Higher Degree Research Student Candidature Policy

Fact box


The purpose of this policy is to specify the parameters of candidature in an Alphacrucis College (AC) Higher Degree Research (HDR) course of study.


All HDR courses of study


AC HDR students are initially admitted as “provisional” candidates when they commence the course of study. This is changed to “confirmed” status following the official confirmation of candidature process which involves an oral presentation of the research proposal at the end of the first 12 months full time equivalent (FTE) for PhD and DMin students or 6 months FTE for MPhil students; longer with special permission from the relevant Program Director.

The confirmation of candidature oral presentation is conducted in front of a Confirmation of Candidature Panel, which consists of members of the Research Committee and, where appropriate, an external expert in a relevant field. This provides an opportunity for students to explain their research, to ensure that the student is making appropriate progress and in order to receive formative advice about direction, scope, planning, and feasibility of the project; how to improve research questions, proposed methodology; acquisition or further development of appropriate research and professional skills; and the pathway forward. Exceptions may be made in some cases for those who have transferred from another research program or have received a confirmed candidature at another institution. Success at the confirmation of candidature demonstrates the candidate is likely to produce an assessable thesis in a timely manner. The confirmation of candidature oral presentation can include other invited peers and academic colleagues, which provides opportunities for wider feedback.  However, only the Confirmation of Candidature Panel will have authority to make a recommendation to the Research Committee.

Responsible for implementation

Deputy Vice President - Research and Standards

Key stakeholders

HDR Students
Program Directors


Higher Degree Research Student Candidature Procedures

1. A Confirmation of Candidature Form is to be completed by the student at least four weeks prior to seminar presentation, and a full Research Proposal Form to be submitted to the Research Committee.

The Program Director will appoint a Confirmation of Candidature Panel including members of the Research Committee and an external member, where appropriate, from a relevant field of research.  

2. An oral presentation is to be delivered by the candidate to a Confirmation of Candidature Panel which is an opportunity for the HDR student to demonstrate a contribution to advancing knowledge in the field, justify methodological processes, and provide a summary of progress to date.

3. The Confirmation of Candidature Panel submits a report to the Research Committee which includes written feedback given to the candidate about his/her performance and progress. The Committee may recommend:

  • candidature has been achieved;
  • where the first attempt is not successful, an extension of the due date (of 3 months FTE) for achieving candidature may be granted if the assessors deem the proposal to be appropriately developed but not yet ready for confirmation of candidature;
  • candidature has not been confirmed. After two attempts the student will be liable for termination of candidature. The Committee may suggest the student to transfer to another course.

Once the recommendation has been approved by the Research Committee, the Chair will notify the student and the Program Director of the outcome. Based on feedback from supervisor and student, supervisor(s) will be confirmed by the Program Director at this stage, in accordance with the Research Supervision Policy.

Extension of Candidature

A HDR student is considered out of time if s/he has utilised the FTE of the candidature period without submitting a thesis for examination. While research students are automatically re-enrolled in the program based on continued satisfactory progress, this process will cease when the FTE candidature period expires. If a student has not yet submitted a thesis for examination, s/he needs to formally apply for an extension of candidature with the permission of the supervisor (this rule does not apply for students who are in the process of making requested revisions on a submitted thesis).

The application for extension of candidature must specify the reasons for the request, and the plan for completion. Requests for extension of candidature are reviewed for approval by the Deputy Vice President (DVP) - Research and Standards and may be granted an extension for a specified period. Unsuccessful candidates must apply for re-admission. Application for re-admission also applies to students whose candidature has expired without a formal application for extension of candidature. For students who re-apply, the period of candidature from the re-admission is to be determined by the Program Director, in consultation with the DVP Research and Standards. Usual AC enrolment fees would apply for re-admitted candidates.

Leave of Absence

Domestic HDR students may apply for a total of 6 month FTE period of leave of absence based on medical or extreme extenuating circumstances. The application for leave of absence is to be submitted in writing to the Program Director, with a recommendation from the supervisor. Registry is to be advised. Students who have utilised the full extent of their FTE candidature period are not normally eligible to apply for a leave of absence.


Using standard AC grievance procedures, a student who has failed to achieve candidature may appeal the decision only on the grounds of evidence of breach of due process as outlined by AC policies and procedure.


Students whose progress is deemed unsatisfactory at an annual review (annual report provided by the supervisor, as per Research Supervision policy) will be issued a notification of at risk for termination of candidature by the Program Director and advised to follow an intervention strategy which could involve the following:

  • review of supervisory arrangement by the Program Director;
  • review of student’s circumstances;
  • referral to pastoral counselling if necessary;
  • referral to English language and/or study skills training if necessary.

The student and supervisor, in consultation with the Program Director, are required to devise a plan for improving the student’s progress, with tangible goals to be accomplished within a 3 month (FTE) period. At the end of this time the progress will be reviewed again by the Program Director to ascertain whether the intervention has been successful or not. Students whose intervention has been successful would be allowed to progress in their candidature. The candidature of students who have not made satisfactory progress even after the intervention will be terminated.

Funding for Conference Travel: HDR students

To encourage HDR students to participate in research conferences of international standing in Australia or overseas, AC provides limited funding for this purpose. Funding is provided as a contribution toward reasonable costs associated with conference registration, official conference dinner, economy airfares and accommodation. Eligibility, funding, application and restrictions are outlined in the following:

  • Candidates must be currently enrolled an AC research higher degree;
  • Candidates must have received successfully their Confirmation of Candidature, unless a strong case is provided for pre-confirmation funding;
  • Candidates must have submitted a paper for the conference, with reasonable expectation of acceptance;
  • Candidates must not have exceeded the maximum semesters of enrolment by the conference date;
  • Candidates must inform the Research Committee of their intent to apply for travel funding, in the year preceding travel, to be included in the normal budget procedures;
  • Candidates must attend and return from the conference before thesis submission or must return from the conference to AC within six weeks of submitting their thesis;
  • Normally only one conference support allocation may be approved per candidate for the period of their candidature.

Allocation of Research Student Work Stations: HDR students

AC provides HDR students access to the research student work stations and facilities on a needs basis. These work stations are provided as a regular study area for students who are carrying out research projects or serving as faculty research assistants.

Application may be made for the allocation of a work station for a period of six-months.

Priority is given to doctoral students who are undertaking the research thesis component of their course and will make regular and consistent use of this space.

The Program Director, in consultation with the Campus Facilities Manager, considers all applications for permanent 6-month work stations and makes the allocation. Students eligible to apply for permanent work stations include those who:

  • are currently enrolled HDR students;
  • do not have any other adequate space on campus; or
  • are in the "write-up phase" of their candidature (last 6 months); or
  • have special needs (such as child care issues, medical or disability reasons or other extraordinary reasons relating to the candidates’ circumstances).

Allocation of Library Resources

HDR students are entitled to a set sum of monetary allocation toward library resources specific to their projects. Requests for library resources are to be directed to the HDR Program Director with a brief rationale for the request. The HDR Program Director will assess the student’s budget allocation and communicate the request to the librarian.