Postgraduate program

Our postgraduate research program provides excellence in research training and support for all laboratory and clinician research students as they develop expertise in new technologies, and help drive new discoveries that lead to changes in research and clinical practice.

About our program

Our research education program provides opportunities for students to develop knowledge and expertise in their chosen research area, as well as developing professional skills that will help them fulfil their career ambitions.

The program incorporates the University of Melbourne Comprehensive Cancer PhD Program, in addition to specific Peter Mac Research education program requirements.

Our model for research education and training that underpins the Peter Mac and Comprehensive PhD programs includes:

  • postgraduate program requirements, including support for the research project, progress reviews and supervisor training and management
  • research skills development, including mastery of core technologies, critical analysis through exposure to journal clubs, scientific seminars and presentations
  • professional and career development, including generic and transferable skills, mentoring, networking, leadership and career opportunities
  • science communication including thesis and journal writing skills and oral or poster presentations at conferences to promote interdisciplinary and international exposure.

By complementing established conventional training for biomedical and clinical research students, our program allows our students to develop a higher degree of independence and leadership during their candidature to enhance preparation for a competitive and broader job market.

Becoming a student

We provide a world-class research education program at a leading Australian cancer research institution for students from the University of Melbourne and other national and international universities.

There are two general stages in preparing to become a student in our postgraduate and honours programs. Students must:

1. Find a project and supervisor for their research program. Download the 2018 Peter Mac Student Project Booklet

2. Meet the university's degree eligibility and entry requirements.

"I chose to study at the Peter Mac because not only does it have world class researchers working in conjunction with some of Australia’s best clinical partners, but it also has the benefit of world leading core facilities run by experienced, knowledgable and friendly staff.”  Alex Davenport, PhD Student, Immunotherapy Lab & Haematology Immunology Translational Research Lab. Awarded a Fight Cancer PhD Scholarship through Melbourne Health. Now undertaking post-doctoral research at Cambridge University. Alex commenced his PhD in 2014 after several years as a Research Assistant at Peter Mac. An important aspect of his research was made possible by the Advanced Microscopy Core facility, where Alex used live-cell microscopy to investigate the biology of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells interacting with tumour target cells. 

Finding a supervisor and project.

You must have a supervisor lined up before you submit an application for your postgraduate degree.

  • Download the 2018 Peter Mac Student Project Booklet.
  • Contact the relevant project supervisor directly by phone or email to discuss your interest in their research.
  • Send them a copy of your CV and your academic transcripts to help them understand your background, interests and academic strengths.
  • Make a time to meet with potential supervisors at Peter Mac to discuss your interest in their project and to discuss your academic record. 
  • If possible, visit the laboratory and meet the research group.

Supervisors are required to interview potential students (face to face or remotely) before committing to supervising a student.

Once a supervisor has confirmed that they support your application to the university, they are required to provide a letter of support to accompany your application, and also to provide you with the title and a brief 100-word description of your project.

“I have always been interested in studying the molecular mechanisms behind cancer. So, I chose to do my PhD at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as the institute has been in the forefront in cancer research and therefore the best place to broaden my knowledge in the field. Every day at Peter Mac has been a learning experience: be it designing experiments at the bench or attending lectures on topics ranging from diagnostics to therapeutics.”  Reshma Vijaykumuran, PhD Student, Tumour Suppression Laboratory. Recipient of a Victoria India Doctoral Scholarship.  Coming to Australia after completing her Masters in India, Reshma is investigating a novel approach to the restoration of tumour suppression in head and neck cancer. She has been motivated in her research by working alongside researchers with the same goal/passion and the proximity of research labs to the clinic.

Application process

Students can begin their degree at any time during the year but must meet deadlines for the scholarship/candidature application process.

Note: These details are relevant to applications to study at the University of Melbourne. We also accept students who enrol through other universities.

For assistance with the application process with The University of Melbourne or with other universities, please contact the  Research Education team .

University of Melbourne eligibility requirements and scholarships (or equivalent)

All our students are required to obtain scholarships to support them during their candidature. This is usually Research Training Scheme Domestic (RTP-Dom) (local students) or the RTP-Int/APA International Scholarship (international students). Some students also have access to scholarships from other organisations or countries to support their studies.

The University of Melbourne application

You will need to apply to the University of Melbourne for candidature and a scholarship – all done in the one online application process.

Visit the University of Melbourne's Future Students webpage for information on the application process and to access an application form.

Our University of Melbourne students apply to enrol in:

     FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

     School/departmentThe Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology.

Although you only submit one application to the university, there are two parallel processes that result in two separate offers: candidature and scholarship.

The application can be submitted at any time to commence at any time during the year, but the next first and main round (Round 1) has an annual closing date of 31 October for a postgraduate degree to commence at any time in the following year.

Please note: While there are multiple application rounds each, most scholarships are awarded in the first two or three rounds.

Candidature and visa

If you are eligible for candidature (meeting H1 equivalence) you will receive either:

  • a conditional offer (waiting for specified information to be provided) such as evidence of English language ability or final transcripts
  • an unconditional offer of candidature.

Once you accept an unconditional offer, the university then sends you a confirmation of enrolment letter.

International students use the confirmation of enrolment letter to fast-track your student visa application. You need this letter before you can apply for the visa.

Scholarships and fees

Scholarship applications are processed in a parallel process. If successful they are awarded in a separate offer process.

Faculty scholarships provide full details on available graduate research scholarships and the timing of applications for scholarship applications.

Local students are not required to pay fees for graduate research degrees.

International students who succeed in getting a Melbourne Research Training Scheme International Scholarship (RTP-Int) are also eligible to be awarded a matching fee-waiver scholarship to cover the annual fees.


Research Student Open Day

Tuesday 12 September 2017, 4:00 – 7:00pm

Come to our open day to learn about student opportunities in Research at Peter Mac. 

For more information and to RSVP, email: [email protected]

Contact details

Dr Caroline Owen

Research Education Manager

Phone: (03) 8559 5948

Email: [email protected]