ACU Research

We support our research

candidates to excel in

research and scholarship

Managing your Candidature

The success of your research will largely depend on how you manage the key steps of your candidature.
Information about each of the steps, including links to policies and forms can be accessed below.

The 2017 Research Candidate Guide is now available to download Research Candidate Guide 2017

  • Orientation

    New research candidates—domestic and international—are welcome to attend HDR Orientation.

    Orientation provides candidates with an opportunity to find out more about:

    • their responsibilities as a research candidate
    • research candidate milestones
    • the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations
    • what they should expect from their supervisors
    • the ingredients for a successful research candidate/supervisor relationship
    • the Postgraduate Students’ Association and the services it provides, and
    • other services provided by ACU.

    2017 Orientation Dates

    Brisbane (UPDATED VENUE)

    Date and time: Tuesday 27 June 1000-1400

    Venue: 212.2.02 (John Paul II)

    Sydney (Strathfield)

    Date and time: Tuesday 4 July 1000-1400

    Venue: 600.1.02 (Edmund Rice)


    Date and time: Wednesday 12 July 1000-1400

    Venue: 460.5.15 (250 Victoria Parade)


    Date and time: Tuesday 18 July 1000-1400

    Venue: 302.2.13 (Signadou)


    Please note the relevant date in your diary.


    An official invite including registration instructions will be sent in May 2017.


    For further information about HDR Orientation, please contact Catherine Jones (


  • Enrolment and Re-enrolment

    Applicants who have been made an offer of a place in a research course at ACU will be forwarded enrolment forms, with instructions on how to complete and lodge them.

    Processing of enrolment forms is undertaken by Graduate Research and is normally finalised within one week of receipt of the forms. Incorrectly completed forms/missing information can cause delays in the processing of enrolments, so it is important that you obtain all the required information before lodging your documentation.

    After you are enrolled, Graduate Research will send you a letter confirming the details of your candidature, as well as information about your Student ID card and ACU email address.

    Re-enrolment is an automatic process at ACU, unless you indicate that you wish to opt out of this when Graduate Research writes to you at the end of each year.

    Census Dates 2016

    Research candidature at ACU is governed by four research terms. Please note that any changes or variations to your enrollment must be submitted before the census date for the term where these are to take effect.

  • Candidature Milestones
    Commencement Date Date when you begin your candidature (all courses)
    Confirmation of Candidature

    Doctor of Education – Full-time

    Within 12 months from commencement date

    Doctor of Education – Part-time

    Within 24 months from commencement date

    Doctor of Philosophy – Full-time

    Within 9 months from commencement date

    Doctor of Philosophy – Part-time

    Within 18 months from commencement date

     Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Political Thought – Full-time

    Within two years of enrolments as a full-time candidate

    Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Political Thought – Part-time

    Within four years of enrolment as a part-time candidate

    Master of Education (Research) – Full-time

    Within one year of enrolment as a full-time candidate

    Master of Education (Research) – Part-time

    Within two years of enrolment as a part-time candidate

    All other Master-by-Research courses – Full-time

    Within six months of enrolment as a full-time candidate

    All other Master-by-Research courses – Part-time

    Within 12 months of enrolment as a part-time candidate

    Annual Academic Progress Report Annually: September (all courses)
    Work-in-progress Seminars Three times during candidature, suitably spaced (all courses)
    Pre-Submission of Thesis Seminar Approximately six months before submission date of thesis for examination (all courses)
    Notice of Intention to Submit Three months before submission date of thesis for examination (all courses)
    Expiry Date: Thesis Submission and Examination Date on which time allowed for completion of degree (all courses)
    Graduation Date on which award is conferred
  • Variations to Candidature

    The terms of your candidature are communicated to you when your enrolment is confirmed. Any changes to your candidature require discussion with your Principal Supervisor and in some instances other ACU staff, as well as written approval.

    Variations to Candidature – Online form available on Orion. Complete the online form if you would like to request a suspension or an extension to your candidature and/or scholarship; change your course load from full-time to part-time (or vice-versa); apply for sick leave or maternity leave; obtain approval to conduct research outside ACU; or obtain approval to change the title of your thesis. Log into Orion ( using your ACU user name/password and select HDR/HDR forms to lodge a new application or to check the status of an existing application.

