Getting started in your HDR program

Congratulations on commencing your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) studies with Federation University Australia.

If you have any questions about commencing your candidature, please contact the Graduate Research School at, by phone (03) 5327 9508, or in person, Building F at the Mt Helen campus or Room 285, Building 2W at the Churchill campus.

Student services and support

Federation University offers a range of student advocacy and support services, including disability support, counselling and an advisory centre. These services are available to all enrolled candidates and undergraduate students.

Candidate / supervisor agreement

Within the first two weeks of enrolment, you are required to complete the Candidate / Supervisor Agreement with your Principal Supervisor. This form must also be lodged with the Graduate Research School.

Email communication during your candidature

Once you are an enrolled candidate at Federation University Australia, you will be issued with a student email account. Your email address will be provided to you in your Letter of Offer. You are encouraged to access your student email on a weekly basis to ensure you don't miss out on important information for your candidature.

You can link your student account to personal email accounts. Please visit the Student Email ITS website for further details.

Changes to candidature details

If your circumstances as described in your letter of offer change during your period of candidature, please advise the Graduate Research School promptly by completing the relevant form.

Changes to your candidature must be approved by your Principal Supervisor and the School's Associate Dean, Research (ADR) prior to submission to the Graduate Research School. Requests for major changes will be forwarded to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC) for approval.

Conflicts of Interest information for HDR candidates

Most candidature matters will be discussed with your supervisors, but if you need to discuss matters at a broader level but the Higher Degrees By Research Coordinator/Associate Dean Research is also one of your supervisors there may be a conflict of interest. Information on handling Conflicts of Interest in HDR candidate matters can be found here.

Examples of conflicts of interest between HDR candidates and supervisors and examiners are included in the Australian Council of Graduate Research Conflict of Interest in Examination Guidelines.

Leave from studies (extended leave)

Applications for leave from studies must be approved prior to any leave commencing. It is usually not approved within the first year prior to undertaking Confirmation of Candidature. Leave from studies will not be backdated.

Leave from Studies will suspend candidature so that RTP / fees are not expended. Scholarship payments are also suspended for periods of Leave from Studies, partner leave and extended sick leave. Candidates wishing to take primary carer leave may be eligible for continued scholarship payments and should refer to the Candidature Management Policy for details.

An Amend your Program Status (Leave from Studies) form must be completed for the following types of leave:

  • Requests for leave of at least six months but no more than 12 months
  • Parental leave (Primary Carer) (including adoption leave)
  • Parental Leave (Partner leave) (including adoption leave)
  • Extended sick leave (more than 20 business days concurrently)

Please note, students on Leave from Studies are unable to access University facilities (including desks and computers), services (such as the Library), and HDR School (candidature support) funding.  

For further information, refer to the HDR Candidature Management Policy and Procedure RS1937.

Recreation leave

Students are permitted to four weeks recreation leave. An Absentee Leave Form must be completed, signed by the student, principal supervisor and Associate Dean Research before submitting to the Graduate Research School for processing. Leave should be taken each year. Further information on types of leave and leave entitlements can be found in the HDR Candidature Management Policy RS1935.

Confirmation of candidature (CoC)

All PhD students commence their Higher Degree by Research program as probationary candidates, and ideally should undertake the Confirmation of Candidature (CoC) process within 9-11 months of commencement for full-time students or 18-22 months for those enrolled part-time.

Please visit the Confirmation of Candidature website and CoC Guidelines for more extensive information and guidance.

Research ethics and integrity approval

You will need to apply for ethics approval from the appropriate Federation University Ethics Committee should your research involve any of the following:

  • direct contact with human participants, or evaluation of their personal data
  • involve the use of animals for either research or teaching purposes – including observation or field surveys
  • involve the use of genetically modified organisms.

Visit the Research Ethics and Integrity website for detailed information and contact with any research ethics-related questions.

Ethics approval must be sought prior to undertaking your Confirmation of Candidature presentation. Evidence of submission of a request for ethics approval to the relevant Ethics committee must be provided at the time of confirmation.

A copy of a final ethics report for all research projects that required Ethics Committee approval must be submitted with your thesis for examination as evidence that all research ethics requirements have been met.

Ethics approval is never granted retrospectively, so understand your responsibilities with respect to ethics approval before undertaking your Higher Degrees by Research program.

Skills development program

All PhD and Masters by Research candidates enrolled after 1 January 2019 are required to complete core and optional requirements of the Skills Development Program. Candidates enrolled prior to 1 January 2019 are welcome to attend but their participation is not compulsory.

Hours of study

Full-time candidates are expected to devote at least 32 hours a week on average to their studies. Part-time students are expected to devote at least 16 hours a week on average to their studies. You should not accept an offer of candidature unless you are prepared to commit to these minimum expectations of hours of study as you cannot otherwise expect to make satisfactory progress. (See below: Progress Reporting)

Professional editing of theses and exegesis documents

Information on professional editing of theses and exegesis documents can be found here (PDF 21KB).

Progress reporting

Progress reports are an important part of your candidature. They provide an opportunity for you and your supervisors to register comments on your progress to date. The annual progress report is compulsory aspect of candidature for all HDR candidates and the template is issued in August each year.

The Interim progress report is compulsory for nominated candidates and International candidates only and is issued in February of each year. The interim report is in addition to the Annual Progress Report and provides the University with an ongoing record of your progression. Non-compliance will have a negative consequence on your candidature.

Acknowledging your Research Training Program Scholarship

All HDR candidates in receipt of a Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship must formally acknowledge this in all materials generated from their HDR research; Acknowledging your RTP Scholarship source (PDF 98KB).

Student Evaluation of Postgraduate Program (SEPP)

All HDR candidates are encouraged to complete the evaluation of their experience in the HDR program. Responses are anonymous, and provide important information to enable the University to improve the supervisory experience of candidates.

Thesis layout advice

A thesis template is not provided by the University due to varying discipline requirements across Schools and discipline-specific style guides. Further, a supervisor may have firm expectations about how the thesis should be presented and this may differ from supervisor to supervisor.

However there are elements that a Federation University thesis must include and these are outlined in the Higher Degree by Research Examination Procedure and How to Present Your Thesis (PDF 310KB).

It is recommended that HDR candidates discuss thesis construction with their supervisors at an early point in their candidature. In some cases the supervisor may be able to provide, or recommend a successful thesis that could be used as a guide to arrange a candidate’s thesis. If a supervisor is unable to assist in this way then please take some time to look at the University's thesis collection. Try to find one that matches your discipline, style guide and that is appealing to you.

The Graduate Research School's Skills Development Program offers workshops for constructing a thesis in Word. These workshops are a great opportunity to create a document that matches your chosen approach.

Regulation 5.1 and HDR candidature policies

Federation University's Regulation 5.1 governs all Higher Degree by Research programs. Research-related policies and procedures are listed below:

Selection of candidates

Candidature management