Defines the rules for the management of HDR candidature and supervision at RMIT.
Who is it for?
All RMIT staff responsible for HDR management and supervision and all HDR candidates including RMIT Vietnam and RMIT Europe.
1.1. Admission for enrolment in a higher degree by research at RMIT is in accordance with the University’s Admission and credit policy and RMIT’s HDR admissions process.
1.2. By instructing an offer of admission to be made to an applicant, the enrolling School confirms that:
1.2.1. it has the appropriate discipline expertise to house the research;
1.2.2. it has the necessary space, facilities, equipment, technical and resource staff and funding for applicant, for the duration of the program; and
1.2.3. it has the capacity to provide dedicated supervision for the duration of the program.
1.3. The enrolling School must abide by its commitment to provide the above for the duration of candidature.
2.1 All HDR candidates attending RMIT campuses have access to non-laboratory work space.
2.2. HDR workspace allocation will be aligned with (and should not exceed) the published policy governing workspace allocation for the staff of the University.
2.3 The principles governing HDR space management and specific management requirements are set out in the HDR space management policy process.
3.1. The Commonwealth Government of Australia provides funding to support research training at RMIT via its Research Training Program (RTP) block grant. The program supports the following scholarship types:
3.1.1. RTP Fees Offset: A contribution to the costs incurred by the University in the provision of higher degrees by research. All Australian and New Zealand citizens (domestic candidates) are eligible for this support. International candidates in receipt of a Tuition Fee Scholarship at RMIT will receive this support.
3.1.2. RTP Stipend: Funding to assist candidates with living costs while undertaking a higher degree.
3.1.3. RTP Allowances: funding to assist candidates with ancillary costs of a higher degree, such as health cover and relocation costs for overseas candidates, thesis printing and academic publication costs.
3.2. Duration of RTP support is as follows:
3.2.1. For domestic candidates the RTP Fees Offset may be provided up to the maximum duration of candidature.
3.2.2. For all RTP support provided to international candidates, and for domestic RTP stipend recipients, RTP support is for the full time equivalent (FTE) of up to three years for doctoral study (six month extension may be applied for); and for Masters by Research study, a maximum of two years (FTE).
3.3. RMIT Research Scholarship rates with information about the contribution provided through the RTP are published annually on the RMIT website.
3.4. Information about eligibility, selection, entitlements and other terms and conditions for Scholarships in accordance with the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines are set out in the RMIT Scholarship Terms and Conditions (PDF).
4.1. RMIT will provide all HDR candidates with a suitably qualified senior supervisor and at least one other supervisor who have expertise in the discipline area of the candidate.
4.2. Supervisors are responsible for providing guidance regarding the candidate’s research project, assisting in resolving research-related issues and providing timely feedback.
5.1. The Dean/Head of School/Centre (or delegate) is accountable for the allocation of supervisors to candidates throughout the period of candidature and the oversight of supervision performance.
5.2. The Senior Supervisor or at least one of the Joint Senior Supervisors must be an RMIT staff member.
5.3. Candidates or HDR Coordinators may request a change to supervisory arrangements at any time as detailed in the HDR Supervision arrangements policy process.
6.1. All supervisors are required to be accredited and listed on the RMIT supervisor register before they can be allocated to candidates.
6.2. Categories of supervisor registration are determined by a combination of supervisory experience and research activity.
6.3. In order to maintain their level of registration supervisors must:
6.3.1. meet ongoing eligibility requirements; and
6.3.2. demonstrate they are effectively supporting candidates to achieve their expected milestones and research outcomes.
6.4. The requirements for supervisor registration are detailed in Schedule four 4: HDR supervisor registration requirements.
8.1. For candidates enrolling in an HDR program at RMIT duration of candidature shall be:
8.1.1. PhD – minimum 2 EFTSL and maximum 4 EFTSL
8.1.2. Masters by research – minimum 1 EFTSL and maximum 2 EFTSL
8.2. EFTSL consumed by candidates is calculated from their research commencement date.
8.3. The academic year for HDR candidates is 48 weeks with 4 weeks annual leave.
8.4. Candidate enrolment each year shall be either full-time – 96 credit points, or part-time – 48 credit points.
8.5. Full-time commitment will average at least 4 days per week over the course of the year. Part-time commitment will average at least 2 days per week over the course of the year. Any work, paid or otherwise, undertake by the candidate outside of their research project may not affect their ability to maintain this commitment.
8.6. Any changes between full- and part-time study mode must be applied for in accordance with the eligibility requirements and processes set out in the Program duration policy process.
8.7. Should candidates undertake a research internship, industry placement or other professional development activity, this should normally be within their permitted candidature duration period, with the exception of any enrolled activity undertaken post-submission.
