Managing Your Candidature

Once you have enrolled, you can begin to start work on your research. There are various milestones that you will need to meet to ensure that you maintain progress, and it is important to plan how you will achieve these milestones with your supervisor by setting goals for each stage of your candidature.

To ensure that you have a smooth candidature and will be able to complete in a timely fashion, UNSW requires Research Progress Reviews. This is a valuable opportunity to receive feedback and to ensure that you are able to achieve your goals. In addition to regular Progress Reviews, all first year PhD candidates are required to show that they are capable of completing their degree through Confirmation. Full details regarding the Progress Review and Confirmation processes are outlined below.

If you have any questions about your candidature, the GRS has dedicated candidature management officers for each Faculty who can help and guide you through the processes required.


Who Can Advise Me on My Candidature?

All Faculties also have an Associate Dean (Research Training) or a Director of Postgraduate Research who provide advice to the Dean regarding research candidates within the faculty. They monitor and manage support, space and resources for candidates, and act as a liaison person with research candidates on behalf of the Dean.

All Faculties have an Associate Dean (Research) or equivalent, who is responsible for oversight of the Faculty’s research profile, and who works with the Heads of School within the Faculty to ensure effective and high quality supervision of research candidates, and monitor the thesis examination process. The Associate Dean (Research) also acts as a Research Integrity Advisor within the Faculty, providing confidential advice to staff, research trainees and research students with regards to the UNSW Research Code of Conduct and related policies and procedures.

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 Training) or Director of Postgraduate Research.


Research Integrity

Research Integrity is UNSW’s commitment to creating and maintaining an environment that promotes responsible research conduct, and is a core component of research training for all Higher Degree Researchers.

UNSW's research foundations are built upon standards of excellence, truthfulness, moralistic actions and legally permissible conduct and supporting these foundations through effective and proper procedures and policies.

Research Integrity is a commitment to:

  • Intellectual integrity and honesty

  • Individual and collective responsibility;

  • Government legislature and statute; and

  • Responsible Research

All newly enrolled Higher Degree Researchers are automatically registered for a Research Integrity online course, which includes a compulsory assessment comprising multiple short quizzes which you must successfully pass (75%+). PhD Candidates are not permitted to complete Confirmation until they have successfully passed this assessment. All candidates receive an email from the Graduate Research School once they have been enrolled, with further information on how to complete this training course. 

For more information, visit UNSW Research Integrity.


Managing Milestones

You are required to submit your thesis within the maximum time of candidature for your research program. To ensure that you maintain progress, you need to plan with your supervisor how you will meet key milestones by setting goals for each stage of your candidature. The formal mechanism for reviewing your progress against these milestones is the Research Progress Review and, for PhD candidates, the Confirmation review (see below).

For the first stage of your candidature, milestones may include determining the gaps in your knowledge, selecting suitable topics in the field that will help focus your research, producing a literature review, conducting preliminary investigations and formulating a research proposal. If you are a PhD candidate, these milestones will form the basis of your Confirmation. 

In the mid to late stages of your candidature you will need to regularly review your goals with your supervisor to ensure that your changing skills development needs and research project requirements are met. 

To support timely completion of your candidature milestones, you should ensure that you write early and often as the more work you do in the early days of your candidature, the easier it will be as you approach the end. As a research intensive university, UNSW requires all research to be conducted in accordance with the UNSW Research Code of Conduct and the principles of Research Integrity. All supervisors are provided with access to iThenticate, a tool that assists with similarity checks and plagiarism detection. You should discuss the use of this tool with your supervisor.


Research Progress Reviews

It is a condition of continual enrolment in your higher research degree program that your performance is assessed by a Research Progress Review. It is the primary academic project management tool for Higher Degree Research candidates, and is also an opportunity to review your progress, get feedback on your project, manage your research, plan your thesis, and ensure that you make the most of your time at UNSW. It is also an opportunity to discuss any issues that may be impeding your progress with an independent panel.

Before the Panel review meeting, you must check the requirements with your School, and complete the complete the Research Progress Review form with your supervisor. You will then need to prepare the following:

  • An outline of achievements for the past 12 months against agreed objectives/criteria and milestones

  • An outline of key objectives/criteria and milestones for the next 12 months

  • A timeline and milestones for completion of the thesis

  • Any additional documentation required by your School.

While the format of the Research Progress Review and the specific issues discussed may vary, all reviews should address the following key issues: intellectual property, Work Health & Safety and Ethics, infrastructure and resources, role of your supervisor, progress of your project, key research objectives and milestones for the next review, anticipated thesis submission date, any other issues the Panel considers relevant, and the date for your next Review.

