Higher Degree by Research Requirements
These requirements describe the rules for management and general conditions of award of higher degrees by research offered by James Cook University (JCU, or ‘the University’).
Higher Degrees by Research are defined by the Australian Qualifications Framework and include Master of Philosophy, Masters by Research, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and named Professional Doctorates.
These requirements apply to applicants for candidature to a Higher Degree by Research program, and candidates undertaking Higher Degree by Research programs delivered by JCU. Candidates applying for or enrolled in a JCU Singapore Higher Degree by Research course availability are also subject to the Procedure for Candidature Management of JCUS-based HDR Candidates.
These requirements also encompass Higher Doctorates at JCU, which are managed under the JCU Higher Doctorate Procedure.
Terms mentioned in this document and not defined here are defined in the Policy Glossary.
Coursework component is the subject(s) studied by the higher degree by research candidate to enhance their capacity to undertake research in the discipline (or cross-disciplinary field) and fulfil their career aspirations.
The Dean, Graduate Research is the person appointed as Chair of the Research Education Sub-Committee.
College means the University organisational unit in which the candidate is enrolled. This unit reflects the organisational affiliation of at least one member of the Advisory Panel, usually the Primary Advisor. The term College includes the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
Examiner means an expert external to the University in the field of research of the thesis preferably also with experience of examining Australian research doctoral theses who is appointed to examine the thesis against the criteria established by the University.
External candidate is a candidate who is unable to attend a recognised campus of the University on a regular basis.
Full-time candidate is a candidate enrolled at the rate of 1 EFSTL per year.
Graduate Research School means the organisational unit responsible for the university-level administration of higher degrees by research.
Higher degree by research is a Research Masters or a Research Doctorate degree.
Internal candidate is a candidate who attends a recognised campus of the University on a regular basis as negotiated with their Advisory Panel to fulfil the degree requirements.
International candidate is a candidate who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or a citizen of New Zealand.
Leave of Absence is absence from candidature that exceeds the allocated 20 working days (for a full time candidate) of annual leave per calendar year.
Masters degree is a degree that meets the Level 9 requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework. A Research Masters degree must comprise at least two-thirds research and includes the Master of Philosophy and named Research Masters degrees.
Milestones are events that receive special attention to mark the completion of the key phases of higher degree by research candidature and provide the opportunity for formal recommendations to be made about the candidate’s progress.
Part-time candidate is a candidate enrolled at the rate of 0.5 EFSTL per year.
Register of Advisors is a register of persons qualified to be members of HDR Advisory Panels, according to the HDR Supervision Procedure.
Research means the process leading to the production of original scholarly or creative work to be presented for the purpose of obtaining the degree.
Research Component refers specifically to planning and undertaking research, developing a thesis, preparation of products for examination, developing new research methods and new data analysis, writing of research or scholarly documents, developing/performing creative works, or other activities fundamental to research. The research component of the candidature must be supervised by the Advisory Panel.
Research Doctorate degree is a PhD or Research Professional Doctorate that meets the Level 10 requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework.
Research Education Sub-Committee is the sub-committee appointed to advise the University’s Research Committee on matters related to the: (a) administration, supervision and examination of candidates enrolled in higher degrees by research and coursework doctorate awards, and (b) the professional development of Early Career Researchers.
Research Methods Subject is a subject that assists the candidate to acquire the skills required to undertake the Research Component of their higher degree by research.
Thesis means either: (1) a substantive description of the research undertaken for the purpose of obtaining the degree, or (2) a critical interpretation of creative work, together with any associated material that is also subject to examination. The thesis must comply with the format prescribed by the University for the Doctoral or Research Masters course and thesis subject in which the candidate is enrolled.
1.1 Entry Requirements
1.1.1 All applicants must normally demonstrate academic capacity at a satisfactory level (Grade Point Average of Credit or equivalent) in their final year of coursework study that was used as part of the basis for admission.
1.1.2. All applicants must meet the IELTS Band 2 English Language Requirements or equivalent as defined by the University.
1.1.3 If the proposed research involves working with children under 18 years of age, the applicant must be eligible to hold a ‘Positive Notice for Child Related Employment’ (Blue Card), as required by law and the University’s ethics approval process.
1.1.4. To be eligible to apply for entry to a Doctoral program, an applicant must demonstrate the capacity to undertake research at the Doctoral level by attaining at least one of the following:
a) a Bachelor’s degree with at least Second Class, Division A (Honours) in a degree program that included a total of at least a semester of supervised project work, the results of which contributed to the Honours grade;
b) a postgraduate qualification which included: (a) supervised research component(s) of at least one semester or equivalent and resulted in the production of output(s) graded at the equivalent of Distinction or better, and (b) at least one research methods subject;
c) a Research Masters degree, where at least two thirds of the degree consisted of a supervised research component and resulted in the production of a thesis or equivalent;
d) enrolment at another Australian university in a doctorate for the equivalent of at least 0.5 EFTSL with demonstrated satisfactory performance in the supervised research component(s) and wishes to transfer their candidature to JCU;
e) a combination of qualifications, research training and experience, considered equivalent to the above by the Dean of the College to which the Candidate is applying, e.g., senior authorship of at least one peer-reviewed publication plus completion of an appropriate research methods subject.
