Life as a research student

Postgraduate research is not easy, but if you're committed to your research topic and have the determination and motivation you need, completing your thesis can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.


As part of your research training, you'll have exciting opportunities to make an original contribution to global knowledge as you:

  • Work with and be challenged by top academics and experts in your field.
  • Attend national and international conferences.
  • Experience the joy of spending several years exploring a research topic you're passionate about.

Along the way, you'll gain knowledge and critical thinking skills that will change the way you see the world.

Learn new skills

You're not expected to know everything already – you'll develop the skills you need to solve your research problem along the way. You'll learn to:

  • Plan out your project and how to execute it.
  • Develop an approach you can use to tackle any new techniques or research questions.
  • Apply new techniques, conduct experiments and interviews, and interpret data.

You'll also get valuable experience teaching, being published, editing and presenting at domestic and international conferences.

The challenges of postgraduate research

Researching and writing a thesis is a long and challenging process that comes with some drawbacks. Here are some things to remember when you face challenges along the way.

You'll often need to work alone or in uncertainty

This is a perfectly normal part of the research process as you develop the skills and knowledge you need to become an expert on a very specific area of interest. When you've completed your research, it's likely you'll know more about that particular topic than anyone else.

Sometimes, things don't go according to your plan

These obstacles can make you feel anxious – but in the long term they can help to develop your self-confidence and lead you to learn new skills. As Winston Churchill once stated, “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Advice from successful research students

Here are some top tips from research students who have enjoyed their journey at Murdoch and made some remarkable contributions to the world of research.

Have enormous amounts of passion and enthusiasm for your research topic

Many of our students have said that the knowledge that they were working to make a difference helped them to keep their focus when their research journey became difficult.

Develop discipline and self-motivation

As a research student, you'll have the support of a supervisor, but you're responsible for directing your own learning. You need to treat your research project as a full-time job: work regularly, be organised, meet your deadlines and maintain your focus.

Build a strong relationship with your supervisor

Choose a supervisor you'll enjoy working with (internal link: Finding a supervisor) and make sure you both understand your role and responsibilities.

Enjoy a balanced lifestyle

Spend time with your friends and family and take breaks to avoid burnout and boost your creativity. Take care of your health by exercising, eating well and checking that your study area is set up correctly for long periods of reading and writing.

Ask for help when you need it

Make the most of the support we offer our research students – from help to develop your academic skills to professional development, networking opportunities, health services and counselling.

We have a range of support services to support you through your research journey. For more information on life as a research student, please get in touch with our Graduate Research team.

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