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Applying for candidacy

Provisional candidature

On receipt of your official notification of enrolment, you will be considered a provisional candidate until such time as you submit for candidacy and are approved. Candidacy preparation seminars are run twice annually. Please refer to the seminars and training page for details. iLectures and slide presentation of passed seminars can also be downloaded from the Notes and iLectures page, under the heading Preparing the Candidacy Application and Research Proposal.

Important note: Data collection (e.g. surveys, questionnaires or interviews, etc.) must not be conducted by provisional candidates.

Rules, policy, procedures and guidelines governing HDR

As part of your HDR journey you will need to understand the rules, policies, procedures and guidelines that govern HDR at Curtin.

The rules are listed below and can be found on the University Statutes and Rules page under Statute No. 12 – Enrolment;

Timeframe to submit for candidacy

An application for candidacy is required within the following timeframes:


  • Full-time candidates – six months from enrolment in the thesis component.
  • Part-time candidates – 12 months from enrolment in the thesis component.

Masters by research

  • Full-time candidates – three months from enrolment in the thesis component.
  • Part-time candidates – six months from enrolment in the thesis component.

It is expected that candidates will normally complete the coursework component before submitting an application for candidacy.

If you have a valid reason for not being able to submit an application for candidacy within the required time, you can submit a Request for Extension of Time to Submit Application for Candidacy form.

Failure to submit for candidacy within the specified timeframes (including approved extensions) may result in your academic status being amended to Conditional.

If enrolment conditions are still not met within the designated timeframe, the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee may recommend to the University Graduate Studies Committee that your enrolment be terminated.


During candidacy, the relationship established with your supervisor/s is crucial to the successful completion of your research and thesis. This could have a profound influence on how smoothly and successfully your research proceeds.

It is essential that clear and succinct communication between yourself and supervisor is established as soon as possible in order to avoid any communication issues later on in the research program. The best time to begin this process is during the preparation of your application for candidacy.

It is recommended that you read the Guidelines for Establishing the Higher Degree by Research Supervisory Relationship [.pdf — 153 kB].

Interim thesis committee

You should get to know the members of your Interim Thesis Committee as they have been appointed to guide you during this first stage.

A useful first step as you start your journey to candidacy, is to get to know your enrolling area’s staff and facilities, because information is most easily obtained by asking the right person at the right time.

You must satisfy your Interim Thesis Committee that the selected project will lead to research work of a calibre that will qualify for the award of a higher degree by research. Precedents will have been established by what has been accepted or rejected in the past, and your supervisor is best placed to advise you on this.

The formalities of candidacy require that you consult your supervisor in order to complete and submit an Application for Candidacy / Conversion of Candidacy form together with a summary of your proposed research program (also known as the research proposal).

It is at this stage that the composition of your Thesis Committee is determined. It is vital that you undertake an active approach in ensuring the composition of your Thesis Committee as they be pivotal in assisting you with successful completion of your thesis.

If you require supervision external to Curtin staff, you will need to speak to your supervisor about registering a University Associate for external supervision. This involves completing an online Recommendation for Occupancy (RFO) through Human Resources.

Candidacy application

Candidacy is the academic quality control process in which provisional candidates have their program of study and supervisory arrangements approved and become confirmed candidates.

The following conditions are considered by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee in the granting of candidacy:

  1. Definition of an acceptable research program, including its objectives, methodology, facilities, resources and a time schedule for completion.
  2. Attainment of the necessary level of knowledge and skills to proceed with the proposed research program.
  3. Acceptance of the nominated Thesis Committee.
  4. Certification by the Head of Enrolling Area that adequate facilities and resources are available for the proposed research program.
  5. Appropriate identification of ethical issues for research involving animals; humans; ionising radiation; microwaves, lasers or ultraviolet light; or recombining of DNA.
  6. Acceptance of appropriate arrangements regarding the ownership of intellectual property in accordance with current University policy.
  7. Certification by the Head of Enrolling Area that the University’s health and safety requirements are satisfied.
  8. Successful completion of the Research Integrity Training program (refer to next section).
  9. Completion of a Student Budget Proposal (Appendix A of Application for Candidacy / Conversion of Candidacy form) in conjunction with Supervisor, which details projected expenditure of Higher Degree by Research Student Consumables Allowance over the course of enrolment.

Please note that you cannot submit a thesis for examination until your candidacy has been approved.

Guide to preparing the summary of proposed research program

A component of the Application for Candidacy is the written proposal, or ‘Summary of Proposed Research’. This guide will help you prepare your written proposal.

