PhD Organisational

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PhD in Organisational Leadership - Business Courses

Qualification / Award PhD Organisational Leadership
Course Duration 3 years full-time
Credit Points (8 units + doctoral thesis)
Delivery On Campus
Available to Domestic (FEE-HELP available)/International
IELTS 7.0 with no band less than 6.5
CRICOS Code 091316D
Financial Information Course Fees Page
AQF Level 10
Key Dates Application Deadlines and other Key Course Dates
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The Doctor of Philosophy is an integrated program of study and research which combines advanced coursework in research methodology and preparation, and an academic discipline, for the purpose of systematic and critical investigation and analysis in a field of learning to uncover new knowledge by discovery, the formulation of theories and/or the innovative re-interpretation of known data and established ideas. The Doctor of Philosophy program offers a specialisation in Organisational Leadership.

The course has been designed in order to satisfy the intersecting requirements of:
(a) the Australian Qualifications Framework;
(b) Excelsia College’s Graduate Attributes; and
(c) the designated Learning Outcomes of the course.

Students are required to undertake nine units of study as part of the Doctor of Philosophy course, four of which are advanced postgraduate units in a discipline area related to the proposed research topic area; one ethics unit; three units which are a combination of advanced research methods learning and research preparation during which students will be required to prepare and present their research proposal, develop a literature review and other relevant background investigations, and devise an appropriate methodology for the conduct of the proposed research; and the thesis itself. Over the period of the research methods and preparation units, students will be required to progress their research proposal through all relevant Institute procedures and reviews for approvals, including ethics approvals and confirmation of candidature. Once candidature is confirmed, candidates will then concentrate on supervised research, analysis and other activities associated with the implementation of their approved research proposal, the final examinable product of which will be a thesis.

Course Units

The course structure is based on six semesters (each of 15 weeks duration), with four subjects/units representing a full-time study load in each of the first two semesters, followed by the two-year doctoral thesis. The course comprises:
4 compulsory Discipline units (24 credit points);
1 compulsory Ethics unit (6 credit points);
3 compulsory Research Methods units (18 credit points); and
1 compulsory Thesis unit (96 credit points).

Research at Excelsia


English Language Proficiency

Applicants who have not completed an higher education qualification in English will be required to demonstrate English proficiency as per the table below:

Examination Minimum Score
IELTS 7.0 with no band less than 6.5
TOEFL iBT (Internet-based) 94 with no score less than 20
PTE Academic 65 with no score less than 58

Applicants with Higher Education

Educational Prerequisites

The entry criteria for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program shall normally be:

  • A Bachelor degree with at least upper second-class Honours in an appropriate discipline (AQF Level 8) from an Australian higher education institution; or
  • A coursework Master’s degree with a research thesis of at least 25% of the course; or
  • A qualification recognised by the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) as equivalent to any of the above; or
  • Other qualifications and experience as may, on application by the student, be deemed equivalent to (a) by the Academic Board of the Institute.

A student’s entry qualification need not include studies in business, management or related fields, but studies in these fields would be an advantage. Industry and/or professional experience in organisational leadership, management, business and/or a related field is normally a requirement for entry. Candidates seeking entry to the program without relevant industry/professional experience will have to provide documentation to satisfy the Admissions Committee that they possess the relevant skills and background to successfully complete the course.

In certain circumstances where it is unclear to the Admissions Committee or the Academic Board whether a student has the qualifications and/or experience to enter the program, the student may be required to attend an interview to determine their eligibility for entry to the program.


If the applicant is successful they will be issued an offer letter and a written agreement. Students will need to respond to the offer within 6 weeks. This is done online and a confirmation will be emailed back to the applicant. At this point, applicants are welcome to apply for Credit or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). If you are eligible for credit or RPL, you may be exempt from completing some units and you may be able to finish your degree in a shorter amount of time.

Please refer to the Credit and Recognition of Prior Learning Policy reference.

Download the Student Selection and Admissions Policy and Procedure.

Information about the application process for international students can be found in the International Student page.


Graduates will be equipped to pursue an academic career in organisational leadership or a related area. Graduates will also be equipped to seek employment in leadership and management roles in government, non-government organisations and corporations. Other potential career options, depending on the research focus of the student, include those in consulting, finance, policy analysis, market research, data analytics, technology transfer, and technical and professional writing.


