HDR candidature

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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.

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School support

The School of enrolment provides support to HDR candidates and supervisors.


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).



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
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.

Plan and Progress Review (PPR)

The Plan and Progress Review (PPR) will be used by students and their supervisory panel to develop a tailored research training program and regularly monitor progress. The research training skills required to meet the AQF Level 10 criteria (for a Doctoral qualification) or the AQF Level 9 criteria (for a Masters qualification) can be reviewed at https://www.aqf.edu.au/aqf-levels.

The initial PPR (completed within 2 months of beginning the Program) will include:

(a) a comprehensive research project plan, including a project budget, and

(b) a progress plan that identifies the key project activities, research training skills development, a plan to achieve conditions of candidature, a publication plan and a supervision panel/student meeting schedule.

After that, a PPR must be completed at least every 12 months (or 6 months for International students) which will:

(a) review progress made towards the goals set in the previous plan and progress review document

(b) update goals to reflect changes in the research project

(c) discuss any gaps in the candidate’s research skills or knowledge and identify training requirements

(d) consider whether the candidate is on track to achieve their next candidature milestone and identify any support or resources required.

For information on preparing and revising your Plan Progress Review, including current templates, please visit the 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.

Confirmation of Candidature is the means by which the school assesses 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".

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

The Principal Supervisor is the primary point of contact for all HDR Candidates.

Other useful contacts an HDR Candidate may need to engage with are listed below:

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

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