Frequently Asked Questions


This information will help to answer some of the most common enquiries about higher degree research. We encourage you to review these FAQs and if you have any further questions please contact the Graduate Research School.

Courses

What is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)?

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree provides training and supervision to build your capacity to conduct independent research at a high level of originality and quality. As a PhD candidate, you will uncover new knowledge though the discovery of new facts, the formulation of theories or the innovative interpretation of known data and established ideas.

In the Doctor of Philosophy, you will undertake a supervised research project and develop a written thesis in your chosen discipline.

Visit the Doctor of Philosophy course page for more information.

What is the Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA)?

The Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA) provides professional artists with recognition of both their practice and the contribution they make to professional and scholarly knowledge.

In the Doctor of Creative Arts, you are required to undertake the development of a body of original creative work within your chosen discipline. This must be supported by a written exegesis explaining the contextual and theoretical underpinning of the creative work.

Visit the Doctor of Creative Arts course page for more information.

What is the Doctor of Cultural Research (DCR)?

The Doctor of Cultural Research (DCR) is designed to produce future professional leaders in a range of industry settings where culture is an important dimension of the typical issues and problems faced in that workplace or organisation.

In the Doctor of Cultural Research, you are required to produce an examinable portfolio of work that provides evidence of significant conceptual development and professional capacity relevant to the better understanding of significant problems in practice. You will also be expected to actively participate in seminars, conference presentations, workshops and other research training and development activities.

Visit the Doctor of Cultural Research  course page for more information.

What is the Doctor of Education (EdD)?

The Doctor of Education (EdD) is a degree in practice-led research and research-led practice and aims to produce graduates capable of conducting independent research at the highest level of quality and originality.

Candidates are required to produce an examinable portfolio of work that will normally be text based, but will allow the inclusion of other communication mediums such as video or internet resources. You will also be expected to actively participate in seminars, conference presentations, workshops and other research training and development activities.

Visit the Doctor of Education  course page for more information.

What are the minimum requirements for admission to a doctorate degree?

To approve your application into a doctorate degree, Western Sydney University must be satisfied that you are able to commence independent study at an appropriate level.

The preferred pathway into a doctorate at Western Sydney University is through the Master of Research.

Approved qualifications for entry into a doctorate degree are the attainment of the following:

  • Master of Research degree; or
  • Master of Philosophy degree; or
  • Bachelor (Honours Class 1) degree; or
  • Bachelor (Honours Class 2) degree; or
  • Qualifications from a university or other tertiary institution deemed to be equivalent to the requirements as set out above.

Approval of prior experience or qualifications for all higher research degrees is at the discretion of the School Dean or Institute Director.

How do I apply for a doctorate degree?

Applications for doctorate degrees are made to the Graduate Research School via the Online Application Portal.(opens in a new window) Applications are accepted all year round and there is no cost to apply.

To apply for a doctorate degree, you will need to ensure that you meet the minimum entry requirements for admission at Western Sydney University. You will also need to contact a suitable supervisor(s) in your area of interest, prepare documentation to support your application and write a research proposal.

For more information, visit the how to apply for research degrees page.

Do I need to find a potential supervisor before I apply for a doctorate degree?

Ideally, you should identify one or more potential supervisors before submitting an application. This will help to streamline the application process as your School or Institute must confirm that they are able to provide suitable supervision before you will be offered admission.

You can search for potential supervisors via the staff profiles(opens in a new window) or talk to the relevant School or Institute HDR Director.

Are scholarships available for doctorate degrees?

Yes, scholarship releases and project scholarships are offered throughout the year.

Visit the scholarships page for more information about how to apply.

What is the minimum length of a doctoral candidature?

The minimum length of a doctoral candidature is 3 years full-time (or part-time equivalent).

It is possible to apply for early submission for examination. You should talk to your School or Institute HDR Director if you are interested in early submission.

Visit the Doctor of Philosophy course page for more information.

What is the maximum length of a doctoral candidature?

The maximum length of a doctoral candidature is 4 years full-time (or part-time equivalent).

Extensions are only considered in exceptional circumstances. It is the responsibility of you and your supervisory panel to ensure that you are able to submit for examination on time.

Visit the Doctor of Philosophy course page for more information.

What is the Master of Research (MRes)?

The Master of Research is a research training degree that provides you with a pathway to PhD study and a research career.

In the first year, you will undertake an intensive research training coursework program and engage with peers and academics in an interdisciplinary environment. The first year will help you to build your skills as a researcher, master the art of knowledge translation and develop a strong research proposal.

In the second year, you will take on a research project under the supervision of a specialist in your field – culminating in the production of a 25,000 word research thesis.

