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Joint PhD Program


Under the joint PhD model, the candidate is enrolled at Macquarie University and the University of Hamburg and co-supervised by researches from both universities.

The minimum program duration is 24 months with a maximum of 36 months. The student spends approximately half their time at each university, with a minimum of 12 months on each campus. This may be in one or more periods of time, subject to funding and the needs of the research program.

At the conclusion of the research, a single thesis will be prepared and examined in a single process agreed by both universities. If successful, the student will graduate and attend a graduation ceremony at only one university. The degree certificate carries the crest of both universities and is signed by authorities in both universities.

Candidate benefits

  • Exposes candidates to different academic environments through joint enrolment and supervision.
  • It enhances a candidate's training experiences and gives them access to the latest research equipment and technologies at two institutions.
  • Provides candidates with international networking opportunities that will expand their future employment opportunities – whether through exposure to new academic institutions or new industries.
  • Candidates are able to write one thesis that is examined at two universities.
  • Candidates may have access to new funding schemes.
  • Personal benefits of experiencing a new culture and environment. This obviously provides new personal experiences for the candidate but has the added effect of allowing them to further develop their soft skills.

Institutional benefits

  • Deepens and strengthens research collaborations and networks at an individual and institutional level.
  • Fosters a higher level of cooperation between researchers in their respective fields through co-supervision.
  • Provides access to new funding schemes and access to new international enrolments.
  • Provides an opportunity to increase joint publications, citation rate and rankings.
  • The candidate benefits make the institution more attractive to potential candidates.


Universität Hamburg
  • Stine von Förster
  • Partnership management advisor
  • Phone: +49 40 42838-8749/ 5755
  • Email: stine.vonfoerster@uni-hamburg.de
  • Website: www.uni-hamburg.de/mq-fu-ham
Macquarie University
  • Joanna McCarthy
  • Higher Degree Research Coordinator International Research Training Partnerships
  • Email: joanna.mccarthy@mq.edu.au or hdrcotutelle@mq.edu.au


All candidates must meet Macquarie University's direct PhD entry requirements as per normal. Supervisors and candidates can also check to see if they appear to be eligible for a scholarship by going to the Scholarship Requirements webpage.

How to apply

Set up agreement between supervisors of both universities
  1. Check with your current (or proposed) supervisor at Macquarie whether they are in agreement with the idea of a joint PhD.
  2. Find a supervisor at University of Hamburg. If there is no existing relationship between MQ supervisor and researchers at Hamburg, go to the relevant faculty at UHH and find a supervisor in your department and specific research field.
  3. Ideally the MQ supervisor should contact the proposed Hamburg supervisor with a brief outline of what is proposed.
  4. When both supervisors have agreed to the joint supervision, submit a “Cotuelle Joint PhD Proposal Form”.
    1. Supervisor discusses project, duration and funding with partner
    2. In general, it is expected that the partner will make a financial contribution to the project
    3. Send completed form by email to Faculty HDR Office relevant to your Faculty at Macquarie University
    4. The Faculty Associate Dean will review the proposed collaboration
    5. If endorsed, it will be forwarded to the Higher Degree Research Office hdrcotutelle@mq.edu.au for final endorsement and agreement negotiations to commence
Joint PhD agreement

A legal agreement must be signed between the two institutions. The Higher Degree Research Office will manage the agreement negotiations and the final agreement must be signed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) who has the delegated authority to do so at Macquarie University. To initiate this process, Macquarie University supervisors must complete the Cotutelle/Joint PhD Proposal Form as advised in section 4 above.

The legal agreement can take anywhere between 3-7 months to be finalised.

