HDR candidature

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HDR candidature



USC offers four Program Start Dates per year for Higher Degree by Research students: In 2017 - 1 February, 1 April, 1 July, or 1 November

Visit Getting started for HDR students for more information.


The Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) induction helps candidates to navigate the support and services available to them throughout candidature and provides information about the structure and requirements of their HDR program. Visit HDR Induction for more information.

@research email address

HDR candidates may request an "@research.usc.edu.au" email format by completing this online form.

Once activated, your research student email address will be firstname.lastname@research.usc.edu.au.

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Faculty support

The Faculty or School of enrolment provides support to HDR candidates and supervisors. Scroll down to Useful Contacts for Faculty and School contact information.


All candidates pay fees as per the fee schedule. Refer to the schedule of fees for more information.


Current Higher Degree by Research candidates access relevant forms by visiting Candidature Milestones on the Research and Research Training Portal (USC Login required).


For PDF documents you must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded from the Adobe Download page.


Candidates are required to begin their studies at a negotiated commencement date and continue them expeditiously.

Milestone Doctoral Degrees Master by Research Degrees
  Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Research Plan 2 months 4 months 2 months 4 months
Confirmation submission 6-12 months 1-2 years 6-9 months 1-1.5 years
Probation expiry 1.5 years 3 years 1 year 2 years
Thesis / exegesis submission 3 years 6 years 1.5 years 3 years
Confirmed candidature expiry 4 years 8 years 2 years 4 years

The expected submission dates and maximum periods of probation and confirmed periods of candidature is calculated from the initial date of enrolment.

Periods of approved leave of absence and changes between full or part-time study modes will vary these timings.

Research Plan

The Research Plan (RP) supports planning and project management of all aspects of higher degree by research candidature. The RP will include planning for a candidate's: participation in research training activities, expenditure to support their research activities, publishing their research and a research supervision agreement to clarify roles, responsibilities and expectations between candidates and all members of their supervision panel. The RP is a dynamic document that the candidate will review and revise with their supervisors throughout candidature, particularly at program milestones and Progress Planning and Review reports.

For information on preparing and revising your Research Plan, including current templates, please visit the Research Plan Portal (USC login required).

Research Ethics and Integrity training

Access the Research Ethics and Integrity training online via the Research Essentials Portal (USC login required). Complete the online feedback form provided to register your completion of this compulsory milestone.

Confirmation of candidature

All HDR candidates start their research degrees as probationary candidates.

During probationary candidature, in addition to any other prescribed coursework agreed on as a condition of enrolment, candidates develop a Research Plan and prepare an Application for Progression to Confirmed Candidature. A candidate's Principal Supervisor will guide them on how to prepare for program milestones.

Confirmation of Candidature is the means by which the faculty and the Research Degrees Committee assess candidates progress to date and determines whether the research project, as set out in their research proposal, is clearly defined, coherent and feasible.

Candidates are also required to give a seminar presentation on their research as part of their Application for Progression to Confirmed Candidature.

For information on how to prepare your application for confirmation of candidature including relevant forms and templates:

Progress Planning and Review reports

All candidates submit a Progress Planning and Review (PPR) report at least once annually.

PPR reports are completed by candidates in consultation with the Principal Supervisor, and are an opportunity to request specific research training and to revise the Research Plan as required. For information on how to prepare your PPR report, including relevant forms, please visit the PPR Portal (USC login required).

Changes to candidature

Candidates revise and resubmit their Research Plan to request changes to their candidature such as:

  • Study mode
  • Extension to a candidature milestone
  • Leave of Absence
  • Supervision panel
  • Research topic
  • Program of enrolment (when changing to a different HDR program)

See the Research Plan section for further information, including access to templates.

Thesis submission and examination

The examination process for Higher Degrees by Research involves submitting a thesis / exegesis to be examined by an external examination panel.

Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA) examiners might also be invited to attend an exhibition of non-print works if appropriate, or sent a video recording of such an event accompanying the exegesis.

The period of examination can take several months, allowing time for examiners to thoroughly read, review and provide recommendations in an examiners report.

Outcomes can include the requirement for amendments to the thesis / exegesis before it can be passed. Fees apply where further period of enrolment is required.

For further information on preparation for HDR thesis submission including relevant forms, please visit the Thesis submission Portal (USC login required).

Finalisation of successful candidature and conferral of award

Once the (revised) thesis / exegesis has been reviewed by the Research Degrees Committee and accepted to be passed, candidates are required to submit their final thesis to the USC Research Bank. The Research Bank provides an open access showcase of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s scholarly research output.

The Research Bank’s aim is to showcase and make accessible the research output of the University to local, national and international communities.

This will maximise impact for individual USC researchers and highlight the overall research profile of the University.

Once the thesis / dissertation is deposited on the Research Bank, the Research Degrees Committee awards the degree, and recommends it to Academic Board for conferral.

Once Academic Board have conferred a doctoral degree, the recipient may then use the title "Doctor".

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Research training and development

Candidates and supervisors can access research training opportunities on the Research Training webpage.

To access recordings and training materials, visit the Research Training Portal (USC login required).

Travel (Students)

Visit the Travel (Students) Portal (USC login required) to access travel information and forms.

Useful contacts

Faculty of Arts, Business and Law


Associate Dean (Research)

Associate Professor Christian Jones


HDR Coordinator

Associate Professor Don Kerr


Research support


Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering


Associate Dean (Research)

Professor Marion Gray

School of Education

HDR Coordinator

Associate Professor Debbie Heck


Administrative Assistant

Tarryn Steward

School of Health and Sport Sciences

HDR Coordinator

Dr David McMillan


Administration Officer

Nicole Bolitho

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine

HDR Coordinator

Dr Marc Broadbent


Administrative Assistant

Tania Jacobini

School of Science and Engineering

HDR Coordinator

Associate Professor Scott Cummins


Administrative Assistant

Nicole Levi

University wide

Academic Skills

Academic Skills Advisers

Dr Alison Jaquet

Career Development

Careers and employment

Book via Student Hub

Student Services and Engagement 


Student Central

Student Wellbeing

HDR Liaison Officer

Greg Thorne

Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor

(Research and Innovation)

Associate Dean (Graduate Studies)

Dr Colin Solomon


Office of Research

Graduate Research Studies Management 


Workspace on campus

Current Higher Degree by Research candidates can request a workspace on campus in one of the HDR Study Centres from their Faculty or School of enrolment. To access more information including the application process, visit the HDR Workspace on Campus Portal (USC login required).

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