8.8. Extensions to candidature duration are subject to approval by the ADVC RT&D and any other applicable scholarship terms and conditions.
9.1. Current HDR candidates from RMIT or another university are eligible to apply for transfer to an alternate RMIT HDR program provided that the candidate:
9.1.1. meets the entry requirements and
9.1.2. has consumed less than 3 EFTSL in a PhD, or less than 1 EFTSL in a Masters by research
9.2. Application and approval for program transfer is in accordance with the Program transfer policy process.
9.3. The duration of candidature in the new program will be reduced by any EFTSL consumed in the previous HDR program.
10.1. Candidates can access up to a total of twelve months leave of absence (LOA) during the entire program due to compassionate or compelling circumstances which prevent the candidate carrying out research, as detailed in the HDR Leave of absence policy process.
10.2. LOA is not included in EFTSL calculations of duration of candidature and candidates must cease working on their research during this period.
11.1. Subject to provision of appropriate documentation and any terms and conditions of their scholarship/sponsorship, candidates may be permitted:
11.1.1. 6 months maternity leave or partner leave or
11.1.2. 6 months adoption leave for each child born or adopted during candidature.
11.1.3. Requests for parental leave are considered in addition to the standard LOA provisions.
12.1. SGR will publish guidelines for the provision of research training support, facilities and funding.
12.2. Progress must be monitored and documented at regular meetings between supervisors and candidates, in accordance with the Supporting HDR progress policy process.
13.1. Progress is formally measured by monitoring of the candidate’s research through the three compulsory candidature milestone reviews:
13.1.1. Confirmation of Candidature
13.1.2. Second milestone review, and the
13.1.3. Third milestone review.
13.2. All candidature milestone reviews must be scheduled in accordance with this timeline:
|Degree||Timing of Confirmation of Candidature||Timing of second Milestone review||Timing of third Milestone review|
|PhD||Between 0.5 and 1 EFTSL after candidate’s research commencement date
||Between 1.5 and 2 EFTSL after candidate’s research commencement date
||Between 2.5 and 3 EFTSL after candidate’s research commencement date
|Masters||Between 0.25 and 0.5 EFTSL after candidate’s research commencement date
||Between 0.75 and 1 EFTSL after candidate’s research commencement
||Between 1.5 and 1.75 EFTSL after candidate’s research commencement date
13.3. The panel will determine one of the following outcomes: Milestone achieved or Milestone not achieved.
13.4. Candidates who achieve their milestone will be regarded as having satisfactory progress; those who do not achieve the milestone will be classified as at risk of unsatisfactory progress.
13.5. A candidate who has transferred from another program and provides evidence of previous confirmation of candidature is exempted from this Milestone review.
13.6. No exemptions will be granted for the requirement for the Second milestone review.
13.7. Candidates who are re-admitted for the purpose of examination are not required to complete the Third milestone review.
13.8. Candidates are permitted two attempts to achieve a milestone. A third attempt may be permitted only if a Research Candidate Progress Committee (RCPC) or the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development (ADVC RT&D) determines that the candidate’s progress has been impeded by a lack of necessary support from the University.
14.1. Candidates will be placed at risk of unsatisfactory academic progress (hereafter referred to as at risk) if:
14.1.1. they do not achieve a milestone;
14.1.2. they apply for an extension beyond maximum duration of candidature;
14.1.3. there is documented evidence of failure to:
a) produce work requested for review by their supervisor; or
b) attend two or more regular supervision meetings without providing evidence of exceptional/compassionate circumstances;
14.1.4. they have failed one or more coursework courses of enrolled load;
14.1.5. they elect to place their own candidature at risk in consultation with their Senior Supervisor; or
14.1.6. in exceptional circumstances, it is requested by the ADVC RT&D
14.2. In cases where the candidate is placed atrisk they will be notified of the classification in writing and invited to attend an atrisk meeting within 15 working days of the date of the notification letter.
14.3. As a consequence of this meeting a Candidate Action and Support Plan (CASP) will be developed to support their candidature.
15.1. An RCPC will be convened if an at risk candidate has not met the requirements set out in their CASP.
15.2. The outcomes of an RCPC are provided as recommendations to the ADVC RT&D. They are:
15.2.1. Established unsatisfactory academic progress not confirmed – candidate remains at risk and another CASP is to be developed; or
15.2.2. Established unsatisfactory academic progress confirmed – candidate recommended for termination of candidature and cancellation of enrolment.
16.1. Candidates with a current enrolment (including those on an approved period of leave of absence) are entitled to appeal the decision to terminate their candidature on the basis of unsatisfactory performance where they provide evidence that they meet the following grounds:
16.1.1. there is evidence of a breach of University legislation, policy or process in the handling of the at risk process which has had a meaningful impact on the determination to terminate the candidature, and/or
16.1.2. there is significant new, relevant evidence that was not available at the time of the Research Candidate Progress Committee (RCPC) meeting.