Visit the Master of Research  course page or the frequently asked questions for more information.

What is the Master of Philosophy (MPhil)?

The Master of Philosophy is a supervised program of original research and provides an opportunity to develop and enhance analytical and research skills through independent investigation in a specific field. The Master of Philosophy is completed within 1-2 years full-time candidature.

Visit the Master of Philosophy  course page for more information.

What are the English language requirements when applying for a research degree?

Your admission into a Higher Degree Research (HDR) program at Western Sydney University is subject to meeting minimum English language requirements.

The University must be satisfied that you have the skills and experience to commence independent study at a suitable level for entry into your program, including a good command of written and spoken English.

Visit the HDR English language requirements page for more information.

Can I study a research degree online or by distance?

In most cases, it is preferable that you are available on campus to work closely with your supervisory panel and attend seminars and other events. If you are considering undertaking a research degree by distance, please contact the School or Institute HDR Director to find out if this will be feasible option for your proposed research project.

Visit the Doctor of Philosophy course page for more information.

International student visas

Where can I get advice about my student visa?

There are strict conditions attached to Australian visas. You should refer to the Department of Home Affairs website(opens in a new window) for information about visas and contact them directly if you have a specific enquiry.

Western Sydney University is not authorised to provide you with personalised immigration advice. You have the option of using a registered migration agent(opens in a new window) if you need further assistance.

The Redfern Legal Centre may be able to offer assistance to international students living in NSW through the International Student Legal Service NSW.(opens in a new window)

You must maintain your enrolment to ensure you meet the conditions of your visa.(opens in a new window)

If I defer my offer, what does this mean for my visa application?

If you have been issued with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and then request to defer your commencement date, you will need to be issued with a new CoE with the updated commencement and end dates.

To request an updated CoE, you need to contact the Graduate Research School: grs.admissions@westernsydney.edu.au

Use the email subject line:

  • [Your name] [Student ID] Request for a re-issued CoE

How do I get a visa extension?

You cannot extend your existing student visa. You are required to apply for a new student visa from the Department of Home Affairs(opens in a new window) to extend your stay in Australia.

How do I request a Form 1545 for my student visa application?

The Department of Home Affairs may consider waiving your visa application fee if you require a new student visa due to COVID-19. You must have held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and could not complete you course within the original visa validity because of COVID-19.

You should refer to the Department of Home Affairs COVID-19 website(opens in a new window) for further information about eligibility criteria.

You need to complete Form 1545(opens in a new window) and submit it with your request for a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to the Graduate Research School: grs.enrolments@westernsydney.edu.au

You will need to include a short explanation as to why you believe you are eligible under the criteria.

If I request an extension of candidature, what does this mean for my student visa?

If you receive an approved extension of candidature, and your current visa does not cover the period of the extension, you are required to apply for a new student visa for the additional period of study from the Department of Home Affairs.(opens in a new window) You cannot extend your existing student visa. A candidature extension does not automatically guarantee you will be awarded a new student visa.

You will also be required to extend your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)(opens in a new window) policy.

You will be provided with a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) if your extension request is approved.

What do I need to do if my student visa is going to expire?

If your student visa is going to expire, you need to apply for a new Certificate of Enrolment (CoE).
You will only be issued with a new CoE if you are currently enrolled in a HDR program.

If you are currently under examination, you will be registered into a special examination subject and provided with a ‘stay for thesis marking’ letter (see below).

It is important to be aware of your visa expiry date and plan ahead to extend your CoE before your visa expires.

You will need an approved extension of candidature if you need a CoE for any period after your maximum submission date. You must plan ahead and allow adequate time (at least 45 days) to apply for a candidature extension and a new CoE.

What happens to my student visa when I submit my thesis for examination?

You will be registered into a special HDR examination subject.

If you submit your thesis while still in Australia, but your Visa will expire before your examination can be finalised, you will need to request ‘Stay for Thesis Marking’ letter and apply for a new student Visa.

The Stay for a Thesis letter only applies to if you submit before your eCoE expires. All candidates are given additional time on their student visas, meaning you may still have an active student visa but an expired eCoE.

To request a “Stay for Thesis Marking” letter please email grs.exams@westernsydney.edu.au and ask for the letter to be issued.

Please ensure once you have received this letter that you apply for a new student Visa with the Department of Home Affairs.

We do realise this can be an anxious time and would recommend you visit the Home Affairs website for further information.

You may also contact the Redfern Legal Centre who offer free assistance to international students living in NSW through the International Student Legal Service NSW.

Can I take a leave of absence while on a student visa?

