Construction industry doctorate research program

Applications are now open for the Construction Industry Doctorate Program, a world-first doctorate research program between government, industry and universities to solve priority problems in the construction industry.  

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Application closing date

Applications close at 10am on Monday 28 November 2022.

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Key information

  • The Construction Industry Doctorate program (CIDP) is a vocational PhD program focussed on solving industry-wide priority problems. It is a world-first research program and an important part of the Construct NSW reform strategy.
  • To be eligible you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident with a minimum of ten years’ experience in the Australian built environment industry. 
  • You will need to have completed a recognised degree or demonstrate that you can pursue graduate research study.
  • Candidates will benefit from working in partnership with world-class researchers who are internationally recognised leaders in their field.

  • The CIDP is a collaboration between the New South Wales Government, industry and universities. 


The program is open to industry professionals who can satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Australian citizen or permanent resident
  2. minimum of ten years’ industry experience in the Australian built environment industry
  3. provide three industry referees to attest to applicant’s expertise and competency to undertake research
  4. experience of research in a work and/or study context
  5. intend to work in the Australian construction industry after completing the CIDP
  6. to have completed:
    • a recognised Masters degree by research, or Bachelors degree with first or second class Honours (division 1), or
    • an equivalent or higher qualification, or 
    • other evidence of general and professional qualifications demonstrating potential to pursue graduate research study 
  7. have support from your organisation (if you are an employee of the sponsoring organisation). 

Benefits of the program

You’ll connect with world-class researchers to help solve some of the major problems facing the NSW construction industry.

You’ll have exclusive access to Construct NSW’s ‘data lake’ which includes deidentified data from: 

  • class 2 residential apartment building audits conducted by NSW Fair Trading and the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner (OBC) and rectification orders 
  • buildings that are part of Project Remediate, the building assessment documentation to enter the program, and designs for the remediate process 
  • survey results conducted by the OBC.

What to expect

The initial requirement involves 3 months of intense work to develop a detailed proposal for a doctorate application. This is done with the support of a dedicated University Academic Supervisor. 

The University Academic Supervisor is recommended based on the area of expertise within a particular university. 

Doctorates can be supervised remotely so you may be based anywhere in New South Wales.

Each university may differ in terms of the facilities they have to support a doctorate study – it is recommended that you check with each university prior to your application. 

Once accepted into the program, you will need around 10-20 hours per week of planning, research, conducting interviews, reviewing responses and data, and meeting with industry members.

You will also need to commit to weekly or fortnightly meetings with a University Academic Supervisor.

How long it will take and how much will it cost

You must complete your doctorate within 4.5 years full-time and 9 years part-time. The quickest you can complete is 3 years and 6 years respectively.

Domestic students do not pay a fee to complete a doctorate. However, there may be costs involved in attending conferences and collecting data and if you are not working, you will need to cover your living expenses. Some universities provide support to cover some of these expenses.

If you are intending to work during your doctorate, it is crucial you have the support of your employer. Some universities can help you negotiate this.

If you are not working during your doctorate then you may be able to secure external sponsorship to help cover any expenses, or you may decide to cover any expenses yourself.

Please note that every university has a slightly different application process and deadlines and you need to discuss this with your preferred university contact.

Priority topics impacting the construction industry

This world-first initiative encourages research into the priority topics impacting industry. These topics are not prescribed – applicants are encouraged to develop their own topics in conversation with their preferred university and the Office of the NSW Building Commissioner (OBC).  

Current priority industry reform topics have been identified as: 

Hazardous materials in the built environment

Flammable cladding is the latest in a series of introduced hazards in the built environment.

Previously we had lead piping, lead paint, then asbestos containing materials and volatile organic compounds as wonder products which later required removal. Industrialised countries also compounded hazardous impacts on the climate and health with overuse of lead in petrol and CFC gases in refrigeration.

