Research Training

THRI provides a dynamic and supportive research environment for students designed to foster an ability to undertake high-level collaborative research to address the complex health issues facing our local communities and beyond. THRI academic staff have expertise in a range of methods including biostatistics and epidemiology, health economics, mixed methods approaches, program evaluations, qualitative interviewing, and survey design.

We have a number of research projects suitable for undergraduate students through to doctoral candidates including:

  • Short-term research placements suitable for MBBS Community Research, MPH Professional Topic/Research Project, Summer Research Scholarship
  • Research year suitable for Honours, Bachelor of Medical Research, MEpi/MPH Dissertation Unit, or MRes project
  • Longer-term research project suitable for MPhil or PhD

Undergraduate students:

Undergraduate students are welcome to consider THRI projects for their capstone research project or dissertation within any degree. Translational health research is a multi-disciplinary endeavour and as such, students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds with an interest in health are encouraged to approach THRI academics to discuss potential projects. You can also check the GRS webpage for available projects and supervisors. (opens in a new window)

THRI also supports volunteer research placements. These opportunities are at the discretion of individual academic supervisors and depend on the capacity of a project to support a volunteer placement given: the particular ethical considerations for the project; and the skill level needed for the various project tasks. Please approach individual researchers (opens in a new window) directly to express an interest in a voluntary placement.

Honours and Masters students:

THRI provides research training at the Honours/Masters level in:

  • Biostatistics
  • Health Economics
  • Health and Community Psychology
  • Public Health

To undertake research training at this level, you are required to have the requisite disciplinary knowledge and be prepared to apply this knowledge to a critical health problem.

MEpi/MPH students are invited to attend the capstone research seminar hosted by the School of Health Science at the end of each semester. This seminar showcases the research undertaken by current students in these programmes and provides an overview of the research pathway in public health to prepare students for postgraduate research studies. Academics from THRI will be available to discuss potential projects but you are free to approach supervisors to discuss potential projects at any time during your course. If you are undertaking the MPH program with the view to possibly completing a PhD in the future, you should complete the Research Protocol and Dissertation units (40 credit points) as a minimum for entry into a higher degree. It is also recommended to complete additional research training units in qualitative or epidemiological research to prepare you to undertake a higher degree research program in public health.

Students in the Psychology Honours program who are allocated to THRI are expected to be available for the entire year. THRI places high importance on respectful and collaborative research with our community partners and this often requires deep time or a ‘slowly, slowly’ approach with our partners. Thus students who take leave either during or between semesters can jeopardise relationships with our community partners and put their data collection at risk. Completing an honours project in THRI may require attendance at health and community services for recruitment and/or data collection and this is usually required during business hours.

Students undertaking the MRes program with a public health focus may wish to consider the suggested sequence of study below:

  1. At least one elective that teaches literature review skills and provides an introduction to research practice e.g. Social Determinants of Health (SoHS), Evidenced Based Healthcare (SoN), Research into Practice: Bridging the Clinician Researcher Divide (SoH&CA), Research Preparation in Post-Graduate Studies (SCD&MS)
  2. At least one discipline-based research methods elective e.g. Introduction to Biostatistics (SoHS), Introduction to Epidemiology (SoHS), Statistical Methods in Epidemiology (SoM), Data Science (SoCD&MS), Qualitative Research Methodology in Health (SoHS), Theories of Difference and Diversity (SoSS)
  3. At least one interdisciplinary/advanced research methods elective e.g. Applied Research with Marginalised Populations & Sensitive Health Topics (THRI), Controversies in Epidemiology (SoM), Clinical Research in Health Science (NICM), Translation from Theory and Research to Policy (SoSS), Social Research in the Digital World (SoSS), Public Health in Complex Emergencies (SoSS), Applied Machine Learning (SoCD&MS)
  4. Research Engagement and Internship – This is an elective unit run by the GRS involving a research placement and an opportunity to consolidate and apply research skills developed in previous units. Research placements can be undertaken with a community/industry partner such as an NGO, Local Health District or Primary Health Network. Research placements can also be undertaken with an Academic to develop skills in a research method not otherwise taught through an elective.

Please note, some electives are only offered in either Autumn or Spring semester whereas other electives are offered across both semesters. This should be taken into consideration when planning commencement and progression in the MRes. You should discuss a potential sequence of study with your supervisors prior to enrolment in the MRes programme.

If you are an Honours or Masters student interested in undertaking your research training year at THRI you can either:

  1. Choose from one of the projects on offer in the GRS available Research Projects webpage. (opens in a new window)  These projects reflect current health problems facing our community partners and have been vetted as suitable projects for an Honours or Masters year. Projects will differ in the degree of flexibility regarding the study design or approach – please discuss this with the Academic supervisor for each project.
  2. Approach an Academic supervisor with your own research idea. Please note that this depends on the feasibility of your research idea (it needs to fit within a 6-12 month timeframe and fit to your research skill level) and the alignment of the research idea with the supervisor’s programme of research. You need to begin these discussions early (and sometimes prior to enrolment) to ensure the relevant resources, partnerships, and ethical approvals are in place.

