Guidelines for confirmation of candidature - higher degree by research

Admission to Higher Degree by Research candidature is on a probationary basis, and a process of Confirmation of Candidature must be undertaken as follows, In order to progress from a probationary to confirmed candidature:

  • Doctoral candidates: ideally between 9-11 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 18-22 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature..
  • Masters candidates wishing to upgrade to PhD: prior to 12 months of commencing full-time Masters candidature or 24 months part-time candidature.
  • Masters candidates do not currently have to confirm their candidature, unless they are upgrading to PhD.  This will change for future Masters candidates at Federation University to the following: within 6 months of commencing full-time probationary candidature or within 12 months of commencing part-time probationary candidature.

Further information for candidates is available in the document titled: Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines.

Full details of the confirmation requirements and process are provided in the document titled: Higher Degree by Research Candidature Management Procedure.

Objectives and requirements

The purpose of the Confirmation of Candidature milestone process is to provide:

  • The candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and progress of their project to date, share information on research literature that highlights the novel nature of their particular proposal, and advise a timeline of what they hope to achieve by conclusion of candidature, in both a written report of under 10,000 words and an oral presentation of approximately 20 minutes.
  • Formal evaluation by a Panel of specialists in the candidate's area of research and useful feedback to the candidate on the quality and viability of the proposed research project, based on the oral and written presentation of the candidate.
  • A means of ensuring that the project's key research questions, scope, methodology and objectives are clearly articulated, that the study design is in accord with discipline conventions, and that the project is designed within the scope of the resources available to support its conclusion within program's designated time frame.
  • A means of ensuring that the candidate is making satisfactory progress and has a high probability of completing the degree requirements within the minimum time period of three years for the doctoral program,.
  • An early warning mechanism for the detection of difficulties with the proposed research project or that the candidate might be experiencing.
  • Implementation of strategies by Faculty if required, to support a candidate deemed to have the potential to progress, with additional guidance.
  • A means of applying natural justice in the termination of candidature in the situation where there is a low likelihood of success.

This process is a requirement of the Higher Education Standards (Thresholds Framework) 2015 4.2:1C and is endorsed by Federation University's Academic Board, and is supported by University Policy, Procedure and Guidelines to assist and support Faculty, Academic staff and candidates.

Candidate preparations

Candidates are encouraged to:

  • Work closely with supervisor(s) during the probationary months to ensure an understanding what is required  to confirm candidature within the given time frame;
  • Become familiar with FedUni Regulation 5.1 as it relates to confirmation of candidature as well as the relevant CoC policy, procedure and guidelines.
  • Participate in the Graduate Centre induction program within the first six months of the probationary year, which is mandatory and participate regularly in weekly Graduate Centre sessions relating to other aspects of postgraduate study.
  • Attend other CoC presentations particularly within the same faculty, to both support and learn from peers across the University;
  • Prepare for oral presentations in other forums, e.g. school seminars, the annual FedUni HDR conference, external conferences and rehearsal with supervisor(s) etc to develop public speaking skills.
  • Prepare the written submission and oral presentation in accordance with the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines.
  • Advise Research Services of the preferred date of oral CoC presentation, with one month notice to ensure the appropriate facilities will be available, and panel members can attend.
  • Submit the written research report (Word & PDF) to Research Services two weeks prior to the presentation date, for distribution to the panel;
  • Determine if Ethics approval is required for their project. If applicable, applicants must submit the appropriate ethics application for either Human, Animal and/or Institutional Bio-safety, and advise the Panel of either the approval number or the ethics application number.
  • Post presentation, provide any revisions to the Panel within the requested time period
  • Post presentation, prepare for a subsequent oral presentation if required, within the requested period.

Supervisor responsibilities

Supervisors are encouraged to;

  • Ensure the candidate attends the Graduate Centre Program for Induction within the first six months of candidature,(mandatory) and other weekly Graduate Centre sessions as appropriate, so support  their endeavours during the first year of candidature.
  • Guide the probationary candidate through the responsibilities as outlined in Regulation 5.1,and FedUni CoC Policy Procedure and guidelines.
  • Meet with candidate in the early months of enrolment to discuss the CoC milestone and associated timelines.
  • Observe the candidate's progress to date and / or any issues they may face in their research and preparations.
  • Mentor to ensure readiness, knowledge and capacity to undertake the process prior to the maximum (12mth) deadline - so as not to jeopardise the continuation of their candidature.
  • Provide probationary candidate with timely feedback in preparation of both the written and oral presentations required.
  • The principal supervisor is a member of the Panel, and Associate and Co-supervisors are an integral part of the audience. Generally, they are invited to sit in on the discussions with the panel after the oral presentation, however are not involved in the panel deliberations involving the outcome.
  • Post presentation, support the candidate in preparing any required conditions to confirm candidature.
  • Supporting probationary candidate through Show Cause procedure, should they be deemed 'not confirmed'

The role of the confirmation panel

The panel will consist of senior four research active academic staff, whose role is to determine if:

  • the candidate has developed a viable Higher Degree by research project,
  • made satisfactory progress within the probationary period, and
  • is deemed to have the competency to complete the degree requirements within the preferred period of three years - in compliance with FedUni Regulation 5.1 - Part C, PhD Section 12, or Part E, Masters Degree (Research).

Following deliberations after the seminar, the Chair of the panel will recommend to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (HRDC) one of the following outcomes:

  • that candidature be 'confirmed'
  • that candidature be 'confirmed subject to conditions'
  • that candidature be 'not confirmed'.

