HDR candidature

Accessibility links

HDR candidature



Students can commence study at any time, however, USC conducts four compulsory HDR induction sessions per year (February, April, July and November) which provide pertinent skills training and students should align their commencement date with one of these where possible.

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.

Your details

School support

The 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 and Progress Review 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 and Progress Review (RPPR)

The Research Plan and Progress Review (RPPR) is the mechanism by which candidates, their supervisors and the Associate Dean (Research) develop and monitor a tailored research training program to support each individual candidate. A candidate's HDR program will be planned in consultation with their supervisors and the Associate Dean (Research) and the RPPR will be stored on the candidate's student file. The RPPR will include conditions of candidature, other candidature milestones and due dates, plans for participation in research training activities, plans for publishing research, a supervision arrangement to clarify roles, responsibilities and expectations between candidates and all members of their supervision panel and an overall assessment of progress.

The RPPR is a dynamic document that must be thoroughly reviewed and revised as required by the candidate, supervisors and the Associate Dean (Research):

  • within the first two months of full-time equivalent candidature,
  • at Confirmation of Candidature and
  • every twelve months after confirmation for Domestic candidates or
  • every six months after Confirmation for International candidates.

A RPPR may also be submitted when requesting any changes to candidature such as changing study mode, requesting an extension, applying for leave and changing supervision or to otherwise document initiatives to support continued progress.

For information on preparing and revising your Research Plan Progress Review, including current templates, please visit the Research Plan and Progress Review 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 Progress Report (RPPR), prepare a Research Proposal and submit these to their School of enrolment.

Confirmation of Candidature is the means by which the faculty assess a candidate's 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 the Confirmation of Candidature process. A candidate's Principal Supervisor will guide them on how to prepare for program milestones.

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

Changes to candidature

Candidates complete and submit a Variation to Candidature form 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)

For further information on making changes to your candidature, including access to forms, please visit the Variation to Candidature Portal (USC login required).

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".

Back to top

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 Brent Moyle

School of Business HDR Coordinator Associate Professor Don Kerr

School of Communication and Creative Industries

HDR Coordinator

Associate Professor Sandy O'Sullivan

Law School HDR Coordinator Associate Professor Jay Sanderson
School of Social Sciences HDR Coordinator Dr Harriot Beazley


Faculty research support


Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering


Associate Dean (Research)

Professor Marion Gray

School of Education

HDR Coordinator

Associate Professor Michael Christie

Associate Professor Debbie Heck

School of Health and Sport Sciences

HDR Coordinator

Dr David McMillan

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine

HDR Coordinator

Dr Julie Hanson

School of Science and Engineering

HDR Coordinator

Associate Professor Scott Cummins


Faculty research support


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

   Contact Student Wellbeing

Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor

(Research and Innovation)

Dean (Graduate Studies)


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).

Back to top

Back to top

Pro tip: To search, just start typing - at any time, on any page.

Searching {{ model.SearchType }} for returned more than {{ model.MaxResults }} results.
The top {{ model.MaxResults }} of {{ model.TotalItems }} are shown below.

Searching {{ model.SearchType }} for returned {{ model.TotalItems }} results.

Searching {{ model.SearchType }} for returned no results.