Progression | Law

Progression

Progression through Candidature

Review Processes

Length of Candidature and timelines for completion

The length of candidature for research programs in the Faculty of Law are as follows:

ProgramMinimum (FTE)Maximum (FTE)Part-time Max
PhD CandidatureThree yearsFour yearsEight years
 (six semesters)(eight semesters)(sixteen semesters)
   
    
LM by Research CandidatureOne-and-a-half yearsTwo yearsFour years
 (three semesters)(four semesters)(eight semesters)

The maximum length of candidature is determined by the Research Training Scheme for domestic candidates.

As most scholarships are for three years (six semesters) (with a possible extension of six months for PhD candidates and up to two years (four semesters) maximum for a Masters by Research candidate, the aim of the University is to ensure candidates are supported to complete within the time period most scholarships expire.

The University recognises that personal, financial, health and research issues may impact on the ability of a candidate to complete within the maximum time. Provided that these issues are documented throughout the candidature the University may support candidates who need additional time to complete their studies.

Review Processes

Confirmation of Candidature

The enrolment of all PhD candidates is subject to Confirmation. Progress must be assessed as satisfactory in order for candidature to be confirmed.  This will take place at the first Annual Progress Review (see below) between six and nine months full time equivalent (FTE) after enrolment.  The confirmation period may be extended for the purpose of reassessment.  The full confirmation period may not be extended beyond 15 months from the commencement of study, for full-time candidates (and 30 months for part-time candidates).  If a PhD candidate does not have their candidature confirmed, they may be transferred to a Masters by Research degree. PhD students are required to attend a Confirmation of Candidature Review Panel for this purpose and their progress must be assessed as satisfactory in order for their candidature in the PhD program to be confirmed.

The confirmation review includes all of the procedures for a progress review (including completing an Annual Progress Review Form) plus some additional ones. Information on the general requirements of a Confirmation of Candidature Review Panel is set out in the 'Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure' which is available at the http://research.unsw.edu.au/sites/all/files/related_files/regular_page_content/AnnualProgressReviewsandConfirmationofCandidature.pdf. These requirements must be read in conjunction with the Faculty of Law Guidelines, which elaborate upon and set out the Faculty’s specific requirements for confirmation of a PhD candidature: Confirmation of candidature guidelines.pdf

Before the confirmation review, the candidate needs to provide the following information:

a)      A completed Research Progress Review form, which is to be completed online and in consultation with your supervisors. 

b)      A written research proposal in accordance with section 3.2.6 (iv), page 4 of the ‘Progress Review and Confirmation of Candidatures Procedure’ document and the Faculty Guidelines;

c)      An outline of achievements since enrolment against agreed objectives/criteria and milestones. Further information on this requirement is available in section 3.2.5 (ii), page 4 of the ‘Progress Review and Confirmation of Candidatures Procedure’ document;

d)      An outline of key objectives/criteria and milestones for the next twelve months;

e)      A timeline and milestones for completion of the thesis; and

f)       Where appropriate, provide a table of contents for the thesis together with the completion status of each section.

At the confirmation review, you will be required to make an oral presentation at which all Panel members are present.

In assessing whether a candidate’s progress has been at the level expected for confirmation of candidature, the Panel will pay particular attention to:

  • The research proposal, including a comprehensive literature review, which has established a research plan that will most likely lead to a higher degree
  • The level of progress made on the research since enrolment including evidence that the student has shown research skills at the level appropriate for the discipline.

Annual Progress Review

It is a requirement of continued enrolment that all full-time and part-time postgraduate research candidates take part in a formal review of their progress each year of their candidature.  Progress reviews provide an opportunity for candidates, their supervisors and Schools to review how the research has progressed since the last review against the research plan, review all aspects of candidature, develop a plan of action for the next year, and identify and respond to any impediments to progress towards a timely completion.  Most candidates find this a highly productive experience as feedback is obtained on progress to date, areas where improvement is required are identified and a plan for the next period of research is outlined. Information on Annual Progress Reviews is available at the http://research.unsw.edu.au/annual-progress-reviews and in the document 'Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure' which is available at: https://www.gs.unsw.edu.au/policy/documents/progressreviewandconfirmationofresearchcandidaturesprocedure.pdf,  in section 3.2.5, page 3.

Once a PhD student’s candidature has been confirmed, both full-time and part-time candidates are required to attend an Annual Progress Review Panel. Both full-time and part-time candidates enrolled in the Master of Laws by Research program are also required to attend an Annual Progress Review.

Before the Panel Review meeting, the candidate and his or her supervisor will be required to complete an online Progress Review Report.  The candidate will also be requested to provide the following information:

  1. A current version of your thesis proposal or outline;
  2. A recent draft chapter;
  3. An outline of achievements for the past 12 months against agreed objectives/criteria and milestones;
  4. An outline of key objectives/criteria and milestones for next 12 months;
  5. A timeline and milestones for the completion of the thesis; and
  6. Where appropriate, a table of contents for the thesis together with the completion status of each section.

