- Interim Thesis Committee
- Application for Candidacy
- Variation to Candidacy Details
- Annual Progress Reporting
- Continuing Enrolment
- Leave of Absence
- Extension of Time
- Termination of Enrolment
- Appointment of Thesis Examining Panel
- The Examination Process
- Conferral of Award and Graduation
While Higher Degree by Research students may enrol at any time during the year, you should be aware that any DEEWR-funded student enrolled after the Semester 1 census date each year will not be counted in calculations of re-enrolling estimates for the following year.
You must ensure that the following conditions are met prior to the student making formal application to the University. This will ensure that your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee considers only qualified students.
- The student is eligible to enrol. The student must satisfy at least one of the eligibility criteria contained in the General Admission Requirements (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 3). International student qualifications must be assessed before any paperwork is sent to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. These may be assessed by either Curtin International or your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer.
- Appropriate supervision is available. The Enrolling Area must be able to provide the necessary supervision and facilities required to support the student's proposed research program (see the document outlining Essential Facilities for Higher Degree by Research Students). In particular, you should ensure that the role of research Supervisors in the Enrolling Area conforms with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and that supervision will be conducted in accordance with Curtin's Guiding Ethical Principles. Any primary supervisor assigned to a student must also be registered as a Level 1 Supervisor on the Register of Supervisors, and other thesis committee members must be have Level 2 Registration at a minimum.
- The student is proficient in the English language. The student must satisfy the English Proficiency requirement of the University (see the minimum standards outlined in the International Office's Standard Postgraduate Entry Requirements). Please note that your formal acceptance of an application implies that the student's English language proficiency is adequate. It is critical for the success of the international student that they have both written and verbal skills to enable them to complete the thesis in English.
- The student has appropriate background skills. The student has demonstrated adequate training and the ability to pursue the projected research program to the required standard.
- Contact requirements can be met. If the student resides overseas or interstate, adequate arrangements must have been made to meet the contact requirements with supervisory staff (especially in the case of Doctoral students, Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research, Section 4(f)).
If you consider all of the above criteria are met satisfactorily, you should recommend that the student applies formally to the University for admission. To apply for admission to a Higher Degree by Research form the applicant will need to submit an online application.
If the student wishes to apply for a scholarship, they may do so using the same online system as when applying for admission. Relevant Scholarship information can be obtained from the Scholarships Webpage.
You should then evaluate the application formally and either accept or reject it. An applicant must be informed of rejection as soon as possible. Please return assessed applications to your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer as soon as possible for this purpose, or so an Offer for Admission can be issued.
If you accept the application, you should complete the relevant section of the Application for Admission and submit it to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, via your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer, for approval.
If the application is rejected by your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, the Faculty Graduate Studies Officer will then notify the applicant of the outcome. If approved, your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer will issue a formal Letter of Offer which confirms:
- a new student number where necessary;
- the thesis title or topic;
- the names of members of the Interim Supervisory Panel; and
- the date by which the Offer must be accepted.
For Australian, Permanent Resident, and New Zealand applicants, your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer will then mail the Letter of Offer to the applicant, together with:
- an Enrolment form (if not already included with the application);
- a copy of Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research; and
- any other relevant information (e.g. Guidelines for Essential Facilities).
For international applicants, your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer will send the offer, and associated information and the Rules, to the Curtin International, who will send them to the student together with other relevant information.
In order to accept the Offer, Australian, Permanent Resident, or New Zealand applicants must complete the Enrolment form and then lodge them with your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer. International applicants must follow the steps specified in the Letter of Offer issued by Curtin International.
On receipt of the necessary enrolment paperwork, your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer will enrol the student into their degree. All documentation is retained in the Faculty Graduate Studies office.
Once the student has accepted the Offer and been enrolled, your Enrolling Area is obliged to provide the supervision and support required to enable the student to complete their research program and thesis in a timely manner. This obligation, made by accepting the student's application to enrol, is re-confirmed at candidacy. The best measure of the University's postgraduate performance is given by the results achieved by higher degree students and the quality and reputation of its graduates. To this end, your Enrolling Area should provide a positive intellectual and physical environment for each enrolled student within the acknowledged limitations of resources and accommodation.
In particular, the student should be encouraged to participate in informal and formal research seminars and research activities, both within your Enrolling Area and in other areas where appropriate. Each student should also be kept well informed about any additional facilities or equipment (e.g. computing facilities, space or furniture) that they may be able to access.