Applying for admission to Macquarie University
  1. Information about application processes at MQ can be found here.
  2. Macquarie has an online application system for admission to its higher degree research programs
  3. Candidates ca identify themselves as a Joint Degree Applicant through their online application
  4. Academic referee’ reports are required for candidates applying for scholarships. These report template is submitted by the canidates nominated supervisor directly to hdrschol@mq.edu.au. The report will be uploaded and matched with the candidate’s application by HDR Scholarships Officer.
  5. Scholarship components offered to Cotutelle and Joint PhD Candidates are three-fold.
    1. a stipend allowance to cover living expenses. In 2017 for full-time award holders it is $26,682 tax exempt. Payable while the Cotutelle/Joint PhD candidate is on campus at Macquarie (paid pro rata on a fortnightly basis)
    2. tuition fee support is generally for 100% of the approved program (up to a maximum tenure of 36 months)
    3. all Cotutelle & Joint PhD candidates are entitled to one return economy airfare from their home universities nearest major airport to Sydney, Australia. Travel must be undertaken in accordance with the Macquarie University Travel Policy and must be booked by the Higher Degree Research Office.
    4. Hamburg University is a Priority 1 level engagement due to Macquarie’s strong research collaboration relationships. Therefore, for prospective joint PhD applicants, a Cotutelle or joint PhD MQRTP scholarship can be approved for award at any time for qualified applicants.
  6. Enquiries regarding the Joint Degree program can be directed to hdrcotutelle@mq.edu.au

Enquiries regarding admission criteria can be directed to hdr.admissions@mq.edu.au

Apply to the University of Hamburg
  1. You must meet all eligibility requirements of UHH
  2. At the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences (Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Informatics, Mathematics and Physics) you have to fill out this online form.
  3. Your online application must include the following documents:
    1. Outline of your research project (research proposal form)
    2. Resume (form in online portal)
    3. Copy of your identity card
    4. The supervision agreement
    5. Admission qualifications (e.g., Diplom certificate; if applicable, recognition of other degrees)
    6. As your academic degree is from outside the European Union, you must include certificates of academic degrees including a transcript of records, diploma supplement, master thesis and this form.
  4. Upon acceptance by the Doctoral Committee, you must enrol with your acceptance letter at the online forum STINE.
  5. More information about department specific admission processes at the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences can be found here.
  6. Information about admission processes at departments of other respective faculties can be found here.
Macquarie supervisor agrees details with partner supervisor
  1. Details such as scholarships, stipends, travel costs, other funding, whether requested or to be offered
  2. Project title, duration, name of other supervisor
  3. Identify partner signatory for agreement
Student enrols or is transferred to joint program at Macquarie
  1. HDRO will make the formal offer to the student to include offer of admission to the Joint PhD program and scholarship components and the finalised Joint agreement that lays out the terms of the joint enrolment.
  2. If the student is already enrolled at Macquarie University, the student will be offered a transfer to the joint program. Conditions for a transfer apply: the candidate must have at least 2 years of their PhD left as this is the minimum joint enrolment period.
  3. The formal offer to the student will include offer of admission to the Joint PhD program and scholarship components and the finalised Joint agreement that lays out the terms of the joint enrolment.

Deadlines: Applicants can be considered all year around.

Visa information

For Australian students going to Hamburg

Australian passport holders do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, to study in Germany, you need either a student applicant visa which you can apply for once you have applied to the University of Hamburg (UHH) or a student visa. You can apply for a student visa after you have received your acceptance letter/ offer of admission (Zulassungsbescheid).

It may take up to three month to process a visa application. Hence, it is recommended to apply for a student applicant visa as soon as your application is confirmed rather than waiting for your acceptance letter.

Once you are in Germany, you can convert the student applicant visa into a student residency permit. Student applicant visas are valid for 3 months.

When you apply for a student applicant visa, the German embassy or consulate general checks if you have a University entrance qualification recognized in Germany, a valid passport or equivalent, and sufficient financial means to live in Germany (EUR 670 per month minimum). The embassy or consulate general then seeks authorization by the foreigner’s registration office in Germany. The visa request is deemed authorized if no objection has been made after three weeks and two working days.

If you have been accepted to UHH and enter Hamburg with a student applicant visa, the Hamburg Welcome Center or the local foreigner’s registration office will once again check your documents and, if you still meet all necessary requirements, convert your visa to a restricted residency permit (student permit).

For German students coming to Macquarie

For international inbound candidates to Macquarie in order to apply for a Visa Class 500 to enrol in a PhD program you will need to wait until you receive your formal offer,

Once received you will be required to accept the terms of the offer and purchase compulsory overseas health insurance (OSHC) for the period of your planned onshore visit. The purchase of OSHC is compulsory for all student visa applications.

