Graduate Research Governance

At UNSW, several committees and units play a role in the strategic direction and management of research higher degree programs and candidatures, including the University Higher Degree Research Committee, the Graduate Research School, and the Faculty Higher Degree Committees and Heads of School. Below is a summary of each level of graduate research governance at the University.


Dean of Graduate Research

The Dean of Graduate Research, Professor Jonathan Morris, provides leadership and support to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) in the development and improvement of high quality HDR programs.

The Dean has oversight of all UNSW HDR candidatures, and is responsible for the development and implementation of HDR policy. Professor Morris works collaboratively with Faculties to ensure the delivery of high quality HDR programs. 

The Dean provides the UNSW Graduate Research School with academic leadership and strategic direction to ensure seamless support for HDR Candidates and their Supervisors, and to enhance the HDR Candidate experience.


Graduate Research School

Working under the direction of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Training) and Dean of Graduate Research, Professor Laura Poole-Warren, the Graduate Research School (GRS) provides leadership, support, and central administration for higher degree research (HDR) candidates and their supervisors. 

GRS ensures effective coordination and management of HDR admissions, scholarships, candidature and thesis examination, supports HDR policy and strategy set by the PVCRT in consultation with Schools and Faculties, and leads the continuous improvement of HDR systems and procedures.


Admission and Scholarships

Candidature Management

Thesis and Examinations

  • Applications for admission

  • Scholarship applications

  • Acceptance of offer

  • Student Loans

  • Conference travel support (PRSS)

  • Initial enrolment

  • Continuing and overtime enrolment

  • Leave requests

  • Variations to candidature

  • Change to supervisor

  • Confidential advice

  • Thesis presentation

  • Thesis examination

  • Intention to Submit

  • Nomination of Examiners

  • Preparing for graduation

Contact information can be found here.

University Higher Degree Research Committee

The UNSW Higher Degree Research Committee is a University-wide committee, established by Council to provide oversight and approval for research higher degree programs, administration, and policy. This committee makes recommendations to the Academic Board regarding the establishment, review, or termination of programs and conditions for award, and provides advice to Academic Board regarding program administration and strategy under the Higher Degree Research Policy Framework.

The Committee comprises up to 22 members, including the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research Training) and Dean of Graduate Research, one nominated member of each Faculty, up to four members of the Academic Board, and two research candidates.

For more information regarding this Committee, including the membership and Terms of Reference, please visit UNSW Governance Higher Degree Committee.


Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC)

Each research candidate is enrolled in a School within one of the nine Faculties at UNSW. Each Faculty has a Higher Degree Committee (HDC) which has oversight over all aspects of research candidatures within the Faculty, and makes recommendations to the Dean of Graduate Research.

The HDCs meet on a monthly basis to consider a variety of candidature matters, including:

  • Applications for extension of candidature, extended leave or extended field work

  • Applications to spend time within another institution or at a location other than an approved UNSW location

  • Unsatisfactory progress

  • Transfer between research programs

  • Applications to submit a thesis before the minimum amount of EFTSL

  • Applications to submit a thesis in the format of a series of publications

  • Appointment of thesis examiners

  • Consideration of reports from examiners in making recommendations regarding the award of the degree

  • Complex admission cases

The membership of each HDC is defined by the Faculty, but usually involves the Postgraduate Coordinators of each School in the Faculty. Either the Dean of Graduate Research or their delegate, typically a senior staff member from the Graduate Research School, attends all Faculty HDC meetings.

The current Faculty HDC meeting dates can be found here


Associate Deans (Research Training and Research)

The Associate Dean (Research Training) or Director of Postgraduate Research is responsible for oversight of Faculty resources, space and support for research candidatures. They provide recommendations to the Dean on candidature matters, and may act as a liaison for research candidates on behalf of the Dean.

The Associate Dean (Research) or equivalent works with the Heads of School to both monitor and facilitate effective supervisory practice within the Faculty. They are also responsible for ensuring that the Faculty’s research practices align with UNSW Research Integrity principles and the UNSW Research Code of Conduct.

Any candidate who needs advice from someone external to their school about academic recommendations that have been made about their candidature, or about Faculty procedures, should make an appointment to see the Associate Dean (Research) or equivalent for their Faculty.

Postgraduate Coordinators and Heads of School

The Head of School is in charge of the higher degree research candidates working in their School. They make recommendations to the Faculty HDC regarding research candidatures, and monitors candidature progress. The Head of School will often delegate these responsibilities to the School’s Postgraduate Research Coordinator (PGC). The PGC is also responsible for advising candidates of important milestones, including Annual Research Progress Reviews and Confirmation of Candidature.

The PGC and Head of School make recommendations to the Faculty HDC and Dean of Graduate Research regarding a range of candidature matters, including:

  • Changes in research area

  • Supervisory arrangements

  • Annual Research Progress Reviews

  • Approval of program leave for up to four terms

  • Approval of fieldwork for up to four terms

  • Approval of deferral of an admission offer from one admission period to another

  • Approval of enrolment in coursework relevant to the research project

  • Approval of results of assessment in any coursework undertaken

  • Approval of transfers between full-time and part-time study

  • Discontinuation of enrolment at the candidate’s request