General information for current postgraduate students

Graduate studies handbook

All the formal requirements regarding your candidature may be found in the University's Graduate Studies Handbook. This booklet summarizes formal requirements PhD, HECS, fees, part-time studies, time away, suspensions, examination, supervision etc.

Graduate studies office (GSO)

The Graduate Studies Office (GSO) serves as a focus for all postgraduate research and coursework activities across the University. The GSO aims to enhance the quality of coursework and research higher degrees and the postgraduate experience by working closely with faculties and other units of the University to provide support on key processes and policies.

Information on Induction Sessions run by the University can be found at the GSO website:

Head of school signature

All forms regarding scholarships or any aspect of your candidature that ask for a Head of School/Department signature are to be signed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies who acts for the Head of School in postgraduate matters.

All forms requiring a signature should be given to the Dimetra Skondras-Silva (Front Office) who will arrange to obtain the necessary signatures.

The School keeps copies of all documents regarding candidature on file.

Resources provided by the school of chemistry

Postgraduates have free access to the following facilities for research purposes:

  • Photocopying
  • Facsimile
  • Phones
  • Mailbox
  • Stationery: laboratory books, overheads and computer diskettes only
  • Paper, toner, printers etc as required for research and production of thesis.
  • Scitech Library
  • Swipe card access to School 24 hrs day (subject to obeying Safety Regulations)
  • Common room with hot water, microwave and general facilities (Room 147)
  • Lockable areas (office/locker) for personal belongings
  • Basic glassware, equipment, chemicals and instrument access required for research
  • Email account
  • Internet access (research only – usage monitored)
  • Access to shared personal computers for basic word-processing and accessing email/internet
  • Laboratory space, workstations, office space as appropriate

Length of candidature

In the Faculty of Science, candidates are given a maximum of 8 semesters (4 years) to complete a PhD and 4 semesters (2 years) to complete an MSc degree. Submission of a PhD thesis is possible after 6 semesters (or earlier with permission). A number of students in recent years have submitted in under 3.5 years.

HECS : currently exempt for 8 semesters PhD (full-time); 4 semesters MSc (full-time). The HECS liability is calculated per semester where the census dates are 31 March and 19 September each year.

The School is not funded after 4 years and postgraduate places and funds are allocated on the basis of completions in 4 years. There is a University-wide effort to ensure that all postgraduate degrees are complete within 4 years.

Variations of candidature

Applications to vary your candidature are now all made through Sydney Student. This includes: changes between full-time and part-time attendance; changes between PhD and MSc/MPhil; change of supervisor; extension; suspension etc.

Unfortunately, Sydney Student does not provide explicit information about the evidence required to have your application approved. This document lists the steps that you and your supervisor need to follow and the items you need to upload when submitting a request for variation of candidature through Sydney Student. Failure to do so will result in your application being rejected, or at least delayed while you go back and do it again.


Most scholarships provide funding for 7 semesters for PhD and 4 semesters for a MSc.

Please note conditions associated with your scholarship regarding full-time study, sick-leave, employment, suspensions, working away from the University of Sydney. If you are unsure how a change in circumstance may affect your scholarship, please check directly with the Scholarships Office.

Check our Scholarship page for currently available scholarships.

Those who have been offered a 3 year scholarship with the possibility of renewal for a further 6 months will need to apply for the 6 month extension about 2 months before your scholarship is due to expire. If you are a local student, please see the sample letter which outlines what you need to write to request an extension of your scholarship. Full information on scholarship extensions can be found at the Scholarships website (see Forms at the end of the Scholarships webpage). Once you and your supervisor have signed it, please bring it to the Administration Manager in room 206 who will arrange for the Director of Postgraduate Studies signature and will then fax it to the Scholarships Office. You should let her know if you prefer to walk it over yourself.

If you are an international student, then you need to complete an Application for extension of research scholarship form available from the International Office website.


Appointment of a supervisor and an associate supervisor for all candidatures is compulsory in the Faculty of Science. The roles of these people will vary according to the project, supervisors' backgrounds and expertise and the needs of the student and full details of the time commitments and responsibilities of these people may be found in the Graduate Studies Handbook.

Principal Supervisor: takes responsibility for your candidature, oversees the direction and progress of the research, signs Annual Progress Form and is the point of contact with the Faculty of Science.

Associate Supervisor: recommended as someone other than the supervisor that the candidate can turn to for advice, can act as supervisor when your principal supervisor is away, read reports and independently advise you whether your progress is at the appropriate rate.

A mutually agreeable arrangement for ongoing assessment and feedback on your progress by supervisor/associate supervisor is essential and needs to be documented at the start of candidature.

Formal requirements for all students

New students must complete their candidature form within two months of commencement of candidature, and include details of the arrangements made with your Supervisor and Associate Supervisor for supervision of your candidature.

Attend lectures/short courses/seminars as specified by the Head of School and your supervisor (an average of one research seminar per week throughout the academic year). Students must keep a record of all such attendances.

