Policy

Research Higher Degree Candidature Progression and Development - Policy

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Body

1.  Purpose and Objectives

This policy outlines UQ-wide principles for RHD candidature milestones: confirmation of candidature, mid-candidature review, and thesis review.

2.  Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Enrolling AOU - Academic Organisational Unit that directly enrols RHD candidates

RHD - Research Higher Degree

MPhil - Master of Philosophy

PhD - Doctor of Philosophy

FTE - Full time equivalent enrolment

3.  Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all RHD students in all enrolling AOUs.

4.  Policy Statement

Candidature progression will be monitored through the confirmation, mid-candidature and thesis review milestones. Milestones are important elements of the research training provided to, and research undertaken by, RHD candidates. As such, undertaking milestones is mandatory for all RHD students.

In some instances, external funding bodies may require other forms or periods of progress and achievement reporting as a condition of funding or sponsorship. UQ is mindful of the nature and importance of its research training partnerships. Consequently, UQ will work collaboratively with those sponsorship bodies to achieve an outcome acceptable to both parties.

5.  Milestone Structure and Timing

Achieving each milestone plays an important role in:

  • the academic development of the candidate,
  • resources allocation (including advisory commitments) for the enrolling AOU, and
  • quality assurance for UQ.

In the process of attaining each milestone, the candidate, the advisory team, the enrolling AOU and UQ are reassured that the quality, originality, and amount of the research completed, and the oral and written presentation skills demonstrated by the candidate are acceptable for the present stage of candidature.

Each milestone consists of an assessment leading to written feedback to the candidate and a recommendation to the Dean, UQ Graduate School about attainment of the milestone. The assessment is made on the basis of:

  • written work by the candidate,
  • oral work by the candidate presented to members of a wider research community, and
  • an interview/dialogue with the candidate.

Candidates are expected to achieve each milestone at 12 month FTE (PhD) or 6 month FTE (MPhil) intervals.

The thesis review milestone should be completed no later than:

  • 3 months FTE before the expected submission of the thesis for PhD examination; or
  • 6 weeks FTE before the expected submission of the thesis for MPhil examination.
Custodians
Dean, Graduate School
Professor Alastair McEwan

Procedures

Research Higher Degree Candidature Progression and Development - Procedures

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Body

1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures outline the UQ-wide broad processes followed at each candidature milestone: confirmation of candidature, mid-candidature review, and thesis review.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Enrolling AOU - an Academic Organisational Unit that directly enrols RHD candidates

RHD - Research Higher Degree

MPhil - Master of Philosophy

PhD - Doctor of Philosophy

FTE - Full-time equivalent

Official due date - the milestone or submission due date granted by the UQ Graduate School at commencement, upon successful completion of a milestone, or from an approved extension

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all RHD students in all enrolling AOUs.

4. Procedures Statement

AOUs are to provide clear written advice to the RHD student about the requirements and procedures governing candidature progression and development.

5. Milestones

5.1 Confirmation

Confirmation of candidature will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after commencement. The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • the candidate receives appropriate feedback in relation to the viability and progress of the research project;
  • the candidate has sufficient training and that there are resources available to complete the program within the recommended timeframes; and
  • the composition of advisory team is appropriate.

In addition, enrolling AOUs must ensure that all compliance requirements (e.g. induction for international students, ethics approvals, research integrity training, completion of the research integrity module) have been undertaken prior to the confirmation milestone.

5.2 Mid-candidature review

The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • the project is on track for completion within candidature duration;
  • the candidate's research and other professional skills are developing appropriately; and
  • the composition of advisory team is appropriate.

5.2.1 For candidates confirmed prior to 1 January 2013

Mid-candidature review will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after the confirmation milestone has been successfully completed.

5.2.2 For candidates confirmed after 1 January 2013

Mid-candidature review will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after the official confirmation milestone due date.

