Variations to Candidature

It is recognised that your circumstances may change during your time at UNSW, and that you may need to vary your candidature as a result. The toggles below provide you with advice on what to do in such cases.

To request a variation to your candidature, visit the Graduate Research Information System (GRIS).

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.

Overtime Enrolment

Candidates are required to complete their thesis within the maximum time of candidature:

PhD

4 years full-time equivalent

Masters by Research

2 years full-time equivalent

Master of Philosophy

2 years full-time equivalent

If you are unable to complete your thesis within the maximum time of candidature, you need to apply for an extension of your candidature. This application process has been developed to support you to complete your program.

Step 1 Complete a Research Progress Review

If you wish to apply for an extension of your candidature, you must first participate in a Research Progress Review. Given that you are not going to be able to submit your thesis on time, new milestones will be set that detail remedial actions to address the issues impeding your progress, and the dates by which these actions need to be achieved.

If you are experiencing significant mitigating circumstances, the Chair of your review panel may develop a management plan that outlines a clear pathway to completion and relevant support services required.

If you are not able to submit your thesis on time you will be considered to have made either marginal or unsatisfactory progress. For further details refer to section 6 of the Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure.

Step 2 Submit an Application for an Extension of your Candidature

Complete the GRIS Variation of Candidature form at least two weeks before the census date for the semester when your extension will occur, and attach a timelines to completion that is supported by your supervisor. Extensions can only be granted one semester at a time, and are considered by your Faculty’s Higher Degree Committee (HDC) for approval.

If you are an international candidate, you must check your visa conditions to determine whether you need to apply for an extension of your visa.

Step 3 Participate in Another Research Progress Review Within Three Months

You will need to participate in another Research Progress Review within three months of full-time equivalent enrolment. The purpose of this review is to check whether you have met the milestones set in your previous review, and are on track to submit your thesis by the appropriate census date. If your review panel is satisfied that you are on track, you will receive a satisfactory result, and new milestones will be set leading to submission of your thesis.

If you cannot demonstrate that you have been able to achieve the milestones set at the previous review, you may be asked to Show Cause as to why your candidature should not be terminated.

 

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Changing Between Full Time and Part Time

To convert from full time to part time candidature (or vice versa), you need to complete the Variation of Candidature form at least two weeks before the census date of the semester when your enrolment status will change.

You may find the Variation to Candidature Student User Manual helpful when completing the form.

 

Converting to part time enrolment

Part-time candidates are a group at high risk of non-completion, usually due to time-management issues and a high likelihood of less than 15 hours per week being spent on the research.

If you decide to change from full time to part time, should discuss your plans with your Postgraduate Coordinator (PGC) or supervisor. If they endorse your request, you will need to attach a proposal to your Variation of Candidature form outlining how you will maintain 15-20 hours per week on your research project, as well as any impact planned employment will have on your ability to maintain this commitment.

Please be aware that international candidates on a student visa are required to be enrolled full-time throughout their candidature.

 

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Program Leave

Your candidature is recorded in whole semesters. All candidates may take leave of up to four weeks per year, negotiated with your Supervisor.

If you required a longer period of leave, you may request program leave for one semester or, in exceptional circumstances, for two semesters. 

 

Eligibility

  • Complete at least one semester of study

  • International candidates – submit a reason for your application, along with supporting documentation (eg. medical certificate). If your leave is approved, you may need to leave Australia for the period of your leave.

 

How to Apply

Complete the Variation of Candidature form at least two weeks before the census date of the semester when you intend to take leave.

You may find the Variation to Candidature Student User Manual helpful when completing the form.

 

Program Leave that Exceeds Two Semesters

Requests for leave beyond two semesters may only be made in exceptional circumstances and must be recommended by the Higher Degree Committee. Such requests usually require supporting documentation outlining the exceptional nature of these circumstances (e.g. medical certificates).

 

Scholarship Re-Commencement

Candidates who have suspended a research scholarship in order to go on program leave will need to complete a "Scholarship Re-Commencement Form" in addition to their re-enrolment form. The GRS can provide this form on request.