Download the Guide to Preparing the Summary of Proposed Research Program [.pdf — 218kB]

To further assist you, also download the Summary of Proposed Research Program Template [.docx — 27kB], which provides a structure and tips for the content of your Summary of Proposed Research.

A number of real examples of well-written proposals are available for you to view. These have been grouped by faculties in the list below.

Faculty of Business and Law

CBS Agribusiness PhD – Coordination and Value Creation in Agribusiness Relationships [.pdf — 139kB]
CBS PhD – Impact Assessment of Poverty Alleviation Strategies on Rural Women [.pdf — 112kB]
CBS PhD – The role of an effective tax administration in encouraging greater compliance with taxation laws in Indonesia [.pdf — 232kB]

Faculty of Health Sciences

HS by Publication – The post prison release experience of men with a history of injecting drugs [.pdf — 236kB]
HS MPhil – Partnership-in-Care – A Descriptive Study of the Situation in Rural Western Australia [.pdf — 48kB]
HS MPhil – The Delivery of Quality Nursing Care – A Grounded Theory Study of the Nurses’ Perspective [.pdf — 52kB]
HS MPhil – The role of environmental stress-survival adaptation by Burkholderia pseudomallei in disease emergence [.pdf — 68kB]
HS PhD  – Parent infant feeding initiative – smartphone app targeting fathers [.pdf — 174kB]
HS PhD – Development of an educational and vocational assessment protocol for adolescents with high functioning Autism [.pdf — 246kB]
HS PhD – Driving tumours to become their own vaccine site [.pdf — 175kB]
HS PhD – The conceptualisation of ‘normal’ grief – using mixed methods to reconcile community expectations with etc [.pdf  — 159kB]
HS PhD – Understanding successful employment for adults with high functioning Autism Asperger syndrome [.pdf — 324kB]

Faculty of Humanities

Hu  PhD – How might co-design support autonomous and creative behaviours in the service industry [.pdf — 85kB]
Hu Aboriginal Studies PhD – Marr Mooditj – Twenty-five Years of Community Controlled Health Education [.pdf — 87kB]
Hu Art & Design PhD – Fugitive immensity – Sensations of Sublimity through Quotidian Car Travel [.pdf — 105kB]
Hu PhD – A Longitudinal Study of Students’ Perceptions about Science during Transition from Primary to Secondary School [.pdf — 44kB]
Hu PhD – Culture, World View and Conceptualisations of Nature – An Interpretive Analysis of High School Student’ etc [.pdf — 41kB]
Hu PhD – Task-based language teaching in post-Soviet school classrooms – Investigation of policies etc [.pdf — 151kB]
Hu PhD – Textual Lives – (Re)Writing the Desiring Self (f) [.pdf — 79kB]
Hu PhD – The Use of Graphics Calculators and other Teaching Approaches to Enhance the Learning of Vectors in Y 11 Maths [.pdf — 61kB]

Faculty of Science and Engineering

SE PhD – Granitoid Evolution and Tectonic History of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt in Northeast China [.pdf — 57 kB]
SE PhD – Heat transfer enhancement and fluid flow characteristics associated with jet impingement cooling [.pdf — 125 kB]
SE PhD – Scheduling of Batch and Mixed Batch – Continuous Process Plants using Petri-nets [.pdf — 82kB]
SE PhD – Tectonic Setting and Tectonometamorphic Evolution of Fuping-Wutai-Hengshan Orogenic Belt, China [.pdf — 526 kB]

Student budget proposal

As part of the candidacy application, students will be required to present a budget proposal detailing projected expenditure of their consumables allowance over the course of enrolment.

The budget will be completed in consultation with the supervisor, and endorsed by both the supervisor and Head of Enrolling Area or appropriate alternate. It is understood that the budget may shift as the student progresses through enrolment. Students will be granted access to the HDR Student Consumable Allowance funds after they have achieved candidacy.

Students are encouraged to read the Guidelines for Essential Facilities available on the Student policies and procedures webpage.

Research integrity training

Online training in research integrity has been introduced at Curtin for both research students and research academic staff.

The training explains the key responsibilities of researchers, identifies challenges in meeting those responsibilities, and strategies to deal with challenges. The training also aims to ensure students and staff understand requirements and responsibilities in relation to research ethics, confidentiality, data storage and records, regulations and governance.

