Getting started in your HDR program

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

If you have any questions about commencing your candidature, please contact our Graduate Research School (GRS) Administration team via at email at:, over the phone on (03) 5327 9508, or in person in Building F at Mt Helen, or Building 2W, room 285 at Churchill.

  • Student services and support

FedUni 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 GRS.

  • Email communication during your candidature

Once you an enrolled candidate 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.

To ensure you don’t miss out on important candidature information or exceeding the limits of your student account, we recommend you access this account on a weekly basis.

You may link your student account to your personal email account/s, to streamline access to multiple email accounts. Please visit the Student Email ITS website for further details.

  • Changes to candidature details

If any details as described in your letter of offer change during your period of candidature, advise the GRS promptly by completing the relevant form.

All changes must be requested and approved by your Supervisor(s) and Associate Dean Research (ADR) prior to submission to the GRS. Requests for major changes will be forwarded by the GRS to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC) for their review and approval.

  • 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 (extended leave)

Applications for leave from studies must be approved prior to any leave commencing. It is generally 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, 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.

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 Faculty (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 (ADR) before submitting to the GRS 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

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 should commence this process prior to undertaking their Confirmation of Candidature presentation, as evidence of the submission of their request to the relevant Ethics committee must be provided at the time of confirmation.

At submission of Thesis for examination, all research projects that required Ethics Committee approval, must also submit a copy of the Final ethics report with their thesis, as evidence that all ethical requirements were successfully met.

Ethics approval is never granted retrospectively, so understanding what is required is critical to successful research.

  • Skills development program

Currently (until end 2018) it is compulsory for all new HDR candidates to attend the Graduate Centre orientation session and the first (administrative) session of the Graduate Centre program.

From Jan 2019, the Skills Development Program will replace the Graduate Centre Program and all PhD and Masters by Research candidates will be required to complete the core and optional requirements of the program. Candidates enrolled prior to 1 January 2019 are welcome to attend sessions but their participation is not compulsory.

Access the Skills Development web-page for program details.

  • 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 the section below titled: 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 their HDR program. All HDR students are encouraged to complete the evaluation. Responses are anonymous, and provide important information to enable the University to continually improve the supervisory experience of students.

  • Thesis Layout Advice

A thesis ‘template’ is not provided by FedUni due to varying discipline requirements across Schools, and the many Style guides suited to various disciplines.

However 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” (pdf 310kb)booklet.

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 cases 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.

The Graduate Research School, via the Skills Development 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.

  • Regulation 5.1 and candidature-related policy

Regulation 5.1 is the FedUni regulation which governs all Higher Degree by Research candidates. These legislated requirements are disseminated via research related Policy and Procedures as listed below:

Selection of candidates

Candidature management