Once you have obtained a place in a research degree, you must obtain candidature approval to become an 'official candidate' in your course. This occurs when you receive final approval for your research proposal. Until then you are in the pre-candidature phase and your enrolment is provisional.

Pre-candidature commences when you first enrol in the research component of your degree, and continues up to the point your application for candidature receives final approval by your Flagship Research Institute. You undertake initial research towards your thesis project and prepare for candidature during this phase.

Schedule a candidature milestone presentation

All candidature milestone presentations are conducted via Zoom. There is no set schedule for presentations, but please liaise with your supervisor to finalise a date and time before notifying [email protected].

The Office for Researcher Training, Quality and Integrity will issue a Zoom meeting invitation to the candidate, supervisors and panel members.

If the preference is for an on-campus face-to-face presentation, meeting room bookings are the responsibility of the principal supervisor.

Attend a candidature milestone presentation

Support your fellow graduate researchers as they progress through their research degrees by attending an upcoming presentation.

Download the latest presentation schedule.

Composition of Panel (Confirmation, Mid & Towards Submission presentations)

Your principal supervisor is responsible for nominating the Composition for Panel for the candidature milestones at least 20 working days prior to the presentation. Complete the Composition of Panel Candidature Milestones form.

If you are presenting for the Mid-Candidature Review or Towards Submission Review, your principal supervisor is responsible to nominate all panel members, including the Chair.

Responsibilities of the Chair

Responsibilities of the Panel

Applying for confirmation of candidature

Unless you have been admitted with advanced candidature you must apply for candidature in accordance with the timelines set out in the candidature application guidelines.

Work with your supervisor to prepare for candidature in accordance with the University guidelines. Your application for candidature should contain a detailed research proposal that includes:

  • thesis title
  • abstract
  • project aims
  • statement of significance and contribution to knowledge
  • literature review
  • methodology and conceptual framework
  • ethics approval
  • occupational health & safety risks
  • conclusion
  • budget
  • timeline
  • reference list.

Your research institute will use the following criteria to assess the suitability of your project in relation to the degree in which you are applying to become a candidate:

  • academic merit, feasibility and viability of your project
  • capacity of the research institute to ensure adequate supervision, resources and infrastructure to support the proposed project
  • your capacity to successfully undertake the project within the time frame stipulated for the degree, taking into account the enrolment time fraction proposed
  • other relevant criteria determined by your research institute.

Formal communication of the outcome of your application

Following your oral presentation, you and your principal supervisor will receive the panel report and timelines for resubmission of a revised candidature proposal, if required.

If revisions are required, you will need to complete the summary of responses to panel template and submit this, along with your revised candidature proposal to [email protected].

The relevant research institute panel may:

  • reject your proposal
  • endorse it outright
  • endorse it subject to you making changes.

The relevant research institute panel will grant candidature or declare the application unsuccessful. If you fail to achieve candidature you will have one opportunity to resubmit.

Extension of pre-candidature

Your pre-candidature may be extended for a defined period up to a maximum of 12 months (effective full-time) from the commencement of your pre-candidature phase. To obtain an extension you must have experienced unanticipated difficulties during the pre-candidature period as a result of one or more of the following:

  • disruption to supervision
  • change in focus and direction of the proposed project
  • revision required in the review process leading up to presentation for candidature
  • difficulties in scheduling of candidature confirmation deliberations and/or in convening a suitable confirmation panel
  • documented personal illness or other serious personal difficulties
  • other unforeseen disruptions beyond your control that have directly impacted on your capacity to prepare for candidature.

Complete an application for extension form.

If you need to extend your pre-candidature, please contact the Office for Researcher Training, Quality and Integrity within six months (effective full-time) of the commencement of your pre-candidature.

Mid-candidature review

The mid-candidature review is the second milestone Doctor of Philosophy candidates will meet in their Higher Degree by Research (HDR) enrolment.

You and your supervisory team will be notified by the Office of Researcher Training, Quality & Integrity at the appropriate time to schedule your presentation for this milestone. (Masters by Research candidates are not required to undertake this milestone.)

Degree type Time frame
Doctor of Philosophy

Within 24 months (EFT) of initial enrolment and after successful completion of confirmation of candidature (within 6–9 months EFT).

(1.5 – 2.0 Consumed Load)

Application form & guidelines

Towards submission

The submission is the final milestone you will meet in your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) enrolment.

You and your supervisory team will be notified by the Office of Research Training, Quality & Integrity at the appropriate time to schedule your presentation for this milestone.

Degree type Time frame
Master of Applied Research 1.5 years (EFT)
Master of Research 1.25 years (EFT)
Masters by Research 1.5 years (EFT)
All doctoral degrees 3.0 years (EFT)

Application form & guidelines

You cannot submit your thesis for examination until you have undertaken a Towards Submission Review. Late submission extensions are also considered at this review.

At this point in your candidature, and in preparation for the timely submission of your thesis, we encourage you to check the originality of your thesis with the Urkund software to avoid missed citations or accidental plagiarism.

Please refer to the student guide to using Urkund. In addition to the guide, Research Ambassadors can provide support with this software.

Advanced candidature

If you have commenced candidature at another university and want to transfer to VU with advanced candidature you must:

  • have been admitted for candidature at another university for the project proposed in your application to VU
  • satisfy VU degree entry requirements
  • be enrolled for a minimum of six months before submitting your thesis for examination
  • not be within 12 months of the maximum duration of the degree (exceptions may be granted).

You must include the following documents with your application for Advanced Candidature:

  • your candidature proposal
  • statement setting out the reasons for the request to transfer
  • statement of progress from your previous supervisor (not necessary if you are transferring to VU with your supervisor)
  • letter of confirmation of candidature from previous institution
  • other supporting documentation.

You must also contact the Office for Researcher Training, Quality and Integrity to determine if a place is available.

Contact us

If you require further information, please email [email protected].