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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 

Overview of the doctorate programme

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) enables you to be an independent researcher. It consists of approximately three years of full time research in one of the research laboratories. There is no paper component for this degree. During this time you are expected to make a significant contribution to knowledge within your field. A PhD requires a high degree of scholarly acumen, independence, and perseverance.

Past students have gained post-doctoral positions in North America, Europe, and United Kingdom. A PhD is no longer seen as just a career path to academia and past Pharmacology Doctorate students are employed in:

  • Science communication
  • Drugs and pesticide regulation
  • Public policy and government bodies including PHARMAC and MEDSAFE
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Information for new applicants

While you must have a BSc (Hons) or a MSc to apply for entry to the doctorate programme, a first class honours or MSc with distinction is required to be competitive for a scholarship.

The application form should be submitted to the Doctoral and Scholarships Office any time throughout the year. Note that this form should only be completed after a supervisor from the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department has advised you to formally apply for PhD admission.

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Regulation for the degree of PhD at Otago

Click here for the University of Otago’s regulation of the PhD programme.

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PhD scholarships

The University of Otago offers the following scholarships:

We also offer our own departmental periodic scholarship and travel scholarship.

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Contact details

For further information about post-graduate study at the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, please contact the department. Email:

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Useful links

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