5.3 Thesis review

The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • the work is of a standard to be examined by the expected submission date;
  • appropriate feedback about the readiness of the thesis for examination can be given;
  • any issues or concerns with the thesis requiring attention can be addressed prior to submission;
  • the scope, originality and quality of the thesis are of an appropriate standard;
  • there is a forum for discussing the mix of disciplinary knowledge required among the thesis examiners to review the breadth of work contained within the thesis;
  • the candidate and the advisors have an opportunity to express any reservations or concerns about having any particular individual act as an examiner and the nomination of a chair of examiners can be discussed; and
  • the candidate has an opportunity to request an oral thesis examination in addition to a written examination.

5.3.1 For candidates confirmed prior to 1 January 2013

Thesis review will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after the mid-candidature review milestone has been successfully completed.

5.3.2 For candidates confirmed after 1 January 2013

Thesis review will take place 12 months FTE (PhD) or 6 months FTE (MPhil) after the official mid-candidature milestone due date.

5.4 Submission

5.4.1 For candidates confirmed prior to 1 January 2013

Thesis submission is expected no later than 3 months FTE following the successful completion of the thesis review milestone for both PhD and MPhil candidates.

5.4.2 For candidates confirmed after 1 January 2013

The thesis review milestone should be completed no later than:

  • 3 months FTE before the expected submission of the thesis for PhD examination; or
  • 6 weeks FTE before the expected submission of the thesis for MPhil examination.

6. Accelerated MPhil Milestones

MPhil candidates may be approved to undertake an accelerated milestone process where they:

  • attain the confirmation of candidature milestone within 9 months of commencing candidature; and
  • have sufficient evidence to support that they will submit their thesis within 18 months of commencing candidature.

MPhil candidates may undertake both the mid-candidature review and thesis review concurrently where they meet the above conditions and the criteria set by the school/institute for both milestones. Agreement to combine these milestones must be discussed with the candidate at confirmation.

Where the mid-candidature and thesis review milestones are combined, the candidate must demonstrate they have satisfied all of the school/institute criteria for thesis review and are on track to submit within 6 weeks FTE. If this cannot be demonstrated, the candidate may be deemed to have met only the mid-candidature milestone and then be assigned a future thesis review date.

7. Achieving Milestones

Each milestone includes formal and recorded interactions between the candidate and the advisory team. Milestone components are open to the external scrutiny of members of the wider research community.

The format for each milestone must be compliant with the milestone policy with precise details at the discretion of the enrolling AOU to account for discipline-specific differences. However, each milestone is assessed on written and oral work by the candidate as well as an interview. Each milestone interaction will be appropriately recorded, with the record kept by the enrolling AOU. Each milestone will result in written feedback to the candidate.

Each enrolling AOU is required to adopt these principles and processes in transparent and equitable ways that are appropriate to its discipline(s), size, and cohort of candidates; it provides its locally-adapted information for all milestones both on the enrolling AOU’s website and in clear written form to each candidate:

  • prior to supporting an application for admission to candidature;
  • at a formal induction session for all commencing candidates; and
  • on completion of each milestone.

This information includes the timing, the format, and the expectations of scope, quality and amount of work to be presented at each milestone.

It is the responsibility of the enrolling AOU to ensure that candidates receive appropriate support from their advisory teams prior to and during each milestone.

Once a milestone has been obtained, an attainment or extension of milestone form must be submitted to the UQ Graduate School within 1 month of attainment.

The enrolling AOU may recommend:

  • that the milestone has been attained;
  • that an extension of the due date is required in order for the candidate to repeat the milestone; or
  • that the candidate has not attained the milestone after more than one attempt and is liable for a review of candidature.

Subject to General Award Rule 4.8.6, a candidate who is transferring from another institution may be deemed to have completed the confirmation, mid-candidature review, and/or thesis review milestone if:

  • proof of completion of an equivalent milestone elsewhere is provided; or
  • the enrolling AOU makes a case to the Dean of the UQ Graduate School that, on the basis of the enrolling AOU's assessment of the candidate's research work to date, the candidate has demonstrably achieved the standard required for the milestone(s).

