PhD Organisational Leadership

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PhD in Organisational Leadership

Duration: 3 years full-time
Delivery: On campus
Credit points: 4 units + doctoral thesis
Available to: Domestic (FEE-HELP)/International
IELTS: 7.0 with no band less than 6.5
AQF: Level 10

Tuition Fee: Find details from Fees and Scholarship

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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
(c) the designated Learning Outcomes of the course.


Students are required to undertake five units of study as part of the Doctor of Philosophy course, including four units which are a combination of leadership theory 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 College 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, with four subjects/units representing a full-time study load in the first semester, followed by the doctoral thesis for the following 5 semesters. The course comprises of the following units:


• Leadership Theory

• Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

• Literature Review

• Research Proposal and Ethics

• Thesis 

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. Depending on the research focus of the student, other career options could include consulting, finance, policy analysis, market research, data analytics, technology transfer, and technical and professional writing.

Leadership Theory

The discusses the key aspects of the leadership 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.


Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

This unit aims to analyse the application of both qualitative and quantitative research in the human sciences, and, how the nature of the problem and the questions posed lend themselves to one or both research approaches. This unit fosters the development of all eight Excelsia College graduate attributes and requires the rigorous development of higher-order skills in all its six objectives. The unit focuses on 1) Philosophy and Context 2) Design and Data Collection and 3) Data Analysis

Literature Review

In this unit students will complete a critical review of scholarly and other significant literature that relates to their thesis topic or area of study. The literature review will relate to the generation of research questions. Tuition will be provided in an intensive format or by supervision, though much of the learning approach will be student driven and performed independently. This course will directly support the completion of a postgraduate research project, such as a thesis.

Research Proposal and Ethics

This unit is designed to introduce conceptual, methodological, and procedural issues related to the preparation of a research project proposal. It develops a step-by-step approach involving the background to the project, framing of the research question and objectives, consideration of theoretical frameworks, justification of methodology selected for the research enquiry, the significance of ethics and ethical conduct in research, and research methodologies. It also enables the preparation of a research ethics application, which is a fundamental research skill for future research progression. 


This unit is the capstone unit of the degree and allows students to undertake a comprehensive analysis of a topic within the field of Organisational Leadership, with the purpose of making a substantial contribution to knowledge, research methods and/or professional practice. The thesis is expected to be between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length.


This unit is the capstone unit of the degree and allows students to undertake a comprehensive analysis of a topic within the field of Organisational Leadership, with the purpose of making a substantial contribution to knowledge, research methods and/or professional practice. The thesis is expected to be between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length.

Entry requirements

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

(a) a bachelor degree with at least upper second-class Honours in an appropriate discipline (AQF Level 8) from an Australian higher education institution; or

(b) a coursework master degree with a research thesis of at least 25% of the course; or

(c) a qualification recognised by the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) as equivalent to any of the above; or

(d) other qualifications and experience as may, on application by the student, be deemed equivalent to (a) by the Academic Board.


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.

In addition to meeting the prerequisites above, international applicants who have not completed an educational qualification in English have to provide proof of proficiency in English through internationally recognised tests such as IELTS, or through satisfactory completion of an approved course at one of the College’s partner language colleges. Candidates must achieve an IELTS Academic minimum overall result of 7.0 with no band score below 6.5. 

For test score equivalencies for alternative tests visit the International Students page.

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.

Download the Student Selection and Admission Policy and Procedure.

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