Supervision & progress


Each postgraduate student will have a supervisory panel comprising the student’s supervisor and co-supervisor(s). A student may have joint supervisors if more than one academic is equally responsible for a given project. In addition, a minimum of two academics should be chosen as panel members in consultation with them and the student’s supervisor. While the student will meet regularly with the primary supervisor, an important role of the supervisory panel is to assess progress and provide feedback on project and thesis planning via annual progress meetings (see below).

The UNSW policy on postgraduate supervision

Introductory research proposal

Within four months of commencing their project, students participating in the E&ERC graduate program are expected to submit a written introductory research proposal. The proposals are modelled on part of the grant proposals that are submitted each year to the Australian Research Council Discovery Projects scheme.

The proposal* should include text in the following sections:

Student and supervisor(s):
Project title:

Aims and background:

  • Describe the aims and background of the project.
  • Include information about recent international progress in the field of research and the relationship of this project to work in the field generally.

Significance and innovation:

  • Describe how the research is significant and whether the research addresses an important problem.
  • Describe how the anticipated outcomes will advance the knowledge base of the discipline (e.g., what important gaps in our understanding of a particular topic will your project address?) and why the project aims and concepts are novel and innovative.
  • Detail what new methodologies or technologies will be developed in the course of the project.

Approach and methodology

  • Outline the conceptual framework, design and methods, and demonstrate that these are adequately developed, well integrated and appropriate to the project aims.
  • Include a research plan and proposed timelines.


*Page limit: 5 pages.

The proposals will be reviewed by your supervisor and supervisory panel for critical feedback.

Research presentations

Students enrolled in a PhD program are expected to give research presentations once each year at the E&ERC Postgraduate Forum, and a final seminar after completion.

  • Annual research seminars (12 minutes +3 for questions). The research seminars are expected to be in the style of a conference presentation, covering one aspect of the project.
  • Exit seminar (30 minutes + 10) An exit seminar scheduled as a special centre seminar typically followed by a reception.

Students enrolled in a MSc program are expected to give research presentations once each year at the E&ERC Postgraduate Forum, and a final seminar after completion.

  • annual research seminars (12 minutes +3 for questions)

Students enrolled in a MPhil program are expected to give one research presentation at the E&ERC Postgraduate Forum, and a final seminar after completion.

  • research seminar (12 minutes +3 for questions)

MPhil Coursework

The degree of Master of Philosophy has coursework requirements in addition to the submission of a thesis. The degree is comprised of the equivalent of between 18 and 24 Units of Credit (UoC) of coursework, with the remainder of the degree allocated to the thesis.

This coursework should be successfully completed within the first two semesters of enrolment of the MPhil unless approval is given by the committee. Students should note that E&ERC Special Interest Advanced Courses can contribute to these units. In fact, most of our students meet the course UoC simply by taking E&ERC workshops that they would have taken anyway.

Progress reporting

Annual progress reports

Students are required to submit annual progress reports within the first 12 months of enrolment and again for each year enrolled.

UNSW policies on adequate progress

Student participation in the events presented as part of the E&ERC graduate program should be documented as “other achievements” in section B3 of the form. Student contributions in this regard will be assessed by supervisors and recognised by the annual prize for Outstanding Postgraduate Researcher.

Major project review

For PhD students, the Annual Progress report that occurs after four enrolled sessions (or pro-rata for part-time students) must include a detailed review of progress toward thesis completion (section B2) and planning for remaining research (section B4). Section B4 of the form should include a thesis outline with all completed chapters, planned chapters and intentions for research publication.

A major project review and review presentation should also be undertaken by students in the MSc program wishing to transfer to the PhD program.

Postgraduate committee meetings

Once a year, students will meet with their supervisory panel and members of the E&ERC Education subcommittee to assess progress, provide feedback on project ideas and plan for thesis completion. The meetings also offer an opportunity for students to raise issues in the absence of their supervisor if needed. Meetings will occur in association with the submission of Annual Progress Reviews.

Changes to your enrolment status and major difficulties should be discussed with your supervisor, panel and with your school’s postgraduate coordinator.


Thesis submission. The Graduate Research School has detailed instructions for the submission of higher degree theses. Students must lodge a notification of intention to submit two months prior to submission.

Ceremonies for final completion. The E&ERC will host ceremonies for the successful completion of higher degrees. Students that have recently submitted their theses will present their final seminar to an audience of centre members and invited guests, followed by drinks and snacks.