You will need to either purchase the policy yourself or make a transfer to Macquarie University for the policy to be purchased on your behalf. Full details of this are laid out in the formal offer. Once your OSHC has been purchased you have accepted your offer and completed the Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) Form the Commencements Officer at the higher degree research office will issue you with a COE for you to apply for the student visa.

Tuition fees & living costs

Macquarie University
For domestic candidates

The PhD is free of tuition fees under the Research Training Program.

All Cotutelle and Joint PhD Candidates are assessed for scholarship as part of their admission application. All domestic candidates if eligible will be offered a place covered by the Australian Government Funded Research Training Program (RTP) as detailed in How to apply - Applying for admission to Macquarie University.

For international candidates

All international candidates are full fee paying unless they are offered a scholarship to cover their tuition fee liability.

All Cotutelle and Joint PhD Candidates are assessed for scholarship as part of their admission application.

Universität Hamburg
Tuition fees

University in Hamburg is free of tuition fees for domestic and international students. Only a semester contribution of EUR 313 per semester incurs. This, however, also covers public transport in the greater Hamburg area during the semester.

Living costs

Along with your application for enrolment, you have to provide proof of health insurance. Health insurance for students can be attained for roughly EUR 80 per month.

Housing costs are at roughly EUR 250-450 per month and additional living expenses including utilities, food and leisure activities are approximately EUR 300-500 per month. Thus, you need to plan in a total budget of EUR 630-1030 per month excluding the semester contribution.

Financial support

Student jobs

It is legal to work in Germany with a student visa. However, as a student from outside the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), you are limited to work a total of 120 full or 240 half days per year; that is about 2.5 days a week. To work more, you need to apply for a permit from the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) and the foreigners’ authority.

No limits apply to research assistant work but you still need to inform the foreigner’s authority. Students from outside the EU or EEA are not permitted to work in a self-employed or freelance capacity.

Stellenwerk Hamburg offers a cross- University platform for job and internship advertisements (https://www.stellenwerk-hamburg.de).

Students can generally earn 450 per month tax free (EUR 8,354 per year). If you earn less than the tax-free threshold but your employer has withheld income tax, you will get it back after submitting your income tax statement.

If you work less than two consecutive months or 50 days over a period of a year, you don’t have to pay any social security contributions. If you work for a longer period, you will have to make pension insurance contributions. And if you work more than 20 hours a week, you will have to pay health, unemployment and nursing care insurance.

For more information, go to the website of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Financial services for international students

BAföG assistance is a funding scheme in accordance with the German Federal Education and Training Assistance Act. You can only receive monthly aid payment if you meet the legal eligibility criteria. In most cases, international students from outside the EU or EEA who do not have family connections to Germany are not eligible. More information on eligibility can be found here.

Grants & scholarships

The German university system is organised very differently than the Australian. And because the University of Hamburg is free of tuition fees, only a very limited number of scholarships are available. There is no central authority to which you can apply or which forwards applications to funding institutions. The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD) provides an overview of different scholarships. However, be aware that you need to apply for a DAAD scholarship approximately 1.5 years before starting your studies.

Deutschlandstipendium (Germany Scholarship)

This scholarship provides financial and non-material support to high-achieving and committed students from all over the world. Modelled after the principle of public-private partnership, businesses, foundations or private individuals sponsor young talent with a pledge of 150 euros per month. The Federal Government matches this amount with another 150 euros. Many universities and private sponsors also support Deutschlandstipendium holders through concurrent mentoring programmes, networking events and internships.

The scholarship supports highly talented students and is awarded without consideration of personal or parental income or nationality. It is awarded by the universities.

Applicants must meet the requirements of the individual institution. The criteria for selecting scholarship recipients include academic achievements, social commitment and personal achievements.

General information on the scholarship can be found here; information on the scholarship at University of Hamburg can be found here. For information on how to apply for the Germany Scholarship at UHH, you need to register here.

DAAD Research Grants – One-Year Grants

DAAD research grants provide foreign doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists with an opportunity to carry out research and continue their education in Germany. The primary aim of this program is to promote research projects within the context of doctoral programs.

Research projects which is being carried out in coordination with an academic advisor in Germany can be funded. Duration of funding is usually 7-10 month and it is non-renewable. The grant is valued at EUR 1,000 for doctoral candidates and postdocs. Further, it includes payments towards health, accident and personal liability insurance cover, travel allowance unless these are covered by the home country, and one-off research allowance. Under certain circumstances, grant holders may receive additional benefits such as monthly rent subsidies and monthly allowance for accompanying members of family.

