Managing your candidature

There are a number of things you must do to manage your candidature and ensure successful completion of your degree.

Timely duration of candidature

Duration of candidature will vary depending on the degree. EFT= estimated full-time enrolment.

  • Master of Research Practice 1 year (EFT)
  • Master of Research 1.5 years (EFT)
  • Master of Applied Research 2.0 years (EFT)
  • Master of Research (international enrolments only) 2.0 years (EFT)
  • Doctor of Philosophy 4.0 years (EFT)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) 4.0 years (EFT)
  • Professional Doctorates 4.0 years (EFT)

Enrolment variation

If you are admitted and enrolled in a research degree, your enrolment must be continuous during the duration of the degree. The only time you do not need to enrol is during periods of approved leave of absence and once your thesis has been submitted for examination.

If you intend to alter your enrolment as a scholarship recipient from full time to part time or vice versa, please email [email protected] to determine how this will affect your entitlements and eligibility for a research training place.

If you are not a scholarship recipient and intend to alter your enrolment from full time to part time or vice versa, please email [email protected] .

You must complete a unit of study enrolment amendment form (PDF, 359.97 KB) to change your enrolment.

If you are an international student any changes to your enrolment variation must be approved by Victoria University International to ensure you comply with your visa requirements.

Leave of absence & course discontinuations

You can apply for up to 12 months leave of absence from your research degree by completing an application for leave of absence.

To apply for extension of a further 12 months application for leave of absence. Time on leave is not counted towards your candidature. Leave of absence and additional leave of absence from your degree are only available within the limits of the timely duration.

You can withdraw from your degree at any time by completing a Course withdrawal application.

If you are an international candidate any changes to your enrolment must be approved by VU International to ensure you comply with your visa requirements.

Occupational health & safety

Graduate researchers and their supervisors are responsible for ensuring that research is conducted in a safe environment and in accordance with government health and safety legislation and procedures.

Occupational health and safety includes:

  • ergonomics
  • working safely with hazardous materials (e.g. blood, chemicals)
  • plant and machinery
  • electrical and other equipment
  • working at heights.

As part of your candidature, you and your supervisor are required to identify hazards and risks associated with your research. For more information, download the health and safety in the research environment fact sheet (PDF, 523.4 KB).


Working with a supervisor is a central part of completing a Higher Degree by Research (HDR).

Your supervisor will help you develop practical research skills and research networks to support your progress. They will guide and mentor you from commencement through to final submission of your thesis.

Refer to Research Supervision  for a detailed outline of what makes a successful research supervisor at VU.

Change of supervisor

If you wish to change your supervisor, you must obtain approval and complete an application for change in supervision (PDF, 280.36 KB).

Find a researcher

Supervisors are academics with research strengths and interests similar to yours. They have extensive knowledge and experience in their field and a qualification at least equal to the degree you are undertaking.

The Find a Researcher search bar can help you find researchers with expertise in your research area.

The Graduate Research School does not provide assistance to candidates seeking a supervisor.

Find a researcher

Change in thesis format or title

Once candidature is approved, candidates wishing to change the format of their thesis or title need to declare the changes. To do so, note the change on the release of thesis form (PDF, 256.69 KB) when the thesis is submitted for examination.

An example of this is changing from a traditional thesis format to a thesis by publication (PDF, 729.63 KB) or thesis by creative project (PDF, 712.31 KB).

Stipend scholarship holders

Always refer to your Awards Benefits and Conditions for the guidelines and detailed information applicable to your award.

Non-award holders: a scholarship round receives a large volume of applications and is highly competitive. If you commence your research degree without a stipend scholarship, there is no guarantee that if you make good progress in your degree, you will later be successful in receiving a stipend.

Frequently asked questions

Secomb conference & travel fund

The Secomb Conference and Travel Fund provides assistance for enrolled VU graduate research candidates to attend conferences to present a research paper. You can apply for up to half of the cost of travel, and conference registration fees.

To be eligible for the fund at the time you submit your application and on the date the conference occurs you must:

  • be currently enrolled in a PhD, Masters by Research or the research component of a research Professional Doctorate at VU
  • have had your candidature fully approved within the required timeline and be on schedule for the remaining milestones
  • be attending the conference for the purpose of delivering a research paper by oral presentation.

Applications for funding must be submitted and approved before you attend the conference (retrospective applications will not be considered). There are three closing dates per year: 31 March, 31 July and 31 October.

Please read the Secomb application guide (PDF, 227.66 KB) before submitting your application.

You must submit your application to [email protected] by the relevant closing date.

Reinstatement of candidature

You can apply to reinstate your candidature and continue work on your project if:

  • you have previously discontinued from your degree within three years
  • your enrolment has lapsed within three years
  • your enrolment has been terminated due to unsatisfactory progress.

If your enrolment has lapsed or been terminated due to unsatisfactory progress, you will have to demonstrate that exceptional circumstances exist to justify reinstatement of your candidature.

If your candidature is reinstated and you have consumed the timely duration of your degree, you will be required to pay the post-timely duration fees.

Please complete an Application for reinstatement of candidature (PDF, 172.62 KB) and email it to [email protected] .