Higher Degree by Research Candidature Annual Progress Review

All Postgraduate Research candidates are required to complete an annual progress review and report, ordinarily held in October and November. Candidates are interviewed by a Review Panel ordinarily consisting of two or more academic staff members, none of whom may be the candidate’s supervisor or associate supervisor. Candidates should contact their department’s Postgraduate Research Coordinator for enquiries relating to their progress report. Candidates whose supervisor or associate supervisor is also the department’s Postgraduate Research Coordinator should consult the Chair of Department or Head of School.

The Annual Progress Report, including an interview, is mandatory for all research candidates at the University and provides detailed information about candidates’ progress. With regard to candidates who fail to return a Report, the Faculty must record that they are not making satisfactory progress in their research candidature.

Why the Annual Progress Review?

The University of Sydney requires every higher degree by research student to complete an Annual Progress Review (APR). The APR is an opportunity to review the candidature and to talk openly about the achievements and challenges that all research students experience. If issues are discussed in a timely and constructive manner, the most serious problems that students sometimes face can usually be
avoided.

The aim of the review is not only to catch potential issues early. The APR is also an opportunity to provide positive feedback and assistance with the direction of candidature, even for students who are progressing well. We believe that all candidatures can benefit from some review, feedback and assistance on a regular basis.

The University has been collecting feedback from students, supervisors and faculties about the APR process and most people agree that the APR is usually helpful, but that the APR form is too long, bureaucratic and focused only on potential problems.

Your faculty is participating in a trial of a revised form, that is, hopefully, shorter and easier to use. You will notice that the questions are a bit more generic, which will hopefully allow you the chance to describe your experience in way that works for you. We encourage students and supervisors to speak openly about both the challenges and achievements they are experiencing.

We also ask students and supervisors to identify the milestones that are expected to be reached in the coming year. Some forward planning can help keep your degree on track to submitting your thesis on time. You should think realistically about the specifics of your own research project but please adhere as much as possible to the Faculty’s Postgraduate Research Degree Completion Guidelines. Other typical milestones for a doctoral degree in the Faculty of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences might include:

  • Literature review complete by the end of 12 months
  • Project proposal complete by end of x months
  • x chapters by the end of 2 years
  • Final draft by 3.5 years
  • Thesis submitted for examination by end of 4th year

The milestones will be reviewed by the APR Panel, which may also suggest some action items to be done by the student, supervisor or the department. These could include things like “meet with supervisor fortnightly (student and supervisor)”, “attend time management course at Sydney Learning (student)”, or “change candidature attendance to part-time (student, supervisor, Faculty)”.

After the process is finished, copies of the form will be emailed to the student and supervisor to help plan the next year’s work. We will also be asking for your feedback on how the form worked for you.