Doctor of Philosophy

The only dedicated Doctor of Philosophy degree course in Australia underpinned by a systems psychodynamic conceptual framework. The PhD by thesis offers the opportunity to make an original contribution to the discipline through the development of  high level research skills.

📆 Next intake: May 2025

⦿ Live interactive online

🕓 6 years part-time

Course Overview

The NIODA Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by thesis is a degree offering candidates the opportunity to develop high level research skills.

As a PhD candidate, you are required to make a significant original contribution to the field of systems psychodynamics by submitting a written research thesis, of between 80,000 to 100,000 words.

Consistent with the AQF Level 10, a PhD candidate is expected to:

  • engage in critical reflection, synthesis and evaluation
  • develop, adapt and implement research methodologies to extend and redefine existing knowledge
  • disseminate and promote new insights to peers and the community
  • generate original knowledge and understanding to make a substantial contribution to the field of system psychodynamics.

NIODA believes that the learning and teaching of systems psychodynamics is assisted by the creation of an environment where staff and candidates have certainty around expectations. This in turn informs NIODA’s pedagogical approach. These expectations are that:

  • candidates are mature adult learners with extensive work experience
  • a safe learning environment is created for candidates by all NIODA staff
  • thoughtful critique and the development of creative alternatives to orthodox theory and methods is supported
  • teaching staff feel supported and validated in their work.

Candidates’ research is informed by leading-edge theory and applied methods relevant to systems psychodynamics.

At a glance

🎓 Doctor of Philosophy – PhD

🗞 AQF level 10 postgraduate research 288 credit points

🎒Average yearly intake 9 candidates

🕓 6 years part-time

⦿ Live interactive online

📆 Next intake May 2025


Course Design Features

One of the unique features of the NIODA PhD program is that it offers opportunities for learning in group settings as well as in individual supervision. As discussed below, within the discipline of systems psychodynamics this is essential for learning about and applying systems psychodynamic ideas and methods. It offers the additional advantage of mitigating against common experiences of isolation found in undertaking PhD study.

Group sessions are integral to the NIODA learning pedagogy. Led by NIODA staff facilitators, these sessions have the aim of helping doctoral candidates to navigate the personal and group, emotional and psychodynamic challenges of their candidacy and to consider aspects of the group dynamic as potential data about the research systems. Group sessions also provide an opportunity for candidates to present their work in progress to peers for review and reflection.

A central component of systems psychodynamic work is bringing unconscious phenomena to consciousness so that it can be thought about and studied. Face-to-face dialogue (in person or online) allows for ongoing reflection with others about how people might be ‘caught’ in unconscious dynamics and then what that experience might say, as parallel process (Gilmore and Krantz, 1985), about the research system under examination.

All doctoral candidates participate in research design and thesis subjects specifically designed to ensure they have the research knowledge and skills necessary to undertake and complete a PhD by thesis.

The degree is a carefully articulated experience to support incremental learning that builds year by year across the candidature.

Units of Study

The PhD degree is offered in part-time mode only. The PhD is a 288 credit point degree comprising the following subjects:

Year One, Semesters 1 and 2

Year one is provisional candidature

PhD01 Research Design (24 credit points)
PhD02 Thesis 1 (24 credit points)

From year two, ongoing candidature is confirmed following acceptance by the PhD Confirmation Panel of the research proposal and appointment of the ongoing supervisory team

Year Two, Semesters 1 and 2

PhD03 Thesis 2 (48 credit points)

Year Three, Semesters 1 and 2

PhD04 Thesis 3 (48 credit points)

Year Four, Semesters 1 and 2

PhD05 Thesis 4 (48 credit points)

Year Five, Semesters 1 and 2

PhD06 Thesis 5 (48 credit points)

Year Six, Semesters 1 and 2

PhD07 Thesis 6 (48 credit points)

Admission Requirements

Candidates wishing to enrol in the degree must meet the following criteria:
Completion of the NIODA Master of Leadership and Management (Organisation Dynamics) or equivalent* degree
at least five years relevant work experience.

*The program is open to others who have a master’s level degree deemed comparable, or to potential candidates with a master’s degree and who are able to demonstrate capacity and capability in the organisation dynamics discipline and  submission of a substantial piece of writing demonstrating this capacity.

Applicants are normally required to have achieved a credit level or higher in their final master’s year assessment to be eligible to apply for the NIODA Doctor of Philosophy degree. Exceptions to this requirement will be considered where evidence is provided of appropriate academic qualifications and/or experience that satisfies the PhD Course Committee  that the applicant has well-developed knowledge of the field of systems psychodynamics and the potential for research sufficient to undertake the proposed program.

Candidates entering this degree are required to have a minimum level of English language proficiency (details of these requirements can be found at


In 2024 the fee is $13,800 per year. Fees are payable by the due date before each semester begins.

Payment can be made upfront by direct deposit, credit card or by utilising FEE-HELP. Information for FEE-HELP can be found on the study assist website

There are no incidental fees charged for this course.

Fees are reviewed each year with the new schedule published each October for the following year.

Many employers have study support policies that include financial and other support. Speak to your employer to find out if you are eligible to receive such assistance during your postgraduate studies. Employers gain significantly from the studies undertaken.

Application for ‘Leave of Absence’ must occur prior to the first class in that semester. Fees will not be refunded after the census date in either semester.

How to Apply

Post-graduate application.

Application for the course involves the completion of a written form and an interview. Successful applicants will be made a formal offer of a place after which they can proceed to enrol.

Learn More

The PhD co-leads are Professors Wendy Harding and Susan Long. PhD Services Lead is Ms Sally Mussared. Email with your queries.

The first step is to register your interest.

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The National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia (NIODA) offers internationally renowned post-graduate education and research in organisation dynamics, and decades of experience consulting with Australian organisations. 

The study of organisation dynamics brings together socio-technical and psychoanalytic disciplines to explore the unconscious dynamics that exist in every group, team or organisation. Learning more about these theories, and reflecting on the experience of them, can support leaders and managers to unlock great potential in their organisations, tackling issues through a whole new light.

PO Box 287, Collins Street West,
Melbourne  8007  Australia
+61 (0) 414 529 867

NIODA acknowledges the Kulin Nations, and respective Traditional Custodians of the lands we work on.
We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and recognise their enduring sovereignty which has, and continues to, care for Country.
NIODA welcomes the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s invitation to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a collective movement for a better future.

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