Policy Academic Governance HDR Conferral Procedure

HDR Conferral Procedure

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This procedure has been established to detail the process by which a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Award of James Cook University will be bestowed to a HDR candidate following successful completion of their HDR course.

This procedure addresses HESF Standards 1.5.2 and 4.2: Research Training.


This procedure applies to HDR candidates who have passed the requirements of their course, and to University staff involved in conferral of Awards.


Terms mentioned in this document and not defined here are defined in the Policy Glossary in the Learning and Teaching domain of the University Policy Library, and in the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Requirements.


1. A HDR candidate will be eligible for their degree to be conferred when the following has been achieved:

(a) all course requirements have been met, including successful completion of coursework, Professional Development and milestone requirements;

(b) a 25 word abstract of the HDR candidate’s thesis has been submitted to the Graduate Research School (GRS);

(c) any outstanding ethics reports have been lodged with Research and Innovation Services;

(d) a summary of any amendments made to the HDR candidate’s thesis has been submitted to and approved by the College Dean;

(e) an Award Memo has been sent to the GRS from the College Dean confirming that the HDR candidate has met the requirements of their HDR Award;

(f) a final copy of the HDR candidate’s thesis has been deposited with the University library as per the HDR Thesis Library Deposit Guide with the assistance of the College HDR Academic Services Officer;

(g) all requirements of the partner University have been met (in the case of a candidate enrolled under a Cotutelle or Conjoint Degree Agreement);

(h) any outstanding University debts have been paid.

2. The college Award Memo, Award of Degree Letter and the summary of any amendments will be sent to the Dean, Graduate Research for approval.

3. Upon completion of clause 1 and 2, the Dean, Graduate Research will check that the corrections to the thesis have been made by perusing the summary table of amendments and, if satisfied, will write to the HDR candidate informing them that they have met the requirements of the HDR Award.

4. The Dean, Graduate Research will advise GRS that the degree should be awarded.

5. The GRS will move the course and thesis subject to Passed in the Student Management System.

6. Prior to the conferral of research doctorates only, the GRS will provide a list of eligible research doctorate candidates to Secretariat for recommendation by Academic Board.

7. The GRS will provide a list of eligible HDR candidates to the JCU Graduations team 3 weeks prior to each conferral.

8. The JCU Graduations team will advise Secretariat of HDR candidates who are eligible to have their Award conferred by the University Council prior to each meeting. The schedule of Council meetings is available on the JCU Governance webpage.

9. The JCU Graduations team will allocate all HDR candidates to an appropriate ceremony based on course, study plan, location and College.

10. The JCU Graduations team will provide instructions to HDR candidates on how to accept, decline or change their ceremony details.

11. Graduates are entitled to use the official Award Title once the Award has been conferred by the University Council.

12. A Medal for Excellence shall be awarded to a HDR candidate whose Research Thesis was examined in that calendar year and has been judged by the Research Education Advisory Committee to be passed cum laude (academic level of distinction) on the basis of the independent recommendations of two examiners and their written justification of this recommendation.

13. Recipients of the Medal for Excellence for a Research Thesis shall have the option of:

(a) being presented with the Medal at their graduation ceremony; or

(b) having the Medal sent directly to them.

14. A posthumous Award will be conferred in accordance with the Posthumous Award Procedure.

15. The Graduation Ceremony will be conducted in accordance with the Award Finalisation and Graduation Policy.

16. Official certification documentation will be issued, and may be revoked, in accordance with the Coursework Award Finalisation, Conferral and Issuance Procedure.

17. A graduate will receive a testamur and Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS) in the following ways:

(a) The hard copy documents will be posted following conferral; and

(b) The digital copy of the testamur and AHEGS will be uploaded in My eQuals within 1 business day after conferral date.

18. The conferral of an Award is considered public information. The University may publish or provide confirmation in relation to a Graduate’s name, Award/s conferred and their conferral date/s in accordance with the HDR candidate’s acceptance of their student contract.

Related policy instruments

HDR Requirements

Coursework Award Finalisation, Conferral and Issuance Procedure

Posthumous Award Procedure

University Seal Procedure

Academic Dress Policy

Recognition of Academic Excellence Procedure

Award Finalisation and Graduation Policy

University Award Requirements

JCU Governance webpage

AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy




NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy DomainAcademic Governance
Policy Sub-domainResearch Education

Policy Custodian

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research

Approval Authority

Academic Board

Date for next Major Review


Revision History


Approval date

Implementation date



24-103/05/202403/05/2024Clause 1(b) updated from 50-words to 25-words.Graduate Research School
23-117/07/202304/08/2023Major Review to modify in accordance with procedure change in JCU GraduationsTeam Leader, Academic Services GRS; Manager, Graduate Research School
19-2 - 16/12/2019 Modification in response to change in procedure at central JCU Ceremonies Supervisor, Academic Services GRS




Process improvement

Supervisor, Academic Services GRS




Procedure established

Supervisor, Academic Services GRS


Graduand, Graduation, Graduate, Confer, Conferral, Award, Ceremony, In Absentia, medal, posthumous

Contact personDean, Graduate Research