Master of Research

Master of Research

Macquarie University has adopted a new postgraduate degree structure, making it the first Australian university to fully align with European, North American and Asian qualifications. With greater international recognition for their qualifications, graduates of the new degree will enjoy enhanced employment opportunities and pathways to further study overseas. Consistent with the well-known ‘Bologna model’, the two-year full-time Master of Research (MRes) will replace honours as the main pathway to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil).

The degree is a two year degree made up of a total of 64 credit points. The first year is 32 credit points of advanced course work, the second year is predominately research culminating in a thesis.


Enquiries can be directed to the Physics and Astronomy MRes Advisor: Joanne Dawson

Yearly Programs

Please see the following pages for all the details:

MRes Year 1

The first year of BPhil/MRes is primarily coursework. In physics, all the units in the first semester are compulsory and cover essential skills and knowledge.

Semester 1

Unit Code Unit Name
All the units in semester 1 are compulsory:
PHYS700 Research Frontiers in Physics and Astronomy 1 Unit Details
PHYS701 Mathematical Methods in Physics Unit Details
PHYS702 Statistical Physics Unit Details
PHYS703 Computational Science Unit Details

Semester 2

Unit Code Unit Name
The centrally taught MRES700 unit is compulsory:
MRES700 Research Communications Unit Details
Selected three more units from physics or other departments (subject to approval):
PHYS704 Nanobiophotonics Unit Details
PHYS714 Quantum Information and Technology Unit Details
ASTR707 Advanced Astrophysics Unit Details
ASTR708 Introduction to Particle Physics and Cosmology Unit Details
PHTN702 Advanced Photonics Unit Details
PHYS798 Physics and Astronomy Special Topic 1 Unit Details
PHYS799 Physics and Astronomy Special Topic 2 Unit Details

Fees and Financial Support

Please see the following for details:

MRes Year 2

The second year of MRes is structured around five activities: Research Frontiers 2, literature review, research methods, research planning, and thethesis. Year two will be predominantly assessed on the thesis (90%) with a contribution from Research Frontiers 2 (10%). Satisfactory performance in the other activities is required but they do not acquire a separate formal mark.

Schedule of tasks for year two of the physics MRes.

Read literature; research workshops

Mandatory faculty sessions:

1. Literature Session
2. Planning Session

3. Writing Session

February Read literature; participate in journal club; research workshops
March Read literature; participate in journal club; research workshops
DUE: end of March – project proposal presentation to research groups
DUE: end of March – draft research project plan
April Research workshops; read literature; journal club to mid April
DUE: mid April – big questions research essay
DUE: end of April – detailed MRes research plan
May Research workshops
DUE: mid May – draft literature review
DUE: end of May – literature review
June Conduct research project and write thesis
July Conduct research project and write thesis
August Conduct research project and write thesis
September Conduct research project and write thesis
DUE: end of September – draft thesis
October Finalise thesis and extend research proposal to PhD plan.
DUE: early October – thesis submission
DUE: early October – detailed PhD research plan


Activity 1: Research Frontiers 2

This activity is designed to guide students in taking a critical look at their field as a whole. Students will examine more closely the frontiers of their chosen research area answering such questions as “What are the most important recent findings? What are the big open questions? Who are the leaders in the field?” While answering these questions students will learn how to critically assess research claims.

Each week, students are expected to find and read papers from their research area and be prepared to critically discuss the articles. The class will meet with the lecturer every week, up to April, and at the meeting some students will be selected to present their chosen articles, with the ensuing guided discussions instructing the students on how to assess research papers, identify the key results, understand why they are claimed to be significant, and see how the results are justified and presented. Students will be expected to present at least two such articles, and to use a number of these articles for their written report. Guidance in analysing and discussing the journal articles will be provided by the lecturers, but students are expected to select their own articles.

Big open questions: students will each write a report (approximately 3,000 words) describing a big open question or grand challenge in their field and comparing a number of the leading journal articles from their chosen research area. This will be an opportunity to discuss articles that address the “big challenges” of the field. Assessment will be by the unit lecturer and each student’s supervisory panel. Due middle of April and worth 10% of final grade.

Activity 2: Literature Review

Students will attend introductory classes explaining the review of scholarly literature and its relationship to their individual research project (2-4 sessions). Workshops will also be held on electronic databases, journal citations, navigating citation chains and analysing journal articles.

Students will then do a significant preliminary survey of the literature relevant to their proposed research area and of a length of approximately 5,000 words. Progress and any issues arising are to be discussed with the supervisory panel weekly.

A significant draft is required by middle of May and each student’s Supervisory Panel will give relevant advice to the student. The final review is due end of May and is expected to be incorporated into the thesis.

Satisfactory progress. It’s expected the literature review will be incorporated into the thesis.

Activity 3: Research Methods

As part of the degree requirements, second-year MRes students are required to complete a series of research methods activities. Some of these activities are of a technical nature specific to your project. The others are of a general, professional training style and will be delivered through the Q2Q program.

To this end, second-year MRes students are required to complete 3 modules in that program, in addition to “Developing self-sufficiency through LaTeX”.
Note that “The PhD thesis” module is not appropriate for MRes students.

Tasks will be assigned following each workshop to assess the students’ understanding of the material. Satisfactory progress is required.

Activity 4: Research Planning

In addition to centrally taught sessions on project management, students are required to develop a plan to tackle their main research question. A draft research project plan will be completed for the MRes project by end of March including extension to a larger 3 year PhD project. Students will receive feedback on the research plan and possible amendments. Note that the Supervisory Panel members are expected to be closely involved in the research planning.

The students will present their project proposals to their research centres in 20 minute presentations towards the end of March. Department members are invited to attend all presentations. These presentations are assessed and reviewed by the supervisory panels with feedback to the students. If a research plan is deemed unsatisfactory, the student will again be counselled to amend the plan.

The detailed MRes research plan is due end of April, for a project of one half year duration. The MRes research plan will include the aims of the project, background and significance of the project, proposed methods, timeline and budget, and the expected outcomes. The plan should indicate the proposed path to a PhD project of 3 years duration.

A detailed PhD research plan is due at the end of October, (coinciding with the APA application deadline). This will include the aims of the wider project, background and significance of the project, proposed methods, timeline and budget, and some indication of expected outcomes.

Satisfactory progress

Activity 5: Thesis

MRes students will complete research project in order to demonstrate individual research capability to conduct Major (PhD-scale) Research Project, producing a thesis equivalent to 15,000-20,000 words.

MRes students will have a supervisory panel of at least two supervisors from the beginning of the project. Note that the pattern of supervision may change as the project evolves, and one of the supervisors may take a lead role or both may participate jointly. It is also possible that additional supervisors (eg offsite) may be assigned if needed.

The thesis will be worth 90% of MRes year two assessment. The thesis will be externally examined by approved panel.
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