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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline the process and steps for HDR examination.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Chair of Examiners - an academic staff member of the University nominated by the Head of the Enrolling AOU who is familiar with the research discipline, or in the case of multi-disciplinary theses, be familiar with part of the research discipline represented in the thesis.

COI - Conflict of Interest.

Dean - Dean of the UQ Graduate School or delegate.

Enrolling AOU - an Academic Organisational Unit that directly enrols HDR candidates.

HDR - Higher Degree by Research comprising MPhil, PhD, and PDR.

MPhil - Master of Philosophy.

Open Access - Thesis publically searchable and available via the internet.

PDR – Professional Doctorate by Research.

PhD - Doctor of Philosophy.

Principal Advisor -takes primary academic responsibility for the candidate during their candidature with their role and eligibility outlined in PPL 4.60.01 Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors.

Thesis -The material outcomes of a sustained program of supervised research undertaken by a candidate whilst enrolled in an HDR program.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all HDR candidates.

4. Procedures Statement

These procedures outline the steps for HDR examination.

The award of an HDR is based on independent assessment of the quality of the research output or thesis as well as the candidate’s performance at the oral examination. External, independent examiners with recognised disciplinary expertise make a written assessment of the thesis, participate in the oral examination, and provide a recommendation as to whether the candidate should be awarded an HDR. The final decision to recommend the award of the degree is made by the Dean.

5. Nomination of Examiners

5.1 Examiners are invited to participate by the Dean.

5.2 Prior to thesis submission, the enrolling AOU nominates a minimum of three examiners, and provides their contact details to the Graduate School. The enrolling AOU also nominates a chair of examiners.

5.3 The Dean will determine which two of the three nominated examiners will be invited to participate.

5.4 Additional nominations from the AOU may be requested.

6. Conflict of Interest

6.1 All actual, potential or perceived COIs must be declared at the time of nomination of thesis examiners.

7. Thesis Format Requirements

7.1 The thesis should not exceed 80,000 words for a PhD or 40,000 words for an MPhil. The word l imit includes all footnotes and appendices but not the bibliography. Requests to exceed this word l imit must be approved by the Dean.

7.2 Formatting should be: line spacing 1.5, Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt font, all four margins 20mm, A4 size.

7.3 All theses must adhere to the preliminary pages template.

8. Thesis Submission

8.1 Thesis upload

The thesis is submitted when:

  • an approved Thesis Submission request has been received by the Graduate School.
  • the thesis and abstract have been uploaded to the UQ eSpace.

8.2 Candidates under examination

8.2.1 A HDR candidate will maintain enrolment in the program until the oral examination is completed or, if no oral examination is required, the thesis is submitted for examination.

8.2.2 HDR candidates who have completed the oral exam, or submitted the thesis if no oral examination is required, will be placed on the enrolment status ‘under examination’ at this time. A HDR candidate who has submitted their thesis and has been enrolled for 4 years FTE will also be placed ‘under examination’. For a candidate who has not submitted their thesis by 4 years FTE enrolment, a review of candidature may be conducted in accordance with PPL 4.60.11 Higher Degree by Research Candidature – Procedures section 11.

8.2.3 HDR candidates under examination do not consume enrolment load and therefore are not tuition fee liable or eligible to receive scholarship payments. 

8.3 Approval of thesis submission

8.3.1 Where a candidate requests permission to submit without the Principal Advisor’s approval, the candidate must make a written case to the Dean. Following consultation with the Head of the AOU, Postgraduate Coordinator and Principal Advisor a decision will be made.

9. Examination

9.1 Thesis Examination

9.1.1 All examiners are supplied with an electronic copy of the thesis by the Graduate School. In exceptional cases a printed copy may be supplied upon request.

9.1.2 Examiners are asked to examine the thesis document against the following criteria:

  • Does the thesis demonstrate a significant and original contribution to knowledge (PhD) or show originality in the application of knowledge (MPhil)?
  • Does the thesis engage with the literature and the work of others?
  • Does the thesis show an advanced knowledge of research principles and methods relating to the applicable discipline?
  • Is there a clear and discernible coherence in the presented research, its arguments and conclusions?
  • Is the thesis convincingly written?

9.1.3 Only the thesis abstract can be supplied to an examiner by the enrolling AOU. Supply of additional information about, or components of, the thesis may result in the examiner's report being annulled.

9.1.4 Examiners are requested to return their written reports within 4 weeks for an MPhil examination and 6 weeks for a PhD examination.

9.1.5 After the requisite time period, the Dean may elect to replace an examiner if there has been undue delay in receiving the examiner's report. Once a thesis has been sent to a replacement examiner, any report subsequently received from the examiner who has been replaced shall not be considered in determining the result of the examination.

    9.2 Oral examination

    9.2.1 The oral examination panel is comprised of:

    • Chair of Examiners - an academic member of the University who is familiar with the discipline and who is not part of the advisory team.
    • Examiners – if feasible examiners should participate in person, however, the use of video conferencing is appropriate.

    9.2.2 The advisory team does not form part of the examination panel.

    9.2.3 The Graduate School will advise the candidate of the final thesis outcome as recommended by the Dean and will forward the report of the oral examination panel. If changes to the thesis are required, the candidate must upload the copy of the corrected thesis plus a list of the changes made to the thesis to the UQ eSpace prior to completion of the paperwork for the conferral of the degree.

