Research degree coursework units

Embedded in all HDR programs, coursework units provide early support to students in the crucial pre-Confirmation of Candidature period in terms of the development of the research proposal, methodological decisions, engagement with the position of the project within the scholarly literature, and clear understanding of the nature and responsibilities of researcher integrity and ethics.

The coursework programs also provide an important foundation for networking with fellow students and wider research staff. They are designed to be undertaken in conjunction with disciplinary supervision.

Doctoral units

These units have been designed with extensive input from research supervisors to assist you as you prepare for candidature. They offer additional formalised learning and support as you begin your research career at doctoral level.

The learning activities and assessment tasks in these units are designed to contribute to the development of a high quality candidature proposal (and Ethics application if required) in the context of the discipline, and to the success of candidacy.

In addition, the units are intended to assist in the systematic building of your research-related skills and to help foster a culture of intellectual engagement, peer learning and support for VU PhD students. They play a crucial role in preparing you to take up your position as an independent researcher in the increasingly complex and multi-disciplinary context of the Australian and global research environment.

An average result of 70% is required in the compulsory coursework units in order to proceed to candidature confirmation.

Ongoing progression is subject to policy and procedures for candidature management as per the VU HDR Policy.

Master research degree units

To provide candidates  with flexibility, VU has devised three Research Masters courses of different durations and with different combinations of coursework depending on your background. Your admission into a particular Research Masters course will be determined by the Research Institute in your area. This decision will be based on: your level of qualification and the relationship between your previous study; and your proposed Masters research (ie whether or your previous study is in an area deemed to be cognate (related) with your proposed research).

You will be supported in this pre Confirmation of Candidature period by the concurrent structures of a) working with your supervisor on your research project and b) by building research skills and refining that project in the context of the core coursework units relevant to your particular Masters course.

Candidates in all three Research Masters courses will study the following two core units to support them in their transition into a research pathway:

  1. UGR7002 Research Design and Proposal Development: This unit will explicitly help you to ‘put together the pieces’ of your research: your research question, its position within existing knowledge, your related choices about methodology and prepare for you Confirmation of Candidature.
  2. UGR7003 Research Integrity and Ethics: This unit gives an overview of the general and specific ways in which research must be undertaken with integrity, asking you to consider the ethical implications for your project.

Depending on your course and your background, you may also be required to take the following units:

  1. UGR7001 Introduction to Research Methodology: This unit provides an oversight of some of the most common research methodologies, considering why they might be selected and what particular methods they might involve, and/or
  2. UGR7006 Enhancing Researcher Knowledge and Skills: This is a ‘shell unit,’ which allows supervisors and students to build a customised unit of learning to meet the disciplinary needs of the student.

An average result of 70% is required in the compulsory coursework units in order to proceed to candidature confirmation. Ongoing progression is subject to policy and procedures for candidature management as per the VU HDR Policy.

Supervision (all coursework units)

You will be expected to have regular meetings with your supervisor/s and to continue to work closely with them while you are studying the units.

The units have been designed to complement the work you are doing with your supervisors. You will be expected to be having regular meetings outside class with your supervisor/s as well as regular interactions with other students and researchers in your area to maximise the benefit you get from the learning within each unit.

In addition, much of the assessment for the units is designed to be directly able to be incorporated into your candidature proposal and related documentation (eg. ethics application, where required).

Progression from coursework to confirmation of candidature

All commencing candidates are expected to enrol in and complete the units.

Your performance in the coursework component of your degree will affect your progression to candidature. You will normally need an average mark of 70% or above across the relevant units to be permitted to present for Confirmation of Candidature.  Subject to the enrolled research degree, you have a maximum period in which to present for candidature, following the completion of the final unit- please refer to HDR Procedure 3 Pre-Candidature and Candidature. However, we would expect that most students would be prepared to present for candidature prior to this, i.e. following notification of successful completion of the Coursework as soon as their supervisors determine that their proposal is of a suitable standard.

Confirmation of Candidature is the first University milestone and hurdle, involving an extensive written research proposal and a presentation to a panel. Enrolment is provisional until such time as a Confirmation of Candidature is successfully achieved.

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