Candidature requirements

All HDR candidates must be aware of their responsibilities as well as those of their supervisors when starting their candidature. Please familiarise yourself with the candidature requirements.

For up-to-date HDR advice about COVID-19, please refer to the information on the GRS CoVID 19 Sharepoint site.

For candidates applying for the completion scholarship (3.5-4 years EFTSL), the review must: outline how their progress has been delayed by the COVID-19 situation:

  • provide a detailed timeline for their thesis submission
  • have strong supporting statements from the review panel that the completion plan is in place and is realistic
  • have milestones with dates that are achievable (and not all at the time of the next review).

After that, the candidate can apply for the Completion Scholarship.

  • All HDR candidates must be inducted into the school/ lab area by their supervisors/lab managers as well as attend the UNSW HDR Welcome and Orientation and the UNSW Medicine & Health Induction Session.

    Following detailed discussions about the proposed project, SBMS HDR candidates and their supervisors (joint supervisor and/or co-supervisor) should complete and sign the school’s PG Orientation Form. The form should be returned to the Postgraduate Research Administrator by the end of Term 2 once the Research Data Management module has been completed. Please note the sections on Potential Conflict of Interest must be signed and completed even if there is no conflict of interest.

    HDR candidates and their supervisors should also select their review panels at this point (please refer to the Progress Reviews section for more information).


  • UNSW aims to provide a physically safe, healthy and secure learning and working environment for all students, staff, contractors and visitors. To achieve this goal requires everyone to ensure their actions do not adversely affect the health or safety of others.

    You should be inducted into the area by your supervisor, this will include emergency arrangements, local risk assessments and safe work procedures relevant to you, how to report a hazard, training you need (see below) and anything else important to you. Candidates are responsible for adhering to UNSW H&S policies and protocols, following instructions on safe work procedures, reporting hazards and incidents and ensuring they do not endanger others.

    All HDR candidates are required to undertake some H&S related training. Your supervisor is responsible for your safety whilst you are working at UNSW and your ultimate guide to what courses you will need to enrol in. This is determined by the type of research you will be engaged in and the risks posed by it. Please refer to the Health & Safety webpages for further information and for some general guidance as to what H&S training SoMS recommends HDR candidates undertake.


  • Download the Research Degree Milestones for:

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

    Master by Research 

  • HDR candidates must also familiarise themselves with the requirements, policies and procedures of the Graduate Research School, and UNSW Medicine & Health.

  • Please refer to the Progress reviews section for more detailed information.

  • HDR candidates are expected to give a mid-candidature seminar presentation in one of the seminar series of the school or at their Research Institute/Centre (NeuRA, St Vincent’s, Garvan). This seminar should review the literature, discuss the methodologies being used/to be used in the project, and the progress/achievements to date. The format of the seminar consists of a 20-minute presentation with 10 minutes for questions. The scheduling of the seminars will be done in consultation with the candidate and the seminar series coordinators. The seminars are attended by academic staff, HDR candidates and students. Candidates should liaise with their supervisor/s regarding which seminar series would fit best with each research project.

    Note: The oral presentation is compulsory. However, if the student has already given an oral presentation elsewhere at a meeting or at another seminar series, then he/she will be exempted.

    All PhD candidates should also give an exit/final seminar at the end of their candidature. This will further develop communications skills and membership of the research community, as well as inform colleagues about the major research findings from the PhD. Candidates should also present their final seminar before thesis submission.

    Please email to organise your MID-CAN and END-CAN presentations.

    HDR candidates based at the Wallace Wurth Building & the Lowy Cancer Research Centre should present at one of the following:

    • ‘Neuroscience and Noncommunicable Diseases Seminars’ on Fridays at 3pm (Convenor: Lindsay Wu).
    • ‘Mechanisms of Disease and Translational Research Seminars’ on Wednesdays at 9.30am (Convenor: Shafagh Waters).
    • ‘Adult Cancer Program Seminars’ on the third Thursday of each month at 11am (Convenor: George Sharbeen).
    • ‘Exercise Physiology Seminars’ on the first Thursday of each month at 12pm (Convenor: Matthew Jones).
    • ‘Single Molecule Science Seminars’ on the third Friday of each month (Administrator: Olukemi Fakolade).
    • ‘MedEd Seminar Series’ on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12pm (Convenor: Linda Ferrington).

    HDR candidates based externally for example at NeuRA, St Vincent’s, should liaise with their supervisor and contact their local area for seminar schedules.

  • Attendance at the School Research Seminars and Department Seminars is compulsory for all SBMS HDR candidates who are physically based in the Kensington campus (Wallace Wurth, Lowy and Arthur Street). As a trainee in the area of biomedical research, the school believes it is vital to have the opportunity to see and hear the work of accomplished scientists. You will see how they present their work to a general audience, and get an understanding of how their own work and career has developed over time. You will also become familiar with some of the people who will be making decisions about you and your work in the future. So while the talks may not always be in your specific area of research or discipline, we believe attendance is vital to your development as a scientist.

