Managing your HDR enrolment

During your candidature you need to demonstrate your progress and meet a number of milestones. You may also need to take leave, change details about your course, or withdraw.

Candidature essentials

Time allowed

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.

Your thesis committee

All students will have a Thesis Committee consisting of at least a Thesis Chair, Principle Supervisor and Co-Supervisor (or Associate Supervisor).

Your principle supervisor carries the primary responsibility for your supervision, including the coordination of all communication between the supervisors and you. The principle supervisor will be a member of the academic staff of the school in which you are enrolled. You should be able to seek advice from your principle supervisor when you have problems in your research program. 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.

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

Tips to optimise your meetings:

  • Establish regular meetings with your principle supervisor (each fortnight or month), and prepare relevant written material.
  • Take notes during the meeting and create a list of outcomes so that you and your principle supervisor are clear about the objectives that have been achieved as well as outlining a focus for following meetings.
  • Set up the next meeting before you depart, as this will allow your principle supervisor time to consider the agreed focus for the next meeting and to read any material you may have presented.
  • Create a timeline for your research and thesis completion. This plan should ensure you will be able to meet your Milestone requirements.

Ensure you read the Guidelines for Establishing the Higher Degree by Research Supervisory Relationship

Other things to consider include:


During your enrolment, your progress will be formally monitored at three points. These points are known as Milestones. The defined Milestones are Milestone 1, Milestone 2 and Milestone 3.

Please ensure you visit the Milestones page for further information.

Annual progress reports

In order to meet government reporting requirements, Curtin requires higher degree by research students to complete an Annual Progress Report (APR) each year. The APR is a short online questionnaire which will give you the opportunity to review and confirm your enrolment details as well as report any impediments to progress which you have encountered in the previous year. You will be sent a link for the questionnaire at the opening of the reporting period.

2021 reporting period

In 2021 the Annual Progress Report will be open for typically a 6 week period in the first half of the year

All reports must be submitted via the online portal during this period. Extended access to the reporting website will not be possible.

Who needs to complete a report?

If you were enrolled in a higher degree by research on or before the 31 December 2020 you need to complete an annual report (unless you have submitted your thesis or have withdrawn from the course). This means that if you enrol on or after the 01 January 2021 you will not be required to complete the annual report.

If you are on Leave of Absence during the reporting period you must still complete the annual report.

Supervisors will also complete a report for each student.

What happens if you don’t submit your report?

If you don’t submit your APR by the closing date your enrolment status will be recommended to be changed to Absent Without Leave (AWOL).

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.

Taking leave

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 principle supervisor’s consent prior to taking any leave.

If this permission is withheld, you should discuss the problem with your Thesis 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 Graduate Research School at before you take any leave.

Leave of absence

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

In exceptional cases, with provision of sufficient supporting documentation from the student and supervisor, more than 12 months of leave may be approved on the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Research of your School. It will then be reviewed further on a case by case basis.

You must lodge an Application for Leave of Absence form prior to the start date of your proposed period of leave. Please note that applications for retrospective periods may 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.

The University prefers that you do not take leave before approval of your Milestone 1. If Milestone 1 has not been attained at the time the leave of absence is approved, the due date for submission of the Milestone 1 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 principle 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 Graduate Research School before taking a leave of absence.

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 principle supervisor, to your Director of Graduate Research.

If you’re a scholarship holder you’ll also need to contact the Graduate Research School (

Neither annual leave or sick leave (taken without an approved leave of absence) will extend your time to submit your thesis for examination.

Changes to study mode and withdrawal

Changing your thesis title

Your thesis title is recorded on your student record. If you need to update your thesis title on your student record,  you should first discuss this with your principle supervisor. You or your principle supervisor will then need to request these changes to the Director of Graduate Research for your school, whom will then contact Graduate Research School approving these changes.

Your thesis title on your student record must match the title of your submitted thesis.

Changing your thesis committee

If you would like to change your thesis committee you should first discuss this with your principle supervisor or thesis chair. You or your principle supervisor will then need to request these changes to the Director of Graduate Research for your school, whom will then contact Graduate Research School approving these changes.

Changing between full-time and part-time enrolment

It is important that you consult with your Thesis Committee and Director of Graduate Research before requesting a change to your study mode.

Resources can then be assessed within your enrolling school to determine whether your requested change of study mode is feasible. The decision to permit a change in study mode is made by the Director of Graduate Research and will consider the implications of the change for the School.

A request for a change in enrolment can be made via the Online Enrolment/Change of Enrolment form.