At the time the student applies for admission, and after consultation with the student, you must nominate an Interim Thesis Committee comprising at least a Chairperson and a Supervisor. One or more Associate Supervisors and/or Co-Supervisor may also be nominated. The Interim Thesis Committee will be approved by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee at the time enrolment is confirmed (see Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 5(c)).
If the Chair or Supervisor of the Interim Thesis Committee is unable to continue their duties in this role, a replacement must be nominated in consultation with the student, and the change approved by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.
Before recommending a student for admission for candidacy, you should re-confirm, preferably as a result of an interview, that the student has the ability to pursue the projected research program to the required standard and that the Enrolling Area can provide and maintain the necessary supervision and facilities to meet the student's essential needs.
The student will complete Part A of the Application for Candidacy form, attach the summary of proposed research program and submit the documentation to the Supervisor, who will discuss the composition of the Thesis Committee with you. Part B of the form should be completed and signed by you and submitted to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. Before signing the form you are advised to:
- check that the Form for Registration of the Creation or Development of Intellectual Property and Computer Works has been signed by the student or an alternative contract has been attached. (See additional Intellectual Property information.)
- check that the Ethics and Research Practice Clearance has been completed. (See additional Ethics information.)
- check that the research proposal is confined to ten pages for Doctoral candidates and five pages for Master's candidates, excluding references.
- check that the Thesis Committee complies with Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 8(a)-(e).
- check that any external Associate Supervisor or Co-Supervisor has provided a letter of consent.
- check that Part B of the Application for Candidacy form has been signed by the Supervisor and the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee.
The Thesis Committee should meet with the student after candidacy has been approved, with the aim of determining the format of progress reports upon which thesis progress will be determined as below, and assess the student's plan of study.
Once candidacy has been approved, any changes to the thesis title or the thesis committee must be approved by your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee using an Variation to Candidacy Details form. Where it is obvious that the proposed change of title reflects a change in focus or direction of the student's research, the student must provide a fresh proposal highlighting the changes, and this must be attached to the form.
It is important that you provide all the details requested on the form, particularly those regarding the title and thesis committee, to allow the details to be confirmed in the University's records. The completed and signed form, together with the revised research proposal if appropriate, should be forwarded to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee for approval.
If the Chair, Supervisor or Co-Supervisor is unable to carry out their roles and responsibilities for a period exceeding three months, you must nominate a replacement for the relevant period for approval by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.
Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research allows for a student to Convert a Master's (by Research) Candidacy to Doctoral Candidacy (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 7). This is dealt with by following the same procedure and using the Application for Candidacy/Conversion of Candidacy form as previously described in the Application for Candidacy section above.
In this case, particular emphasis is on the sections of the form relating to Conversion and Ethics. It is important to ensure that both the student and the Supervisor have included a statement showing how the research has changed and how it will make a substantial and original contribution to the area with which it deals. With regard to Ethics, it is important to ensure that the change in research, since approval of Master's (by Research) Candidacy, is reviewed in the light of ethical implications.
Following discussion with the student's Supervisor and Thesis Committee, and when the student has completed Part A of the Application for Candidacy form, you should complete Part B and submit the form for approval to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.
Although as yet no formal the Rules exists for the reverse situation, the procedure to be followed is exactly the same as above where there is a need for a student to convert from Doctoral Candidacy to Master's (by Research) Candidacy.
The Annual Progress Report is the mechanism by which you, as Head of the student's Enrolling Area, your Faculty and the University as a whole can monitor the progress of a student's research program, the quality of the supervision provided to the student and the adequate provision of resources and other facilities. It is most important, because it is also the official notification to the University that the student is actively pursuing their research.
The online Annual Progress Report is completed by research students and supervisors in August each year (see further APR information).
If a student's Annual Progress Report is unsatisfactory and/or the student has indicated a number of problems occurring in relation to the conduct of the research, as Head of the student's Enrolling Area, should discuss the report with the Supervisor and/or Thesis Committee as a whole. The student is also provided with the opportunity to report, in confidence, on any concerns that they have regarding their candidacy. These comments are not be presented to the Higher Degree Review Board along with their report but need to be considered separately.