    Due to Commonwealth Government reporting requirements, requests to vary candidature must be lodged prior to the census date for each research term. Retrospective requests to vary candidature will not be approved.

    Complete the Change of Supervision Arrangements (MSWord, 100KB) form if you would like to change your supervision arrangements.

    Complete the Change of School/Research Institute or Campus (MSWord, 100KB)  form if you would like to change the academic unit in which you are enrolled or the campus at which you study.

  • Confirmation of Candidature

    The review of your provisional candidature will take place in accordance with the timeline in Candidature Milestones above.

    The confirmation of candidature process comprises a written report, as well as a seminar presentation. Research candidates normally present:

    • Clearly defined aims and purposes of their research,  and identify and elaborate the research question and/or hypothesis being investigated.
    • The results of their literature review undertaken to date.
    • The proposed research design and methodology, and the rationale for their selection, including any potential ethical issues.
    • Intended data sources.
    • Proposed methods of data analysis where appropriate.
    • An estimated budget.
    • Timelines for completing the research within the period of candidature.

    Further information about the confirmation process, including the composition of the panel and the possible outcomes, is available in section 9 ‘Confirmation of Candidature’ of the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations.

    The Confirmation of Candidature (Word, 150KB) form is to be completed by the confirmation of candidature panel.

  • Ethics Approval
  • Annual Academic Progress Reports

    As a research candidate you are required to submit an Academic Progress Report (APR) by the due date.

    The annual review is intended to be an open assessment of your rate of progress by you, your Principal Supervisor and the Faculty Associate Dean Research. It allows you to highlight your achievements during the preceding year and to set goals for the next phase of your research. It also provides an opportunity for you to express any concerns you have with your candidature, so that a plan can be put in place to mitigate the effect of these on your research.

    Graduate Research will email you in early October 2017, inviting you to commence your 2017 annual report using an online form available on Orion

    Research candidates who do not complete an APR by the due date may have their enrolment terminated. They should also be aware that APRs are considered when extensions of scholarships are requested, and when funding for travel, conferences and research support is sought.

    Questions about the Academic Progress Report process  should be directed to

  • Course Upgrades and Transfers

    Course Upgrades

    Master of Education (Research) candidates who have been confirmed in their current degree and can demonstrate that the scope of their research has changed, may apply to the Associate Dean Research to upgrade to the Doctor of Education.

    Master of Philosophy candidates who have been confirmed in their current degree and can demonstrate that the scope of their research has changed, may apply to the Associate Dean Research to upgrade to the Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Political Thought.

    In making application for an upgrade, a candidate must clearly demonstrate how the extended research meets the expectations of doctoral level research. The application will involve a written submission as well as a presentation to an Upgrade Panel.  Further information about the upgrade process is available in section 10 of the Research and Professional Doctoral Degree Regulations.

    Course Transfers

    A candidate who wishes to transfer courses, that is from one master-by-research degree to another master-by-research degree, or from one doctoral degree to another doctoral degree, must complete an application for admission to the new research higher degree.  Further information about the course transfer process is available in Section 10 of the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations.

  • Supervision

    From the time of commencing your candidature until you complete your degree, you will have a panel of supervisors comprising a principal supervisor and a co-supervisor, and possibly an assistant and/or associate supervisor. All supervisors will be accredited by ACU.

    Regular meetings and communication with your supervisors are essential to ensure that you have opportunities to raise any concerns or problems, and to receive feedback on your progress.

    ACU stipulates that supervisors meet with, or otherwise contact, research candidates on a regular basis. Depending on where you are up to with your research, this could be weekly, fortnightly, monthly or some other regular frequency. You should take brief notes and record action items at these meetings, and circulate them to all your supervisors after the meeting.

    A useful tip to ensure that regular meetings with your supervisors proceed, is to take the lead early on in your candidature for scheduling a regular timetable of meetings.

    For additional information refer to the Higher Degree Research Supervision Policy.

    Changing Relationship with Supervisors

    As you progress in your candidature and your expertise grows, your relationship with your supervisors will change. Their role will increasingly be to act as a sounding board for your ideas, to review and comment on your written work, and to provide you with feedback on your progress towards completion. Supervisors can also help you with personal difficulties either directly or by referring you to support services at ACU.