    9.3 Confidential examination

    9.3.1 All examinations should be treated as confidential but in cases where a certain level of legal protection is required, in the case of material that may be commercial-in-confidence, given rise to a patent or be legally or culturally sensitive, then a request should be made at the time of nomination of examiners.

    9.3.2 Examiners will be advised to seek independent legal advice prior to signing a legally binding Confidentiality Agreement.

    10. Examination Outcomes

    10.1 Possible outcomes of HDR examination include:

    1. The candidate be awarded the degree without further changes.

    2. The candidate be awarded the degree without further examination after the changes required by examiners have been made to the satisfaction of the Chair of Examiners and the Dean.

    3. The candidate not yet be awarded the degree, but be allowed to resubmit a thesis revised in response to the comments and recommendations of the examiner(s).

    4. The candidate not yet be awarded the degree, but be allowed to repeat the oral examination component in response to the comments and recommendation of the oral examination panel.

    5. A fail, after the second examination of the thesis only.

    10.2 Thesis Corrections

    10.2.1 Thesis corrections are made in response to outcomes 1 to 3 in section 10.1 or section 10.3 in the case of an outcome of revise and resubmit. Thesis corrections in response to outcomes 2 and 3 are required to be completed within 3 months.

    10.2.2 The enrolling AOU will forward a fully endorsed Recommendation to Confer Degree once satisfied the candidate has made the changes requested by the examiner(s) or satisfactorily defended on academic grounds the absence of changes.

    10.2.3 A candidate can request a 3 month extension to complete the thesis corrections. Candidates who do not submit their thesis corrections for review following this extended period may be withdrawn from the program without academic penalty.

    10.3 Revise and resubmit

    10.3.1 When a candidate receives an outcome of revise and resubmit the thesis will be re-examined by both original examiners, when possible. If any of the original examiners are unable to re-examine the revised thesis, replacement examiner/s will be nominated by the enrolling AOU, by submitting a request, and appointed by the Dean.

    10.3.2 Following revision of the thesis, the submission process, as outlined in Section 8, is repeated.

    10.3.3 Examiners will be sent the resubmitted thesis, the original examiners' reports (including oralexamination report if applicable) and candidate's response to the examiners' comments.

    10.3.4 Where the examiners disagree on the examination outcome following revision of the thesis, the Dean may appoint a third examiner nominated by the enrolling AOU. All three reports will then be considered by the Dean of the Graduate School in approving an examination outcome.

    10.3.5 If a candidate has an outcome of revise and resubmit, when the thesis is re-examined, the possible outcomes for the thesis include outcomes 1 to 3 as described in section 10 as well as:

    1. MPhil (for a PhD re-examination only) - The candidate has not demonstrated a contribution to knowledge that is of sufficient significance and originality for a PhD but fulfuils the criteria for an MPhil.
    2. Fail - The thesis is not of the appropriate standard for the award of any higher degree by research.

    10.3.6 Candidates who do not resubmit their thesis for re-examination within a 12 month initial period, may request an extension for a period not exceeding 3 months (MPhil) or 6 months (PhD). Following this extended period a candidate may request a final 3 month extension, after which time they may be liable for withdrawal from the degree without academic penalty.

    11. Chair of Examiners

    11.1 The Chair of Examiners provides academic oversight of the examination process, including conducting the oral examination, coordinating the oral examination panel report and review of the candidate's response to examiners' comments and recommendations.

    12. Meeting Degree Requirements

    12.1 The candidate must confirm their thesis title is correct and enter a 100 word abstract into mySI-net when directed by the Graduate School.

    12.2 Once the above are completed, the candidate will receive confirmation from the Graduate School that degree requirements have been met.

    13. Access to a Thesis

    13.1 Upon submitting the thesis for examination, a candidate will determine whether he/she intends to have the thesis made available immediately upon conferral as Open Access or to apply for an Embargo placed on access on the basis of academic, cultural, ethical, legal or commercial reasons. The application must be supported by the candidate's Principal Advisor and be approved by the Dean. If approved, the embargo will be set for a 3 year period in the first instance. Where the candidate and Principal Advisor have differing views on the selection of the access option, the matter will be referred to the Dean for determination.

    13.2 In circumstances where a candidate has transferred their IP to the University, the Principal Advisor will make a recommendation to the Dean on the thesis access arrangements, taking academic, cultural, ethical, legal and commercial factors into consideration. In cases where the Principal Advisor is not employed by the University a recommendation will be sought from the Head of the AOU.

    13.3 Every three years for theses under Embargo, the Graduate School will make contact with the thesis author, or the Principal Advisor in the case where IP has been transferred to the University, to advise that the Embargo period is due for review. Where the Principal Advisor is not employed by the University, the matter will be referred to the Head of the enrolling unit for a recommendation.

    13.4 Requests for renewal of the Embargo will be considered by the Dean. In the absence of an approved request for an Embargo extension, a thesis will transfer to Open Access.

    13.5 The University's responsibilities, together with any relevant academic, cultural, ethical, legal or commercial factors should be considered when determining whether a request will be made for an Embargo extension.

    Dean, Graduate School Professor Alastair McEwan