Quality research involves time and dedication. It also involves critical stages that each prospective researcher encounters along his or her research journey. We've put together guidance to support you throughout your research.

Before inspiration comes preparation

While everyone’s research journey is unique, there are key stages and milestones that you will encounter during your degree. Here’s what to expect at each stage of your journey.

1. Chart your course

Are you considering applying to become a higher-degree researcher? Before you begin, there are a few things to do:

The acceptance of your application depends on meeting the eligibility requirements, your ability to undertake research, the quality and feasibility of your proposal, and the availability of appropriate supervision.

Read our policies and procedures for the accreditation of research supervisors

After you have applied, been accepted and enrolled into your higher degree by research, we will notify you of dates and locations of orientation days. These orientation days are designed to get you off to the best possible start and make sure you understand your rights, responsibilities, and the support available to you during your degree. 

2. Confirmation of Candidature

Once you’ve completed any required coursework, you will be required to have your candidature confirmed by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research). This important milestone can happen between six and 24 months after you enrol, depending on the degree you have chosen.

A Confirmation of Candidature Panel will make a recommendation to the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) based on your submission of a chapter, a progress report, and a verbal presentation. The panel will assess the amount of progress and quality of work undertaken so far as well as the feasibility that you’ll complete the project in a timely manner.

Read more about Confirmation of Candidature in our Higher Degree Research Regulations

3. Undertake your research

Now, the fun part: the chance to conduct your research. Before you begin, it’s important to put time and thought into the design of your research to ensure you are asking the right questions, applying the right methodology, and sourcing the right data. You’ll also need to be able to complete your research in the allocated timeframe. Your supervisor will be a valuable source of advice at this stage and throughout.

It’s also important that you are conducting research in a manner that meets our high standards of ethics, integrity, and compliance.

Understand more about research ethics, integrity and compliance

4. Mid-Candidature Review

Similar to the Confirmation of Candidature, in the Mid-Candidature Review you will need to submit two chapters, a progress report and a verbal presentation for assessment by the Mid-Candidature Review Panel. This will happen between six and 36 months after you enrol, depending on your degree and whether you’re studying full-time or part-time.

Following your presentation, the panel will make a recommendation to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Read instructions for each stage of formal review (PDF, 73KB)

5. Final Review

The Final Review will occur shortly before you submit your thesis. The Final Year Review Panel will review two more chapters that they’ve not previously reviewed, and you will again be required to submit a progress report and give a verbal presentation.

The panel will make recommendations to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) on whether you should submit your thesis or re-present your submission, or if your candidature should be terminated.

6. Submit your thesis for examination

If you have successfully completed your Final Review, you may submit your thesis for examination at any time of the year. You will, however, need to submit your Thesis Summary form and Appointment of Examiners form at least two months prior to submission. 

To access forms to submit your thesis for examination, you will need to log into our online administration system, Orion.

Read more about the submission of a final bound copy of your Higher Degree Thesis (PDF, 148KB)

The examination is a complex process and varies in length, but you should expect it to take at least four months from the date you submit your thesis.

Read our policies and procedures for thesis presentation and the appointment of examiners

7. Graduation

When you successfully complete your research degree, you won’t need to apply to graduate. The Candidature Services team will advise Course Completions that you’re eligible to graduate once the Chair of Academic Board has approved your completion.

Graduation ceremonies are held in April/May and September/October each year. You’ll need to submit the final bound copy of your thesis to Candidature Services at least eight weeks prior to the ceremony.

Find out more about graduation

If you need to vary your candidature

We understand that life doesn’t always go to plan. Along your journey, you may wish to vary the conditions of your candidature.

You can apply for the following variations to candidature via our online administration system, Orion:

  • a suspension or an extension to candidature
  • a suspension or an extension to a stipend scholarship
  • sick leave, maternity leave or paternity leave
  • approval to conduct research outside ACU
  • approval to change the title of a thesis.

If you’re a domestic candidate, you can also apply to change your course load from full-time to part-time (or vice-versa). This option is not available for international candidates.

Log in to Orion to vary your candidature

For variations to supervision arrangements, please complete and submit the Change of Supervision Arrangements form. Find this form on our forms for existing researchers and candidates page.


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Ethics and integrity

We are committed to ethical research conducted with integrity and respect for the rights and interests of participants.

Our standards

How to apply

If you’re ready to apply for higher degree research, we’re ready to help you on your way. Follow our step-by-step guide.

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Resources for researchers

We’re here to help you reach your research goals. Find the tools, resources, and contacts you need.

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Research forms

Need a form? We’ve got plenty. Browse our research forms to find the document you’re seeking.

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