Milestone reviews

You need to complete three milestone reviews during your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidature.

Milestones are formal reviews of your progress. They provide you with feedback on your research to date and guidance for the next stage of your candidature. You will gain valuable experience in presenting your work in a supportive environment. They are also a great opportunity to promote your research within your school and/or college.

The three milestones are: 

  • Confirmation of Candidature
  • Second Milestone Review 
  • Third Milestone Review

Completing each milestone within the milestone window shows you are on track to a successful, timely submission for examination. 

Discuss your milestones with your supervisory team when you develop your research plan at the start of your candidature. Continue to work with your supervisory team to keep your plan up-to-date, considering changes to your candidature and/or research. This will help you stay on track with your research and complete each milestone (and ultimately your submission for examination) on time.

You must complete milestones within a specific window of time. It’s your responsibility to plan ahead and present before the close of the window. 

View your milestone windows in the candidate details page in Enrolment Online. Your “milestone due date” is the last day of your milestone window. Plan to present well before this date. 

Milestone windows are calculated using Equivalent Full-Time Study Load (EFTSL). This makes sure all candidates have the same amount of time to present the milestone, regardless of their study load or if they have changed between full-time and part-time load. 

PhD milestone windows (time after start date)

  EFTSL Full time  Part time 
Confirmation of Candidature 0.5 to 1 EFTSL 6 to 12 months 12 to 24 months
Second Milestone Review 1.5 to 2 EFSTL 18 to 24 months 36 to 48 months
Third Milestone Review 2.5 to 3 EFTSL 30 to 36 months 60 to 72 months 

Masters by Research milestone windows (time after start date) 

  EFTSL Full time  Part time 
Confirmation of Candidature 0.25 to 0.5 EFTSL 3 to 6 months 6 to 12 months
Second Milestone Review 0.75 to 1 EFTSL 9 to 12 months 18 to 24 months
Third Milestone Review 1.5 to 1.75 EFTSL 18 to 21 months 36 to 42 months 

If you don’t complete your milestone within four weeks of the end of the milestone window, you will be nominated for action and support. Your supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) will work with you to produce a Candidate Action and Support Plan (CASP) to help you get back on track with your research and complete your milestone. 

Confirmation of Candidature 

You are only eligible for an exemption from your Confirmation of Candidature if you transferred between HDR programs at the same level. You will need to supply evidence of successfully completing your Confirmation of Candidature in the previous program. This includes candidates transferring between schools at RMIT and from other institutions. 

Second Milestone Review 

Exemptions can’t be granted for the Second Milestone Review. 

Third Milestone Review 

Exemptions can’t be granted for the Third Milestone Review. However, if your enrolment has been cancelled and you’re applying for readmission for the purpose of examination you don’t have to complete this milestone. 

You’ll receive a reminder from the School of Graduate Research (SGR) when your milestones are due. Your supervisory team should schedule your milestone presentations for you, either as part of a milestone conference or, in exceptional circumstances, as a standalone presentation. 

It’s your responsibility to keep track of your milestones and be prepared to present during your milestone window. If your milestone review presentation isn’t scheduled by the time you receive your reminder, contact your supervisors or Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal

The HDR milestone process has moved from local school-based events to a college-wide series of conferences. The conferences bring together HDR candidates and academic staff to support their peers and hear about the research being done across their college. 

You may be expected to present your milestone for review at one of several milestone conferences throughout the year. 

Please see the dates for your college below: 

College of Business and Law

  • February Conference 
  • April Conference 
  • June Conference 
  • September Conference 
  • November Conference 

College of Design and Social Context (HSCC and PRS)

Schools of GUSS, PCPM, Education, and some M&C and F&T programs 

  • February Conference 
  • May Conference 
  • August Conference 
  • November Conference 

Schools of Art, AUD, Design, and some M&C and F&T programs 

  • June and October (PRS Australia and PRS Asia) 
  • April and November (PRS Europe) 

College Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine

All schools except the School of Science 

  • February Conference 
  • June/July Conference 
  • October Conference 

Each milestone requires you to present your research to a review panel and your research community.