What can we learn from a history of introduced hazards and can we predict the next mega blunder? Or can the construction industry and its regulators develop safeguards against such self-inflicted damage without inhibiting advances in technology and materials engineering?

Remediating combustible cladding: peeling back the layers

Our project for remediating combustible cladding (Project Remediate) is creating one of the largest building inspection programs ever carried out.

Removing combustible cladding will expose buildings in a unique way, where the mistakes of the past will be revealed. Membranes and flashings must maintain their integrity in order to avoid creating new problems.

What are the opportunities to discover historical building defects once the cladding is removed? 

Sustainable construction

Embodied carbon

Embodied carbon is becoming an increasingly used component of the global warming potential of buildings. Reducing the embodied carbon in building materials, such as concrete, steel and other building products is a key aspect on the road to net zero or carbon neutral buildings.

The adoption of low emissions concrete is hampered by a conservative building industry, suspicious of introducing products that may deteriorate with time (remember high alumina cement?).

How can a conservative industry be provided the evidence that new materials are as durable, fire resistant and cost effective as existing materials?

Construction waste

Construction waste has a true cost and there is a potential for improved productivity. A key strategy for reducing embodied carbon in new buildings is to eliminate waste.

The NSW Building Commissioner estimates that the cost of waste in class 2 buildings is approximately $15,000 per apartment. This is just the cost of procurement and disposal – it does not include all the costs of re-work, manual handling of waste and managing it while it is still on site. Nor does it include the embodied carbon cost.

Understanding how waste occurs and eliminating it will save money, CO2 emissions and improve productivity. So why is it not happening? 

Precast construction

Offsite construction is reported to deliver dividends in safety, quality, waste and speed of construction on site.  This research might include discovering the evidence for these dividends in relation to precast concrete elements and highlight the opportunities for a greater take up in class 2 buildings.

Project procurement, contracts and governance

Procurement and contracts

The way we procure buildings and the nature of the contracts we use have a profound impact on the way that risks of building defects are distributed and managed. 

There are many potential topics in this area such as examining the clarity and fairness of the contracts used between various stakeholders in the procurement process and the implications of these decisions for the incidence and effective management of defects. Topics could also look at the effectiveness of various types of procurement such as D&C versus traditional procurement.

There is also a need to look at the building procurement from a life-cycle perspective, such as the effective transition of buildings from planning to design to construction and to occupation and building management. 

Supply chain management

The supply and procurement of materials in a reliable and sustainable way requires a thorough understanding of how, where and when building products are manufactured, transported to site and then put in place. Green rating tools increase the need to ethically source the inputs and for the provenance to be clear. Locally produced products have a reduced footprint in relation to transporting embodied carbon.

Topics for research might include supply chain logistics and examining the implications of creating a map-based procurement database incorporating real time and predicted production schedules on the feasibility of sustainable supply chains.

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA)

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) is seen as the next step for the prefabricated building industry. It adopts techniques from the automotive industry to transform the creation of buildings into a manufacturing process. There is increasing success for the approach in the residential housing industry but it has yet to make its mark in class 2 buildings in Australia.

Areas for research might include a review on international best practice in DfMA for mid to high-rise residential buildings, the extension of DfMA to include end of life and disassembly.

Creating a multi-dimensional workforce: barriers and opportunities

How can we have an industry who can pivot and move into different classes of building work as required, for example from single dwelling buildings to 3 -7 level apartment buildings. What are the challenges to moving between building classes for practitioners and how are these overcome to have a diverse workforce and allow practitioners the opportunity to expand their capability and business model successfully?

How to apply 

  • Register your interest (Microsoft form managed by the Office of the Building Commissioner. Please read the terms of use on the form). 
  • Deadline for applications is 10am on Monday 28 November 2022.  
  • You will be contacted once the Office of the Building Commissioner and your nominated university, or universities (if a blended approach is preferred), have assessed your suitability. 

Contact information

For further information on the program and how you can get involved:

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