In all outcomes the Panel will provide a written report to the candidate via Research Services within five days of the presentation, outlining the reasons for its decision.

  • When Confirmation is subject to minor conditions, these will be clearly detailed and a due date advised by when conditions are to be met.
  • In cases where conditions are set, including a recommendation that the candidate be required to re-present either the written proposal and/or the oral presentation for confirmation, the feedback will include details of what needs to be addressed, with associated timeline for rescheduling the confirmation process. Only in exceptional circumstances will more than two attempts to gain confirmation of candidature be permitted.
  • In the case that a candidate is not confirmed the panel will recommend that the candidate be invited to 'Show Cause' on why candidature should not be terminated.

Step by step process for confirmation of candidature

1. Probationary Candidate /Supervisor Meet Supervisor / Probationary Candidate Probationary candidate and their supervisor meet in the early months of candidature to discuss the requirements of confirmation, as detailed in Policy, Procedure and Guideline documents, ensuring that the probationary candidate is made aware of the requirements for Confirmation of Candidature as specified above in 'Preparing for confirmation'.
2. Notification of Application for Confirmed Candidature Probationary candidate

Probationary candidate to advise Research Services (RS) after consultation with their Supervisory team, of their intention to confirm, at least four weeks prior to their confirmation date to ensure room bookings and required technology is available.

3. Confirmation panel formed Principal Supervisor The Principal supervisor will nominate panel members for the confirmation meeting, and confer with their ADR for advise, regarding suitability of their nominees if required. The panel consists of:
  • The ADR (Chair) or nominee
  • The Principal Supervisor
  • An academic staff member from Federation University with relevant disciplinary experience and knowledge.
  • An experienced supervisor or discipline expert, from either Federation or another University.
  • An industry partner, where appropriate.

The names and contact details of panel members need to be provided to Research Services, about one month prior to the confirmation date, to ensure arrangements may be finalised appropriately.

4. Submission of written proposal Probationary candidate

Probationary candidate to submit to Research Services a written proposal, in accordance with the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines, at least two weeks prior to the confirmation.
The body of the written proposal will be between 5000 and 10 000 words for Doctoral probationary candidates and around 5 000 words for Masters by Research probationary candidates. This includes

  • project title,
  • aims,objectives and research questions,
  • review of literature, constructed within an appropriate analytical framework to provide new knowledge, rather than a descriptive summary
  • main text of the candidate's proposed contribution to the field of research - appropriate to the degree being sought
  • footnotes and captions,


  • Referencing: An additional 2000 word (maximum) 'supplementary' is provided for referencing - it is not included in the initial word count.
  • Written proposals in excess of these guidelines mayl be returned to the candidate for revision and re submission
5. Confirmation meeting takes place Probationary candidate, Confirmation Panel The Probationary candidate makes an oral presentation of no more than 25 minutes for Doctoral probationary candidates and 15 minutes for Masters by Research probationary candidates to a Confirmation Panel (and any additional audience) as outlined in the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines. The Probationary candidate will then take questions from the Panel and audience,  arising from their presentation and/or written submission.

Experts external to the University may provide written feedback on the candidate's submission in advance if they are not able to attend in person or via video conferencing or Skype.

6. Panel provides recommendation to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC). Chair, Confirmation Panel, Panel members

Confirmation Panel will deliberate and recommend to the RHDC on Confirmation of Candidature in accordance with the directions contained in the Confirmation Panel Report.

The candidate and/or supervisors may be required to be in attendance at the request of the Panel Chair during deliberation,

The Chair has authority to request anyone not on the panel to leave should their attendance not be required during the deliberation process.

Associate Supervisors will have speaking, but not deliberative rights during this process.

The Panel will recommend that the candidate be either;

  • Confirmed; or
  • Confirmed subject to conditions: or
  • Not confirmed (candidature may be terminated)

In all circumstances, the panel will provide a written report outlining the reasons for its decision.

If the candidate is 'Confirmed subject to conditions'  the panel report will include details of tasks that will need to be completed and the timeline.

If the candidate is 'Not confirmed' the Panel will provide a written report outlining the reasons for its decision.

The Panel Report will be provided to RHDC via Research Services.

7. Panel provides feedback to the candidate / probationary candidate Panel Chair –  Research Services

Feedback will be provided to the candidate within five business days of the Confirmation. Feedback should contain;

  • The Confirmation Panel's recommendation to the RHDC
  • "candidature confirmed" or
  • "candidature confirmed subject to conditions", or
  • "candidature not confirmed"); and,
  • Feedback on the substance of the candidate's research project.

In cases where conditions are set, including a recommendation that the candidate be required to re-present either the written proposal and/or the oral presentation for confirmation, the feedback will include details of what needs to be addressed, scheduling and the next step in the confirmation process.

8. Probationary candidate submits revisions / organises further oral presentation Probationary candidate Probationary candidate undertakes revisions, and/or additional oral presentation as per instructions from the panel report.
9. Probationary candidate attends Show Cause meeting in the instance of 'not confirmed'. Supervisor, Probationary candidate, Research Services Probationary candidates who are not confirmed will be requested to show cause (see Show Cause section of the HDR Candidature Management Procedure) as to why their candidature should continue. Supervisors and the Faculty are responsible for providing guidance to probationary candidates throughout this process.
10. Recording of Confirmation undertaken Research Services Research Services will record outcome of the confirmation process and any further action to be undertaken on the candidate record.

For further information, please contact the Higher Degree by Research Team via email or over the phone on (03) 5327 9508