If you take a leave of absence (LoA), it may affect the conditions of your student visa. The University is required to notify the Department of Home Affairs when a LoA is approved for an international student.

You are only able to take leave of absence and maintain the validity of your student visa under very limited circumstances, such as for compassionate or compelling grounds that are beyond your control and which have an impact on your course progress or wellbeing.

If your wellbeing has been impacted by COVID-19 related issues beyond your control, you may be considered for a LoA on a case-by-case basis with supporting documentation.

You should refer to the Department of Home Affairs(opens in a new window) for further information or contact the Graduate Research School for advice.

Can I change to my study mode part-time?

If you change your study mode from full-time to part-time, it may affect the conditions of your student visa. The University is required to notify the Department of Home Affairs when a change in study mode is approved for an international student.

You are only able to change your mode of study to part-time and maintain the validity of your student visa under very limited circumstances, such as for compassionate or compelling grounds that are beyond your control and which have an impact on your course progress or wellbeing. You must complete your studies within your original visa study period.

You should refer to the Department of Home Affairs(opens in a new window) for further information or contact the Graduate Research School for advice.

Fees

Visit the Higher Degree Research Fees page for more information.

Leave of absence

Visit the Leave of absence FAQ page for more information.

Extensions

Visit the Extensions FAQ page for more information.

Orientation

Are there orientation sessions for new HDR candidates?

Yes, the Graduate Research School hosts regular orientation sessions for new HDR candidates. Orientation is a great way to meet your fellow researchers and find out more about life as a research student.

Information about upcoming orientation sessions and invitations to attend will be sent directly to your student email account or you can visit our orientation page.

You are also encouraged to read the HDR Candidate Handbook (PDF, 330.43 KB)(opens in a new window) which contains important information about your candidature.

Student accounts

How do I check my student record?

You can view and manage your student record by visiting MyStudentRecords (MySR)(opens in a new window) and using your student ID and password to log in to the system.

Visit the MyStudentRecords  page for more information.

How do I access my student email account?

Your official student email address is your student identification number followed by @student.westernsydney.edu.au (for example 12345678@student.westernsydney.edu.au).

You can access your student email via Outlook.(opens in a new window)

Visit the student email  page for more information.

Where can I collect my student identification card?

Once you are enrolled, you can collect your student identification (ID) card from any Student Central office. You will need your student ID card to access the library and use computer labs. You may also need it to access buildings and for other campus security matters.

Visit the student ID page for more information.

Research training, workshops and support

What training and workshops are available on campus?

The Graduate Research School offers a range of on-campus workshops open to all higher degree research candidates. The workshops are targeted to meet your needs at the various stages of your candidature.

Please visit the HDR Workshops calendar for more information and the current schedule.

Are there any online training modules or workshops?

Yes, the 'Research Training' vUWS site is available to all research candidates and provides access to a range of online programs, tools and resources. The site features videos, articles, handouts, suggested readings and other information to help you develop your research writing and presentation skills and supports the on-campus workshops program.

You can access the site via vUWS(opens in a new window) using your student ID and password.

Is there any compulsory training I need to complete?

Yes, you need to complete the online modules 'Research Fundamentals' and 'Responsible Conduct of Research' within the first three months of your candidature.

You will receive an email from the Graduate Research School with information about completing these online modules. They are accessed through the 'Research Training' vUWS site.(opens in a new window)

You must provide evidence of completion of these modules at your Confirmation of Candidature.

Can I use Turnitin to check my thesis for plagiarism and referencing?

Yes, you can access a Turnitin submission link set up specifically for research candidates via the 'Research Training' vUWS site.(opens in a new window) It is recommend that all candidates submit their thesis through Turnitin to check for plagiarism and missing references and that you discuss the results of the report with your supervisory panel.

For more information, refer to the Guide for Checking your Thesis with Turnitin (PDF, 149.64 KB).(opens in a new window)

Why can't I see the Research Training site when I log in to vUWS?

You should automatically have access to the Research Training site if you are currently enrolled in a research degree. If you are having trouble accessing this site, please check the following before contacting the Graduate Research School:

  • Are you logging in to vUWS using your student ID and password?
  • Is there an encumbrance on your account due to outstanding fees (such as SSAF)?

If you need further advice about accessing the Research Training site, please contact the Graduate Research School at grs.hdr@westernsydney.edu.au.

Candidature Plan

Visit the Candidature Plan FAQ page for more information.

Confirmation of Candidature (CoC)

Visit the Confirmation of Candidature FAQ page for more information.

Candidature Support Funds

What are Candidature Support Funds?