Your review panel will be chaired by an experienced, research active supervisor within your school. The panel will also include your supervisors and one or more independent panel members. Independent panel members are RMIT supervisors with knowledge in your area of research or methodology, or individuals external to RMIT with a doctoral or equivalent qualification.

Milestone presentations occur at Milestone Conferences or in exceptional circumstances standalone presentations.

The presentations take a minimum of 20 minutes, with more time for questions from both your review panel and the wider audience. At the presentation, your review panel will give you feedback on your research to date, and advice and guidance for the future direction of your research. Audience members are not part of your formal progress review. However, they may give you insights and advice after your presentation.

Each milestone has specific requirements:

  • Confirmation of Candidature
  • Second Milestone Review
  • Third Milestone Review

You’ll be provided with your outcome and formal feedback within three weeks of your presentation.

Your Confirmation of Candidature marks your first significant milestone in your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program. Your candidature is considered ‘probationary’ until you successfully complete your Confirmation of Candidature. 

In your Confirmation of Candidature, you’ll produce written documentation with a research proposal and present your research proposal and progress to your review panel and wider research community. 

Discuss the requirements and expectations of your Confirmation of Candidature with your supervisory team and/or your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) before submitting the written documentation. Your school or discipline may have added requirements. 

Submit written documentation at least 15 days before your milestone presentation to give your panel time to review. You’ll be given instructions once your milestone is booked. 

The written documentation for your Confirmation of Candidature must include: 

  • A research proposal 
  • Evidence of any pending or completed research outputs, either sole or co-authored (if applicable) 
  • Evidence you have completed required courses 
  • Evidence of ethics approval and institutional biosafety approvals, if needed 
  • Other requirements of your school or discipline 

Research proposal 

You must produce a detailed written research proposal that clearly outlines the research questions you’ll be pursuing and situates your work within the broader scholarly literature. It must include: 

  • Your thesis/project title 
  • Abstract (summary of your research) 
  • The rationale, objectives and research questions you are planning to focus on 
  • An explanation of how your research is situated in the context of your discipline or community of practice 
  • Methodology (how you will undertake the proposed project) 
  • An initial review of literature and references 
  • An outline/summary of your progress against your research plan 

Required courses 

You must give evidence you have completed, are currently enrolled in or have been exempted from the Research Methods or Strategies course.

You must also provide evidence you have completed: 

  • the online Research Integrity module 
  • the Respectful Research Training: HDR Candidates
  • the online Intellectual Property (IP) module 
  • relevant online module/s covering human ethics, animal ethics and institutional biosafety (if appropriate) 

See Responsibilities as a Researcher for more information. 

Ethics approval 

If you have submitted an ethics application but you have not yet been granted approval, your Confirmation of Candidature may be placed on hold until your ethics approval is granted. 

The Second Milestone Review is the intermediate milestone in your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program. It marks the mid-way point of your research degree. 

You’ll now be starting to gain a sense of the ultimate shape of your project or thesis. This milestone review is an opportunity for you to take stock of your progress and to receive valuable feedback from your research community. 

Successfully completing this milestone shows you’re well on the way to finishing your HDR on time. 

In your Second Milestone Review, you’ll produce a significant piece of work (written work and/or creative project) and present your research to your review panel and wider research community. 

Discuss the requirements and expectations of your Second Milestone Review with your supervisory team and/or your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) before submitting the written documentation. Your school or discipline may have added requirements. 

Submit written documentation at least 15 days before your milestone presentation to give your panel time to review. You will be given instructions once your milestone is booked. 

