Applying for candidacy

On receipt of your official notification of enrolment, you will be considered a provisional candidate until your application for candidacy is approved by your School and Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Research School will notify you once your candidacy application has been approved by your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.

Important note: Data collection (e.g. surveys, questionnaires or interviews, etc.) must not be conducted by provisional candidates.

Before you start

Read the conditions of candidacy

The following conditions are considered by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee in the granting of candidacy:

  1. Definition of an acceptable research program, including its objectives, methodology, facilities, resources and a time schedule for completion.
  2. Attainment of the necessary level of knowledge and skills to proceed with the proposed research program.
  3. Acceptance of the nominated Thesis Committee.
  4. Certification by the Director of Graduate Research that adequate facilities and resources are available for the proposed research program.
  5. Appropriate identification of ethical issues for research involving animals; humans; ionising radiation; microwaves, lasers or ultraviolet light; or recombining of DNA.
  6. Successful completion of the Research Integrity Training program.

Please note that you cannot submit a thesis for examination until your candidacy has been approved.

Check the timeframe for approval of candidacy

An application for candidacy is required to be approved by the Faculty Graduate Studies committee within the following timeframes:


  • Full-time candidates – six months from enrolment in the thesis component.
  • Part-time candidates – 12 months from enrolment in the thesis component.

Masters by research

  • Full-time candidates – three months from enrolment in the thesis component.
  • Part-time candidates – six months from enrolment in the thesis component.

Your application for candidacy must be assessed and approved by your School prior to being sent to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee for assessment. We advise you to submit your candidacy application to your School for assessment well in advance of the due date.

Candidates are normally expected to complete the coursework component before submitting an application for candidacy.

If you fail to submit for candidacy within the specified timeframes, it will result in your academic status being amended to Conditional.

If enrolment conditions are still not met within the designated timeframe, the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee may recommend to the University Graduate Studies Committee that your enrolment be terminated.

During the application process

Attend a candidacy preparation seminar

Candidacy preparation seminars are run twice annually. Please refer to the seminars and training page for details.

You can download iLectures and slide presentations of previous seminars from the Resources and development page, under the heading Self and candidature management.


During candidacy, the relationship established with your supervisor/s is crucial to the successful completion of your research and thesis. This could have a profound influence on how smoothly and successfully your research proceeds.

It is essential that you establish clear and succinct communication between yourself and supervisor as soon as possible to avoid any communication issues later on in the research program. The best time to begin this process is during the preparation of your application for candidacy.

We recommend you read the Guidelines for Establishing the Higher Degree by Research Supervisory Relationship [.pdf – 153 kB].

Get to know your interim thesis committee

Your Interim Thesis Committee will comprise at least an Interim Chairperson and an Interim Supervisor. You should get to know the members of this committee as well as your School’s staff and facilities.

You must work with your Interim Thesis Committee to develop a project that will lead to research work of a calibre that will qualify for the award of a higher degree by research. Precedents will have been established by what has been accepted or rejected in the past, and your Interim Thesis Committee is best placed to advise you on this.

The formalities of candidacy require that you consult your supervisor in order to complete and submit your application for candidacy. It is at this stage that the composition of your Thesis Committee is determined. It is vital that you undertake an active approach in ensuring the composition of your Thesis Committee as they will be pivotal in assisting you with successful completion of your thesis.

Complete research integrity training

You must complete the Research Integrity Professional Development program online prior to submitting your Application for Candidacy.

The training explains the key responsibilities of researchers, identifies challenges in meeting those responsibilities, and provides strategies to deal with challenges. The training also aims to ensure you understand requirements and responsibilities in relation to research ethics, confidentiality, data storage and records, regulations and governance.

The student training is in Blackboard, accessed via Student OASIS. You must first log into Student OASIS, then click on the link to Blackboard. The unit appears under the heading ‘My Units’.

See Research Integrity Training Information [.pdf – 314kB] for more information.

Writing your research proposal

Prepare your written proposal

A component of the Application for Candidacy (Milestone 1) is the written proposal. The research proposal must adhere to a specified format.

The research proposal is subject to page limits and formatting specifications.

  • Doctoral application for candidacy – a maximum of 10 typewritten pages* (excluding references).
  • Master application for candidacy –  a maximum of five typewritten pages* (excluding references).

* All pages must be numbered and the font size should be a minimum of 11 point.

