1. Background Information and Aims of Policy
This policy should be read in conjunction with the Higher Degree Research Regulations. It covers all Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates and their supervisors.
The purpose of this revision is to incorporate changes in procedures ensuring from the dissolution of the Higher Degree Research Examination and Thesis Subcommittee (HETS) and Research Development Standing Committee (RDSC) at the end of 2017. It is essential to ensure that there is robust and centralised oversight of each stage of the examination process and the role and responsibilities of the University Research Committee be documented.
The ACU Glossary of Terms, available on the ACU website, provides guidance on the meanings of terms used in the University. In this Policy, the following terms will have the meanings set out below.
Associate Dean Research (ADR) is a person responsible to the Executive Dean of the Faculty to assist the Executive Dean in their role of providing academic and research leadership in the Faculty, in particular, research, research training and research partnerships.
Joint (Cotutelle) and Double-Badged Doctoral candidates Cotutelle is the French word commonly used to describe joint doctoral enrolment. Joint Doctoral Enrolment is the simultaneous enrolment in a research doctoral degree at ACU and at least one other university.
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research (PVCR) is the person who supports the work of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), to ensure commitment to the highest standards of research and research training.
Supervisor, used generically, includes the Principal Supervisor, Co-Supervisor and/or Associate Supervisor, as appropriate according to the context.
University Research Committee (URC) is a standing committee of the Academic Board, which administers research higher degrees.
3. Application of Policy
3.1 A candidate's research project will be examined by the submission and assessment of a thesis based on research conducted during candidature. For the PhD this might be in the form of a traditional thesis, a thesis with Publication, or a PhD by Creative Project.
3.2 For all research higher degrees, the Principal Supervisor will provide to the ADR of the relevant Faculty the names of at least three people who have agreed, in principle, to serve as examiners.
3.3 Examiners will be free of potential conflict of interest. That is, they will have had no involvement in the candidate's research, not been a co-author on any part of the work, not had a substantial publication history with the supervisors, not had a close personal relationship with the candidate or supervisor, and not had any substantial contact with the candidate or supervisor that would jeopardise the examination process.
3.4 A candidate must be given an opportunity by the Principal Supervisor to discuss the suitability of potential examiners. A candidate may neither demand nor reject the appointment of any particular examiner, but may offer reasons for inclusion or exclusion of potential examiners for consideration by the Supervisor.
3.5 Following advice from the Associate Dean Research, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research (PVCR), or nominee, will be responsible for the final composition of the examination panel. The identity of the examiners will remain confidential unless the examiners agree, at the conclusion of the examination process, to the release of their identity to the candidate as indicated on the thesis examination form.
3.6 For the research doctorate, examiners will be external to the University. Normally, at least one will come from outside Australia. For the Masters degree, examiners will be external to the University. Supervisors (including associate supervisors) will not act as examiners.
3.7 Cotutelle and Double-badged doctoral candidates should refer to the Policy on Joint (Cotutelle) Doctoral Enrolment.
3.8 Reports of examiners
Each examiner will submit a report to Candidature Services on the thesis recommending one of the following results:
3.8.1 Pass. The thesis should be classified as PASSED and the candidate awarded the degree of (name of degree) without amendment or further examination. For the PhD, examiners may also recommend that the degree be awarded Pass (Summa Cum Laude) where the thesis is judged to be of outstanding merit.
3.8.2 Pass with amendments. The thesis should be classified as PASSED and the candidate awarded the degree of (name of degree) without further examination but subject to the amendments detailed in this Report being successfully completed. The candidate will be allocated either 3 or 6 months to complete the amendments.
3.8.4 Defer. The thesis should be classified as DEFERRED and the candidate be given up to twelve months (F/T) to revise and re-submit the thesis for examination. Examiners will also select one of the following:
- I am willing to be involved in the re-examination process; or
- I do not wish to be involved in the re-examination process.
3.8.5 Fail. The thesis should be classified as FAILED and the candidate should not be awarded the degree of (name of degree), nor can the thesis be re-submitted for examination.
Other options: Awarded a minor degree. If the PhD does not meet all of the criteria listed under section 2 of the Proforma for PhD Examiner's Report, the Examiner may recommend the awarding of the lesser degree of Master of Philosophy.
3.9 In the event that one Examiner fails or defers the thesis, Candidature Services will send the thesis to the third Examiner.
3.10 Candidature Services will collate the Examiners’ Reports and forward them to the ADR of the Faculty.
3.11 The ADR, in consultation with the Principal Supervisor, will review the Examiners’ Reports and return a joint assessment and response to the Reports to Candidature Services.
3.12 Candidature Services will forward the Examiners’ Reports and the joint response from the ADR and Principal Supervisor to the PVCR who will consider them and adopt one of the outcomes specified in 3.8 above.
The PVCR will notify Candidature Services of the outcome.
If the outcome is Pass, Candidature Services will notify the candidate of their result.
If the outcome is Pass with amendments, Candidature Services notifies the Principal Supervisor, who notifies the candidate.
If the recommendation by the ADR or the PVCR is Defer, Fail or Award a minor degree, the University Research Committee will determine the outcome to be adopted. URC will notify Candidature Services of the examination outcome. Candidature Services will notify the candidate of the University Research Committee’s decision.
3.13 A summary of all Appointment of Examiners and Thesis Examination results will be reported to the University Research Committee.
3.14 The candidate will complete all revisions to the thesis and submit an electronic copy of the whole thesis, including track changes, to the Principal Supervisor for verification. The electronic copy and requisite documentation will be forwarded to the ADR for approval and then reviewed by the PVCR for final approval.
3.14 In the event that a thesis is DEFERRED, the following will apply:
The resolutions open to examiners during the subsequent examination will be PASS or FAIL.
4. Roles and Responsibilities
4.1 Under the Research Higher Degree regulations as well as this Policy, the ADR provides Faculty oversight at each stage of the examination process and makes recommendations to the PVCR.
The PVCR will provide oversight of each phase of examination and will make recommendations to the University Research Committee to recommend the award of Doctoral and Masters degrees by research to Academic Board.
5. Related Policies
5.1 Higher Degree Research Regulations
5.2 Policy and Procedures for the Accreditation of Research Supervisors
5.3 Policy on Joint (Cotutelle) Doctoral Enrolment
- AOE and Examination Process Policy (Policy, PDF File, 373.6 KB)
|Policy applies to||
All Staff And Students
|Approval Authority||Academic Board|
|Governing Authority||Academic Board|
|Responsible Officer||Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)|
|Date of Last Revision||20/02/2014|
|Effective Date of Last Revision|
|Date of Policy Review *||01/01/2023|
* Unless otherwise indicated, this policy will still apply beyond the review date.
Related Policies, Procedures, Guidelines and Local Protocols
Higher Degree Research Regulations
Policy and Procedures for the Accreditation of Research Supervisors
Policy on Joint (Cotutelle) Doctoral Enrolment
Page last updated: 2019-01-08
Short url: https://policies.acu.edu.au/197838