7.1 For candidates who commenced prior to 1 October 2014

Candidates who commenced prior to 1 October 2014 are required to complete the Research Integrity Module by attainment of their next milestone. Milestone attainments cannot be approved by the Graduate School without completion of this module.

Candidates who attained thesis review prior to 1 October 2014 are not obliged to complete the Research Integrity Module before submission.

7.2 For candidates who commenced after 1 October 2014

Candidates who commenced after 1 October 2014 are required to complete the Research Integrity Module by attainment of the confirmation milestone. Milestone attainments cannot be approved by the Graduate School without completion of this module.

8. Extension of a Milestone

8.1 For candidates confirmed after 1 January 2013

PhD candidates who attained confirmation after 1 January 2013 may apply for:

  • up to 3 x 3 month (FTE) extensions during their candidature, including submission.

MPhil candidates who attained confirmation after 1 January 2013 may apply for:

  • up to a maximum of 4.5 months (FTE) during their candidature, including submission, with no request exceeding 3 months in duration.

No more than 2 extensions may be used per milestone. The timing and use of the extensions is at the discretion of the candidate and their advisory team to allow for flexibility as required. Further extensions will only be approved on a case-by-case basis where the candidate experiences events which have direct impact on the progress of research.

For example, this may include:

  • partial or total destruction of research samples or data due to natural disasters (e.g. crop destruction due to flooding) leading to research being unable to be recreated within the maximum extension period;
  • failure of essential equipment leading to research being unable to be recreated within the maximum extension period.

Where an extension is being sought, an attainment or extension of milestone form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to the milestone due date.

Candidates who are unable to achieve milestones due to a change in personal circumstances (e.g. illness, work commitments) should discuss taking temporary leave from candidature with their advisory team.

8.2 For candidates confirmed prior to 1 January 2013

Candidates who attained confirmation prior to 1 January 2013 are not subject to capped extensions. However, generally no more than 2 extensions may be used per milestone. Further extensions will only be approved on a case-by-case basis where the candidate experiences events which have direct impact on the progress of research.

For example this may include:

  • partial or total destruction of research samples or data due to natural disasters (e.g. crop destruction due to flooding) leading to research being unable to be recreated within the maximum extension period;
  • failure of essential equipment leading to research being unable to be recreated within the maximum extension period.

Where an extension is being sought, an attainment or extension of milestone form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to the milestone due date.

Candidates who are unable to achieve milestones due to a change in personal circumstances (e.g. illness, work commitments) should discuss taking temporary leave from candidature with their advisory team.

9. Review of Candidature

9.1 For candidates confirmed after 1 January 2013

Candidates who do not achieve a milestone after the following periods of FTE candidature will be liable for a review of candidature:

 

PhD

MPhil

Confirmation

18 months

9 months

Mid-Candidature Review

30 months

15 months

Thesis Review

42 months

21 months

Submission

48 months

24 months

Candidates may also be subject of a review of candidature in instances where the attainment or extension of milestone form has not been submitted to the Graduate School within the following timeframes:

  • extensions: 2 weeks prior to the milestone due date;
  • attainments: 1 month following the milestone attainment.

 

9.2 For candidates confirmed prior to 1 January 2013

Candidates who do not achieve the mid-candidature and thesis review milestones after the following periods of FTE candidature may be liable for a review of candidature:

 

PhD

MPhil

Mid-Candidature Review

36 months

18 months

Thesis Review

48 months

24 months

 

Candidates may also be subject to a review of candidature in instances where the attainment or extension of milestone form has not been submitted to the Graduate School within the following timeframes:

  • extensions: 2 weeks prior to the milestone due date;
  • attainments: 1 month following milestone attainment.
Custodians
Dean, Graduate School
Professor Alastair McEwan
Custodians
Dean, Graduate School
Professor Alastair McEwan