Once satisfied that the sections applicable to the student and supervisor have been completed, you should choose one of the following status recommendations pertaining to enrolment:
- Good Standing: recommended when the student's progress has been satisfactory (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 9(c)).
- Conditional Status: recommended when the student's progress has not been as anticipated and the cause is not attributed to circumstances beyond their control. The student should also be advised of a time period during which it is expected that their progress will improve to a satisfactory standard and fulfil any other conditions applied (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 9(c)).
- Absent Without Leave Status: recommended when the student fails to submit an Annual Progress Report by the due date, and has not applied to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee for a Leave of Absence. You may also recommend to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee that the student be withdrawn from enrolment and have their status change to Absent Without Leave (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 9(d)). If the student's status is Absent Without Leave for a period exceeding six months they may have their enrolment terminated by the Graduate Studies Committee (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 10(d)).
- Termination of Enrolment: recommended when the student's progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory (see the Guidelines for the Process of Termination of Enrolment of Higher Degree by Research Students). If your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee considers termination is appropriate they will forward this recommendation to the University Graduate Studies for the final decision. If the student's progress has not been satisfactory and continuing enrolment is refused, the student will be advised in writing by the Graduate Studies Committee (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Sections 10(c) & (d) &16(b)). The student may appeal against the decision under Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Sections 16(c) & 17.
The Annual Progress Reports of both the Student and Supervisor shall be presented for discussion at the Higher Degree by Research Review Board meeting held in your area in November. At the HDR Review Board meeting, recommendations regarding the academic status of each student will be made for forwarding to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee for approval.
A research student's continuing enrolment is conditional upon a satisfactory Annual Progress Report. After the meeting of your Higher Degree Review Board the Annual Progress Report forms and status recommendations should be forwarded to your Faculty Graduate Studies Officer for appropriate action.
The procedure for requesting a Leave of Absence is given on the Application for Leave of Absence form. Complete the form to signify your support or denial of the request, and submit it to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. If approved, and withdrawal is necessary, the Faculty Graduate Studies Officer will deal with that section of the form accordingly.
The duration of a Higher Degree by Research is detailed in Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 4. It is important that students try to complete their thesis within the relevant time constraints. However, a student may apply, in writing, for an extension in which to submit the thesis for examination. If this is supported by the Supervisor and yourself, you should submit the request to the Graduate Studies Committee, through your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 4(c)(ii)).
Please note that as there are time constraints relating to degree completion, students who move into Thesis Overtime may be charged fees.
If the student's progress is unsatisfactory and/or the student has indicated a number of problems occurring in relation to the conduct of the research, you, as Head of the Enrolling Area, should discuss the Report with the Supervisor and/or Thesis Committee.
If a student is not making satisfactory progress despite the best attempts of the Supervisor, a report should be made by the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee to you, as the Head of the Enrolling Area, (when the Supervisor and Chair are two different individuals). In an extreme case based on the individual circumstances, you may recommend to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee that the student's enrolment be terminated. The procedures for this are stated in Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 16 (see also the Guidelines for the Process of Termination of Enrolment of Higher Degree by Research Students). Details of the student's appeal process are given in Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 17.
Students are also required to behave according to the University's Disciplinary Statutes and meet their responsibilities as students (see Student Rights and Responsibilities). If their behaviour is unsatisfactory and they do not comply with the Statutes, their enrolment may be terminated.
A Thesis Examining Panel is usually appointed by your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee approximately three months before the date agreed between the student and the Supervisor for submission of the completed thesis. Following discussion with the student's Supervisor, you will recommend:
- Doctoral Degree: two Examiners, both of whom are external to the University (Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research, Section 12). The Examiners should hold Doctoral qualifications or acceptable equivalents.
- Master's (by Research) Degree: two Examiners, at least one of whom is external to the University (Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 12). The Examiners should hold Master's qualifications or acceptable equivalents.
This recommendation for examiners is made on the Nomination of Examiners form submitted through your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. No previous or current member of a student's Thesis Committee may be nominated and, for this reason, when you apply for approval of Examiners, the Thesis Committee is shown on the same form. At a later stage, if it is necessary to change or provide an additional examiner, you should make a recommendation in the same way.
In recommending examiners, you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that examiners are free from bias, both positive and negative, in relation to the students or the supervisor.
