During Your Candidature

Facilities and Amenities
The university and faculty offers a range of facilities and amenities to Postgraduate research students.

Your Supervisor
Your supervisor is that member of the Media and Communications Department appointed during the application process to take primary responsibility for your candidature. The onus is upon the student to contact their supervisor on a regular basis throughout their candidature. In the case of a full-time candidature, contact should include formal meetings of around one hour every two to four weeks during the calendar year as agreed with your supervisor. In the case of part-time students, meetings can be less frequent and at intervals of around four to six weeks during the calendar year. Other types of contact (eg. by phone and email may supplement or, where circumstances require, substitute for face to face meetings). These should be negotiated with the supervisor.

For a clear summary of the responsibilities of the Department, Supervisor and you as a Student see the Code of Practice.

Feedback on Written Work
Your supervisor should normally give formal feedback within three weeks of receipt of submission of written work. The timing of the feedback meeting is at the discretion of those involved, but should not be delayed beyond three weeks unless exceptional circumstances understood by both parties arise. Communication is essential in working out the form in which feedback is given.

Your Associate Supervisor
An associate supervisor will also be appointed by the department. The associate supervisor will remain in informal contact with you and take over as acting supervisor if your supervisor is on leave at any time during your candidature. The amount of contact you have with the associate supervisor will differ in each case, depending on the agreed function she or he is to perform. This should be discussed at the commencement of the candidature so that the roles of supervisor and associate supervisor are clearly understood by all parties. The ultimate responsibility for supervision rests with your supervisor.

Expected Progress in the First Year
Different candidates work in different ways, in response to supervision. The Department seeks to support different ways of working while keeping in mind Faculty defined guidelines for completion of your thesis. Because candidates with less than one year of candidature are not part of the annual review, it is important to define parameters for progress in the first year.

A contract/plan for your first year progress should be drawn up by you and your principal supervisor in the first three months of your candidature. This will become the basis of your annual review and your supervisor will forward it to the Postgraduate Research contact.

The contract will normally make reference to regular attendance at a number of the department seminars as this is an important form of research training and involvement in the intellectual community of the department.

The contract/plan might also refer to different tasks such as:

  • The regularity or frequency of your meetings.
  • An update of the 1,000 word proposal you submitted with your application in the first three months of candidature.
  • A literature review, methodology review, concept review, or combination.
  • A collection of shorter writing/reading tasks under the guidance of your supervisor.
  • Putting together a plan for your second year of candidature.

Normally, candidates will be expected to written the equivalent of 15,000 words (even if in early draft form) in their first year. This will put you on track for the submission of chapters or equivalent of 20,000 words expected around the 18month mark.

Notice of Submission of thesis
According to Faculty completion guidelines for Mphil/PhDs this is usually provided to Faculty at least 3 months prior to completion and triggers the arrangement of examiners etc. The form can be found on the Faculty forms page.

For the purposes of Notice of Submission the definition of first draft is:

“the completion in readable form of all of the chapters laid out in the writing plan/table of contents, in addition to the introduction, conclusion, and bibliography. The aim, focus, and scope of each chapter should be evident.”

The benefits of having a definition of this kind is that it can be built into your writing and research plans well into advance. The hope is that it contributes to more manageable planning around submission. The protocol will be:

1. Supervisors should follow Faculty policy and ensure the entire first draft is completed prior to the notice of thesis submission. Supervisors should provide their feedback to students prior to the notice of thesis submission being signed off.

2. Candidates to submit the Abstract, Table of Contents, and First Chapter/Introduction to the PG Research Coordinator, for feedback, usually from the Research Coordinator, Chair of Department or Professor, to be supplied back in writing to the student and supervisor by PG Research coordinator, or at a meeting with the student and supervisor.

3. Prior to giving notice to submit and normally at a time when the Abstract and Chapter is being considered that the candidate give a ‘completion seminar’ to the Department.

Professional Commitment
All candidates are expected to participate in the research culture of the department. In the department, a marker of this participation is attendance at any any Research Seminars organised or promoted by the department. The department expects candidates to attend at least 50% of events, but the aspiration is that candidates attend as many as possible.

As a marker of participation in national and international scholarly communities, candidates should endeavor to deliver a conference paper at a conference held outside the University of Sydney and/or to prepare and submit part of their research for publication to an accredited scholarly journal in the second or third year of their candidature.

Postgraduates are also encouraged to attend meetings of research clusters in their area(s) of interest. Details of these meetings will be advertised at seminars, by email and on the departmental website.

In terms of policies, candidates should seek to inform themselves of policy but at the same time not act outside of policy until they have addressed issues with the supervisor or Postgraduate Research coordinator.

All University of Sydney staff and students who intend to conduct research involving human participants as part of an Honours, Diploma, Masters, Doctorate or other higher degree must apply for approval from the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

Annual Progress Reviews & Mini-Conference
Towards the end of every year of your candidature, you must (1) complete the Annual Review Report sent out in September by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with your supervisor; (2) present at the Department Postgraduate Research Mini-conference; and (3) attend an interview conducted by at least two members of the academic staff. Your supervisor will also provide a report on your progress. Students who have been enrolled for less than a year or who have submitted a notice to submit their thesis are exempt from annual review, however, all candidates are encouraged to present at the mini-conference.

The purpose of the interview is to review your progress and your candidature in general. It offers both you and the Department an opportunity to address, in confidence, any problems or concerns, and to consider the year ahead. For those candidates on an APA or UPA scholarship, the interview also allows us to authorise the continuation of your scholarship, and if you commenced candidature the previous February or March the interview is part of the process through which your progress during the period of probation is assessed.

Faculty Policy
You are expected to be proactive in relation to investigating and keeping informed of Faculty Policy. Faculty policies come into play when you wish to upgrade from MPhil to Phd (usually around semester 4), Changing from MPhil to PhD, Changing Attendance Status, Suspending or taking a Leave of Absence, Counting Time away, and giving Notice to Submit. The Postgraduate Research coordinator can advise on aspects of this policy, but you should still consult faculty pages.