HDR - Important information

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 our HDR Administration Team via email at research.degrees@federation.edu.au, over the phone on (03) 5327 9508 or in person in F Building, Mt Helen or Building 2W, Churchill.

Student services and support

Federation University Australia offers a range of student advocacy and support services, including disability support, counselling and an advisory centre. These services are available to all Federation University 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 Research Services.

Communication during your candidature

Once you are enrolled as a student of Federation University Australia, you will be issued with a student email account. Your email address was provided to you in your Letter of Offer.

We recommend accessing your student email account at least on a weekly basis so that you don't miss out on any important information or risk your inbox capacity going over the designated limit and emails not being delivered. Please visit the Student Email ITS website for further details.

Changes to candidature details

Seek advise and apply for approval from the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC) via the Research Services officer, if any details as described in your letter of offer change during your period of candidature. All changes must be requested via the relevant form and approved by your Supervisor(s) and Associate Dean (Research) prior to submission to the Research Services office.

Conflict of Interest information for students

Information on handling of Conflicts of Interest in HDR student matters can be found on Info for students (pdf 33KB).

For information regarding Conflicts of Interest between the student / supervisor / examiner, please see the Australian Council of Graduate Research (ACGR) Conflict of Interest in Examination Guidelines document.

Leave from studies

Applications for leave from studies must be approved prior to any leave commencing. Leave will not be backdated, with the exception of sick leave.

Leave from Studies will suspend candidature, so that RTS / fees are not expended. Scholarship payments are also suspended for general Leave from all Studies, paternity leave and extended sick leave. Candidates wishing to take maternity leave may be eligible for continued scholarship payments and should refer to the Candidature Management Policy for details.

A Leave from Studies Form must be completed.

Leave from all Studies includes 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 all Studies are unable to access University facilities (including desks and computers), services (such as the Library), and HDR Faculty (candidature support) funding.

Annual leave

Students are permitted to four weeks annual leave. An Absentee Leave Form must be completed, signed by the student, principal supervisor and HDR Coordinator before submitting to Research Services (research.degrees@federation.edu.au). Leave should be taken each year. Further information on types of leave and leave entitlements can be found in the Candidature Management Policy.

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.

At the extreme maximum, CoC must be completed within 12 months of commencement of probationary candidature for full-time students or 24 months for those enrolled part-time. This ensures the candidate has sufficient remaining months of Candidature with clear direction, methodology and focus to complete the research project and publish their research within the designated timeframe.

CoC consists of the preparation of a thorough written report including literature review and an oral presentation of the research project to a Panel of experts in that field of research. This process examines progress to date, ensures the project is developing to the required standard and determines the likely capacity of the candidate to successfully complete the research project within the minimum time frame.

Masters by Research candidates wishing to upgrade to PhD candidature, will also need to undertake the Confirmation of Candidature process under the same conditions as probationary PhD enrolled candidates – however, this should occur between 6 - 9mth for full time candidates and 12-18mths of part time candidate. This is to ensure their project is evaluated as having the capacity to be expanded to that of PhD thesis, or preferably remain as a Masters project without detriment to their progress to date.

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

Research ethics and integrity approval

Should your Postgraduate 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

You will need to apply for Ethics approval from the appropriate FedUni Ethics committee in order to conduct your research.

  • Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC)
  • Animal Ethics Committee (AEC)
  • Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBS)

Visit the Research Ethics and Integrity website for detailed information:

Initiate email contact with the Ethics officer regarding all enquiries related to ethical matters in your research:

Postgraduate students whose projects require ethical approval must provide evidence of the relevant Ethics Committee approval and evidence that all ethical requirements were successfully met.  Ethics approval is never granted retrospectively.

Graduate Centre program

The Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC) expects all new students to be active participants in the Graduate Centre program. Sessions commence in March and are held every Wednesday, 12.30 pm – 2.30 pm during semester. If you are not "on campus" contact the HDR Team for arrangements to be made for you to receive printed materials.

It is compulsory for all new students to attend the Graduate Centre orientation session and the first (administrative) session of the Graduate Centre program. Students who commence after the March orientation will be offered an orientation session later in the year.

Hours of study

It is expected that full-time students devote at least 32 hours a week on average to their studies and that part-time students devote at least 16 hours a week on average to their studies. You should not accept this offer unless you are prepared to commit this amount of time, as you cannot otherwise normally expect to make satisfactory progress. (See 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 does have a negative consequence on your candidature.

Acknowledging your RTP 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. More information about how to do this, can be found here (pdf 103KB).

Student Evaluation of Postgraduate Program (SEPP)

This is an evaluation by the student of the HDR program. All HDR students are encouraged to complete the evaluation. Responses are anonymous, and will provide important information to enable the University improve the supervisory experience of students.

Thesis Layout Advice

A thesis ‘template’ is not provided by FedUni. There are elements that a FedUni HDR thesis must include and these are outlined in the “Higher Degree by Research Examination Procedure” and the “How to Present Your Thesis” booklets.

A thesis template cannot be offered due differences in the style that is followed (e.g. APA, Vancouver, MLA, etc.) and varying discipline expectations. Further, a supervisor may have firm expectations about how the thesis should be presented and this may differ from supervisor to supervisor.

It is recommended that HDR candidates discuss this matter with their supervisors at an early point in their candidature. In some case the supervisor may be able to provide, or recommend, a particular 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 FedUni thesis collection. Try to find one that matches your discipline, your chosen style guide and that is appealing to you. Once chosen, use this thesis as your guide. If a thesis is in our collection then it has passed.

Research Services, via the Graduate Centre Program, offer workshops on setting up a thesis in Word. These workshops are a great opportunity to create a word doc that specifically matches your chosen approach.

How to Present Your Thesis

Federation University has produced this handy guide entitled "How to Present Your Thesis".

Download it as a pdf (310KB).

Regulation 5.1 and candidature-related policy

Regulation 5.1 is the Federation University Australia's regulation which governs all Higher Degree by Research candidates. A copy of the regulation is available online at: Regulation 5.1. Candidature is also covered by research related Policy and Procedure:


Candidature management