1.1.5. Applicants for a doctoral degree who are seeking admission under conditions 1.1.4 above and who have not completed an appropriate research methods subject may be exempted from that requirement on condition that they enrol in and successfully complete an appropriate research methods subject before their Confirmation of Candidature Milestone, in addition to the normal course requirements.
1.1.6 Professional Doctorate applicants must also have demonstrated professional experience as specified by the requirements for that degree.
1.1.7. To be eligible to apply for entry to a Research Masters degree an applicant must demonstrate the capacity to undertake research at the Research Masters level by the attainment of a Bachelor’s Degree with either a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 5.5 in the final full time year of study, or with demonstrated research experience.
1.1.8. Applicants for a Research Masters degree who have not already successfully completed an appropriate research methods subject must enrol in and successfully complete an appropriate research methods subject preferably before their Confirmation of Candidature Milestone, in addition to the normal course requirements.
1.1.9. Applicants for a Research Masters degree that includes compulsory research methodology training in addition to the normal course requirements may be admitted on the basis of an appropriate Bachelor’s degree.
1.2 Application and Enrolment
1.2.1 Applications for higher degrees by research candidature must be submitted in accordance with the HDR Application Procedure.
1.2.2 As part of the application process, applicants may apply for recognition of prior learning as per the HDR Recognition of Prior Learning Procedure. Such recognition must be approved by the Dean, Graduate Research.
1.2.3 The provision of educational services consequent on the approval of an application for candidature must not expose the University to a risk of contravening any applicable law, including any international embargoes, sanctions or controls, which regulate the University’s operations from time to time.
1.2.4 As part of the application process, an applicant may apply to enrol as part of a formal Cotutelle or Conjoint Degree Agreement between this and another (usually international) university, as per the HDR Cotutelle or Conjoint Enrolment Procedure.
1.2.5 Applicants who have accepted an offer for HDR Candidature at JCU will be enrolled as per the HDR Enrolment Procedure.
1.3 Transferring Degree Candidature
1.3.1 Candidates enrolled in a research degree may transfer to another degree within JCU or from a research degree at another university, as per the HDR Transfer of Enrolment Procedure.
1.4 Singapore Candidature
1.4.1 Candidates applying for or enrolled in a JCU Singapore Higher Degree by Research course availability are also subject to the HDR JCUS Procedure for Candidature Management.
2. Operational Requirements for Candidature
2.1 Time Commitment
2.1.1 Full-time candidates are expected to meet the requirements of their candidature by spending an average of at least 35-40 hours per week for 48 weeks per year on the activities of their candidature, unless a Leave of Absence has been granted. The requirements for part-time candidates are similar, except that the commitment must average at least 16-20 hours per week.
2.1.2 It is expected that a full-time candidate will spend only limited time (less than 600 hours per year unless otherwise stipulated in scholarship or other conditions) in paid employment that is independent of the activities of their candidature.
2.1.3 A candidate may apply to convert their attendance status between full-time and part-time unless restrictions apply (e.g., visa and scholarship holders) as per the HDR Variation and Extension of Candidature Procedure.
2.1.4 The minimum/maximum duration of candidature for a Higher Degree by Research is:
a) Research Masters degree 1/2 EFTSL;
b) Doctoral degree 2/4 EFTSL.
Exceptions to these requirements must be agreed in writing with the Dean, Graduate Research.
2.1.5 Candidates who exceed the maximum duration of their degree without an approved extension may be subject to the HDR Under Review Procedure.
2.1.6 Unless on approved field work or travel, candidates enrolled as internal candidates are expected to attend a recognised campus of the University on a regular basis as negotiated with their Advisory Panel to fulfil the degree requirements.
2.1.7 A candidate enrolled as an external candidate is expected to be on campus for at least five working days per year as negotiated with their Advisory Panel to fulfil their degree requirements. Exceptions to this practice must be approved by the Dean, Graduate Research.
2.1.8 Candidates must remain enrolled until submission of the thesis for examination, unless Leave of Absence has been obtained. [Note: The University considers that candidates on Leave of Absence are not undertaking activities that contribute to their candidature.]