16.2. Appeals must be made in accordance with the Assessment, Academic Progress and Appeals Regulations and this policy.
16.3. For the resolution of other concerns or grievances in-candidature, candidates should follow the provisions of RMIT's Complaints resolution policy.
17.1. RMIT recognises two modes of submission for HDR examination:
17.1.1. Thesis; and
17.2. The length and format of the material presented for examination must be consistent with the normal standards for the discipline/field.
17.3. Submissions and publications completed with the support of the Commonwealth Government of Australia's Research Training Program must include an acknowledgement.
17.4. A thesis must be unified and coherent in content and address a significant research question/theme. Theses contain the process, results and analysis of original research and may include publications by candidates based on research undertaken during the course of candidature.
17.5. Projects must include:
17.5.1. the artefact/s; body of work; or a record thereof, and,
17.5.2. a dissertation which defines the purpose and theoretical basis of the work, and
17.5.3. an oral presentation made by the candidate where required.
17.6. Candidates will be required to declare that any research outputs included in a thesis or project:
17.6.1. are by the candidate,
17.6.2. have appropriate attribution recorded, and
17.6.3. are based on research undertaken during the course of candidature.
17.7. Where two (or more) candidates collaborate on a thesis/project:
17.7.1. the individual contributions of each candidate must have the equivalent volume of a project/thesis in the discipline, and
17.7.2. the collaborator’s contributions to the overall research outcomes must be declared in each of the uniquely titled research topics and resultant theses or projects.
17.8. In order to submit all candidates must:
17.8.1. complete the minimum period of enrolment in the degree or have the approval of the ADVC RT&D for early submission;
17.8.2. provide an electronic version of the thesis/project;
17.8.3. have met all the prescribed coursework components of the program;
17.8.4. not submit research previously submitted for examination in respect of a prior degree;
17.8.5. have the approval of their senior supervisor for the submission or have chosen to submit without school approval.
17.9. The Senior supervisor in consultation with the Dean/HoS or nominee shall determine if the candidate’s work is suitable in format and content to be submitted for examination.
17.10. Requests for Posthumous submission and examination are approved by the Graduate Research Committee as detailed in the Posthumous submission and examination policy process.
18.1. Examinations must be conducted by two appropriately qualified experts of international standing in the discipline/field who are external to RMIT, independent of the conduct of the research and without any real, perceived, or undeclared, conflict of interest.
18.2. All examiners must hold a doctoral degree or equivalent.
18.3. The appointment of examiners is approved by the ADVC RT&D.
18.4. The candidates and supervisors must not contact or communicate with the examiners from the date of approval of the examiners to the finalisation of the examination result except where an oral presentation is involved.
19.1. The ADVC RT&D will use the examiners’ recommendations and Schedule one: Recommendations and classifications of HDR examinations in order to determine the final examination classification.
19.2. In order to pass, a thesis/project must receive two pass recommendations on the same version of the thesis/project. See Schedule one: Recommendations and classifications of HDR examinations.
19.3. If a thesis/project is classified as a C3 – Revise and re-submit the re-examination is carried out on a pass/fail basis either with the original examiners, if they are willing to re-examine the revised thesis/project, or with one or two newly nominated examiners. In order to pass a thesis/project must receive two independent, external passing recommendations on the same version of the thesis/project.
19.4. Candidates may appeal against the classification outcome of a thesis/project examination on procedural grounds as detailed in the Assessment, Academic Progress and Appeals Regulations.
20.1. A College HDR Examination Advisory Committee (CHEAC) may be convened in cases where at least one of the examiners recommendations is R3 or R4 and there is divergence of opinion between the examiners, as detailed in Schedule one: Recommendations and classifications of HDR examinations.
20.2. A CHEAC will recommend to the ADVC RT&D:
20.2.1. the thesis/project receive a classification according to Schedule two: Classification options available to a College HDR Examination Advisory Committee (CHEAC); or
20.2.2. the recommendations of the examiners are unable to be reconciled internally and an adjudicator must be appointed.
20.3. Where an examination classification cannot be determined by the ADVC RT&D or a CHEAC, and an adjudicator is appointed they must make a recommendation to the ADVC RT&D in accordance with Schedule three: Classification options available to an adjudicator.
21.1. RMIT shall provide open access to the final thesis/project except in cases where an application for an embargo is successful.
