During your candidature

Once your Faculty Graduate Studies Committee has provided official confirmation that your program of study is of an acceptable standard, you are a candidate.

Time allowed to complete your degree

Research degrees are time-based and not semester-based. You are allowed between two and four years equivalent full time student load (EFTSL) for a doctoral degree and between one and two years EFTSL for a master (by research) degree.

If you need more time, see ‘Extension of time to complete’ on the varying your candidature page.


If you haven’t attended an Orientation session for research students, make sure you attend one as well as wider Orientation activities at the start of your first semester. Learn more about Orientation for research students.

Your supervisory relationship

You should have already established some guidelines with your supervisor on how frequently you will hold formal meetings, how they will be initiated, and what records will be kept.

The need for formal meetings will change as your candidacy progresses, perhaps with more frequent meetings in the early design stages and less frequent meetings during the data collection and analysis phases.

How to optimise your meetings

  • Establish continued regular meetings with your supervisor, and prepare relevant written material and/or an outline for the format of each meeting.
  • Take notes during the meeting and create a list of outcomes so that you are both clear on objectives that have been achieved as well as outlining a focus for the following meeting/s.
  • Set up the next meeting before you depart, as this will allow your supervisor time to consider the agreed focus for the next meeting and to read any material you may have presented.
  • Create clear guidelines specifying what action to take if one party cannot attend a scheduled meeting.
  • Make a plan to evaluate the frequency and success of meetings.
  • Create a timeline for research and thesis completion, which outlines a series of intermediate goals and gives some ideas about how progress will be assessed and feedback provided.

You should be able to seek discussion and advice from your supervisor whenever you have problems, after you’ve attempted to rectify any issues yourself. Many candidates find it best to present both the problem and potential solutions and discuss these, rather than solely relying on the supervisor to provide a solution.

To refresh your memory, re-read the Guidelines for Establishing the Higher Degree by Research Supervisory Relationship [.pdf – 153 kB].

Other things to consider include:

Essential facilities provided

Each HDR student will be provided with a computer (desktop or laptop) and printer access, with appropriate basic software, to allow satisfactory progress in the research program. Such resources may be shared, however each student’s School will ensure that students have adequate and reasonable access commensurate to their research program and stage of candidature.

Data storage should be arranged as part of the data management plan.

If you’re undertaking a study which requires you to purchase essential materials, lab equipment/ resources or data, or to undertake fieldwork, you may make a claim for your expenses from the Graduate Research School. There is a limit to the amount which can be claimed as set out in the Guidelines for Essential Facilities [.pdf – 152 kB].

During the period of candidature, Curtin will provide discretionary funding to assist Doctoral students to participate in one national or international conference. The maximum amount of funding for each student to support conference participation is AU$2,500, or MYR$2,500 for Curtin Sarawak students.

Travelling for research

During your candidature you may have reason to travel directly related to your thesis research. This may be for data collection or fieldwork purposes, or attending a conference. Read the Guidelines for Essential Facilities in the section above for information about funding to support Consumables and Fieldwork, and Conference Travel for Doctoral students.

Before arranging any travel, you must consult the Student Travel website to ensure you follow the correct procedures for a safe and productive trip. All student travel, regardless of the source of funding, needs to be approved via the Student Travel Approval form before departure to ensure your trip is registered for insurance purposes. See the Risk and Assurance website for more information about insurance and to view the coverage of Curtin’s travel insurance policy.

Submit your completed Student Travel Approval form to the relevant travel facilitator who will ensure the correct booking procedures are followed. All travel funded in part or total by Curtin University must be booked through a travel facilitator.

International Onshore students: please note that your OSHC medical insurance does not cover you when you are on fieldwork, attending conferences or other approved university business outside Australia so you must also obtain approval for travelling overseas as detailed above. Additionally, if you are leaving Australia for fieldwork or data collection, you must complete the Offshore Fieldwork and Data Collection form. You can request the form by emailing iovisa@curtin.edu.au. You must return your completed form, signed by your supervisor, to iovisa@curtin.edu.au before your departure.

Scholarship holders: If you’re in receipt of a scholarship, please ensure you seek approval to travel from the Research Scholarships Office in the Graduate Research School (Research_Scholarships@curtin.edu.au). Failure to obtain approval may result in your travel not being processed.


Curtin offers insurance cover for some activities you may undertake as part of your research. This includes various levels of cover for travel, liability, medical treatment liability, personal accident and property insurance.

For more information, see the insurance policies on the Curtin Risk and Assurance website or email riskmanagement@curtin.edu.au.

Using the Curtin logo

You can use the Curtin University logo on documents such as research participant information sheets, consent forms and questionnaires, but you must ask your supervisor to contact University Marketing to request a logo and to provide details about its intended use.

Code of Conduct and complaints

You must abide by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research in all your research activities.


If you have any complaints, contact either of the “Designated People to Receive Formal Complaints”:

Also see:

The Integrity and Standards Unit can assist if you have any concerns or need clarification, advice or support in relation to the lodgement of management of a complaint.

Taking leave

Taking a leave of absence

A leave of absence may be granted for a period of one to 12 months.

In exceptional cases, with provision of supporting documentation, more than 12 months of leave may be approved by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee on the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Research of the Enrolling School.

You must lodge an Application for Leave of Absence form prior to the start date of your proposed period of leave. Applications for retrospective periods will NOT be considered.

Important note: International onshore students cannot take a leave of absence unless there are exceptional circumstances (for example, serious illness and bereavement) as student visas cannot be maintained if students are not studying. A Student Advisor from International Student Visas (iovisa@curtin.edu.au) must authorise your leave of absence before you can lodge the form with the Graduate Research School.

The University prefers that you do not take leave before approval of your candidacy. If candidacy has not been attained at the time the leave of absence is approved, the due date for submission of the Application for Candidacy will be extended accordingly.

If you are a scholarship holder, you are usually only funded for a specific period of time (normally three years for a doctoral program) during which it is expected that your research should be completed and your thesis submitted. Under these circumstances, should there be a period during which you are unable to actively engage in your research, it is recommended that you discuss your circumstances with your supervisor and Thesis Committee and apply for a leave of absence. You are also advised to check the conditions of your scholarship and you must advise the Research Scholarships Office in the Graduate Research School before taking a leave of absence.

Annual leave

You’re entitled to 20 days annual leave each year, calculated on a pro-rata basis. There is no formal application process, but you should obtain your supervisor’s consent prior to taking any leave.

If this permission is withheld, you should discuss the problem with your Chairperson. Annual leave may not be accumulated from year to year.

If you’re a scholarship holder, check the conditions of your scholarship to confirm the amount of annual leave you’re entitled to, and notify the Research Scholarships Office in the Graduate Research School at Research_Scholarships@curtin.edu.au before you take any leave.

Sick leave

You don’t need to formally apply for sick leave if it’s for a period of less than one month.

If your medical condition is going to affect the continuation of your studies beyond a month, you should complete an Application for Leave of Absence form and submit it along with your medical certificate/s, via your supervisor, to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee for consideration.

If you’re ill for an extended period but you don’t formally apply for a Leave of Absence, your sick leave will not be recognised and you’ll still be required to complete your program within the prescribed time limits.

If you’re a scholarship holder you’ll also need to contact the Research Scholarships Office in the Graduate Research School (Research_Scholarships@curtin.edu.au).

Approval of retrospective leave will only be considered in exceptional circumstances

Neither annual leave or sick leave will extend your time to submit your candidacy or thesis for examination.