2021: February and July

4 years

2021: A$14,850*
* fee per semester

Application due dates:
We are currently accepting applications for this course.


Become a leading researcher of social and cultural practices. Contribute positive changes to public policy and social methods through your original and important PhD in Society & Culture.

PhD in Society & Culture program

Studying towards a doctoral degree in society and culture lets you explore, in-depth, an area that you are passionate and curious about. You’ll learn best-practice research methods in social and cultural studies, and use these to complete an original thesis at the forefront of its field.

We offer several research areas with associated research institutes and centres. In these, students and staff make important discoveries and contribute influential ideas. We also have connections with community and government organisations that let you embed your research in real-world scenarios.

You’ll graduate with the high-level skills to collect, analyse and present data and evidence. You’ll present your findings in a variety of contexts, including your thesis, journals and public presentations. Career opportunities include working in academia, government or local-community settings.

VU offers expertise and guidance in several specialised research areas.

Our main research themes in society and culture are community resilience, liveable and inclusive cities, cultural diversity and wellbeing, and community, identity and displacement. You can choose your research topic from several areas within these themes that can combine different disciplines, including creative arts, youth studies, Indigenous studies, migration and refugee studies, reducing social harms including social and political violence, and legal studies.

During your PhD you’ll receive support from subject experts, and contribute to important studies that influence public policy. You will also have access to the latest data visualisation technologies through our Social Technologies Lab.

We have innovative research centres and networks where you can base your study and benefit from research collaborations with community and other academics.

The Community, Identity and Displacement Research Network (CIDRN) promotes research into displacement, identity, community and change. We are particularly focused on Melbourne’s west, with its rich history of migration and diversity.

Our Social & cultural transformation research program is part of our Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities. We conduct high-impact and innovative research relating to social inclusion, community development, inclusive and transformational education, and social justice.

Our partnerships with educational, business and community organisations offer important research opportunities. Research on diversity and wellbeing is undertaken in collaboration with government, not-for-profit organisations and other universities.

Continuing partner relationships in this area include:

  • VicHealth and Western HealthVictoria
  • Police and Australian Federal Police
  • Attorney-General’s Department
  • Australian Multicultural Foundation
  • Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Huddersfield University, UK
  • Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University, Canada.

We offer various research scholarships for our PhD students. Victoria University has several generous research scholarships for successful applicants. There are also externally-funded scholarships from dozens of organisations, some of which are aimed at postgraduate students.

VU Research gives you opportunities to:

  • connect with other researchers
  • participate in research festivals and competitions
  • develop your research skills
  • get funding for your research
  • publish and promote your findings.

We offer support for graduate researchers including:

Find out more about graduate opportunities at VU.

Course e-Brochure

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Moondani Balluk is VU's indigenous research centre, providing opportunities for collaborative research.

Marion Campbell wrote two books on literary subversion during her PhD at VU.

Careers in social and cultural organisations

Following your PhD, you’ll be ready for a research career in government or community organisations, or to become an academic. Government and community roles include policy and planning.

Use the government site, Job Outlook, to find average salaries for various professions in Australia:

Course structure

The PhD is a research based degree with a maximum duration of 4 years (full time) and 8 years (part time).
As well as enrolling in Research Thesis units Doctor of Philosophy (Science) students will be required to complete two coursework units, ROP8001 and ROP8002.

An average result of 70% is required in the compulsory coursework units in order to proceed to candidature confirmation. Ongoing progression is subject to policy and procedures for candidature management as per the VU HDR Policy.

Coursework Units

Elective unit

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. expert understanding of a substantial body of theory and its practical application at the frontier of a field of work or learning, including substantial expert knowledge of ethical research principles and methods applicable to the field.  
  2. intellectual independence and cognitive skills to undertake a systematic investigation, reflect critically on theory and practice and evaluate existing knowledge and ideas, including identifying, evaluating and critically analysing the validity of research studies and their applicability to a research problem.  
  3. expert cognitive, technical and creative skills to: design, develop and implement a research project/s to systematically investigate a research problem; develop, adapt and implement research methodologies to extend and redefine existing knowledge; manage, analyse, evaluate and interpret data, synthesising key ideas and theorising within the context of key literature.  
  4. expert communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions; to disseminate and promote new insights; and to cogently present a complex investigation of originality, or original research, both for external examination and to specialist (eg researcher peers) and non-specialist (industry and/or community) audiences through informal interaction, scholarly publications, reports and formal presentations.  
  5. capacity to reflect on, develop and evaluate strategies for achieving their own learning and career goals.  
  6. intellectual independence, initiative and creativity in new situations and/or for further learning.  
  7. ethical practice and full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs.  
  8. autonomy, authoritative judgement, adaptability and responsibility as an expert and independent scholar.  

What's a unit?

A unit or 'subject' is the actual class you'll attend in the process of completing a course.

Most courses have a mixture of compulsory 'core' units that you need to take and optional elective units that you can choose to take based on your area of interest, expertise or experience.


Each unit is worth a set amount of study credits based on the amount of time you study. Generally, 1 credit is equal to 1 hour of study per week.

Admission & pathways

Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee you entry into this course. Some courses receive more applications than the number of places available. In this situation we will also assess your education, work and other relevant experience.

If you do not meet the minimum requirements you may be eligible for one of our special admission programs. We also encourage you to explore our study pathways to help you reach your goal.

Find out more about how to apply for our courses, and our commitment to admissions transparency.

Entry requirements

Achieved an IELTS, (Academic Module) result with an overall score of 6.5 (no band less than 6) or equivalent and completed a Masters degree or a relevant four year undergraduate degree with Honours or its equivalent at a high standard.

Find out if you meet the entry requirements, including English language and academic requirements.

There are many ways you can start your education journey at VU. Pathways offer an easy transition between courses at different levels, so that you can start with a certificate and progress right through to postgraduate study.

Find out more about pathways and credits.

If you have completed study with another university or institution and believe you are eligible to receive credit for skills and past study, you can apply for advanced standing.

Applications for advanced standing can be made after a discussion with your course chair or academic adviser.

How to apply

We are currently accepting applications for this course.

Methods of applying:

International students can apply directly to Victoria University using our online application system, or apply through an education agent.

Direct online applicationFind an education agent

If you have questions about your application, you can:

Information and fees listed above are for non-resident students. Fees are accurate at the time of viewing and will be subject to annual increases. Some courses require students to purchase equipment or clothing that they will need in the course. These equipment or clothing costs are not included in the course fees listed above – check your Letter of Offer for an estimate on non-tuition-fee-related expenses.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this course information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that course information is current with the Student Contact Centre.