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Program Transfer

A transfer between programs is a major change and may be required due to a large change in the nature of the research, changes to supervisory arrangements, or changes within the academic structure of the University.

All such changes can only be made on the recommendation of the Higher Degree Committee of the Faculty you intend to transfer to, and require the following supporting documents:

  • a written request from you

  • supporting statements from both your previous School and new School

  • details of any change of supervision (if required)

  • supporting statements from your outgoing and incoming supervisors.

For international candidates on a student visa, a new e-COE will be issued once the transfer is approved. It is your responsibility to check with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on the requirements for your visa once this is issued.

 

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Research Area Changes

On occasion, candidates may need to change the definition of their research area. This may be approved on the recommendation of the School where a change to a different program code is not required. This is usually due to a change in the focus of the research.

The University is required to record all changes to a candidate’s research area. Under the terms of the University’s obligations relating to the Government’s Autonomous Sanctions, UNSW is required to monitor the research area of candidates from some countries.

To apply, you will need to complete a Variation of Candidature form. For instructions on how to complete the form, please refer to the Variation to Candidature Student User Manual.

 

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Working Away From the University

Candidates are expected to reside in Sydney and conduct their research on their UNSW campus. However, there may be occasions when you need to work away from the UNSW for a period of time. 

To apply, you will need to complete a Variation of Candidature form. For instructions on how to complete the form, please refer to the Variation to Candidature Student User Manual.

Depending on the period of time and reasons you will work away from campus, you may be required to submit additional documentation to support your application; details are outlined below. 

 

Fieldwork

During your candidature it may become necessary to undertake fieldwork at locations external to UNSW. All such requests must be supported by the School prior to commencing the fieldwork. The School must ensure that the arrangements meet the University’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Facilities & Resources to Support Higher Degree Research Students Guidelines.

International candidates should check their visa conditions.

 

Working away from UNSW (less than one year)

Under the terms of the Conditions of Award candidates must undertake research at an approved UNSW location. If you would like to spend time working at a location away from UNSW or a UNSW affiliated centre, you need to obtain your supervisor’s support and come up with satisfactory arrangements for appropriate continued supervision and contact with both your School and the University while you are away. Your plan must also be supported by your School.

A PhD candidate carrying out some of their research outside Australia must complete a minimum period of candidature within the University, normally equivalent to two semesters during candidature.

International candidates should check their visa conditions.

 

Working away from UNSW (more than one year)

Requests to work away from UNSW for a period greater than one year may only be made in exceptional circumstances and must be considered by the Higher Degree Committee.

The Committee must be satisfied that the location and period of time away from the University are necessary to the research program. The Committee will require evidence of satisfactory arrangements for Annual Research Progress Reviews, supervision and resources to support the research.

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Supervisory Changes

It may become necessary to change the supervisory arrangements for your candidature. All requests for supervisory changes are assessed on a case by case basis, and all new supervisors must meet eligibility requirements for supervisors as defined in the Higher Degree Research Supervision Policy.

If you are requesting a change involving the supervisor responsible for performing administrative tasks on University systems, you will not be able to lodge any other requests related to your candidature until your request to change these supervision arrangements is resolved.

If you attempt to lodge a Variation to Candidature form to change your supervisory arrangements, but you’re unable to locate the new supervisor's name from the drop down list when you start typing their name in, please contact the Graduate Research School for assistance.

To apply, you will need to complete a Variation of Candidature form. For instructions on how to complete the form, please refer to the Variation to Candidature Student User Manual.

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Withdrawal from a Research Degree

If you no longer wish to complete your research degree, or your circumstances are such that you require time off but are unable to anticipate when you will be able to resume your candidature, you should seek to withdraw from your candidature.

If your circumstances change and you wish to resume your candidature, you will need to re-apply for admission. Some credit may be given for work that you had done up to your withdrawal, but you would be commencing as a new candidate.

To submit a withdrawal request, visit the Graduate Research Information System.

For step by step instructions on how to use GRIS, please refer to the GRIS user manual.

 

Discontinuation and enrolment

All candidates are required to re-enrol at the start of every year in order to continue their candidature.

If you fail to re-enrol, your candidature will be regarded as having lapsed and this may result in your candidature being discontinued.

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