  • All research candidates must include the 'School of Biomedical Sciences, UNSW' in the list of affiliations on any publications worked on during their candidature.


  • Digital Thesis Module on GRIS

    Digital Thesis Module on GRIS was introduced in mid-2020 with online NOITS, submission and examinations.  Students and supervisors should refer to How to videos for candidates and How to videos for supervisors. Full info is provided on the Examinations Sharepoint.

    Notification of Intention to Submit Thesis

    Candidates are required to lodge a Notification of Intention to Submit form via GRIS two months prior to submission of their thesis. For further information please refer to the Graduate Research School website regarding what you need to do before thesis submission. This is covered in the video 'How to submit your NOITS'.

    Thesis submission policies and procedures can be found at the UNSW Graduate Research School website.

    Once you have satisfied the requirements of the higher research degree in which you are enrolled,you are required to provide two digital (electronic) copies of the final version of your thesis. A final paper version of the thesis is no longer required. Please refer to the Graduate Research School website for further information. An electronic thesis (PDF) should also be submitted to the Postgraduate Research Administrator at the SoMS Administration office (Level 2 East, Wallace Wurth Building).

    Inclusion of Publications in a Thesis

    As part of the new Thesis Examination Procedure, thesis as a series of publications has been replaced with inclusions of publications in a thesis. The main impact of this change is two fold. Firstly, candidates no longer need to have a minimum number of publications in order to include them in their thesis in lieu of a chapter or chapters. Secondly, candidates no longer need to submit a request to their Faculty’s Higher Degree Committee for approval to include publications in their thesis.

    All candidates who submit their thesis for examination will need to provide information (in GRIS) on any publications to be included in the thesis (this is covered in the video - How to submit your thesis and Thesis Examination Procedure.

    There are three options in GRIS that candidates will fall into. Click one of these options and if option 2 or 3, then provide extra information on any publications as indicated in GRIS.

    1. My thesis contains no publications, either published or submitted for publication
    2. Some of the work described in my thesis has been published and it has been documented in the relevant Chapters with acknowledgement.
    3. My thesis has publications – either published or submitted for publication – incorporated into it in lieu of Chapters. Details of these publications are provided below.

    If you fall into category 3, you must also complete an Authorship Declaration Form for each of the articles. You can attach these as separate files in GRIS at the time of thesis submission.

    Further information is also available on the Thesis Examination Procedure.

    Preparation and Submission

    Thesis submission has gone entirely electronic and there is no longer a requirement for a hard copy of the thesis. Please ensure that you read and follow the thesis submission policies and procedures on the Graduate Research School website.

    You are also required to submit a digital thesis directly to the UNSW Library; please refer to the UNSW Library website for instructions.

  • UNSW allows Masters by Research candidates to apply for a transfer to the PhD program if they meet the PhD entry requirements (Honours Class 2 Division 1 equivalence) at the time of the transfer request. Following appropriate review within the school, requests from candidates to transfer enrolment from Masters by Research to PhD require documentation indicating: 

    • A written request from the candidate detailing how the project meets the expectations of a PhD as an ‘original contribution to knowledge’, in a way that is not expected of a Masters (up to one page).
    • If the candidate does not have a Bachelor with Honours Class 2 Division 1 or better, a statement as to what qualifications or experience the candidate has which are equivalent to such a degree, including what the candidate has done during enrolment in the Masters to achieve such equivalence if it cannot be demonstrated at the time of initial enrolment (e.g., 1st author peer reviewed publication/s or similar research output).
    • Table of contents and chapter plan for both the Masters and PhD.
    • A timeline for completion of the Masters and PhD. The timeline should indicate the portions of research/thesis that have been completed; what remains to be completed, and the projected submission date.
    • A copy of the Progress Review in which the Panel recommends that the candidate has satisfied all the requirements for confirmation of a PhD candidate and that the candidate may transfer to a PhD.
    • A copy of the PhD Research Plan.
    • A copy of the literature review.
    • A detailed letter of recommendation from the primary supervisor that includes a detailed justification for the transfer, confirmation of how the candidate has met all of the eligibility requirements of a PhD and in cases where the candidate was not originally assessed as H2:1, a clear statement must be included as to how they now meet the requirement.
    • A detailed letter of recommendation from the School Postgraduate Coordinator that includes justification for the transfer and confirming that the candidate is eligible for admission to the PhD.

    The progress review preceding the transfer application (usually at 2.0 FTE) will be the confirmation review and it should be held at least 3 months before the census date. The Master thesis must be on track for submission by the census date and should include a literature review, 2 completed chapters with original data and evidence of publications (e.g., abstract, paper).  

    Transfer requests are presented to the Higher Degree Committee by the Postgraduate Coordinator. The request for transfer and all documentation must be sent to the Postgraduate Coordinator at least 2 months before the thesis submission date (for the Masters).

    Please see the attached GRS fact sheet for more information about the transfer from Masters to PhD.