The aim of this unit is not to provide a definition of leadership, but to discuss key aspects of the concept and their implications, in particular, the idea of a ‘leader’ as a role, or a person with particular qualities, or as a process; or, as is considered at length in this unit, a fluid combination of all these elements, the precise combination of which at any time and in any one situation will vary according to a host of factors, not the least of which is how people view themselves as ‘leaders’ and/ or ‘followers.’ Central to this unit is the view that in understanding how leadership is conceptualised and has been enacted, what ‘works’ and what doesn’t, we can better understand our own leadership behaviour and that of others. As well as addressing the history and theories of leadership, the unit discusses the core themes and debates at the centre of contemporary leadership research. In seeking to understand a biblical approach to leadership, the unit analyses the difference between leadership and management, and how leaders are defined by, and define, organisational culture and stakeholder expectations. Particular attention is paid to the concept of ‘mindfulness’ in leadership, of awareness of context, an ability to reflect on the perspectives of self and others, and of the importance of learning from action as well as action learning.

Organisational behaviour is the study of how people as individuals and in aggregate determine the character, dynamic and effectiveness of an organisation. This unit is designed to provide students with an in-depth introduction to the broad range of theory, research, and practise in organisational behaviour. The unit aims not only to provide a better understanding of how individuals, teams, and organisations function, but to elucidate the role of leaders in organisations, the role that individual personality and motivation play in organisational structure, and how group and team dynamics shape organisational goal outcomes and individual performance. The unit pays particular attention to the individual analysis of behaviour characterised by factors such as diversity, attitudes, personality, values, emotions, mood, perception, decision-making, job satisfaction and motivation.


Theories of organisational learning address the processes which lead to (or prevent) changes in organisational knowledge, as well as the effects of learning and knowledge on behaviours and organisational outcomes. Organisations are shaped by complex learning processes which combine current experiences with lessons learned in the past. From an organisational change perspective, organisational learning is an organisation-wide continuous set of processes events that enhances the collective ability to perceive, comprehend, and respond to internal and external events. The strategic link between organisational learning theory and organisational change is that, in order to be competitive in a changing environment, organisations must adapt to survive and prosper, and that adaptive change is a consequence of organisational learning.

The focus of this unit is primarily on organisational change – incremental and modular change (organisation development) and fundamental organisation-wide strategic change (transformation) – and change agency, in particular, change leadership.

In the spirit of the Parable of the Talents, stewardship is not about risk avoidance, but how best to maintain and, where possible, add value to that with which one is entrusted. In a business context, this view is captured by two notions, corporate ‘social responsibility’ and ‘governance’. ‘Stewardship’ has a wide range of meanings that are very much context -dependent. However, no matter what the context, all notions of stewardship reflect John Wesley’s view of “the good steward” as one who exercises responsible and dutiful management of something entrusted to one’s care, whether it is a company or the state of the world, with a view to maintaining and/or enhancing its value for future stakeholders, be they shareholders or generations yet to be born. In a corporate context, stewardship is the process through which directors, managers, shareholders and/or others seek to influence organisations in the direction of long-term, sustainable performance that derives from contributing to human, environmental and social well-being. In other words, with respect to the activities of an organisation, ‘stewardship’ is necessarily outward looking, so to speak, ever-mindful of the medium- and long-term impact on those ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the organisation of what it does, and how it does it. ‘Corporate social responsibility’ is in some ways the secular articulation of the ‘outward-looking’ perspective of stewardship. ‘Governance’ refers to the procedures and practices associated with decision-making, performance and control, which provide structures and satisfy expectations of accountability and compliance in organisations. It is, so to speak, the ‘inward-looking’ perspective of stewardship. While mindful of the external legal, socio-political and ecological environment in which an organisation operates, the perspective taken in this unit is that an organisation’s governance function is essentially introspective and focused on the proper management of the organisation in the pursuit of shareholder value and/or stakeholder interests. In other words, governance is as much a matter of risk minimisation as it is a process for ensuring probity. The unit discusses governance and corporate social responsibility through the lens of stewardship, understood as a willingness to be held accountable for the well-being and enhancement of the interests of others.

