PhD in Development Studies

The PhD is an opportunity to engage in advanced research. This research can be carried out in any area within the Faculty of Arts, provided that supervision is available and the research proposal and supervision arrangements are provided by the university.

The PhD consists of a thesis of an internationally recognised standard that makes an original contribution to knowledge or understanding in its field. Normally the thesis may not exceed 100,000 words or 250 pages. An oral examination takes place after the thesis has been submitted.


The PhD is expected to be completed in three or four full-time years, although it may be possible to complete on a part-time basis.


The usual requirement is a master's degree with honours (first class or second class, first division) from the University of Auckland, or an approved equivalent qualification. You must also have demonstrated an ability to pursue doctoral level research. All candidates must submit a research proposal and obtain registration.

Development Studies Requirements

These are Development Studies requirements that supplement those of the university. Other requirements may be specified at the time of enrolment as determined by the supervisors and the director.

1) Within approximately six months of enrolment and before nine months, a full proposal entailing a complete description of the student’s research project (of approximately 20 pages plus bibliography) should be provided. This document must include:

  • A description of the specific research proposed
  • A discussion of the relevant literature on the subject
  • Theoretical implications of the study
  • Methodology and timetable
  • Bibliography
  • Statement of ethics requirements
  • Budget

This full research proposal will be submitted through the main supervisor to the director and made available for academic staff comment and approval. The student may be asked to expand or revise the proposal. Students may proceed with their research plans once the full proposal is accepted. The director will review the candidacy of any student who has not had a complete research proposal approved after a year’s provisional enrolment.

2) Each PhD candidate will present two seminars: one at the time that the full research proposal is submitted, the other when the thesis analysis and write-up is near completion. These seminars should be presented at the regular Development Studies seminar time. Students should notify the Seminar Coordinators well in advance to secure a presentation slot. In addition, PhD students are expected to participate regularly in Centre seminars.

3) Each student will have two named supervisors — one principal, one back-up, or two joint supervisors — who will share out supervision as negotiated with the student. Both supervisors will read and assess the thesis as it is being prepared. Other advisers may also be appointed.

4) Unless directed otherwise by their main supervisor, all PhD students are required to write and organise their theses according to the style guide provided in the handbook.

5) All PhD students and their supervisors are required by the university to submit an annual report through the Director on the DOC-1 form in order for the student to be enrolled in each subsequent year up to completion of the degree.

All students interested in pursuing postgraduate studies in Development Studies must submit a completed Expression of Interest in PhD application form together with a copy of their research proposal, official transcripts of educational records and curriculum vitae to the Director of Development Studies. An electronic copy can be downloaded from our website. Students applying for a PhD in Development Studies are strongly advised to apply for scholarships to support their postgraduate studies.