

Successful candidates are required to enrol in the HDR program through the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM) in the Faculty of Medicine. 

Successful applicants will receive support via NDARC's HDR training and development program.

Knowledge of UNSW’s EEO/AA principles and policies will be required.

How to apply

Applicants must nominate a supervisor on the application form. The supervisor must be an NDARC academic and it is expected that applicants will have made contact with the proposed supervisor prior to submission of an application to discuss the proposed research. Potential supervisors can be contacted via HDR scholarship projects or find a supervisor.

To apply, applicants must submit the following to NDARC.HDR@unsw.edu.au by midnight Sunday, 8 November 2020:

Applications open: Monday, 7 September 2020
Applications close: Midnight, Sunday, 8 November 2020
Interviews: Week beginning 16 November 2020
Program start: Typically commencement will begin in Term 1, 2021, meaning HDRs would need to be enrolled by 15 February 2021. Later start dates are negotiable.

It is not the intention of this advertisement to limit the scope of possible HDR research projects or enrolment options, but to highlight the most important aspects of NDARC’s HDR program. The aspects mentioned above may be negotiated within the confines of UNSW’s HDR policies and procedures.