The most important selection criteria are a convincing and well-planned research project or course of continuing education and academic achievements. Additional documents that prove academic suitability or provide information about extracurricular activities will also be considered in the assessment.

More information can be found here.

Research Grants – Cotutelle Doctoral Programs

These grants provide foreign doctoral candidates and young academics and scientists with an opportunity to carry out research or continue their education in Germany. The aim of this program is to promote binational doctoral degrees. The prerequisite is an agreement between the participating universities about the doctoral program which is to be supervised. The scholarship is merit based for excellently-qualified doctoral candidates and graduates and selection criteria are a convincing and well-planned research project or course of continuing education and academic achievements.

Duration of funding is up to 18 months or within the framework of several shorter stays within a period of three consecutive years. The grants are valued at EUR 1,000 per month and additionally payments towards health, accident and personal liability insurance cover, travel allowance and one-off research allowance. Travel and accommodation expenses of the home supervisor when visiting Germany for supervision or examination purposes may be covered as well.

More information can be found here.

Evonik Scholarships

The Evonik Foundation supports research projects by doctoral students in natural sciences. The Foundation refines its key funding areas each year, thus, the proposed project must match the content criteria to be eligible for support. For doctoral theses, the scholarship is valued at EUR 1,400 per month over two years with an option to renew the sponsorship.

For more information, click here.

Research stays for University Academics and Scientists

The aim of this program is to support short-term research stays and promote the exchange of experience and networking amongst colleagues. It is designed for university teachers and established academics and scientists who have usually completed a doctoral degree and work at a university or research institute in their home country.

Funding may be claimed once within three years. Funding duration is one to three months and the grant is non-renewable. Grants are valued at EUR 2,000 for assistant teachers, assistant professors and lecturers and EUR 2,150 for professors. Additionally, grants may cover travel allowance unless these are covered by the home country or another source of funding. Selection criteria are based on academic achievements, recent publications and a convincing and well-planned research project.

More information can be found here.

For more information on other scholarships and grants, go to the scholarship database of the DAAD.

Current PhD and scholarship opportunities

Scholarship available for PhD candidate under Green Cities program


Faculty of Science and Engineering


Biological Sciences

Project name

Green Cities: Urban planning for a sustainable future

Closing date


Allocation number

2017161 and 2017162

Project description

We are looking for a highly motivated and qualified candidate for a PhD program of research in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University, commencing early 2017 under the new Green Cities Project – Which Plant, Where, When and Why Database for Growing Urban Greenspace. This project will facilitate green cities by unlocking opportunities to develop sustainable and resilient urban green spaces. The successful applicant will work in a team of researchers from Macquarie University and Western Sydney University, and engage with the industry partners NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA), and various stakeholders associated with the project.

The successful candidate will investigate the potential for urban greening and successful urban planting under future variable climatic/environmental conditions. Applications are open to international candidates as well as Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of Australia. The position is based in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University (North Ryde, NSW), and will collaborate with the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (Richmond, NSW) and the horticulture industry to achieve key applied outcomes in urban science.

Examples of potential topics may include assessing the performance of urban plantings in different climatic/ environmental contexts; plant species tolerance; plant traits; co-benefits (eg. Ecosystem services, biodiversity, human health) of urban plantings; bioclimatic modelling; ecosystem services; green infrastructure; urban ecology, climate change adaptation.

The student will be based within the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University.

Depending on the selected project the student will work under the supervision of Professor Michelle Leishman, Professor Lesley Hughes, Dr Linda Beaumont or Dr Rachael Gallagher.

Other important information

Candidates should contact Leigh Staas in the first instance and will be directed to the most suitable supervisor.

  • Leigh Staas
  • Leigh.staas@mq.edu.au
  • +61 2 98506297

This scholarship is available to eligible candidates to undertake either a direct entry into a 3 year PhD program.

The value and tenure of the scholarship is:

  • The MQRTP full-time stipend rate is $26,682 per annum (in 2017 tax exempt, for up to 3 years (indexed annually)
  • The scholarship is comprised of a Tuition Fee Offset and a Living Allowance Stipend.