2.1.9 A candidate who seeks concurrent enrolment in another degree, diploma or certificate at this or another university must obtain the approval of the Dean, Graduate Research, and will normally only be considered where the total enrolment of the two courses will not exceed the equivalent of a full time load (1 EFTSL/year). A candidate may be required to suspend or discontinue concurrent studies if they fail to make satisfactory progress in their Higher Degree by Research if concurrently enrolled.
2.2 Communication between the Candidate and the University
2.2.1 The official means of University communication with a HDR candidate is via the JCU student email. All candidates are required to check their JCU student email account regularly and respond to official correspondence in a timely manner.
2.2.2 All candidates must update their contact details with the University within seven days of any change by logging in to eStudent.
2.2.3 All candidates must maintain regular communication as agreed with their Advisory Panel or risk being subject to the HDR Progress Support Procedure, HDR Under Review Procedure or HDR Discontinuation Procedure.
2.3 Variations and Extension to Candidature
2.3.1 Candidates wishing to apply to extend their candidature beyond the maximum duration must adhere to the HDR Variation and Extension of Candidature Procedure.
2.3.2 Candidates wishing to apply to take leave from their studies for a period greater than four weeks per annum must adhere to the HDR Variation and Extension of Candidature Procedure.
2.3.3 A candidate wishing to withdraw from their Higher Degree by Research must do so in accordance with the HDR Variation and Extension of Candidature Procedure.
3. Course Components
3.1 Research, Research Conduct and General Conduct
3.1.1 The research component of a Higher Degree by Research must comprise two-thirds or more of the qualification culminating in a thesis or equivalent. The research component includes successful completion of all compulsory and optional subjects listed in Schedule 1 of this policy EXCEPT RD7003 Professional Development.
3.1.2 A candidate must comply with the relevant sections of the Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
3.1.3 Candidates must not commence a phase of their research work until any ethics and other permits required by the University or external agencies for that phase have been obtained and must conduct the research in accordance with the conditions of such permits.
3.1.4 All research work must be conducted at locations, in a manner and under the conditions approved by the candidate’s Advisory Panel and any other relevant authority.
3.1.5 Candidates must comply with the University Work Health and Safety Policy and undertake any relevant required training or induction.
3.1.6 Academic misconduct associated with candidature will be handled in accordance with the JCU Student Academic Misconduct Requirements.
3.1.7 Any assignment of intellectual property created during candidature will be in accordance with the Intellectual Property Policy-Students.
3.1.8 Candidates must at all times abide by the Student Code of Conduct, the Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships developed by Universities Australia. These policies and principles articulate the professional relationship between Candidates and Supervisors, the potential for conflicts of interest, and make clear that sexual or romantic relationships are never appropriate and must be declared immediately in order that alternative supervisory arrangements can be put in place.
3.2 Development Activities
3.2.1 Each candidate will undertake a program of development appropriate to their field of research, level of the degree and their career aspirations. The program will include a range of compulsory and elective activities in accordance with the HDR Confirmation of Candidature Procedure, HDR Mid-Candidature Review Procedure, HDR Pre-Completion Evaluation Procedure and the RD7003 Professional Development subject outline where appropriate.
3.2.2 All international candidates will be required to successfully complete the Skills for International Postgraduates program as part of their program of development activities to facilitate their timely progression.
3.2.3 A candidate may be required, or elect to, enrol in coursework subjects as approved by their Candidature Committee and the Dean, Graduate Research. University policy and procedures regarding coursework subject enrolments will apply to HDR candidates enrolled in any coursework subjects not listed in Schedule 1 of this policy. The maximum credit value of all coursework subjects will normally be 15 credit points for Research Master’s candidates and 24 credit points for Doctoral candidates. These maxima include RD7003 Professional Development (Doctorate Candidates only) but do not include the other RD700X subjects. Enrolment in or withdrawal from a coursework subject is as per the HDR Variation and Extension of Candidature Procedure.
3.2.4 Higher Degree Research candidates will be supported to develop proficiency in the English language and numeracy in accordance with the JCU English Language and Numeracy Policy.
3.2.5 If specified as a Condition of Enrolment, or as required during candidature, candidates may be required to undertake a Post-Entry Language Assessment (PELA) in order to determine the level of English language and writing support required.
4. Supervision and Management of Candidature
4.1.1 Supervision of Higher Degree by Research Candidates at JCU must be as per the HDR Supervision Procedure, the Staff Code of Conduct, the Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships developed by Universities Australia.
4.1.2 Should the Advisory Panel, or a member thereof, cease to comply with the HDR Supervision Procedure, the College Dean must make reasonable efforts to find a suitable and approved replacement as soon as possible.
4.1.3 In instances where a candidate’s Primary Advisor becomes unable to supervise the candidate and no suitable replacement can be found after reasonable efforts by the College Dean or Dean, Graduate Research, the Candidate may be subject to the HDR Discontinuation Procedure.