Western Sydney University Schools and Institutes are required to provide HDR candidates with access to funding to support their research under the Research Higher Degree Candidature Essential Resources Policy.(opens in a new window) The funds are available to assist you in meeting the incidental costs of your research project.

How much can I claim as Candidature Support Funds?

HDR candidates in humanities, social sciences, business and law disciplines may claim up to $2,000 per candidate, per full-time year enrolled at Western Sydney University.

HDR candidates in consumable-intensive science disciplines may claim up to $7,000 per candidate, per full-time year enrolled at Western Sydney University.

You may apply for funds up to the limits described above, however, your request is subject to approval by your School or Institute. Your School or Institute may apply the funds on a pro rata basis as per the requirements of your candidature.

What can I claim under Candidature Support Funds?

You can apply for Candidature Support Funds to cover a range of costs including:

  • research skills development and training
  • materials and consumables
  • equipment
  • software
  • fieldwork
  • transcription services
  • participant reimbursement
  • travel
  • registration fees
  • technical services
  • exhibitions
  • recording and filming
  • thesis binding
  • postage
  • acquisition of data sets
  • photocopying and office materials
  • editing services
  • occupational health and safety training.

When should I apply for Candidature Support Funds?

You can submit an application for Candidature Support Funds at any time during your candidature.

You should discuss the requirements of your project with your supervisory panel early in your candidature to establish what resources you will need and if these can be covered by under your Candidature Support Funds. At the very latest, this should be completed prior to your Confirmation of Candidature.

You must maintain clear records when claiming Candidature Support Funds, including original receipts, invoices, travel approvals and other supporting documentation.

You must ensure that your Candidature Support Funds application is approved prior to entering into any agreements with external providers.

How do I apply for Candidature Support Funds?

Applications for Candidature Support Funds are made directly to your School or Institute using the Candidature Support Funding Application form (PDF, 84.29 KB).(opens in a new window)

Your School or Institute may require other evidence or supporting documentation. Please contact your HDR Director for more information.

Am I guaranteed to receive my full claim for Candidature Support Funds?

No. Candidature Support Funds are not a direct payment to you on the basis of your enrolment. You application and any supporting documentation will be carefully assessed by your School or Institute and funding will be distributed based on resource availability and the essential requirements of your candidature.

Do I personally own acquisitions made with Candidature Support Funds?

No. Purchases and acquisitions made using Candidature Support Funds remain the property of Western Sydney University and must be returned to your School or Institute at the completion of your study or at your withdrawal from your candidature.

If I make changes to my candidature, will I be eligible for additional Candidature Support Funds?

No. Any changes to the direction of your work or the focus of your project will not automatically make you eligible for additional resources. You will need to apply to your School or Institute if your require additional funding.

Ethics and integrity

Who can I talk to about ethics relating to my research project?

The Ethics and Integrity Team can help you with all ethics matters relating to your research project. This includes human ethics, animal ethics, biosafety and radiation safety, academic integrity matters and ethics applications.

You can also view these videos about ethics:

What is a Human Research Ethics Application (HREA)?

The Human Research Ethics Application (HREA)(opens in a new window) is a concise online application system to facilitate the efficient and effect ethics review for research involving humans.

If you need assistance with completing the HREA, please contact the Ethics and Integrity Team.

Research Progress Report (RPR)

Visit the Research Progress Report FAQ page for more information.

Overseas field research

Can I travel overseas as part of my research?

Your research may require you to travel and carry out fieldwork and research overseas. This can be an exciting opportunity, however, it is important that you understand the risks involved and meet all the requirements before you can travel.

When do the Western Sydney University travel rules apply for overseas research?

As a candidate, you are considered a Western Sydney University traveller if you are conducting work overseas that contributes towards your degree, irrespective of whether you are funded by Western Sydney University or otherwise.

Are there visa implications for international candidates travelling overseas?

International candidates must contact Western Sydney University International for advice about the validity of your visa if you plan to leave Australia for any period.

Can scholarship holders take leave for overseas field research?

You make take up to 12 months field work overseas and continue to receive your scholarship. You must meet certain conditions in relation to supervision during the period and the work must be relevant to the completion of your degree.

How do I apply for permission to travel overseas?

If you are planning to travel overseas to conduct research, you must complete an Application to Vary Research Candidature/Scholarship eForm.(opens in a new window)

You must apply for permission to travel to your School or Institute HDR Director (or equivalent) at least three months before the proposed date of departure.

How do I organise my overseas travel for field research?

All overseas travel arrangements are processed via the Travel and Expense Management System (TEMS). Applications must be lodged via the system at least 21 days prior to departure.