After completing the Progress Review Form and providing the above information, candidates will participate in a formal meeting with a Review Panel consisting of at least two members as well as a chair person.

As a result of a Panel review meeting, your progress will be assessed as:

  • Satisfactory and key objectives/criteria and milestones will be agreed for the next review
  • Marginal and will be reassessed against agreed objectives/criteria and milestones within the next one to six months, the date and assessment criteria having been provided to you and your supervisors in writing. A recommendation of marginal would generally be used when first identifying issues that may be hindering your progress.
  • Unsatisfactory and will be reassessed against agreed objectives/criteria and milestones within the next one to three months, the date and assessment criteria having been provided to you and your supervisors in writing.  This recommendation indicates more significant concerns and would generally follow a marginal recommendation.
  • Unsatisfactory and you will be requested by the Higher Degree Committee to “show cause” why your candidature should not be terminated for the reasons that have been outlined to you and your supervisors in writing.  A request to show cause is a serious recommendation and would generally follow as a result of the reassessment of an unsatisfactory recommendation. 

Additional Reviews

An additional review outside of the annual review or confirmation process may be arranged at the request of candidates or their supervisors to raise unresolved issues.

Prior to requesting an additional review the candidate must discuss any concerns with their supervisors.  Candidates and their supervisors should also discuss any concerns with the Chair of the review Panel or Director of Postgraduate Research.

A candidate may also be required to attend an additional review if they receive a “marginal” or “unsatisfactory” recommendation from their Annual Progress Review Panel.  If this situation arises the candidate’s Review Panel will recommend the actions and milestones that a candidate has to have completed for assessment at the next review and will also indicate the date the additional review is to be scheduled for.

Conversions between PhD and Masters Degrees

Confirmation of candidature, as part of the Annual Progress Review process, is required prior to conversion of a Masters to a PhD.

For Masters level candidates, transfer to enrolment in a PhD degree requires that the candidate is qualified for admission to the PhD and that the candidature is confirmed as part of the Annual Progress Review.   If the request or recommendation to convert to a PhD occurs at a time that does not coincide with the Faculty Annual Progress Review schedule, an additional review may be arranged for the sole purpose of consideration of confirmation of candidature. An application to convert a Masters to a PhD must be supported by the student’s supervisor and the Director of Postgraduate Research, and a recommendation to approve the transfer must be made by the Faculty Higher Degree Committee.   For the conversion to be approved by the Review Panel, the candidate must satisfy the criteria specified for confirmation of a PhD candidature, as set out in section 3.2.6, page 4 of the 'Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure' document available at: https://www.gs.unsw.edu.au/policy/documents/progressreviewandconfirmationofresearchcandidaturesprocedure.pdf.  As with the PhD Confirmation of Candidature Review Panel, these requirements must be read in conjunction with the Faculty of Law Guidelines.

Before the conversion Review Panel, candidates are required to provide:

a)      A completed Research Progress Review form, which is to be completed online and in consultation with your supervisors. 

b)      A written research proposal in accordance with section 3.2.6 (iv), page 4 of the ‘Progress Review and Confirmation of Candidatures Procedure’ document and the Faculty Guidelines;

c)       An outline of achievements since enrolment against agreed objectives/criteria and milestones. Further information on this requirement is available in section 3.2.5 (ii), page 4 of the ‘Progress Review and Confirmation of Candidatures Procedure’ document;

d)      An outline of key objectives/criteria and milestones for the next twelve months;

e)      A timeline and milestones for completion of the thesis; and

f)       Where appropriate, provide a table of contents for the thesis together with the completion status of each section.

At the confirmation review, you will be required to make an oral presentation at which all Panel members are present.

In assessing whether a student’s progress has been at the level expected for confirmation of candidature, the Panel will pay particular attention to:

  • The student’s research proposal, including a comprehensive literature review, which has established research plan that will most likely lead to a higher degree
  • The level of progress made on the research since enrolment including evidence that the student has shown research skills at the level appropriate for the discipline.

If a PhD candidate does not have their candidature confirmed, they may be transferred to the Masters of Law by Research degree.  Candidates may also request to convert from a PhD to a Masters at any stage in their candidature.  Such a request needs to be discussed with the supervisor.

The number of semesters already completed in the PhD will affect enrolment in the Master of Laws by Research.  For this reason, conversions are processed on a case-by-case basis by the GRS in conjunction with the Law Faculty.

Please note that conversion of a degree must be applied for and approved prior to the semester census date (March 31 for semester 1 and August 31 for semester 2) for it to take effect in that semester.  If a conversion is applied for and approved after the census date the variation will take effect from the following semester.

Show Cause and Termination of Candidature

Termination of candidature due to unsatisfactory progress is a serious academic decision that is taken only rarely.  A candidature may only be terminated after the Dean of the GRS approves a recommendation by the Faculty Higher Degree Committee.  Information on the 'Show Cause Process' is available in the ' Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure', section 3.5.3, page 6 (http://www.gs.unsw.edu.au/policy/documents/aprprocedure.pdf).