In some ways, the term ‘business ethics’ is an inadequate concept for an interdisciplinary field covering a vast range of normative issues in commerce, governance, leadership and management. The term lends itself most directly to a core set of questions about how individuals in the business world ought to behave, or what principles they might appeal to in order to negotiate moral dilemmas in some aspect of commercial or organisational life. But if we consider the array of ethical issues addressed by people engaged in all forms of commercial activity, be they professionals or tradespeople, merchants or board directors, they almost invariably reduce to matters of individual motives, behaviour and forms of decision-making contextualised by layers of expectations and practices involving organisational, cultural and/or legal norms.

In this unit, business ethics will be discussed in terms of a ‘higher’ standard of professionalism, according to which the Socratic and Christian emphasis on self-management determines the way in which one manages and deals with others.

This unit is designed to help students to conduct effective research and analysis in real workplace situations, and to apply key concepts of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to research and assessments in other units. Students will learn how to define and scope problems so that they may be investigated in a methodical and valid fashion, and, in particular, how to prepare research proposals, conduct literature reviews, and select, and justify, relevant research methodologies.

In keeping with a business context, all quantitative and graphical problems are presented in MS Excel format, and students are not required to use dedicated statistical tools other than those used in normal business practice. The assessments for this unit are all linked to the central concept of the development and preparation of a research proposal relevant to a business setting.

This unit addresses methodological and data collection issues related to the research proposal developed in the unit Business Research Proposal and Literature Review. In particular, it concentrates on the details of how the proposed research is to be undertaken. Students will develop the workflow of the proposed research, frame research questions, identify objectives and hypotheses, which techniques and tools will be used for data collection, and how data will be interpreted, analysed and presented.

The first part of the unit will concentrate on finalising methodological issues. As soon as the student and his or her supervision committee agree that the research methodology has been finalised, and all relevant institutional and ethics clearances have been approved, the student will commence data collection.

This unit takes as its starting point the introduction to research proposal development given in Business Research Methods. Students are required to develop a research proposal and related critical literature review for supervised research that will be undertaken in future units.
In consultation with an appointed supervisor, students will select a research project that is achievable in terms of available time, resources, access to relevant sources and appropriate internal and/or external supervision. The proposed research must be relevant to studies undertaken by the student in the course in which this unit is being taken.

This unit is the capstone unit of the degree and provides the student with the opportunity to demonstrate, with respect to a defined topic, and with respect to the discipline as a whole, mastery of research in the field of organisational leadership. In order to demonstrate this mastery, the student will be required to undertake a substantial and substantive research project resulting in an original contribution to knowledge or understanding and/or the application of knowledge in a designated area or areas of study within the field of organisational leadership. The work will include: a searching, systematic and comprehensive review of the literature; the use of observation, experimentation and/or other advanced approach(es) to the acquisition of knowledge; the rigorous analysis of data; and the preparation of a highly-ordered thesis demonstrating an advanced and nuanced understanding of the relationship of the research to the broader frameworks of the field of study. The thesis will be of publishable quality, and a number of peer-refereed publications arising from the research is a normal expectation.

The process of completing the thesis represents the acquisition of complex and integrated knowledge, highly-developed and refined skills, and an extended capacity to apply both knowledge and skills in the pursuit of a wide range of valued academic and professional outcomes. As such, the thesis unit prepares students for the intensive and extensive pursuit of lifelong learning and for leadership-level engagement in their chosen career(s).


Applicant background
2019 Semester 2
Number of Students Percentage of all students
(A) Past higher education study
(includes a bridging or enabling course)
4 80%
(B) Past vocational education and training (VET) study 0 0%
(C) Work and life experience
(Admitted on the basis of previous achievement not in the other three categories)
0 0%
(D) Recent secondary education:

  • Admitted solely on the basis of ATAR(regardless of whether this includes the impact of adjustment factors such as equity or subject bonus points)
0 0%
  • Admitted where both ATAR and additional criteria were considered (e.g. portfolio, audition, extra test, early offer conditional on minimum ATAR)
0 0%
  • Admitted on the basis of other criteria only and ATAR was not a factor (e.g. special consideration, audition alone, schools recommendation with no minimum ATAR)
0 0%
International students 1 20%
All students 5 100%