The Research Integrity Professional Development program was developed by Epigeum, a leading publisher of online courses. It has been developed for the Australian legal and policy environment and implemented in several Australian universities. The Curtin Research Integrity Professional Development program has also been customised to Curtin’s policy environment.

The student training is in Blackboard, accessed via Student OASIS. Students must first log into Student OASIS, then click on the link to Blackboard. The unit appears under the heading ‘My Units’. Research students are required to completed the training prior to submitting their Application for Candidacy.

More information is provided in the following download Research Integrity Training Information [.pdf — 23.91kB]

Research proposal

The research proposal must adhere to a specified format.

The research proposal you will submit with your Application for Candidacy / Conversion of Candidacy form is subject to page limits and formatting specifications.

  • Doctoral application for candidacy – a maximum of 10 typewritten pages* (excluding references).
  • Master application for candidacy –  a maximum of five typewritten pages* (excluding references).

* All pages must be numbered and the font size should be a minimum of 11 point.

Research proposal structure


A half-page explanation of the program in plain English.


A clearly defined statement of the objectives of the research.


The background of the proposed study.


The importance/relevance of the proposed study.

Research method

An outline of your method/s including sample selection, instrumentation, data collection, data analysis, reference to any hazardous procedures, highly toxic chemicals (e.g. carcinogenic or mutagenic agents), etc.

Ethical issues

This section must clearly demonstrate that you have considered all ethical issues which may arise and the manner in which they will be addressed. This may include approval information received from the relevant Ethics Committee/s (see below section on Ethics and Safety Committee approval).

Facilities and resources

An outline of these requirements for the completion of your research.

Data storage

You must arrange secure storage of research data for at least seven years after thesis publication. Some types of research may require even longer terms of storage (such as 15 years for clinical research).

Time schedule

This should be realistic.


A bibliography.

Candidacy seminar

Your enrolling area may require you to present a draft research proposal, either to a research committee or in the form of a seminar, so that it can be reviewed prior to your candidacy application being submitted for approval. Check with your supervisor whether a formal presentation is  a requirement in your enrolling area.

These seminars can be very helpful and informative, as they provide an excellent opportunity to get feedback on your proposal from your peers, and can lead to useful contacts and other sources of information. Learning about the programs of study being undertaken by others in your area can also provide comparative and/or complementary information on the progress and direction of your own research.

Originality checking using Turnitin

Turnitin is a text matching software that checks for originality in a document by comparing its passages against a database of sources.

How to access to Turnitin

Checking the research proposal and thesis chapters for originality will assist you in minimising potential for plagiarism. Turnitin access for higher degree by research (HDR) students is located within the ‘Research Integrity – HDR’ training on Blackboard. To better assist you, you might like to view Information on Originality Checking (Turnitin) of the Candidacy Proposal and Thesis Chapters [.pdf — 592 kB].

From 1 August 2015, HDR students are required to electronically submit their ‘summary of proposed research program’ (the ‘candidacy proposal’) using this functionality.

To access:

  1. Login to Student OASIS.
  2. Click on the link to Blackboard, and select the ‘Research Integrity – HDR’ training.
  3. From the left hand menu, select the heading ‘Originality Checking’. Full instructions are located in the ensuing screens.

General information about Turnitin is available from Curtin’s Academic Integrity website: What is Turnitin? and Turnitin for Students.

Instructional videos for Turnitin

The Academic Integrity website also includes “How-to-use Turnitin” videos.

The first video is specifically targeted at HDR students, and the second and third videos are generic and applicable to both HDR and undergraduate audiences. The fourth video is relevant to all audiences but includes specific requirements of HDR students.

  1. Getting started with Turnitin for HDR students
    • the role of Turnitin in the HDR process
    • how to submit your work to Turnitin
  2. Understanding Turnitin’s report
    • how to access the Originality Report
    • What the Similarity Index is
    • how the Originality Report is used to identify plagiarism
  3. What to do about those highlighted bits
    • reviewing your matches and deciding what action to take
    • how to plan your work to prevent plagiarism
  4. Downloading or printing your Originality Report

Queries about this requirement for the candidacy proposal can be forwarded to

Alternative thesis formats

A thesis can submitted in non-traditional formats:

  • a typescript (i.e. a traditional thesis); or
  • a creative or literary work or series of works accompanied by an exegesis*; or
  • a published book or series of published papers, accompanied by an introduction, literature review and other supporting material.

*An exegesis is a small thesis that presents an academic explanation of the submitted work and/or a description of the linkages between the works.

