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.

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.
If you are an undergraduate student interested in undertaking a research project or volunteering at THRI, take a look at what is on offer in Research Opportunities. (opens in a new window)

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 a Research Pathways 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 also be available to discuss potential projects. The date for the next research pathway seminar will be advertised on vUWS toward the end of the semester. If you are undertaking the MEpi or MPH programs with the view to possibly completing a PhD in the future, please read the HDR section to ensure you enrol in the appropriate research training units.

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 should consider selecting from the following electives to support their research training in the first year:

  • 800215 Applied research with marginalised populations and sensitive health topics
  • 401178 Controversies in Epidemiology
  • 401179 Data Management and Programming for Epidemiology
  • 401174 Epidemiology of Non-Communicable Diseases
  • 401173 Introduction to Clinical Epidemiology
  • 401176 Statistical Methods in Epidemiology
  • 401076 Introduction to Epidemiology
  • 401077 Introduction to Biostatistics
  • 400975 Ethics in Health Research
  • 401167 Applied Research in Health Care
  • 102148 Engaging Communities
  • 102576 Global Health, Migration and Development
  • 102574 Public Health in Complex Emergencies (Advanced)
  • 102108 Translation from Theory and Research to Policy
  • 102194 Social Research in the Digital World
  • 102728 Research into Practice: bridging the clinician-researcher divide in applied and creative therapies
  • 800176 Internship and Community Engagement

In second year, MRes students are expected to participate in the monthly research meetings for postgraduate research students enrolled in THRI. There are two streams: one focused on qualitative methods and one focused on quantitative methods. Depending on the methods used in your project, you may attend one or both meetings. 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 student cohort.

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 Research Opportunities. (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 evident by at least one of the following:
    1. Average grade mark of 80% or above for an Honours or Masters course comprising at least 50% research training – including research methodology subjects and an independent research project resulting in an examinable thesis.
    2. Average grade mark of 80% or above for a coursework masters comprising at least 25% research methods units (but lacking an independent research project) in conjunction with research experience demonstrating capability in study conceptualisation, data collection and analysis, and research outputs.
  2. Requisite disciplinary knowledge matched to the proposed thesis topic. In some circumstances enrolment in a PhD may be conditional upon completion of specific units in the first year of candidature to ensure students have the requisite knowledge to undertake their proposed research.

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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 students 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 students to support your development as independent researchers. There are two streams: the qualitative methods meeting is held on the 4th Monday of each month while the quantitative methods meeting is held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Depending on the methods used in your project you may attend one or both meetings. 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 student cohort.
  • Students are expected to participate in the 3MT competition at least once during their candidature. THRI provides training to help prepare students 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.
  • Students are expected to share their research findings at a community or practice-focused forum at least once during their candidature. This could include the HDR Showcase event as part of WSU Research Week, the annual SWSLHD Health Showcase or another appropriate community forum, symposium or conference.

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

  1. Identify a topic or area of research that you are interested in pursuing; consider both academic and grey literature (e.g. policies, population-level statistics) in undertaking your background reading; be prepared to articulate your research idea in about 350 words.
  2. Identify potential supervisor(s) and review their program of research (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.
  3. You may approach a supervisor with a particular research idea that you would like to develop. Alternatively, supervisors may have existing projects that you could get involved in. If the latter, you will need to develop your own research questions that can be answered within the larger project.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 THRI (although your primary supervisor may be based in another School, such as Medicine or Psychology, they can be members of THRI and supervise students through THRI).
  8. You will need to include an email from your supervisor confirming their in-principle agreement to supervise you should you be made an offer. The standard text for this email is available in the online portal. Please modify this text as follows: I have had a discussion with the applicant about a potential project and reviewed their research proposal. If they are successful, I am prepared to provide ongoing supervisory support for their project. I plan to supervise the student through THRI. I understand this statement of support does not guarantee admission and is not assurance that I will be confirmed as the principal supervisor by the University.
  9. Applications can take 6-8 weeks to be processed. 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.