The written documentation for your Second Milestone Review must include: 

  • A research summary 
  • Work towards your research 
  • Evidence of any pending or completed research outputs, either sole or co-authored (if applicable) 
  • Evidence of ethics approval and institutional biosafety approvals, if needed 
  • Other requirements of your school or discipline 

Research summary 

Your research summary must include: 

  • Your thesis/project title 
  • Abstract (summary of your research) 
  • The rationale, objectives and research questions you are planning to focus on 
  • An explanation of how your research is situated in the context of your discipline or community of practice 
  • Updated methodology (how you will undertake the proposed project) 
  • Updated review of literature and references including a list of key readings and references 
  • Updated outline/summary of your progress against your research plan 
  • A summary of any changes to your candidature since your Confirmation of Candidature 

Work towards your research 

The work required depends on your research. 

If you’re developing a thesis, you must submit (as appropriate for your discipline): 

  • at least two draft chapters of your thesis or 
  • equivalent in draft or published papers  

If you’re doing creative project-based research, you must submit: 

  • a draft of your dissertation and 
  • a portfolio of work (a portfolio is a representation of your final project outcome, in images, recordings or text, depending on your project) 

Congratulations! You are now moving into the final stages of your candidature. 

The Third Milestone Review is the third and final milestone in your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) program. Successfully completing this milestone shows you are on track to finish your HDR. 

In your Third Milestone Review, you’ll produce an advanced draft of your thesis or project (written work and/or creative project) and present your research to your Review Panel and wider research community. 

Discuss the requirements and expectations of your Third Milestone Review with your supervisory team and/or your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) before submitting the written documentation. Your school or discipline may have added requirements. 

Submit written documentation at least 15 days before your milestone presentation to give your panel time to review. You will be given instructions once your milestone is booked. 

The written documentation for your Third Milestone Review must include: 

  • A research summary 
  • Work towards your research 
  • Evidence of any pending or completed research outputs, either sole or co-authored (if applicable) 
  • Other requirements of your school or discipline 

Research summary 

Your research summary must include: 

  • Your thesis/project title 
  • Abstract (summary of your research) 
  • The rationale, objectives and research questions you are planning to focus on 
  • An explanation of how your research is situated in the context of your discipline or community of practice 
  • Updated methodology (how you will undertake the proposed project) 
  • Updated review of literature and references including a list of key readings and references 
  • Updated outline/summary of your progress against your research plan 
  • A summary of any changes to your candidature since your Second Milestone Review 

Work towards your research 

The work needed depends on your research. 

If you’re developing a thesis, you must submit (as appropriate for your discipline): 

  • at least four draft chapters of your thesis or 
  • equivalent in draft or published papers 

If you’re doing creative project-based research, you must submit: 

  • an advanced draft of your dissertation and 
  • a portfolio of work (a portfolio is a representation of your final project outcome, in images, recordings or text, depending on your project) 

Generally, you’ll receive an official outcome notification via your student email address and access to your panel’s feedback via Enrolment Online within three weeks of your presentation. If you haven’t received your outcome and feedback contact Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal

Your milestone has the following possible outcomes: 

  • Milestone achieved: You’ve successfully met the requirements of the milestone and your research is on track. Your milestone review panel may make recommendations. If the recommendations are specified in the formal feedback, you must work with your supervisory team to address the recommendations within a reasonable timeframe. 
  • Major amendments required: You haven’t met the requirements of the milestone. Major amendments to your documentation are required. 
    If you receive this outcome, you’ll be nominated for action and support. Your supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) will work with you to produce a Candidate Action and Support Plan (CASP) to help you get back on track with your research and complete your milestone. 
  • Ethics pending (Confirmation of Candidature only): Your review panel has determined you’ve achieved your milestone. However, you haven’t yet provided evidence that your research has the required approvals from the ethics team. When your ethics is approved, contact Research Training Services via the Student Connect portal to provide evidence and they will update your student record. 
  • Transfer to PhD: You have opted to transfer from a Masters by Research program to a PhD program. This program transfer can only happen during the Second Milestone Review and must be agreed to by your Milestone Review Panel, your supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA) before the milestone takes place. The notification will include instructions on the next steps to changing your program. 

See the HDR Progress Management Procedure for more information. 

Need help? 

Submit an enquiry to the School of Graduate Research

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