Suitable examiners are likely to have substantial recent research or relevant professional experience. Consideration may also be given to ensuring that at least one examiner has experience in the examination and/or supervision of Australian research theses. It is recommended that Examiners have at least three years of research experience since graduation.
Please note that you are required to confirm that an initial, informal approach has been made to the proposed Examiners to ensure that they are willing to be appointed as Examiners and that they will be available at the expected time of submission of the thesis. This early approach to the Examiners may be made either by yourself, the Supervisor or the Chair of the Thesis Committee. An abstract of the thesis should be forwarded to the potential examiner to inform his/her decision to examine, and ensure there are no paradigm clashes. If, subsequent to the formal appointment of Examiners, you become aware of any circumstances which will delay submission, it is your responsibility to inform the Thesis Examinations Officer.
If anonymity has been requested, the names of the Examiners are not released. Only the Dean, Graduate Studies (or nominee), the Chairperson of your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee and the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee may communicate with the Examiners regarding the examination process while the thesis is under examination (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 12(g)).
If the thesis is required to be classified Confidential, the Enrolling Area must apply for approval to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. This application must be accompanied by a formal letter from the sponsoring body. The Thesis Examinations Officer will then ensure that all Examiners sign a confidentiality agreement, as required by your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, prior to examination of the thesis.
Upon receipt of Examiners' Reports the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee is responsible for the following:
- assessing Examiners' recommendations, in consultation with the supervisory panel;
- ensuring that the student receives written notification of amendment requirements;
- ensuring amendment requirements have been undertaken in a satisfactory manner; and
- recommending that the thesis be Passed or Failed.
For further information pertaining to the Thesis Committee, please see the Guidelines for Thesis Committee Members.
The Thesis Examinations Officer is responsible for the administration of the examination process. Examiners submit Reports and Recommendations as required under the Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(b). As soon as the Reports are received they are sent to the Chairperson, who is responsible for notifying the student, in writing, of the classification and the required amendment. This is undertaken in consultation with the supervisory panel.
A summary of action for each assessment category is as follows.
- Thesis passed unconditionally. If the examiners have pointed out any minor typographical errors, the Chairperson must advise the student to correct them.
- Thesis passed subject to minor amendment. Where the examiners have recommended that minor amendment be made, the Chairperson must advise the student of the specific requirements.
- Thesis requiring revision and re-examination. Where the examiners recommend that the thesis be revised and resubmitted, the Chairperson should advise the student of the specific requirements and the time frame in which these must be completed. Once revision has been undertaken under the guidance of the Supervisor, the student must provide the Chairperson with one copy of the revised version for submission to the examiner(s) plus one spare copy, together with a statement outlining the revisions which have been made (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(d)(iii)). Where there is a disagreement with some of the recommendations, and corrections have not all been carried out, a joint statement must be made in support of this decision by the student and the Supervisor. The Chairperson should then forward the revised thesis and statement to the Thesis Examinations Officer in the Office of Research and Development for submission to the original examiner(s), who will assess the resubmitted thesis as either Pass or Fail (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(h)).
Appointment of Replacement Examiner or Adjudicator
Where the Recommendations of the Examiners differ significantly, for example the award of a PASS and a FAIL, the Chairperson may recommend to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee that they recommend to the Dean, Graduate Studies that a Replacement Examiner be appointed (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 12(f)). This request is made in the same way as for the original examiners. Where the recommendations of the original examiners do not allow determination of a result based on clear weight of opinion, the Chairperson may recommend to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee that an Adjudicator be appointed (Rule 10: Degree by Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(i)). The Adjudicator shall adjudicate between the Examiners' reports on the basis of the thesis presented (in original form or as resubmitted, whichever is appropriate).
When the student has made the appropriate amendments as required by the Chairperson, a recommendation must be made that the thesis be Passed or Failed. This is achieved by submitting the Thesis Examination Report of Chairperson, signed by you and the Chairperson, to your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. If amendment or resubmission has been requested, a statement from the student documenting the response to the examiners' reports must be attached to the Thesis Examination Report.
At this point, the student must present the thesis to the Thesis Examinations Officer in the Office of Research and Development for permanent binding.
The Graduate Studies Committee makes monthly recommendations to Council for Conferral of Award. The student is notified by the Graduate Studies Committee of the recommendation and does not have to apply to graduate as this is done by the Office of Research and Development on the student's behalf.