The School of Aviation offers a number of research degrees:

These degrees are collectively referred to as Higher Degrees by Research (HDR).

In the following, we describe the general requirements for entry to the Master of Philosophy, the Master of Science by Research and the Doctor of Philosophy, the financial support, and then give a listing of available topics/projects.

The topics listed below are available for study within the School with supervision from the nominated academic. In each topic, you will see a topic title, the level at which research may be achieved, a description of the topic and a summary of academic background requirements. In general, successful applicants will need to have a suitable overall academic background as well as specific competencies suitable for the specific project.

Once accepted, it is possible for local students to enroll in a part-time program of study, however it is essential that the student is able to work ~ 20 hours per week if studying on a part-time basis. Full-time study requires a student to be on campus here at UNSW for the majority of the time. International students, by virtue of Australian student visa requirements, will need to be enrolled full-time and be studying on campus.

In general, a prospective student is expected to negotiate and discuss a project with their intended supervisor and jointly agree on a topic and the methodology to be used before a formal application is made. An offer for enrolment requires the approval of the Supervisor, the Head of School, the Higher Degree Committee of the Faculty and the Graduate Research School. For more information on admission to research degrees at UNSW see HERE.

^  Back to top  ^

The Master of Philosophy - Aviation (MPhil)

The MPhil Aviation provides students with a qualification that combines research training with a substantial coursework component.

The program requires student to undertake three semesters of supervised research which includes between 18 and 24 Units of Credit of advanced coursework. It is a requirement of the award that all coursework is completed within the first 2 semesters of enrolment and must be passed at first attempt.

The MPhil Aviation is an alternate to BAv Honours for students:
* Returning to study after a period away (e.g., in the workforce), or
* National and international who would like to obtain experience and qualification in conducting research, or
* Who have limited background or knowledge in aviation and would like to pursue a career in this area.

Unlike Honours, HECS is not applicable.

Students will choose a research project from aviation-related disciplines that include, safety, management, economics, and tourism. A supervisor with specialist knowledge in the discipline will be appointed to guide and mentor each student. In addition, each student will receive a tailored plan outlining the specific courses required to be completed for the award. The plan will take into considerations the student's background, academic achievements and aspirations.

The minimum requirement for admission to a MPhil degree can be found HERE.

^  Back to top  ^

The Master of Science by Research (MSc)

Entry to the MSc by Research is generally available to those who have a three or four year degree and where some research experience has been already obtained. This experience might be obtained in an honours degree, a masters coursework degree, or in the working environment. Generally a MSc will take two years full-time or four years on a part-time basis. The equivalent level of research need is approximately equal to one major or two minor research papers published in international journals. It is expected that, as well as completing a thesis, manuscripts will be submitted to international refereed journals for dissemination world-wide.

The minimum requirement for admission to a MSc by Research degree can be found HERE.

^  Back to top  ^

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Entry to the PhD is available either by completing an honours degree at least at the Second Class Division 1 level or equivalent, or a MSc by Research from a reputable university. A second method is by articulation from a MSc in which the candidate is presently enrolled within the School, where progress is deemed satisfactory by an academic review committee and the students qualifications and research experience are deemed Honours 2 - 1 equivalent. A PhD will take three to four years full-time or eight years on a part-time basis. The equivalent level of research need is approximately equal to three or more major research papers published in international journals. It is expected that, as well as completing a thesis, manuscripts will be submitted to international refereed journals for dissemination world-wide.

The minimum requirement for admission to a PhD degree can be found HERE.

^  Back to top  ^

Financial and Resource Support

For local students, no academic fees are payable as a consequence of Australian federal government support called the Research Training Scheme. However students under the Research Training Scheme are liable for the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). For international students, fees are payable as indicated HERE. Such fees are adjusted each year, typically by a few percent. Rental costs in Sydney are typically $15,000-$20,000 per year for a room in a shared house, and more than double that for a self contained apartment.

UNSW assists postgraduate researchers by providing a wide range of prestigious scholarships for domestic and international students.

Domestic students can apply for Australian Postgraduate Award (APA). Also high achieving domestic students from within Australia or New Zealand are invited to apply for the Visit UNSW Program that provides travel and accommodation funding to visit the UNSW campuses.