Present mid-term and final term research seminars to the School.
Prepare progress reports as specified by the Head of School and your supervisor.

Complete University Annual Progress Forms and attend an annual progress review interview (usually held in November).

Have contact with Supervisor on a regular basis.

All First Year students are to complete an annual written report by 1 December for students who commenced in Semester One or by 31 July for students who commenced in Semester Two of the previous year; this report will be reviewed by Supervisor and Associate Supervisor.

Failure to comply with any of the above requirements will be formally noted on your file and Annual Progress Form and will be taken into account when recommendations regarding terminations, extensions etc are made.

Assessment of progress on candidature

All First Year Candidates are on probation for 2 semesters and are required to attend a Probation Review interview towards the end of their second semester.

Annual Postgraduate Progress Forms must be completed each year in October.

It is important to document any problems (medical, personal or equipment failure or problems of any kind that have prevented you from carrying out your research).

Annual Progress Forms are kept by the Faculty of Science as a record of your candidature and will be consulted when any requests are made to change candidature details.

Formal and compulsory interviews are held for all candidates in late October/early November.

Upgrade of MSc candidature

Students wishing to upgrade from a MSc to PhD after one year must complete an Application to Upgrade to PhD form. A MSc candidate seeking to upgrade needs to demonstrate an ability to conduct research at the PhD level. Before submitting the form, candidates need to:

  • discuss the possibility of an upgrade with the supervisor and agree on a suitable research proposal;
  • have completed the MSc Annual Progress Report form and interview for the current year

This form must be completed and submitted to Faculty at least one week prior to the HECS census dates of 31 March for Semester One or 31 August for Semester Two upgrade.

Extensions | suspensions | leave of absence

Extensions and suspensions are granted by semester only - shorter periods are not allowed. Leave of absence can be granted for up to 2 months - this does not affect the latest date for thesis submission.

Extensions are not automatic. All applications will be reviewed in the context of Annual Progress forms.

Candidates should note the conditions associated with their scholarship, including any allowances, sick leave, maternity leave etc.


There are two series of School research seminars held during the semester and students are expected to attend an average of one research seminar per week throughout the academic year:

  • the "School Seminar" series is held at 11am on Wednesdays and Fridays, and
  • a postgraduate/postdoctoral seminar series held on Mondays at 4pm. This is the session at which you will be presenting your seminars.

The Sydney University Chemical Society lectures are also held once a month on Wednesdays from 5pm.

ALL seminars will be advertised a week prior to the seminar and further reminder emails will be sent to you on the day. The full year’s program is kept up-to-date on the School’s Seminar website.

This site can also be checked to see what seminar slots are still available for when it comes time to give your seminar. You should book your time through Dimetra Skondras-Silva in the Front Office.

ALL seminars will be posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Your thesis

You should visit the following sites for guidelines on your thesis presentation and examination:

Intellectual property (IP) rights

IP refers to the rights and obligations conferred on staff and students as authors and as creators of scientific discoveries, inventions as well as a range of other original intellectual contributions.

Full details of the current University of Sydney Intellectual Property Rule and a Guide to its understanding and implementation are provided in the following documents which can be found here.

  • University of Sydney (Intellectual Property) Rule 2002
  • Intellectual Property Rule – A Guide

All research students are strongly advised to read these documents.

Postgraduate research support scheme (PRSS)

This is a scheme to provide support for enrolled postgraduate research students. The funds allocated to the School of Chemistry are awarded to eligible applicants on a competitive basis according to University and School guidelines. For further information, please visit the Scholarships Website.

In 2015, there will only be one round with a closing date of Friday, 2 October 2015. Only those expenses incurred in the current year can be accepted.

Application form - Word Document.

Information for Students - PDF

Please read the guidelines carefully and complete the form as per the instructions. Eligible students may apply for a minimum amount of $200 and a maximum amount of $1,200 (up to $3,000 for conferences held in Europe, Africa, North and South America) under the following categories:

  1. Conference expenses – for the purpose of presenting a paper or poster of which the student is the author and in connection with his/her research. Students who attend a conference without presenting, or presenting a paper or poster of which the student is not the author, are not eligible to apply under this category.
  2. Expenses in connection with the use of specialist services, or a visit to use specialist facilities or to learn specialist technique/s directly related to the students’ research, but were beyond those normally provided by the School or Department.
  3. Field expenses - provided the PRSS funds are not used to defray the infrastructure costs normally provided by the School or Department.
  4. Purchase of specialist books, periodicals, software that are essential to the students’ research, but are not normally available or difficult to obtain in the University.
  5. Purchase of computers or other equipment that are essential to the students’ research and are above and beyond the normal infrastructure provided by the School or Department.
  6. Thesis production expenses to a maximum amount of $600 for a PhD thesis or $300 for a Masters thesis. Only students who do not hold a scholarship which provides such expenses and who will submit their theses in the current semester or calendar year can apply under this category.