Applicants will need to complete an online HDR Candidature and Scholarship Application Form and arrange for two academic referee reports to be submitted to the Higher Degree Research Office. The online application form and further information can be found on the Application page.

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants are expected to have a record of excellent academic performance and preferably, additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity, awards and/or prizes in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the Rating Scholarship Applicants section for more information about these guidelines.

Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer.

Please quote the allocation number on your application.

Two PhD projects - green engineering of urbanised harbours

We are looking for two PhD students to contribute to the Green Engineering Working Group of the World Harbour Project. Our purpose is to develop ecologically sustainable solutions for urbanized coastlines, using the concepts of green design. The working group includes 25 partners globally, with scope for the PhD students to work across sites.

The PhD students would be expected to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship by 31 October 2017 or have equivalent stipend funding.

Project #1


Faculty of Science and Engineering


Biological Sciences

Project name

Scaling up green engineering for ecologically sustainable seawalls

Project description

Seawalls are a common feature of ports, marinas, and highly urbanised areas and in some estuaries and along some coastlines cover in excess of 50% of the shoreline. As the world’s coastal population continues to grow and sea-levels continue to rise, the demand for seawalls that protect coastal property from inundation and erosion is set to increase. Protection of coastal properties and infrastructure with seawalls comes at the cost of substantial collateral damage to coastal and estuarine ecosystems.

The deleterious impacts of seawalls can be substantially reduced though green designs that incorporate important micro-habitats into structures or that use materials that provide a suitable chemical substrate and microtypography to support a broad spectrum of marine and estuarine organisms. Ideally these modifications are incorporated at the time of structure design, but for existing seawalls retrofitting with habitat-enhancing structures is also feasible.

Most attempts to retrofit seawalls with structures that enhance their ecological value have been done at small-scale, and at individual sites. This project will: (1) investigate how the benefits of green seawall designs vary according to environmental context (i.e. tidal elevation, wave-exposure, salinity) and (2) evaluate for the first time benefits to biodiversity and key ecosystem functions of whole-wall retrofits of seawalls with habitat-enhancing tiles.

This project will be supervised by A/Prof Melanie Bishop (Macquarie University) and Dr Beth Strain (Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences).

Project #2


Faculty of Science and Engineering


Biological Sciences

Project name

Bespoke design of artificial reef structures for the enhancement of key habitat-forming species

Project description

This is an interdisciplinary PhD project that combines marine ecology and computation design. Prospective candidates should have expertise in at least one of these areas, and interest in both.

The increasing urbanisation of our coastlines is resulting in loss of key habitats and species that are essential for maintaining healthy and productive coastal waters. Artificial reef structures help to address this problem but they often lacking design and fabrication features that make them a suitable substitute for ‘natural’ reef. Computational Design is an approach used in architecture that enables data-driven design. This project will use computational design, based on biological and environmental input variables, to design site and organism specific artificial reefs that can be produced via 3D printing and other forms of digital fabrication. The performance of bespoke vs generic designs in facilitating biodiversity and its ecosystem functions will be validated in field trials.

This project will be supervised by A/Prof Melanie Bishop (Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University), Dr. Beth Strain (Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences) and A/Prof M. Hank Haeusler (School of Architecture and Design, UNSW)


For more information on the projects or positions please email A/Prof Melanie Bishop

A/Prof Melanie Bishop
0427 343 496

Information on Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship

The 2018 APA full-time stipend rate is $27,082 pa tax exempt for 3 years.

Prospective PhD applicants should have completed the equivalent of Macquarie University’s Master of Research (MRes) degree, MPhil or other 2 year Masters degree with a major research component with excellent results. Students with Honours will need to complete the second year of the MRes degree. Refer to the HDR Entry Criteria for more information about this.

To be eligible for a PhD scholarship applicants would be expected to have a record of excellent academic performance, especially in the research Masters degree, and additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity, awards and/or prizes in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the HDR Scholarship Requirements for more information about these guidelines.

Applicants will need to complete a candidature/scholarship application form and arrange for two academic referee reports to be submitted to the Higher Degree Research Office. Refer to:http://www.hdr.mq.edu.au/information_about/applications for further application instructions.  Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer.

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