Higher Degree Research Inquiries

THRI is interested in training future research leaders capable of tacking the health challenges facing an aging Australian population and addressing health inequities both here and internationally. We are looking for students with:

  1. Demonstrated research capacity as indicated by completion of an independent thesis through an honours or masters degree or published research conducted as part of a professional role. Please see the eligibility criteria for HDR admission on the Western website (opens in a new window)
  2. Skills and experience aligned to the proposed thesis topic. THRI encourages interdisciplinary research and will accept HDR candidates from non-health disciplines who have the capacity to develop skills in public and community health.

Western Sydney University students completing the MEpi or MPH courses with a view to undertaking a PhD need to ensure they complete the 2-year pathway comprising at least 50% research training as follows:

  • Appropriate research methods subjects (40cp) such as: Introduction to Epidemiology, Introduction to Biostatistics, Analytical Approaches in Epidemiology, Controversies in Epidemiology, Statistical Methods in Epidemiology, Qualitative Research Methodology in Health, Research Protocol Design and Practice
  • Independent research project (40cp): Dissertation

Applications for admission to a PhD that do not meet the above criteria should be discussed with the HDR Director to determine the most appropriate pathway (including an MPhil or MRes pathway).

HDR candidates are expected to actively contribute to the research community at THRI. This includes participation in monthly research meetings as well as representing THRI in the broader research community at Western and the local and regional communities with whom we work.

  • THRI holds monthly research meetings for HDR candidates to support your development as independent researchers. These meetings are designed to further develop methodological skill and provide a collegial environment to raise research issues and share expertise. While the meetings are facilitated by an Academic staff member, the topics covered in each meeting are decided upon by the group.
  • Candidates are expected to participate in the 3MT competition at least once during their candidature. THRI provides training to help prepare candidates for this competition and to develop your skills in pitching your research to diverse audiences including health care providers, community organisations, and policy makers. Details about the 3MT competition can be found on the GRS website.

If you are interested in undertaking postgraduate research training (i.e. MPhil or PhD) at THRI, please follow the steps below:

  1. Potential supervisor(s) can be found on the THRI website (view THRI member profiles (opens in a new window) ). You are strongly encouraged to discuss your research interests with them to ensure you have a shared interest (with regard to topic and/or methodological approach) and the supervisor is available to accept new students. Contact the HDR Director ( if you would like assistance in matching your research interests with a suitable supervisor.
  2. In collaboration with your supervisor(s), develop a 2-page research proposal (view WSU guidelines (opens in a new window) ). Please ensure you list the Translational Health Research Institute as your place of enrolment at the top of your proposal. Please also list the names of your supervisory panel and the School or Institute they are based in.
  3. Prepare all documents for your application including certified copies of your academic transcripts, evidence of English language proficiency (if needed), copies of any publications or other research outputs that you have been involved in, and statements from employees regarding your period of employment and research-related tasks if you are claiming eligibility based on research experience.
  4. Please include a comprehensive CV with your application. Your CV should include a list of qualifications including the title and word count of any thesis completed as part of a degree and any research methods units you would like considered as evidence of research training. You will need to provide a description of any coursework units that are not obviously labelled as ‘research methods’. It is also helpful to identify any research-related tasks undertaken as part of a work role (even though the role itself may not have been a research-focused one) and any research outputs that you contributed to. This could include quality improvement projects, program evaluations or reviews to inform policy or service development.
  5. When you are ready, and in agreement with your supervisor(s), you can apply for admission through the WSU online portal (opens in a new window). You will need to create an account to use this system. Once you have an account and have completed your personal details you will be asked to select the program you wish to apply for. If you wish to enrol in THRI, you need to select the corresponding program for Translational Health Research Institute.
  6. Applications can take 6-8 weeks to be processed assuming all documentation has been provided correctly and you have selected the correct HDR program for THRI (see point 5 above). Please ensure you apply early if you wish to commence your studies by a certain date and well before the expiry date of your visa for non-residents.

General information on eligibility for a PhD and the process for applying at Western can be found on the Western website (opens in a new window)

Scholarship Opportunities:

Western Sydney University has a continuous open round for PhD scholarship applications – please see the Graduate Research School website (opens in a new window) for details.

You can apply for a Western Sydney University scholarship as part of your application for admission (i.e. via the online portal).

Additional scholarship opportunities are sometimes advertised for specific projects. See what THRI scholarships (opens in a new window) are currently available. There are also external scholarships that are specific to particular health topics or student cohorts (e.g. international students); academic supervisors will be able to advise about these.