International applicants can apply for International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS). IPRS covers the tuition fees and a modest living allowance (stipend at APA rate) and health cover. There are also a few Tuition Fee Scholarships (TFS) available with stipend paid at APA rate.

These scholarships are extremely competitive and only the best candidates obtain these. Scholarship applicants should hold a four year bachelor's degree with Honours Class 1 from an Australian institution or an equivalent research qualification/experience. Candidates who do not hold a Bachelor degree with Honours 1 may be considered if they have demonstrated high research performance, relevant professional or direct research experience such as publication of research papers. For more information on scholarships for local and international students visit HERE.

The School does not otherwise offer scholarships or guarantee any other income to students who choose to accept an offer. Should a student require specialist equipment or have other specialist needs, these need to be discussed with the intended supervisor, and agreed BEFORE an application is made. In some cases this may mean a project needs modification before it is feasible.

All full-time HDR students of the School are offered a desk, basic computing, bookshelf and filing cabinet space in multiple-occupancy rooms. Part-time students may be given a desk for all or part of their candidature, but will in any case have access to hot-desk space within the school.

All HDR students have access to the UNSW internet library which provides access to the major international research journals.

The School owns and operates research simulators for train and car driving safety studies as well as a research flight simulator and an instrumented vehicle. It is also possible that the operational simulators used for flying training might be used for research, and the School also operates an airborne research facility with scanning lasers and hyper-spectral cameras deployed in UNSW aeroplanes.

^  Back to top  ^

Research Topics/Projects Available

Prospective students who are interested in one of the following topics/projects, please email your CV and academic transcripts to the Supervisor as listed, and also cc the School's:
- Postgraduate Research Administrator, Mrs Jamie Lim (
- Head of School, Prof Jason Middleton (

  • Airborne Remote Sensing (MSc and PhD)

Description: Students will actively engage in the analyses of airborne data acquired from the School's scanning laser system and/or hyper-spectral camera system. Research will include algorithm development to optimise data quality and resolution, and applications may be undertaken in conjunction with teams of investigators from other Schools or institutions.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in science or engineering with a strong background in mathematics, physics and computation.
Supervisor: Prof Jason Middleton (

  • Aviation Meteorology (MSc and PhD)

Description: Aviation operations are undertaken in sometimes very severe meteorological conditions. Many of the meteorological processes important to aviation safety are better understood by utilising a combination of analytical and numerical mathematical techniques, which are common in applied mathematics. A range of interesting phenomena, including swirling flow boundary layers, turbulent boundary layers, airflow over and around topography, hydraulic jumps, effects of Coriolis force on wake flows, etc are available to students.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in science or engineering with a strong background in mathematics, physics and computation.
Supervisor: Prof Jason Middleton (

  • Airline Strategy and Business Models (MSc and PhD)

Description: Low Cost Carriers are now well established in most regional and shorthaul markets. Longer haul low cost operations have a much less consistent success rate, particularly for low cost airlines that lack close relationships with low cost regional or full service network airlines. The student will study cost, product, and route factors that drive airline performance and financial outcomes.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in aviation or business.
Supervisor: Dr Ian Douglas (

  • Models of Air Travel Behaviour (MSc and PhD)

Description: The student will be involved in a program of research in modeling air travel behaviour of visitors. The student will undertake review and development of experimental design approaches suitable for answering key questions raised by destination stakeholders
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in geography or/and economics or/and aviation management, with some background in econometric methods or operations research
Supervisor: Dr Tay Koo (

  • Dispersal Measurement Approaches (MSc and PhD)

Description: Sustainable regional dispersal of visitors is important for the well-being of Australian regions. The student will complete a critical review of dispersal measurement approaches, and partake in a program of research to develop an innovative measurement approach for practical implementation.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in geography or/and economics or/and tourism or/and aviation management
Supervisor: Dr Tay Koo (

  • The Influence of Panic on Effective Decision-Making in Aviation (MSc and PhD)

