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 Science and Health 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 participate in the group supervision programme. This program comprises 6 workshops that are matched to key milestones in the Honours year. You can view the program for 2019 here. Due to the community-based research undertaken at THRI, students must be available for the entire year. Students are not able to nominate a THRI project for their Honours year if they plan to take leave either during or between semesters as it undermines relationships with our community partners and puts data collection at risk. THRI places high importance on respectful and collaborative research with our communities and this standard applies to all student projects undertaken with us.

Students undertaking the MRes program are expected to participate in the monthly research meetings held at THRI. There are two streams: the qualitative methods meeting is held on the third Monday of each month while the quantitative methods meeting is held on the fourth Thursday of each month. (Meetings are not held during the summer months of December and January.) Depending on the methodology of 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 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. Research methodology training comprising 30-40% at a postgraduate level (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): Introduction to Epidemiology, Introduction to Biostatistics, Analytical Approaches in Epidemiology, Statistical Methods in Epidemiology, Qualitative Research Methodology in Health
  2. Independent research project (40cp): Dissertation

Students undertaking the lesser credit point independent research units (i.e. Independent Professional Topic, Research Protocol Design and Practice, or Research Project) may be considered eligible for enrolment in an MPhil (as long as criteria (i) is also met).

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.

  • Full-time students are expected to attend THRI a minimum of 3 days per week if they wish to have access to a desk and laptop computer; exemptions due to industry placements and field work need to be discussed with your supervisory panel and approved by the HDR Director. Research does not happen in a vacuum and the informal discussions that you will have among your peers and with academic and professional staff are critical in identifying and resolving ethical and methodological issues and in developing innovative and collaborative research solutions to health problems. Part-time students or students attending THRI on an ad hoc basis are provided access to a hot desk and a desktop computer as needed. It is important for part-time students to identify with their supervisors how they will maximise their connection to THRI to avoid the potential for professional isolation during their candidature.
  • 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 third Monday of each month while the quantitative methods meeting is held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Depending on the methodology of 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 local research 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 or local conference.

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

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.