An additional review may be arranged at the request of your supervisor or yourself to discuss unresolved issues. If you are experiencing mitigating circumstances that are having an impact on your progress, your Supervisor and/or Postgraduate Coordinator may take steps to help you improve your progress. These steps may be summarised in a formal management plan

To access the Research Progress Review form, visit the Graduate Research Information System (GRIS). For step by step instructions on how to use GRIS, please refer to the GRIS user manual.  

The Graduate Research School runs a Research Progress Review seminar that provides an overview of the Research Progress Review process. To register for the next seminar, please visit Career and Development.  

For more information on the Research Progress Review process please see the Research Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure.


Confirmation of Candidature

If you are a PhD candidate, your enrolment is subject to Confirmation. If you are a full time candidate, Confirmation will take place at your first Progress Review, approximately nine months after your enrolment has commenced. If you are a part time candidate, Confirmation may occur at your second Progress Review. You must maintain satisfactory progress in order for your candidature to be confirmed.

Before Confirmation can take place, you must ensure that you have completed the compulsory research integrity training for Higher Degree Researchers. 

The Confirmation period may be extended for the purpose of reassessment, but can’t be extended beyond:

  • 15 months from commencement of study (full time candidates), OR

  • 30 months from commencement of study (part time candidates).

You must maintain satisfactory progress and complete the UNSW Research Integrity module before your Confirmation can take place. In preparation for your Confirmation review, you are required to prepare a research proposal that contains:

  • The key objectives/criteria and milestones of the research

  • A literature review

  • A justification of the research

  • An assessment of the resources required to support the research

  • A statement describing how the research will be conducted in accordance with the UNSW policies for intellectual property, WHS and ethics

  • Any other faculty/school specific requirements.

At the Confirmation review, you will be required to make an oral presentation at which all members of the Review Panel are present. Your Review Panels will consist of at least two members who can provide you with an independent and objective review of your progress. Your Supervisor is not a member of your review panel.

If your candidature is not confirmed, you may be transferred to a Masters by Research.



After your initial enrolment, you need to ensure that you are re-enrolled before the start of every year in order to continue your candidature. The majority of candidates will be eligible for online re-enrolment and will be advised at the end of each academic year to use the online enrolment system to enrol for the upcoming academic year, including Summer Term, Term 1, Term 2 and Term 3. 

For further information, please review our Enrolment instructions page:

However, there are some instances where a candidate is not eligible for online enrolment, for instance if they returned from program leave, their candidature is overtime, or if they have outstanding debts to the university. If you are not eligible for online re-enrolment, you will receive an email from GRS with instructions on how to enrol. 

HDR candidates are required to clarify their enrolment status by the Term Start Date by re-enrolling online or submitting a request for Program Leave via a variation to candidature.  

Returning from program leave, candidates will need to contact their School or Faculty Office for a re-enrolment form. Candidates should also contact their School or Faculty Office in regard to coursework enrolment. 


Kensington Campus

Contact your School or Faculty Office

UNSW Art and Design Paddington Campus

Contact the Faculty HDR Administrator         

Tel: 8936 0750 

UNSW Canberra Campus

Contact the Research Student Unit to make an appointment.

Tel: 6268 8112 

You can review your current enrolment status, or view your fee statement by logging into your student profile at myUNSW.

Writing Up Fee Concession

If your data collection is complete and you are re-enrolling solely to write your thesis, you may be eligible for a 50% tuition fee concession. To apply, please obtain a letter from your supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator confirming that you have completed your data collection, and send an email to the GRS Candidature Management Officer for your Faculty requesting the fee concession. 

Overtime Enrolment

If your candidature is overtime (4 years FTE PhD or 2 years FTE Masters by Research/MPhil) and you wish to re-enrol, you need to apply for an extension of your candidature through GRIS. Your application will be considered by your Faculty’s Higher Degree Committee. For more information on how to apply for an extension of your candidature, please visit Variation to Candidature


Variations to Candidature

You may experience circumstances during your studies that require you to make changes to your candidature, such as overtime enrolment, program leave, or a change to your study load. For information on how to request these types of changes, please visit Variations to Candidature.


HDR Research End-User Engagement Surveys

The Australian Government has introduced mandatory reporting on the ways HDR candidates engage with research end-users. As a result, all UNSW HDR candidates are required to self-report on their own engagement with research end-users through the HDR Research End-User Engagement Survey. Candidates are required to complete this survey for multiple reporting periods each year. 

Find out more about how to complete this survey here


Scholarships and Financial Support

There are a range of different funding schemes available to higher degree research candidates, including living allowances, tuition fee support scholarships, grants and student loans.

To explore the options that may be available to you, visit Scholarships and Financial Support

Graduate Research Newsletter

Graduate Research News is a monthly newsletter produced by the Graduate Research School to provide higher degree research candidates with the latest information on upcoming events, seminars, awards and achievements.

Learn more here