21.2. Candidates are entitled to apply for an embargo on publication of their research in the RMIT Research Repository if they can meet the grounds for embargo as detailed below:
|Rule||Condition||Duration||Level of approval|
|21.2.1.||There is an existing formal commitment that commercially or otherwise sensitive material will not be publicly disclosed (includes patents and research produced under a funded contract with a Student Participation Agreement in place, or a confidentiality agreement).
||Up to two years from the initial submission for examination
Option for extension of embargo for one year
|21.2.2.||The candidate has signed a publishing agreement that explicitly requires some restriction on the availability of the thesis/project.
||One year initially
|Option for extension of embargo for one year
|21.2.3.||The candidate provides evidence that they have permanently re-assigned copyright of their thesis/project to a third party and this assignment explicitly disallows the publication of the thesis/project in the research repository.
22.1. In order to satisfactorily complete all requirements of the degree candidates must have:
22.1.1. lodged the final archival version of the thesis/project, and
22.1.2. met all prescribed coursework components of the program.
- Leave of absence policy process
- Masters by research grading policy process
- Posthumous submission and examination policy process
- Program duration policy process
- Program transfer policy process
- Sanctions assessment policy process
- Space management policy process
- Supervision arrangements policy process
- Supervision responsibilities policy process
- Supporting HDR progress policy process
- Thesis/project submission and examination policy process
- Code of practice for higher degrees by research
- Higher degrees by research policy: Schedules 1-4 (PDF 94 KB)
- 2018 Research scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 197 KB)
- RTP Scholarship guideline
An academic, external to RMIT, appointed to adjudicate on examiners' recommendations.
A member of the supervisory team who contributes in particular areas of disciplinary or methodological expertise. See also Senior supervisor.
Student enrolled in an HDR degree.
Rate of HDR completions over a period of time defined by analysing a specific cohort.
Confirmation of Candidature
The first milestone review which assesses academic progress by a candidate; see also Milestone review.
Amount of EFTSL that has been used since the research commencement date of a higher degree by research candidate.
Written component of research by project mode.
Equivalent Full Time Student Load.
The assessment made of a thesis/project.
Extension beyond maximum duration of candidature
An extension of time beyond maximum duration of candidature allowed for submission of an HDR thesis/project; See also Project, Submission, Thesis.
The point at which an HDR candidate has submitted the final archival version of their research, is deemed to have completed all the requirements of the degree and is eligible to graduate.
Higher degrees by research (HDR)
Masters by research or doctoral degrees which conform to the specifications of Levels 9 and 10 of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
An appropriately experienced and qualified individual responsible for advising and guiding a candidate on the conduct of their research. See also Associate supervisor; Senior supervisor.
Lapse of candidature
Where a candidate fails to enrol by the prescribed date and forfeits their place in the HDR program.
A formal event scheduled for the review of academic progress of an HDR candidate; see also Confirmation of Candidature.
Mode of submission for an HDR candidate consisting of a body of work or change in practice, normally in the form of/represented by a product or artefact of some kind. A project mode outcome can be ephemeral or experiential but must be able to fully documented.
Research commencement date
The date from which duration of HDR candidature is calculated. The enrolment date is used for the research commencement date unless a special case is made for use of a later date.
Public dissemination of research outcomes in the form of a book, book chapter, commissioned report, conference paper, creative work or journal article.
In relation to HDR candidates, the work planned to fulfil the requirements of the degree.
Process used to identify whether the proposed research of an applicant for HDR admission, or the current research of a candidate, is affected by sanctions arising from the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 or the Charter of United Nations Act 1945.
A financial allowance or benefit (which may include partial living expenses and/or tuition fees) provided to a student to enable them to access or continue study. It may be based either on equity grounds or merit, or both. Scholarships are established and approved at university level. See also Stipend.
A member of the supervisory team who advises candidates as appropriate about meeting the candidature milestone and submission requirements for their HDR degree and approves relevant compliance and administrative matters; includes supervisors who are involved in joint senior supervision. See also Associate supervisor.
A financial amount paid directly to the candidate to support living costs whilst enrolled in the course of study. See also Scholarship.
Study mode is defined by a student's enrolment and is either 'full-time' or 'part-time'.
A process whereby an HDR candidate lodges a version of their research for examination or for archival storage.
The enrolment status of a candidate who has submitted their research for examination.
A list of academics eligible to undertake HDR supervision at RMIT.
Termination of candidature
Cancellation of the enrolment of a candidate in their HDR program; a result of unacceptable academic progress.
A document which is unified and coherent in content and addresses a significant research question/theme. It contains the process, results and analysis of original research and is submitted as a requirement for a Higher degree by research.
Status & details
Custodian: Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation
Operational responsibility: School of Graduate Research
Effective from: 1 June 2016
Last updated: 10 July 2017
Document reference: POL/2016/00028[V2]