Research proposal structure

  • Abstract
    A half-page explanation of the program in plain English.
  • Objectives
    A clearly defined statement of the objectives of the research.
  • Background
    The background of the proposed study.
  • Significance
    The importance/relevance of the proposed study.
  • Research method
    An outline of your method/s including sample selection, instrumentation, data collection, data analysis, reference to any hazardous procedures, highly toxic chemicals (e.g. carcinogenic or mutagenic agents), etc.
  • Ethical issues
    This section must clearly demonstrate that you have considered all ethical issues which may arise and the manner in which they will be addressed. This may include approval information received from the relevant Ethics Committee/s (see below section on Ethics and Safety Committee approval).
  • Facilities and budget
    An outline of these requirements for the completion of your research. This should include an itemised budget, including any planned travel or conferences.
  • Data storage
    You must arrange secure storage of research data for at least seven years after thesis publication. Some types of research may require even longer terms of storage (such as 15 years for clinical research).
  • Time schedule
    This should be realistic and should be presented as a gantt chart
  • References
    Only include references cited in the text of the proposal.

Examples of well-written proposals

A number of real examples of well-written proposals are available for you to view. These have been grouped by Faculties in the list below.

Curtin Business School

Faculty of Health Sciences

Faculty of Humanities

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Alternative thesis formats

A thesis can submitted in non-traditional formats:

  • A typescript (i.e. a traditional thesis); or
  • A creative or literary work or series of works accompanied by an exegesis*; or
  • A published book or series of published papers, accompanied by an introduction, literature review and other supporting material.

*An exegesis is a small thesis which presents an academic explanation of the submitted work and/or a description of the linkages between the works.

If you are considering submitting a thesis in a non-traditional format, it is essential that you discuss your intentions with your Interim Thesis Committee and include this information in your candidacy proposal.

If your thesis is likely to include artworks, performances, constructions, 35mm slides, videotapes, or some other audio visual or digital media, for example, and the documentation of such work, you must take into account both the required resources and the costs involved in producing this documentation (see section on thesis preparation).

Before you submit your application

Check for originality using Turnitin

Turnitin is a text matching software that checks for originality in a document by comparing its passages against a database of sources.

Checking the research proposal for originality will assist you in minimising potential for plagiarism. Turnitin access for higher degree by research (HDR) students is located within the ‘Research Integrity – HDR’ training on Blackboard. Read Information on Originality Checking (Turnitin) of the Candidacy Proposal and Thesis Chapters [.pdf – 568 kB] for more information.

You are required to electronically submit your proposal to Turnitin then generate an originality report to discuss with your supervisor.

To access Turnitin

  1. Login to Student OASIS.
  2. Click on the link to Blackboard, go to the ‘My Units’ or ‘My Organisation’ section, and select the ‘Research Integrity – HDR’ training.
  3. From the left hand menu, select the heading ‘Originality Checking’. Full instructions are located in the ensuing screens.

More information about Turnitin

If you have any queries about using Turnitin, email

Understand intellectual property requirements

It is essential that you read and understand Curtin’s Intellectual Property Policy and Intellectual Policy Procedures, including clauses that relate to intellectual property arising from participation in a university project.

Prepare for Ethics and Safety Committee approval

As a provisional candidate, it’s essential that you examine the ethics and safety guidelines related to your field of study to determine whether it’s necessary to seek approval from any University Ethics and/or Safety Committees.

To determine whether your research requires approval you should use the Hazard Identification Tool (HIT), which covers research related to the following:

  • Humans (including interviews, surveys)
  • Animals (including observational studies)
  • The collection and/or use of personal information
  • Ionising and non-ionising radiation (including lasers and some UV equipment)
  • Chemicals, medicines or drugs
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), quarantined materials, or infectious microorganisms

Learn more about ethics and safety approval, and the HIT.

Data storage

The Western Australian University Sector Disposal Authority (WAUSDA) [.pdf – 1MB]  requires all data you have collected in your research to be retained for a minimum of seven years after the completion of the research or seven years after it is published, whichever is later. This means that you and your Enrolling Area must ensure secure storage of your data for this period.

This means that you should store all of the information necessary for someone to reconstitute your research and verify your results if necessary for at least seven years.

Submitting your application

How to submit your candidacy application

After you have consulted with your supervisor(s), you must submit your candidacy application form, research proposal and Turnitin report to your Director of Graduate Research for review within the School. The Director of Graduate Research will arrange for you to present an oral presentation of your research proposal.

The candidacy approval process

Once signed off by the Director of Graduate Research in your area, your application will be assessed by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee who will determine whether it fulfils the conditions for candidature.

You will be notified of approval by the Graduate Research School and your status will change from Provisional Candidature to Confirmed Candidature. If candidacy has not been approved, you will be advised accordingly.

For any enquiries regarding the candidacy process, contact the Graduate Research School.