If you are considering submitting a thesis in a non-traditional format, it is essential that you discuss your intentions with your Interim Thesis Committee and include this information in your candidacy proposal.

If your thesis is likely to include artworks, performances, constructions, 35mm slides, videotapes, or some other audio visual or digital media, for example, and the documentation of such work, it is essential that you take into account both the required resources and the costs involved in producing this documentation (see section on thesis preparation).

Intellectual property

As part of your application for candidacy, you will have to complete and sign the ‘Copyright and Ownership of Intellectual Property: Student Agreement’ form.

In signing this form you agree that:

  1. You have read and understood the University’s copyright procedures;
  2. There will be no material in the thesis which would infringe the copyright of any person(s);
  3. You will obtain permission for third-party copyright material reproduces in the thesis;
  4. You have read the University’s Intellectual Property – Ownership and Commercialisation Policy and Procedures;
  5. You understand the provisions of the policy and the requirements of the procedures as they relate to you as a student;
  6. You undertake to be bound by the provisions of the policy and procedures;
  7. You understand that all intellectual property created by you in the course of your research will belong to you unless it arises from:
    a. participation in a University Project (see point 1 below) in which case it will be owned by the University, and you as the student will be required to enter into an agreement with the University in respect of the intellectual property generated;
    b. from work undertaken with a Specific Contribution by the University (see point 2 below) (in which case it will be owned by the University);
    c. a program supported in whole or in part by a third party funding body in which case the ownership of and intellectual property developed by you as the student shall be determined by any agreement between you, the University and the third party funding body.
  8. You undertake to do all things necessary to protect any of the University’s intellectual property which may be capable of commercialisation as directed in Clause 7.20 of the policy.

Generally, as the owner of intellectual property developed in the course of your studies, you are free to commercialise or otherwise deal with the intellectual property as you wish. However, if in the course of your research, you create University Intellectual Property (see point 3 below) (through participation in a University Project (see 7(a) above) or by virtue of a specific contribution from the University (see 7(b) above)) you “must register the existence of that University IP with [your] Supervisor who must then provide written disclosure to the Director, IP Commercialisation” as required by Clause 7.19.2 of the University’s Intellectual Property – Ownership and Commercialisation Policy and Procedures.

In determining whether you are the sole owner of intellectual property developed in the course of your studies, you are required (in accordance with Clause 7.12 of the University’s Intellectual Property – Ownership and Commercialisation Policy and Procedures) to consult with your supervisor to discuss contributions to the development of the intellectual property that may have been made by persons associated with your research project. Refer specifically to Clause 7.8 of the University’s Intellectual Property – Ownership and Commercialisation Policy and Procedures.

If the University or the supervisor have contributed significantly to the generation of the intellectual property then appropriate arrangements should be agreed regarding these contributions and the intellectual property should be registered (in the manner mentioned above).

The following terms are defined in the Intellectual Property – Ownership and Commercialisation Policy and Procedures as follows:

  1. University Project means a self-contained program of work or research administered by or on behalf of the University which:
    a. is funded wholly or in part by a Sponsor;
    b. is funded wholly or in part by a Specific Contribution; or
    c. is a Collaborative Project.
  2. Specific Contribution, in relation to the creation of Intellectual Property, means funding or resources which are contributed by the University, but excludes a scholarship awarded by the University as a contribution to a specific University Project.
  3. University IP means Intellectual Property which is owned by the University according to the terms of this Policy or otherwise as a matter of law.
    For definitions of other terms in this declaration (“Collaborative Project”, “Staff Member”, “Student”, “Commercialisation” etc) please refer to the Intellectual Property – Ownership and Commercialisation Policy and Procedures. You should also refer to the above policy and procedures to ensure that you fully understand your rights and obligations in relation to intellectual property at Curtin.
  4. Intellectual Property (IP) includes any rights in relation to:
    a. a circuit layout or semi-conductor chip layout or design or eligible layout as defined in the Circuit Layouts Act 1989 (Cwlth);
    b. a Copyright Work as defined in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cwlth);
    c. a design as defined in the Designs Act 1906 (Cwlth);
    d. a patent, application for a patent, invention, manner, method or process of manufacture, or method or principle of construction as defined in the Patents Act 1990 (Cwlth);
    e. a plant variety as defined in the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act 1994 (Cwlth);
    f. a trade mark as defined in the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cwlth); and including related rights and confidential information and know-how in relation to the above rights, or as otherwise determined by the University.

The definition of Intellectual Property may be amended from time to time consistent with Commonwealth legislation and international conventions.