    Change of Supervision Arrangements

    To ensure that you have continuity of access to expert academic advice throughout your candidature, changes to the supervisory panel are discouraged. However, the composition of your supervisory panel may be modified to reflect changes in the direction of your research, and to accommodate staff resignations, absences and irresolvable conflicts.

    Any changes to the supervisory panel must be discussed with all parties involved in the supervision process, before the changes are endorsed by the Head of School/Research Institute director and Faculty Associate Dean Research. Changes should be requested on the Change of Supervision Arrangements (MSWord, 100KB) form.

  • Thesis Submission and Examination

    Preparing to submit your thesis

    You need to take the following steps before submitting your thesis for examination:

    Step 1:

    You must present a  pre-submission of thesis seminar to define and defend the major results and conclusions emerging from your research. This will include a written report, as stipulated by the Faculty, as well as a verbal presentation in which the aims and outcomes of the research are presented.

    Further information about the pre-submission of thesis seminar can be found in Section 20 of the Research and Professional Doctorate Degree Regulations. This seminar precedes the submission of a Notice of Intention to Submit a Higher Degree Research Thesis for Examination (MSWord, 100KB).

    The Pre-submission of Thesis Seminar (Word, 100KB) form is to be completed by the pre-submission of thesis seminar panel.

    Step 2:

    A Notice of Intention to Submit a Higher Degree Research Thesis for Examination (MSWord, 100KB)  together with a Thesis Summary (MS Word, 100KB) should be forwarded to Graduate Research at least three months before you intend to submit your thesis for examination. Your Principal Supervisor should complete and submit an Appointment of Examiners (MSWord, 150KB) form at the same time.

    Step 3:

    Refer to the Guidelines on the Preparation and Presentation of a Research or Professional Doctoral Thesis for Examination for instructions on how to present your thesis for examination.

    Thesis Submission

    You may submit your thesis for examination (PDF, 210KB) at any time during the year.

    Three spiral bound copies and an electronic copy (PDF file) of your thesis should be forwarded to Graduate Research (, along with the completed forms sent to you by Graduate Research.

    Thesis Examination

    Thesis examination is a complex process and varies in length. You should expect the examination process to take up to four months from the date on which you lodge your thesis for examination. This timeline assumes that the Notice of Intention to Submit a Higher Degree Research Thesis, your Thesis Summary and the Appointment of Examiners form were lodged with Graduate Research at least three months before you submitted your thesis for examination.

    The examination process will be conducted in accordance with the Appointment of Examiners and Conduct of Examination Process Policy.

    If you have not received notification of the outcome of the examination process four months after submission of your thesis for examination, you are welcome to contact Graduate Research to request an update. Please note: staff in Graduate Research are not at liberty to disclose any details regarding the examination result until the examination process is complete.

  • Graduation

    As a research candidate you do not need to apply to graduate. Graduate Research will advise Course Completions that you are eligible to graduate after you have submitted the final bound copy of your thesis and associated documents, and the Chair of Academic Board has approved your completion. (Graduate Research works with the Chair of Academic Board in this regard.)

    ACU holds graduation ceremonies in April/May and September/October of each year. Due to the lead time associated with producing the Graduation Booklet, you will need to submit the final bound copy of your thesis to Graduate Research at least eight weeks prior to the ceremony at which you intend to graduate.

    Information about ceremony dates, the graduation fee and guest tickets, academic dress and testamurs is available from ACU’s Graduation Unit.

  • Thesis Binding List

    This list is a work in progress. We would like to get your feedback about binding services you have used. If you have any comments or recommendations, please email


    • Able Bookbinding
      46 Latham Street, Chermside QLD 4032
      Ph: (07) 3359 0931
    • QUT Printing Services
      Ph: (07) 3138 4019

    New South Wales

    Sydney CBD Store
    Shop 3, 702 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007
    Ph: (02) 9212 4144 Fax: (02) 9514 8648

    Broadway Store
    Shop1, 180-182 Broadway, Broadway NSW 2007
    Ph: (02) 9212 4144 Fax: (02) 9281 2701