Scholarship holders

It is essential that you check the conditions of your scholarship before requesting a change of your enrolment. Most scholarships are available only to full-time candidates and changes to the study mode require approval from the Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research Excellence.

Converting to another HDR course

To change from one higher degree research course to another, you need to apply for Milestone 1 again in the desired course. You cannot do this until you have achieved Milestone 1 in your current course, have an academic status of Good Standing and you have the support of your Thesis Committee.

Before approaching your supervisors, ensure you have read the Information Sheet for converting to another HDR course

Master by research degree to a doctoral degree

If you have obtained Milestone 1 and wish to change from a master by research program to a doctoral program, you must submit an application for Milestone 1 to a doctoral program to your Director of Graduate Research.

Your principle supervisor will be required to certify that your proposed program of study is expected to produce an original contribution to your discipline that is of a standard internationally recognised for a research doctoral degree by providing a letter of support.

The recorded commencement date for the new program shall be that of your original degree.

You will be advised by the Graduate Research School if you have been successful and your enrolment will be amended accordingly.

Doctoral degree to a master by research degree

If you have obtained Milestone 1 and wish to change from a doctoral program to a master by research program, you must submit an application for Milestone 1 to a master by research program to your Director of Graduate Research.

The recorded commencement date for the new program shall be that of your original degree.

You will be advised by the Graduate Research School if you have been successful, and your enrolment will be amended accordingly.

Extension of time to complete

Your time-based enrolment commences from the date of initial enrolment into your thesis unit.

The Australian Government’s Research Training Program (RTP) Guidelines allow a minimum period of three years and a maximum of four years equivalent full-time student load at the discretion of the University for a Doctoral student. For a Research Masters student the period of support is a maximum of two years at a full-time student load.

If the submission date of your thesis extends beyond the limits prescribed (having taken any leave of absence into consideration), you will be classified as Overtime and placed on Conditional status.

If you are unable to submit your thesis within the designated period, you must apply for a formal extension using the Request for Extension of Time to Submit Thesis form.  Extensions of time are only granted under exceptional circumstances. To be eligible for an extension you must be able to demonstrate:

  • reasons why you were unable to complete your research project on time;
  • that you have made a concerted effort throughout the duration of your research to keep the project on schedule

Scholarship holders

Be aware of the conditions of your scholarship, which usually only apply for a limited period of time, as this may mean that you will not receive funding for the extension period. You must contact the Graduate Research School ( before applying for an extension.

Withdrawing from your course

If you are not able to continue your course and need to withdraw, you will need to send an email from your student account to the Graduate Research School ( advising of your intention to withdraw and the effective date. Your thesis committee should be copied in to your email request and the Graduate Research School can process further.

Cancellation of enrolment

If your performance in your course is determined to be unsatisfactory, or if you do not comply with the policies, your enrolment may be Cancelled.

The process for the Cancellation of enrolment is detailed in the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Student Progression Policy and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Student Progression Procedures.


The Conditional Status Information for Students provides some further information about the processes that may lead to the cancellation of enrolment.

Show-cause notice

If you have received a “show-cause” notice indicating the University’s intention to cancel your enrolment, you can:

  1. Lodge your appeal with the Director of Graduate Research of your School.
  2. Withdraw from your course to avoid cancellation of your enrolment.

If you choose to appeal and your appeal is unsuccessful, your School chooses to continue with the cancellation of enrolment process.

Notification of outcome

You will be formally notified by the Dean of the Graduate Research School about the decision to cancel your enrolment.

International onshore students

If you’re an International Onshore student studying within Australia on a student visa, a consequence of your enrolment being cancelled is that you are potentially in breach of your student visa conditions. This may lead to your visa being cancelled by the Department of Home Affairs. If you have any questions on visa issues, please contact a student adviser from International Student Visas (

Where to go for help

If you require advice about appeal procedures please contact the Current Students Team within the Graduate Research School (

Curtin’s Student Wellbeing Advisory Service provides specific support for students on conditional status. You can speak to a Student Wellbeing Advisor by either visiting Curtin Connect in Building 102 on Perth Campus, calling 1800 244 043, or emailing

For independent advice about appeal procedures, you may wish to contact the Curtin Student Guild’s Student Assist. Student Assist is a support and advocacy service provided by the Guild. You can visit the Guild at Building 106F on Perth Campus, call Student Assist on 9266 2900 or email

Another option for students at the Perth Campus is to seek advice from the University’s Counselling Services. You can call 9266 7850 or 1800 651 879 to make an appointment. They are located on Level 2 of Building 109. You can also email for information, but please note no actual counselling is provided via email.