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Units in second semester 2020 may be delivered online and in alternative formats whilst restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic are in place.

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Sustainable Development

Professional Doctorate by Research


Doctor of Sustainable Development
3 years full-time


Get the Curtin edge

Access to leadership programs, specialist facilities and industry placements give you a competitive edge in the job market.

Top 1 %

Curtin is ranked in the top one per cent of universities worldwide (Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019).

Global education

You’ll have access to a range of international study opportunities.

Based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, this innovative course is among the first of its kind.

In this course, you will develop a critical understanding of the complex issues that lay at the frontier of sustainable development. You will understand sustainable development as a profoundly inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary endeavour, involving professionals, policy developers and researchers on global and local scales.

The Doctor of Sustainable Development will comprise at least two-thirds research and four units of coursework. You will learn cognitive and technical skills relevant to sustainable development and use these skills to undertake a significant research project. Your research will be well designed and locally embedded to help you become a long-term influencer of change within society and your profession.

Importantly, you will have the opportunity to research and write your thesis predominantly in situ in developing countries. You may have the option of writing your thesis for publication.

Please refer to the handbook for additional course overview information.

Why research at Curtin

Curtin is widely recognised for applied research firmly focused on solving real-world problems. Underpinning our research endeavours are strong partnerships with industry, business and government, which result in outcomes that greatly benefit the broader community locally, nationally and globally. Our international reputation for being a strong partner in industry-driven research ensures our graduates enjoy outstanding opportunities to become innovators in their fields.

What you'll learn

  • have a systematic and critical understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge at the frontier of sustainable development; critique, adapt and apply these disciplines appropriately; have a systematic and critical understanding of inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary roles and representations of sustainable development, that is relevant to professional practice and research.
  • have a systematic and critical understanding of how to frame a sustainable development issue and the role of framing in relation to sustainable development; Develop a range of analytical, creative, critical specialised research skills. Integrate these cognitive and research skills and apply them to finding practical pathways to sustainable development, particularly in research in professional practice.
  • demonstrate specialised cognitive, technical and research skills relevant to sustainable development; evaluate the relevance of information; generate original knowledge pertaining to sustainable development that is relevant to research in professional practice, and policy development and implementation.
  • disseminate and promote new insights into sustainable development to professional and academic peers, and to the community, government and industry through appropriate communication of ideas and information.
  • develop, adapt and/or implement communication and research technologies appropriate to the complexities of sustainable development.
  • develop a reflexive and adaptive approach to learning that is relevant for professional practice and research; adapt and/or implement successful learning strategies to continue to redefine existing knowledge and professional practice.
  • generate original knowledge and understanding pertaining to the global nature of sustainability and the relationship between global and local sustainability issues; develop, adapt and/or implement international good practice for sustainable development particularly in relation to professional practice.
  • be aware of, and generate original understanding of the diverse meanings and applications of the notion of culture to sustainable development; respect indigenous cultures and their immediate relevance to sustainable development; understand the complexities and benefits multiculturalism brings to sustainable development; and critique culture as an integrated system of norms that affect sustainable development.
  • demonstrate autonomy, authoritative judgement and responsibly as an expert and leading practitioner or scholar; work in a team environment, understanding and valuing the diverse skills and qualities needed to make a successful team in sustainable development practice; apply ethical and professional standards to all work.

Entry requirements

Curtin requires all applicants to demonstrate proficiency in English. Specific English requirements for this course are outlined in the IELTS table below.

IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System)
Writing 7.0
Speaking 6.0
Reading 7.0
Listening 6.5
Overall band score 6.5

You may demonstrate English proficiency using the following tests and qualifications.

Please select a country above.

Essential course prerequisites

Entry requirements for international students

You will require one of the following:

  • A master degree and relevant work experience in a sustainable development-related area
  • A relevant honours degree, normally first class, and relevant work experience in a sustainable development-related area
  • Superior performance in one of the Faculty of Humanities’ graduate diplomas or the equivalent from another institution and relevant work experience in a related area
  • Another qualification and background warranting special consideration by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training

The process for assessing applications is highly competitive and each applicant will be assessed on individual merit.

You are required to meet University academic and English language entry standards.

You may be eligible for entry with other credentials, provided you meet specific course entry and completion requirements. Please contact the Faculty of Humanities for more information.

Advanced standing

At Curtin, we understand that everyone’s study journey has been different.

You may have already studied some of the units (subjects) listed in your Curtin course at another educational institution, or you may have work experience that matches the degree requirements.

A successful CRL application exempts you from having to complete certain units within your course and means you could finish your degree in a shorter amount of time.

CRL is also known as recognition of prior learning, advanced standing and credit transfer.

Use the CRL search to find out how much CRL you qualify for, or contact us at:

Tel: +61 8 9266 5888

CRL search

Fees & charges

Under the Research Training Program (RTP), Australian and New Zealand citizens and Australian permanent residents undertaking higher degrees by research may be granted an Australian Government RTP Fee Offset Scholarship to assist with tuition fee liability.

You may be eligible for a scholarship or industry assistance (sponsorship) may be available from external organisations under special conditions.

Fee information is not available for this course at this time. Find estimated course fees.

How to apply

Please review information on how to apply for the campus of your choice

Please note that each campus has different application deadlines. Please view our application deadlines page for further information.

Apply now

Help is at hand

See our frequently asked questions or get in touch with us below.

  • As an international student, can I work in Australia while I'm studying?
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Call us: +61 8 9266 5888

  • The offering information on this website applies only to future students. Current students should refer to faculty handbooks for current or past course information. View courses information disclaimer.

  • Curtin course code: DR-SUSDEV
  • CRICOS code: 085112M
  • Last updated on: February 3, 2020