5. Milestones and Reporting
5.1 Candidates must successfully complete the milestones and reporting requirements outlined below prior to submission of the thesis for examination and as per the relevant procedures:
a) HDR Confirmation of Candidature (Procedure)
b) HDR Mid-Candidature Review (Procedure)
c) HDR Pre-Completion Evaluation (Procedure)
d) HDR Progress Reporting (Procedure)
5.2 Except with the written permission of the Dean, Graduate Research, candidates who have failed to meet the milestone and reporting requirements will have their thesis withheld from examination until such requirements are completed.
6. Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination
6.1. A candidate must not present in their thesis any research which: (1) contributed, in part or in whole, to the candidate being awarded another qualification; (2) was part of the candidate's basis of admission to their current candidature; or (3) was published, accepted for publication, or submitted for publication prior to enrolment, except where one of the following apply:
a) the candidature is governed by a formal Cotutelle or Conjoint Degree Agreement
b) written permission has been given by the Dean, Graduate Research.
6.2 The thesis must be presented in accordance with the HDR Thesis Preparation Guidelines.
6.3 Thesis examiners must be nominated as per the HDR Nomination of Examiners Procedure.
6.4 The thesis must be examined according to the HDR Thesis Submission and Examination Procedure and the HDR Consideration of Examiner Reports Procedure.
7. Conferral of Award
7.1 A candidate will be eligible for conferral when they have met the requirements of the HDR Award.
7.2 The candidate must have complied with all conditions outlined in the HDR Conferral Procedure to be eligible to have the Award conferred.
8. Unsatisfactory Progress and Discontinuation
8.1 Unsatisfactory Progress
8.1.1 A candidate should manage their candidature in a way that ensures they are able to complete milestones and required work by the due dates and within the time frames specified.
8.1.2 A candidate having difficulty in completing required work or milestones by the due dates must seek advice and assistance to allow them to continue to comply with the requirements in these requirements and should keep evidence of their attempts to obtain and implement such advice and assistance.
8.1.3 Candidates not making satisfactory progress may be subject to the HDR Progress Support Procedure, HDR Under Review Procedure or the HDR Discontinuation Procedure.
9. Higher Doctorates
Candidates for a Higher Doctorate at JCU should follow the JCU Higher Doctorate Procedure.
Related Documents and Legislation
Documents Referred to in these HDR Requirements
Higher Degrees by Research Subjects
RM7001:03 Planning the Research (Research) – Compulsory Confirmation of Candidature Milestone subjects for Research Masters candidates including candidates who wish to upgrade
RM7002:03 Situating the Research (Research) – Compulsory Confirmation of Candidature Milestone subjects for Research Masters candidates including candidates who wish to upgrade
RD7001:03 Planning the Research (Research) – Compulsory Confirmation of Candidature Milestone subjects for doctoral candidates
RD7002:03 Situating the Research (Research) – Compulsory Confirmation of Candidature Milestone subjects for doctoral candidates
RD7003:03 Professional Development (Non-Research) – Compulsory subject for doctoral candidates; must be completed as part of the Mid-Candidature Review Milestone. The compulsory components of this subject must also be completed by Research Masters candidates.
RD7004:12 Extended HDR Internship (Research) – Optional subject for Doctorate or Masters Candidates undertake an industry based internship as per an approved Internship program.
RD7005:03 Short HDR Internship (Research) – Optional subject for Doctorate or Masters Candidates undertake an industry based internship as per an approved Internship program.
NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.
DVC Research and Innovation
Date for next Major Review
|21-1||02/02/2021||05/02/2021||Minor amendments arising from the establishment of the HDR Progress Support Procedure (GRS internal procedure)||Manager, Graduate Research Operations|
|20-2||17/08/2020||18/09/2020||Consequential amendments arising from the establishment of the JCU Higher Doctorate Procedure.||Manager, Graduate Research Operations|
|20-1||01/06/2020||17/07/2020||Amended to remove procedural content from Section 7 Conferral of the Degree and remove references to applications for upgrade of MPhil to PhD, as upgrades are no longer allowable.||Supervisor, Academic Services|
|19-1||11/03/2019||21/03/2019||Add in JCUS requirements and Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships||Manager, Grad Res Ops|
|18-2||09/07/2018||20/07/2018||Amendment to admissions requirements to align with Australian Qualifications Framework.||Chair of Academic Board|
Changes made to reflect headline restructure 30/04/2018.
|Quality, Standards and Policy|
Removed procedural details from policy duplicated in associated HDR procedures, minor administrative amendments.
Manager, Graduate Research Operations
Reference to merit reviews removed: Clause 5.1.3 removed; Clause 8.3.2, 8.3.3, 8.3.4 and 8.3.5 removed; Clause 8.3.6 amended; Numbering at clause 2.1 amended (incorrect number flow corrected).
Manager, Graduate Research Operations