How to apply

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD with the School of Risk and Actuarial Studies (UNSW Business), then you will need to receive an Invitation to Apply from the school’s Postgraduate Research Coordinator.

To receive an Invitation to Apply, you should 1) self-assess your eligibility, and 2) then submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) by 31st July 2024. Only selected applications will be invited to apply via the UNSW central portal. Details of what to include in your EOI can be found here.


About the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Risk & Actuarial Studies

UNSW’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Risk & Actuarial Studies will prepare you to become a globally focused and socially engaged research leader. You’ll join a cohort of high-achieving research students working at the forefront of research in actuarial studies, risk analytics, superannuation and population ageing, alongside leaders in the field (ranked 1st in the UNL Global Research Rankings of Actuarial Science and Risk Management & InsuranceTM). This is your opportunity to become integrated into the UNSW Business School’s community of scholars.

Most admitted students will enter the pathway program, the Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies (MPDBS). If you are invited to apply for Direct Entry into a PhD, either before or after successful completion of the MPDBS, then the minimum time commitment is 35-40 hours per week for 3-4 years (full time) or 15 hours a week (part time).

You’ll first undertake rigorous coursework covering risk theory, multivariate models for risks, longevity risk management, data analytics, economic and regulatory capital and investment and asset liability modelling. As part of your PhD program, you’ll also be involved in research projects from an early stage. This training will equip you with the skills required to identify, analyse and solve problems in the field.

You’ll then pursue full-time research under the supervision of high-profile UNSW academics, culminating in a doctoral thesis. There will also be exciting opportunities throughout to interact with industry leaders, and to develop your teaching portfolio. The training is geared toward preparing you for a career in academia, although other career paths (e.g., consulting, government, industry, non-profit) are also enabled.

Your PhD thesis will showcase your research skills and enable you to make an original contribution to your field.


Linked Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies (MPDBS) + PhD

Although a few students may be invited to apply for Direct Entry into our PhD program, most applicants are invited to first complete our Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies (MPDBS).

The MPDBS is a one-year pathway for students wanting to undertake a PhD in the UNSW Business School. The MPDBS is a fully funded program, which includes a tuition waiver and stipend (of ~A$37K) for all accepted applicants. This degree constitutes one year of advanced coursework including a research project. Upon completion of the MPDBS, the vast majority of students have historically gone on to our PhD with a scholarship covering tuition and a stipend (~ A$47K).

The MPDBS gives students an extra year to develop their research skills and to find a match with appropriate supervisors. 

The application processes for both the PhD and the Linked MPDBS + PhD are identical as shown in How to Apply.  


PhD Program Structure

Year One: Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies (MPDBS)

Your first year of study is designed to provide a rigorous foundation to conduct independent research. You’ll learn a range of methodologies and build your communication and presentation skills.

Your first year of coursework study will cover fundamental research methods. You’ll also start developing key research skills such as identifying, framing, presenting, and writing academic contributions. You’ll work as a research assistant on faculty research projects and start working on your own research as your skills develop.

The first year will help you identify your potential thesis supervisor for the PhD component of the program. Upon successful completion of the first year, you’ll be awarded a Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies. A brief overview of the first year is presented below. Please visit the UNSW Handbook for full course structure details. 

Term 1

  • Program Core Course: COMM8100
  • Two Elective Courses

Term 2

  • Program Core Course: COMM8101 or COMM8102
  • Stream Core Course: Research Assistance Work
  • One Elective Course

Term 3

  • Program Core Course: COMM8103
  • Two Elective Courses
Year Two: Specialised Coursework & Identification of Thesis Topic

During the second year, you’ll continue in the Risk & Actuarial Studies stream with a further year of advanced coursework.

You’ll choose up to eight additional research courses from a range of electives in consultation with your supervisor, with an opportunity to take at least one subject outside of your specialised discipline.

Your second year is also when you’ll identify your thesis topic with your supervisor. You’ll engage in literature review and research design and present your research proposal to the School at the end of the year.

Year Three – Four: Original Research & Your Doctoral Thesis

The final two years of the program are focused on conducting full-time research and completing your doctoral thesis. This is your opportunity to address some of the biggest challenges in Risk & Actuarial Studies and make a significant contribution to knowledge in your field. Your research will offer new critical thinking and withstand critical analysis from expert researchers in the area.

  • Your PhD thesis will set you on the path to a career in a premier research institution, anywhere in the world. Throughout your research degree, you’ll also have many opportunities to develop your teaching portfolio.

    Beyond academia, there is also significant demand in the private and public sectors for people with deep knowledge and sound research and analytical skills*.

    Whether you’re looking to pursue a career in academia, or take your research skills out to industry, a PhD in Risk & Actuarial Studies from UNSW will get you there.

    *Source: 2019 Advancing Australia’s Knowledge Economy Report

Degree type

Postgraduate Research


4 years full-time, 5-8 years part-time

Commencing terms

Term 1 – February

Program code


Delivery mode

On Campus

Domestic / International



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