Admission to the degree programme shall be subject to the approval of the Senate.
Every candidate must be a university graduate and produce evidence of ability to undertake research in the area of proposed study. Such evidence shall include:
- a Bachelor’s degree with first or upper second class Honours (with an average grade in Honours papers at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago) or equivalent (including a research component) with an average grade at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago;) or
- a Master’s degree (with an average grade at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago) (including an appropriate research component worth at least a quarter of a year's workload (0.25 EFTS), with a grade at or equivalent to at least B+ at the University of Otago); or
- appropriate research experience; and
- for candidates including a nominated creative component for assessment, demonstrated advanced training or experience in a relevant creative practice.
If your first language is not English you need to meet our English language requirements as follows: IELTS score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0); we also accept a number of other English language tests. Due to COVID-19, we currently accept Duolingo English Test (DET), IELTS Indicator Test, and TOEFL iBT Special home Edition.
Don’t meet the English language requirements? The University of Otago Language Centre "English for Otago" programme offers a pathway for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students to meet the English language requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate study.
Months of entry
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree offered by the University of Otago. It is awarded on the submission of a thesis which must meet rigorous standards. It requires highly developed academic ability, independence and perseverance. Most students take between 3-4 years of full-time study to complete their PhD.
Nature of the Degree
Candidates for the degree of the Doctor of Philosophy are required to pursue an approved programme of advanced study and research under supervision as enrolled students of the University. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded on the basis of the submission of a thesis. The thesis, which may include a nominated creative component, should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out research, that the candidate has shown originality and independence, and that the candidate has made a significant contribution to the advancement of their particular field. The research should be of a kind which a diligent and competent student might reasonably be expected to complete within three years of full-time study.
Otago’s Faculty of Law is a leader in legal research in New Zealand based on the Government’s Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) assessment. This status attracts top quality academics and postgraduate students from New Zealand and overseas. The Faculty hosts many multi-disciplinary, local and international research projects. The Faculty of Law is home to three respected research centres: the University of Otago Legal Issues Centre and the New Zealand Law Foundation (NZLF) Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies, and the National Centre for Society, Government, & Science.
Significant current and recently-completed research projects based in the Faculty include:
- Conflict of Laws in New Zealand
- Human Genome Research Project
- Children’s Rights Working Paper Series (with University of Auckland)
- Research Cluster for Natural Resources Law
- Otago Community Treatment Order Study
This programme focuses mainly on Law.
Duration of the Programme
A candidate shall pursue a programme of study and research under supervision for a period normally equivalent to 3 full-time years.
The minimum period of study shall be equivalent to 3 full-time years and the maximum period shall be equivalent to 4 full-time years. Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Senate.
No programme shall exceed the equivalent of six years of full-time study from the date of first admission.
A candidate shall be enrolled continuously for the entire period of the candidacy, up to the submission of the thesis, except that a candidate may apply to the Senate for permission to withdraw temporarily from study.
Location of Study and Research
Candidates are normally expected to be resident and studying in New Zealand while enrolled for the degree. Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Senate.
Candidates proposing to study overseas may be approved to do so on a case-by-case basis by the Senate. Normally such study must be deemed necessary for the candidate's research. While overseas, the candidate must continue to be enrolled at the University.
Course is available at Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch campuses.
Information for international students
Otago offers students an unrivalled campus experience and a vibrant, social student culture. The majority of Otago’s 21,000 students live, work and play in Dunedin - New Zealand’s only true university city. Otago is home to over 3,000 students, from over 100 countries.
Fees and funding
Qualification, course duration and attendance options
- full time36 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
Course contact details