Candidacy approval process

The completed Application for Candidacy / Conversion of Candidacy form is submitted together with the final research proposal to your supervisor.

Once signed-off by your head of enrolling area, your application will then be assessed by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee who will determine whether it fulfills the conditions for candidature.

You will be notified of approval by the Graduate Research School and your status will change from Provisional Candidature to Confirmed Candidature. If candidacy has not been approved, you will be advised accordingly.

For any enquiries regarding the candidacy process, contact the Graduate Research School.

Ethics and Safety Committee approval

As a provisional candidate, if you intend to undertake a research project where the research involves humans, animals, the collection and/or use of confidential information, the use of potentially dangerous equipment/substances or research with other ethical implications, it is essential that you examine the ethics and safety guidelines as related to your field of study and consult with your Interim Thesis Committee to determine if the research proposal and methodology requires the approval of any University Ethics and/or Safety Committees. If so, you must complete the appropriate forms and submit a research proposal that outlines your research method.

Details need to be provided of ethical and safety considerations in the Ethics and Research Practice Clearance section of the Application for Candidacy / Conversion of Candidacy form. Depending on the nature of your research, you may also need to seek approval from ethics committees outside the University (e.g. hospitals if you desire access to patients and/or their records).

In some cases, such as those involving the development of questionnaires and other experimental measures, it may not be possible for you to submit all of the methodological details required for ethics committee approval. In these circumstances you are required to submit an outline of the manner in which such questionnaires will be developed and how privacy and other ethical considerations will be taken into account. You may be granted a form of limited approval from the ethics committee that allows the candidate to commence phase one of their research and then when you have the details of their questionnaires or experimental measures, this must be submitted to the ethics committee as an amendment and be approved before research using these tools can commence.

During your study, you must abide by relevant legislation and guidelines. The current ethical requirements are available from the research ethics and integrity section of the Research at Curtin website. You should also seek advice from your supervisor.

If you are proposing research involving animals; humans; ionising radiation, microwaves, lasers or ultraviolet light; or recombinant DNA you must receive Ethics and/or Safety Committee approval from the appropriate committee prior to commencing research. You should allow adequate time to obtain ethics approval from the appropriate committees. It is not unusual for an additional six to eight weeks to be required depending on the number and location of the committees.

Human participants

If your program of study involves human participants, you must consult with your supervisor as to whether your proposal should be submitted to the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for approval. It is important that this point is given careful consideration as both you and your supervisor are ultimately responsible to this Committee for the ethical conduct of your research. For example, where relevant, you must obtain written, informed consent from the participant(s) of your research. Where a proposed participant is in a dependent relationship, special consent must be obtained from the legal guardian or custodian.

If this is not possible, an alternative participant must be sought. Depending on the nature of your research, you may also need to seek approval from authorities outside the University. If this is the case, you should do so prior to seeking approval from HREC. Research involving humans is subject to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) published by the National Health and Medical Research Committee (NHMRC). For further information, guidelines and/or an application form please view the Human research ethics page.

Animals used for scientific purposes

If you are using animals for scientific purposes, you should apply for approval to do so through the University’s Animal Ethics Committee. Information on the procedure for doing this can be obtained from the Animal Research Ethics webpage or from your supervisor. Research/teaching activities involving animals is subject to the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (8th Edition, 2013) published by the National Health and Medical Research Committee (NHMRC). For further information, guidelines and/or an application form please view the Animal Research Ethics webpage.

Hazardous materials

Early in your provisional candidacy, before you begin your research, you will need to fill in a Hazard Identification Tool (HIT) for Hazardous Materials for HDR Students if your research project involves the use of hazardous materials, such as:

  • ionising and non-ionising radiation
  • chemicals, medicines or drugs
  • genetically modified organisms (GMOs), quarantined materials, or infectious microorganisms.

You will then receive HIT feedback that will tell you about all the controls you will need to put in place before you can begin working with those hazardous materials. Sometimes the controls include applying for a permit/license/approval from a Curtin Safety Committee or government department. You must seek and be granted all the appropriate approvals before you can begin your research, so start this process early to avoid delays to your project.

Data storage

The Western Australian University Sector Disposal Authority (WAUSDA) [.pdf — 1MB] requires all data you have collected in your research to be retained for a minimum of seven years after the completion of the research or seven years after it is published, whichever is later. This means that you and your enrolling area must ensure secure storage of your data for this period.

This means that you should store all of the information necessary for someone to reconstitute your research and verify your results if necessary for at least seven years.