PLEASE NOTE: In order for your PRSS to be processed, you MUST enter your bank account details in Sydney Student - My Finance>Your Finances>Bank Details. Note that the system will only verified your BSB number. It is your responsibility to ensure account details are correct.

Other travel | Conference travel grants

In addition to support provided by the Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (above), please note the following Conference Travel Grants.

RACI Graduate Student Travel Award
The RACI has introduced a set of Graduate Student Travel Awards to allow student members of the Institute to travel professionally from their home institution. There will be up to 15 such awards of up to $2,000 in any 12 month period starting on July 1 every year.

RACI Jim O'Donnell International Conference Travel Grants
These grants fund attendance at a major international conference for students presenting one oral paper. Closing date for applications is 30 April each year. Membership details and details on the conference travel grants are available at the RACI web site and in Chemistry in Australia. One award is given for conferences held between 1 January and 30 June. A second award is given for conferences held between 1 July and 31 December.

School of Chemistry Le Fevre International Conference Travel Grant
Available to an outstanding female postgraduate student in the School to attend a major international conference and present a paper or poster dealing with her research. Closing: 31 March annually for conferences held between 1 July – 30 June in following calendar year. Amount: maximum of $2,500.

Insurance cover for travel and for research work carried out off-campus

This student travel form must be completed by students who are travelling within Australia or overseas on University business, no matter for how short a period, and by students who are carrying out research work at locations outside of the University. The Head of School's approval must be obtained before the travel/research work in order to be covered by the University's Travel, Student Personal Accident and Public Liability Insurance Policies.

In regard to Travel Insurance, the Maximum Duration of any trip covered by the policy is 365 days. Persons taking trips of more than 180 days must email details to the Audit & Risk Management Office 10 days prior to departure. The Insurance Officer can be contacted on 9351-4127 (phone); 9351-5868 (fax); (email). Travel insurance provided by The University of Sydney does not cover: accompanying spouse and family (children); any associated holiday or personal travel. It is the traveller's responsibility to arrange their own insurance coverage for these purposes.

This form must be completed when carrying out research off-campus as many institutions, such as the Australian Synchrotron, do not provide insurance coverage nor indemnity for visiting students carrying out research there.

Once this Insurance form has been completed and signed by the student and supervisor, it should be dropped down to Dimetra Skondras-Silva in the Front Office for the Head of School's signature. Once so signed, a copy of the form will be placed on file and the original returned to the student. This form should be taken with students on their travels as should a copy of the University's travel insurance advice, available from the Student Travel Insurance website.

Only travel/research that is required for the degree and that has been authorised by the Head of School will be covered.

Details of the benefits of the policy and exclusions as well as other relevant information can be obtained from the Risk Management Student Travel Insurance website.


DR SPOC is a representative council of postgraduate chemistry students, who look after the interests of students within the School. This is done by posting a representative on each of the School Committees, and holding regular meetings to discuss any issues that could affect the way postgraduate students work, or their working environment.

DR SPOC acts as a liaison between the people in charge, such that students can approach the committee with any problem or suggestion they might have, in case they don't feel comfortable raising the issue by themselves.

SUPRA : Sydney university postgraduate representative association

SUPRA aims:

  • to provide postgraduate students with greater access to all of SUPRA's important resources
  • to enhance awareness of SUPRA's roles and functions.
  • to facilitate postgraduate student involvement in SUPRA's activities.


The following forms regarding your candidature are available from the Faculty of Science web site:

  • Notification of Withdrawal/Discontinuation of Candidature
  • Application for Extension of Candidature
  • Application for Suspension, Absence, Time Away, Permission to Complete Away
  • Application for Change in Attendance Status
  • Intention to Submit Thesis
  • Change of Supervisor/Associate Supervisor

The following Scholarship Forms are available from the Scholarships Office web site:

  • Scholarship Payment Authority Form
  • Scholarship Commencement Form
  • Application for Suspension of Scholarship
  • Application for Postgraduate Leav
  • Application to Hold Postgraduate Award Overseas
  • Scholarship Recommencement Form (after Period of Suspension)
  • Thesis Allowance Claim

General School Forms can be obtained from the School's Front Office.

  • Request for keys
  • Insurance Cover for Student Travel/Off-Campus Research
  • Insurance cover for Non-University equipment
  • Insurance cover for University equipment

After your degree - Funding for postdoctoral fellowships

Click here for some possible sources of funding for a postdoctoral position.

Where to get help and advice

In general, meetings are documented but can be kept confidential if requested.

If you need advice from someone not in Chemistry, then the Counselling Service can usually assist.


Associate Professor Christopher Ling

Director of Postgraduate Studies

School of Chemistry

Room 455

Telephone: +61 2 9351 4780


Associate Professor Chris Ling

Associate Professor Chiara Neto

Postgraduate Coordinator

School of Chemistry

Room 349

Telephone: +61 2 9351 2752

 Dr Chiara Neto

Ms Jody Cutler

Postgraduate Administrator

School of Chemistry

Room 207

Telephone: +61 2 9351 3328

 Ms Jody Cutler