Awards and scholarships

View the range of scholarships available to students in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences.

Many scholarships are available for students at Victoria University, through the Scholarships Office.

The office maintains the Scholarships Database, a comprehensive searchable database listing all available scholarships with criteria, value, tenure and closing dates. Most application forms can be downloaded from this database. For best results when searching the database, keep the search terms broad.

School scholarships

Curtis-Gordon scholarships

These scholarships are offered by the School for students pursuing graduate studies in chemistry or 4th year BScTech studies. Applications are due with the Head of School in late November for the following academic year. Information and application forms are available from the Victoria University Scholarships website.

PhD scholarship opportunities in Chemistry

PhD Position - Project: Next-Generation Small Molecule Acceptors for use in Organic Solar Cells

This project aims to develop new acceptor materials for organic photovoltaics (OPVs) in order to evaluate non-traditional design principles.

Fullerene acceptors were the traditional materials of choice for OPVs. However, fullerenes have now been shown to be susceptible to photochemical oxidation, which limits their potential for large-scale utilisation. In contrast, small molecule acceptors (SMAs) have significant potential for development. In particular, recent observations suggest that two long-held OPV design principles do not apply to SMAs. First, much smaller donor/acceptor orbital energy offsets can drive electron transfer than previously thought, meaning that more absorbed solar energy can be converted into electricity. Second, it has typically been assumed that strong electronic coupling between donor and acceptor molecules is desirable, because strong coupling increases the rate of charge transfer. However, the charge recombination rate also increases with electronic coupling. It was recently proposed that, in SMA systems, decreasing the donor/acceptor coupling may in fact increase the difference between the rates of charge transfer and charge recombination, thereby increasing overall photovoltaic efficiency. In this project, we will design, prepare and evaluate a series of novel SMAs to assess the validity of this hypothesis. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to develop a diverse set of skills, including: synthesis and characterisation of OPV materials, device fabrication and ultrafast spectroscopy.

We are seeking a highly motivated person with interests in organic synthesis, physical chemistry, materials science and spectroscopy. Applicants should have a degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours and a major in Chemistry or a related field. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington.1

The successful researcher will work under the supervision of Dr Paul Hume, associated with the ultrafast spectroscopy group led by Professor Justin Hodgkiss.2 Our highly interdisciplinary group is based at Victoria University of Wellington,3 located in the thriving capital city of New Zealand.4 This collaborative project also involves Associate Professor Geoffrey Waterhouse of the University of Auckland, and Professor Xioawei Zhan of Peking University. As such, the project will involve travel to Peking University.

Funding for this project is provided by the Marsden Fund. The successful applicant will receive a tax-free stipend of NZ$27,500 per annum and PhD tuition fees for three years.

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to with “SMA PhD Project” in the subject line.

More Information

Enhanced Geothermal Energy Recovery Through the Controlled Formation and Recovery of a Nanostructured Calcium Silicate Material From Problematic Dissolved Silica in Geothermal Water (2 PhD positions available)

Applications are being called for two PhD Scholarships in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, for suitably qualified persons to carry out PhD research programmes under the supervision of Professor James (Jim) Johnston in the areas of industrial inorganic and materials chemistry and industrial inorganic process chemistry respectively. The projects will be co-supervised by Dr Thomas Borrmann.

Over recent years Professor Johnston and Dr Borrmann have developed proprietary technology to address the worldwide problem of silica deposition from separated geothermal water, during utilisation of the resource for sustainable electricity generation and heat recovery operations. Here, the silica entities dissolved at supersaturated levels in the geothermal water are reacted to produce a novel nanostructured calcium silicate material which is then separated as a potentially useful product with in a variety of applications. The process chemistry and technology are being developed and implemented at a pilot scale operation with supporting laboratory R&D work.

The PhD scholarship in industrial inorganic and materials chemistry is concerned with aspects of the precipitation of the nanostructured calcium silicate material from the geothermal water, characterisation of its properties and developing and evaluating particular uses for the material. This will involve laboratory and pilot scale work.
The PhD scholarship in industrial inorganic process chemistry is concerned with the implementation and optimisation of the chemistry at a pilot scale operation, including the precipitation chemistry, product quality, separation and further processing, and the production of large scale samples for end-user evaluation.

Both research programmes are closely interlinked.

The PhD scholarships will each be for 3 years and will provide a living allowance, NZ PhD tuition fees and approved research, travel and accommodation costs during this time.


Applicants for the scholarship in industrial inorganic and materials chemistry should have completed a MSc or a BSc (Honours) degree in chemistry with first class honours or equivalent, and have experience in industrial inorganic and materials chemistry at a laboratory and also preferably at a pilot scale operation.

Applicants for the scholarship in industrial inorganic and materials chemistry should have a BE (Honours) or ME degree in chemical engineering, with first class honours or equivalent and have experience in inorganic process chemistry, preferably at a pilot scale operation.

Applicants for the scholarship in industrial inorganic and materials chemistry should have a BE (Honours) or ME degree in chemical engineering, with first class honours or equivalent and have experience in inorganic process chemistry, preferably at a pilot scale operation.

Applicants should include a certified academic transcript(s), a curriculum vitae, a clear statement of research experience relevant to the particular scholarship and how this would be applied to the research programme, and the names of two persons who can act as referees. Applicants must also meet the PhD entry requirements, including the English Language Proficiency, as detailed in the PhD regulations that are available together with general information at

Applications should be directed to Professor Jim Johnston email:

Applications are now being called for and this process will continue until the two scholarship positions have been filled.

PhD Scholarship Synthetic Chemistry

New Bioorthogonal Conjugation and Linker Methodology

The Ferrier Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington

The PhD student will join an established team led by Prof Gavin Painter from the Ferrier Research Institute, with expertise in the design and synthesis of self-adjuvanting peptide vaccines.

Access to vaccines and other bioconjugates relies on effective bioorthogonal conjugation methods. To achieve fast reactions, many bioconjugation reagents make compromises in areas of stability, selectivity or synthetic accessibility. Furthermore, the target conjugates often carry a large ‘hydrophobic footprint’ derived from the reagent, which is unsuitable for many applications.

This synthetic chemistry project aims to address some of these problems by investigating a new concept in bioconjugation with the potential to spawn several new bioconjugation methods. The work will involve the synthesis of complementary substrate pairs designed to react via both polar and concerted mechanisms. Once candidates with ideal properties have been identified, their utility will be demonstrated in the synthesis of new conjugate vaccines. These may find use in a range of applications including personalised vaccines for cancer and/or targeted immunotherapeutic agents. New products will be tested in biological assays through established partnerships at world leading immunological institutes.


The successful student will have a MSc or BSc Hons degree in chemistry with a focus on organic chemistry and organic synthesis.

The applications also need to meet the English requirement to enter the PhD program in the School of Chemistry and Physical Sciences.


The Scholarship will provide a stipend to cover living expenses of NZ$27,000 pa, plus tuition fees (students will be responsible for payment of the student levy and international insurance if applicable) for 3 years.


New PhD applicants should complete the PhD admission and Scholarship application online available from the link below and clearly indicate that they wish to apply for the PhD scholarship in New Bioorthogonal conjugation and linker methodology.

The position will remain open until filled.

MSc scholarship opportunities in Chemistry

More information

The Postgraduate Course list contains general information about scholarships on page 44.

Please contact Martyn Coles, Head of School or Ben Ruck, Deputy Head of School, for further information about scholarships in the School.