Refer to the Travel Policy(opens in a new window) for further guidelines.

What happens if there are travel restrictions covering my overseas destination?

If you are undertaking overseas field research, you are subject to Western Sydney University's Occupational Health and Safety obligations. You must also consider any travel advice issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).(opens in a new window)

All travel approvals are considered on a case by case basis.

Travel to destinations where the DFAT travel advisory classification is "reconsider your need to travel" must be approved by the relevant Executive Dean or Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

If travel has been booked and the DFAT travel advisory classification escalates to "reconsider your need to travel", the Executive Dean or Deputy Vice-Chancellor must again approve travel before departure.

Western Sydney University will not approve travel where the DFAT travel advisory classification is "do not travel". In cases where the classification escalates to "do not travel" the travel approval is withdrawn.

If the DFAT travel advisory classification escalates after travel has commenced, the relevant School or Institute should make contact with the traveller and assist in their return if warranted. The Finance Officer should be notified for travel and insurance assistance.

Western Sydney University travellers approved to travel to destinations where a "reconsider your need to travel" classification has been issued must register with Smartraveller (DFAT)(opens in a new window)  prior to departure. Irrespective of travel warnings, all travellers are encouraged to register their overseas travel plans with DFAT prior to departure.

Thesis editing

Can I use the services of a professional editor when preparing my thesis for examination?

Yes, you may use the services of a professional editor in preparing your thesis for examination. You must discuss this with your principal supervisor to ensure you have a clear understanding of the acceptable level of editing and how to evaluate editorial suggestions and recommendations.

How much professional editing is allowed when preparing my thesis for examination?

Professional editing is not a shortcut in preparing your thesis for examination. It should be used for the purposes of detecting minor typographical, formatting or stylistic errors in your thesis. A professional editor does no correct systemic misunderstandings of grammar or language throughout your thesis and there is no guarantee the editor will identify all errors.

You are responsible for the final content, presentation and integrity of your thesis.

Refer to the IPEd Guidelines for Editing Research Theses (PDF, 152.07 KB)(opens in a new window) for more information.

What should I do if I think my thesis requires substantial editing prior to examination?

You should not use a professional editor to correct significant mistakes in your writing. If you need assistance with writing skills development and/or English proficiency, you need to raise this with your supervisors early in your candidature and proactively access the academic writing support available to you via your School or Institute and the Graduate Research School.

Where can I find a professional editor for my thesis?

Western Sydney University does not provide professional editing support for higher degree research candidates.

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd)(opens in a new window) is the national professional association for Australian editors. It provides information about editing research theses and maintains a directory of professional editors.

What supporting information do I need to provide to a professional editor when preparing my thesis for examination?

If you wish to use the services of a professional editor, you must read the document IPEd Guidelines for Editing Research Theses (PDF, 152.07 KB).(opens in a new window) The guidelines outline the extent and nature of editorial services that professional editors can provide when editing research theses.

These guidelines are provided by the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) and have been endorsed by the Australian Council of Graduate Research (ACGR) and Western Sydney University.

Do I need to acknowledge my thesis has been edited by a professional editor?

Yes, when a thesis has had the benefit of professional editorial advice, of any form, the name of the editor and a brief description of the service rendered, in terms of Australian Standards for Editing Practice, should be printed as part of the thesis list of acknowledgements or other prefatory matter. If the professional editor's current or former area of academic specialisation is similar to that of the candidate, this should be stated in the prefatory matter of the thesis.

Thesis submission and examination

What are the guidelines for preparing my thesis for examination?

The Higher Degree Research Examination Handbook (PDF, 606.46 KB)(opens in a new window) provides information about preparing your thesis for submission and the thesis examination process. The handbook explains the steps in the thesis examination process, including finalising your document, the expected timeline and who is responsible for various tasks.

The following video series also provides some helpful tips and advice for the final stages of your candidature.

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How do I submit my thesis for examination?

You need to submit your thesis online to the Graduate Research School.

Step 1: Your Principal Supervisor must complete an Examiner Nomination eForm.(opens in a new window)

Step 2: You must complete a Thesis Submission eForm.(opens in a new window)

You do not need to provide a hardcopy of your thesis.

If your submission includes non-text components (such as a creative work), contact the Graduate Research School for advice.

Do I need to submit a hardcopy of my thesis?

No. You need to submit your thesis using the online eForm.

If your examiners request a hardcopy of your thesis, the Graduate Research School will contact you with further advice.

How long does the thesis examination process take?

The thesis examination process is lengthy and it can take 4-6 months for you to receive an outcome. The Graduate Research School is not able to provide you with updates during the examination process and will contact you if we require further information.