Description: A MSc or PhD candidate will investigate the influence of panic on effective decision-making on the flight deck. Research will include both a literature review and primary data collection using the school's flight simulator.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in aviation psychology (Human Factors) or psychology with some flight experience (preferable).
Supervisor: Dr Brett Molesworth (

  • Risk Compensation in Aviation (PhD)

Description: How people perceive and respond to risk is an important determinant of safety outcomes. Risk compensation is the controversial notion that people take more risks when given safety equipment or interventions. The conditions under which risk compensation may occur will be assessed in a complement of studies, potentially focusing on pilots or other aviation personnel, and using a range of methods as appropriate (simulator, survey, database analysis).
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in psychology or human factors.
Supervisor: Dr Carlo Caponecchia (

  • Fatigue on Commuter Trips (PhD)

Description: While many strategies target road safety on long trips, evidence suggests short regular (commuter) trips may be also subject to fatigue. Fatigue during commuting is an important problem at the nexus of workplace and road safety, and has been identified as a major issue for the Aviation industry. The student would complete a range of simulator and on-road studies measuring drowsiness (as an index of fatigue) under various sleep conditions.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in psychology or human factors.
Supervisor: Dr Carlo Caponecchia (

  • Airline Scheduling and Performance Measurement (MSc and PhD)

Description: Airline scheduling is a complex process. The conventional way of scheduling is to use outputs from one stage as inputs of a following stage from fleet assignment, aircraft routing, crew pairing, then crew rostering. A major challenge in this conventional scheduling practice is the measurement of the operational performance of a schedule plan. Without detailed costing and simulation, current practices in the industry is commonly to benchmark the performance (e.g. on-time performance) against an arbitrarily chosen target. Thus, this project is to improve upon this industry practice and improve how airlines benchmark schedules and actual performance.
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in science/management/engineering with a strong background in stochastic models, statistics and ideally with a good interest in exploring simulation techniques in this project.
Supervisor: Dr Cheng-Lung (Richard) Wu (

  • Applying Portfolio Theory to Tourism Marketing: Boosting Productivity via Strategic Diversification (MSc and PhD)

Description: This project utilises portfolio investment theory within the context of determining an optimal marketing expenditure budget for tourism destinations. Tourism flows from different markets can be viewed as risk and return investments that are influenced by the tourism destination's marketing budget allocations. Using traditional finance theory, marketing budgets can be optimised to minimise risk (tourism flow volatility) and maximise returns (visitors to the destination).
Specific Academic Competencies: Degree in Commerce (Finance or Economics), Aviation Management, or Tourism.
Supervisor: Dr David Tan (

In addition to the above topics, students can also undertake research in all aspects of the following areas:
Law & Regulations
Airport Operations Management
Airline Corporate Management
Safety & Accident Prevention
Airline Operational Management
Airport Planning
Aviation Human Factors
Airline Accident Investigation Techniques
Inflight Services Management
Air Traffic Management
Ground Safety Investigation
Airline Incident Investigation

A list of CURRENT research projects undertaken by our HDR students can be found HERE.
A list of COMPLETED research projects by our HDR students can be found HERE.

^  Back to top  ^

How to Apply

Step 1: The Minimum Eligibility
Please click HERE to find out the minimum eligibility requirements for research degrees offered at UNSW.

Step 2: Finding a Supervisor
Applicants who are interested in one of the above topics/projects, please email your CV and academic transcripts to the supervisor as listed, and also cc the School's:
- Postgraduate Research Administrator, Mrs. Jamie Lim (
- Head of School, Prof. Jason Middleton (

Applicants who have their own research topics/projects will need to find a potential supervisor within the School. The supervisors listed above show their areas of expertise. Please email the potential supervisor your research proposal, CV and academic transcripts.

Step 3: The Application
Once the research project is agreed by both the applicant and the supervisor, the supervisor will advise the applicant to submit a formal admission application. All research degree applicants must apply online. Please click HERE to access the application link.

^  Back to top  ^


A list of research papers published by the UNSW Aviation researchers can be found HERE.

^  Back to top  ^

Consulting Services

The School of Aviation provides a range of services to support industry, ranging from short-term consultancy to longer-term contract research. More information can be found HERE.