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Curtin University
School of Physiotherapy

Doctor of Philosophy

The School of Physiotherapy offers HDR (Higher Degree by Research) programs through research and thesis/publications, with students working independently under the guidance of an appointed supervisor. Past students report that completing a Doctor of Philosophy degree is one of the most rewarding activities of their life. It provides an intense and stimulating intellectual challenge. At the end of your studies you will have a deep understanding of your specialty area and may well be an international leader in the area. However this level of competence and the confidence associated with it only come after the investment of considerable effort.

Entry Requirements

For admission to the PhD program, applicants ordinarily should have successfully completed a Masters degree, or a Bachelor degree with First Class or Upper Second Class Honours.

Non-physiotherapists may be accepted into the program if the area of proposed research is within the domain of the School's expertise.

Duration and Availability

Enrolment shall be for a minimum period of two years and a maximum period of five years in the case of a full-time candidate. For part-time students, enrolment shall be for a minimum period of three years and a maximum period of seven years.

Enrolment may be internal or external to the School.

Applications for Admission may be made to the School at any time throughout the year, as Higher Degree by Research Programs do not run on a semester basis. The thesis committee may however require a candidate to undertake some preparatory coursework units, which are subject to normal semester dates.

Research Areas

Supervision by recognised researchers can be provided in the following areas:

  • Anatomy
  • Bioengineering/Bioinstrumentation
  • Bioethics
  • Biomechanics
  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Continence and Women's Health
  • Developmental Paediatrics
  • Ergonomics
  • Functional Rehabilitation
    • Gerontology
    • Health and Social Issues
    • Manipulative Therapy
    • Neuroscience
    • Physiotherapy Education
    • Podiatry
    • Professional Issues
    • Sports/Orthopaedics
    • Selected areas of Medical Sociology

    Here are some useful links that will help you with your application for a Doctor of Philosophy.

    School of Physiotherapy Guidelines

    PDF documents - use Adobe Acrobat Reader to view

    Curtin University Links

    Profiles of Current/Recent HDR students

    Doctor of Philosophy


    Sian Turner

    Completion Date

    May 2010


    Burden of Disease and Benefits of Exercise in Asthma : A study of middle-aged to older adults with asthma.


    A/Prof. Sue Jenkins

    Associate Supervisors

    Dr Angus Cook, Dr Peter Eastwood and Assoc. Prof Philip Thompson.



    Sian Turner, Bsc (Hons) was awarded the prize for the top Honours thesis (Curtin University of Technology) in Physiotherapy in 2000. She has worked as a Physiotherapist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital since graduation. This year. Sian was seconded to the Asthma and Allergy Research Institute on a one year grant from the Asthma Foundation of WA to collect preliminary data in exercise and asthma (Chief Investigators: Jenkins & Eastwood). This work will form a part of the proposed PhD project. During her undergraduate studies, she worked as a Research assistant for the School of Population Health, UWA where she developed an interest in Epidemiology. In addition, she developed an interest in rural and remote issues in her third year of undergraduate studies where she was responsible for the foundation of a rural health club for allied health students (WAALHIIBE). These interests will combine together in her proposed thesis.

    Research Outline

    Exercise can play an important role in optimising the management of asthma, however the majority of studies of exercise training have been conducted in children and young adults. The presence of a quality randomised control trial testing the benefits of a short-term supervised exercise program in middle-aged to older adults with moderate to severe asthma and associated disability is currently lacking. On a regional scale, there is a striking gap in the characterisation of asthma in this age group within WA. The relationship between remoteness, disease severity and access to services in rural areas is poorly documented. The objectives of Sian’s proposed research are to : (a) determine the benefits of a six-week exercise program in older individuals with moderate to severe asthma and associated disability, by conducting a prospective, randomised controlled clinical trial; (b) investigate the prevalence and geographical distribution of asthma cases in the older adult population across WA and determine the degree to which remoteness has an affect on disease burden through a record-linked prevalence study; (c) conduct a semi-quantitative patient survey to determine perceived barriers in the accessing of asthma management services; and (d) determine the feasibility of establishing exercise training programs for older adults with asthma throughout WA.


    Turner SE, Eastwood PR, Cecins NM, Hillman DR, Jenkins SC ‘Physiological responses to incremental and self-paced exercise in COPD: a comparison of three tests’ accepted for publication in Chest: 8th April 2004

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