AQF Level 10 Award

The ThD is designed for those who seek to expand their own understanding and develop new knowledge in theology for academic, vocational, professional and/or personal reasons.

Doctor of Theology

CRICOS 063716J

The Doctor of Theology (ThD) is an AQF level 10 research doctoral award. It meets the specifications for a Doctoral Degree (Professional) set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. It provides the opportunity to pursue advanced study in a theological discipline by research at the highest academic level. It is designed for those who seek to expand their own understanding and develop new knowledge in theology for academic, vocational, professional and/or personal reasons. It also offers research training and experience that would support an academic or professional career involving research.

The Doctor of Theology is undertaken by research and thesis alone. It provides the opportunity for candidates to embark on a significant, extended piece of research, which investigates a theological topic in a systematic, creative and comprehensive manner that is not available in coursework programs. The research will contribute to knowledge in an original way.


3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time

Fee Information

Full-time per semester - AUD$7,340
Part-time per semester - AUD$3,670
Fees are same for domestic and international students.
Fees are for 2022
FEE-HELP may be available for eligible students.

Study Terms

Semester 1: 6 March 2023 - 28 July 2023. Census Date: 3 April 2023
Semester 2: 31 July 2023 - 8 December 2023. Census Date: 28 August 2023

Award Specifications

View program and the specific regulations

Supervisor List

View details

The Sydney College of Divinity may admit to candidature in the ThD those persons who have attained:

  • A Bachelor (Hons) degree or equivalent with results at Class II, Division 1, from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  • A Graduate Diploma with a GPA of 3+ and one 18 cpt research unit at Distinction level from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  • Qualifications deemed by the College to be equivalent to or higher than those above.

In all cases, prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theological discipline.

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction require a minimum IELTS (or equivalent) score of 7.0 in all bands of the test.

The Doctor of Theology is an entirely research-based degree, resulting in a thesis of 80,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices, under the direction of a supervisor and an associate supervisor.

Compulsory participation in the Research Degree Workshop and eight Research Seminars is also required of the candidate.

Some thesis topics may require competence in ancient and/or modern foreign languages or other relevant areas of knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates will have systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of theological learning and specialized research skills for the advancement of learning in the field. They will have:


  • systematic and critical understanding of the chosen theological field
  • mastery of a substantial body of knowledge at the frontier of knowledge in the field, including knowledge that constitutes an original contribution
  • expert understanding of theories pertaining to the field
  • substantial knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to the field


  • expert and specialized cognitive, creative, and technical skills in the field of research, so that they are able independently and authoritatively to:
  • critically evaluate existing knowledge and ideas pertaining to the field of research
  • systematically investigate and integrate other information potentially relevant to the field including potentially relevant theories
  • demonstrate and apply theoretical understanding of the field
  • develop or adapt research methodologies to extend existing understanding of the field
  • communicate results of research cogently and appropriately to specialist and non-specialist audiences, using the English language competently and effectively for the purpose

Applications of Knowledge and Skills

  • as a practitioner or learner in relation to the inter-dependent building up of the church and good of the wider community, ongoing capacity to:
  • plan and execute a coherent, significant and original piece of research with intellectual independence and authority
  • generate significant and original knowledge in the field
  • contribute expertise to academic discourses in the field
  • take initiatives, think creatively and make innovations in new situations and/or undertake further learning
  • assume full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs

Graduate Attributes

ThD graduates will:

  • Be able to identify, analyse and articulate problems and issues in discourses current in their academic, professional and social communities
  • Recognize the level of their own understanding
  • Demonstrate creativity and originality of thought in solving problems and dealing with complex and abstract conceptual matters
  • Be able to access information efficiently using the means most appropriate to purpose and context
  • Conduct themselves with academic integrity and rigour and exercise critical thinking in forming judgments
  • Work autonomously and with an open mind
  • Understand the distinction between information and argument and be adept in marshalling information as evidence in argument
  • Adopt and practise responsible values and attitudes as members of academic, professional and social communities, based in part on their experience as SCD research candidates
  • Be able to communicate their thinking coherently and effectively, with appropriate English proficiency, in public debate and printed word
  • Have confidence to engage in public discussions of faith and ethics
  • Appreciate and act on opportunities for lifelong learning and encourage others to recognize learning opportunities for themselves
  • Be willing to assume high-level leadership in their academic, professional and social communities as needed

Applications for candidature are made directly to the Sydney College of Divinity. Applications can be submitted online and are accepted throughout the year.

From 1 January 2021, higher education domestic and onshore international students commencing study in 2021 will need a Unique Student Identifier (USI)

  • to be eligible for FEE-HELP (domestic students only)
  • to receive your degree, if you intend to complete your study at the end of 2022 and graduate in 2023.

The process of applying online for candidature must commence only after you have discussed your proposed study with the Sydney College of Divinity Research Director Professor James Harrison. Email Prof Harrison at to explore your options.

An overview of the process would be

  1. Attend an interview with Research Director Professor James Harrison in person or on phone
  2. Decide on the research degree taking onto consideration what is most suited to your research topic. You would also need to consider the time, cost and other factors before you embark on your study
  3. Check your eligibility and know the regulations
  4. Prepare to submit your online application which includes the Summary of Research Intentions. Have all the information and supporting documentation ready. All official documents must be certified
  5. Submit your HDR Application online

The Sydney College of Divinity Research Committee will consider the application. If you are successful, you will be admitted on a provisional basis and assigned a principal and secondary supervisor. They will assist you to prepare a Thesis Proposal.  The candidature is provisional until the acceptance of the Thesis Proposal by the Research Committee.

A graduate research degree provides a unique opportunity to follow and focus on an area of interest, and make an important contribution to the development of your chosen area. The decision to enter into a research degree should not be taken lightly. The study requires substantial time and financial commitment, and the capacity for innovative, independent research; critical thinking; time and project management skills; and skills of organisation and communication of information. Typically, full-time candidature requires an average of thirty hours per week and part-time candidature requires an average of fifteen hours per week. These hours should preferably be achieved through regular weekly commitment, but they may be achieved through varying periods of more and less intensive work.

International Students

International students are subject to the conditions of their Australian student visa and are required to maintain a full-time enrolment. If you are planning to enrol as an international student, you have the responsibility to ensure that you comply with your visa conditions at all times.

Fees are the same for all students. International students are not eligible for FEE-HELP, an Australian loan scheme that assists eligible full fee paying students pay their tuition fees at university and other higher education providers. International students will be required to pay the tuition fee at the beginning of each semester. The Graduate Research School may discuss payment plans if paying upfront presents difficulties.

Higher Degree by Research students are exempt from the restricted work hour conditions that apply to undergraduate and postgraduate (coursework) international students. This means that you may be able to work unlimited hours thus adding to your finances once you are in Australia. Always check the conditions of your visa before you decide to commence any work.

Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction will be required to demonstrate competency in English by an IELTS result of 7.0 in all bands of the test and may be required to attend such English language courses as prescribed by the Sydney College of Divinity.

For more information email

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