Research students

Higher degree research students

Before submitting an enquiry to our HDR student team please read the frequently asked questions below, your question may already be answered here.

Where can I locate student forms?

The forms and templates tab on this page contains the necessary forms for research students. 

When should extension requests be made?

All extension requests should be made at least one month prior to the current expiry date.

Where can I located the University rules governing graduate research?

The University rules governing graduate research at ANU can be found at Graduate Research Award Rules.

Where can I find information on student expectations?

Please visit the research guide website for questions related to candidature requirements (leave, submission, milestones, enrolment, extensions, central ANU email addresses, etc.) This website also has a myriad of links to other queries pertaining to living in Canberra such as Health Services, Counselling Services, Occupational Health & Safety, Disability, Parking, Accommodation, Dean of Students, etc. 

Who do I speak with regarding office or building maintenance?

Any issues regarding your office or building should be directed to your School Administrators. This includes chair/desk issues, leakages, broken windows, etc. 

Who do I direct questions regarding Conference Travel, University visits, or other travel (not Recreational Leave or Leave of Absence travel) to?

All such travel requests should be directed to your School Administrators. They also have information regarding your PD fund.    

How do I initiate Medical Leave?

You will need to complete a Leave of Absence form found at the link above, sign it, and get your panel chair’s approval. You will need to submit the original medical certificate with your form to your HDR Administrator. You will need to check your scholarship award rules from the original offer for information on if your scholarship can be paid during medical leave.

What are the completion procedures (after submission and the examiners have made recommendations)?

Engineering versus Computer Science completion of the the thesis process (after submission and recommendations are returned):

Engineering students:

1. Make the necessary changes per examiner recommendations,

2. Get written approval from your supervisor to bind your thesis,

3. Send to HDR Administrator (Student Services), with:

Supervisor's written approval to bind the thesis,

A copy of the examiners' recommendations,

A summary of the changes you made, and

One (1) copy of your hard bound thesis.

Computer Science students:

1. Make the necessary changes per examiner recommendations,

2. Get written approval from your supervisor to bind your thesis,

3. Send to HDR Administrator (Student Services), with:

Supervisor's written approval to bind your thesis,

A copy of the examiners' recommendations,

A summary of the changes you made, and

One (1) copy of your thesis. If you forwarda soft bound copy for approval you will still need to supply a hard bound thesis before you are able to graduate.


The HDR Administrator will obtain the approvals and forward to the Examinations Office. The Examinations Office will send you a notification of completion when processed.


Absence and leave forms

Application for leave of absence from research program

Use this form to suspend your program/scholarship for a period. Medical leave must be supported by the original medical certificate.

Application for recreational leave

Use this form to apply for recreational leave. You have 20 days per year.

Travel eForm

Use this online form to apply for any conference/internship travel. Travel forms no longer need to be accompanied by an additional absence request form. Read more about travel.

PhD Monitoring 

All  HDR Students can now utilise the new Online Milestones system on ISIS. This system should be used for all upcoming and overdue milestone reports that you will be required to complete as part of your Higher Degree by Research program.

The system is quite intuitive, and works by providing you with an .rtf editable document that can be downloaded and completed in most word processing programs (e.g. Microsoft Word), uploaded with your completed information, and then submitted to your Chair of Panel (who will receive an email notifying them when this is done).

The system will record your ID and a date/time stamp, so there is no need to physically sign the document, which means that the entire process can be kept online.

Forms and guidelines

Online Student Milestone Report Submission User Guide 

Bi-annual monitoring form (PDF)Bi-annual monitoring form (DOC)
You will need this form when attending the CECS HDR bi-annual monitoring sessions. These will be organised within your research group.

LaTex Thesis template (ZIP)

You can use this when you start writing your thesis. Please also make sure to read the 'Thesis submission and examination' guideline.


Application for change of intensity in research program
Use this form to change from full-time to part-time or vice-versa.

Application for extension of research program 
Use this form to apply for an extension to your research program. PhD programs run for 4 years and MPhil's for 2 years in the first instance.

Application for extension of research scholarship 
Use this form to apply for an extension to your schoalrship. Scholarships typically run for 3 years in the first instance and many can be extended for a further 6 months.

Request a change to your supervisory panel
Use this form to request a change to your supervisory panel.

Request a change to you academic program
Use this form to request a change of program (e.g. from an MPhil to a PhD or vice versa).

Milestones & Reporting Requirements

There are a number of Milestones that each student must reach during their candidature. You will be reminded about upcoming milstones via email. Please be aware that milestones must be completed in a timely fashion, or your scholarship, or even your candidature can be jeopardised. The timeline for the completion of these milestones is set by the University. This timeline can be accessed here.

Reporting is done via the Online Milestone Reporting system. This can be accessed through ISIS. Click here to download a user manual. This link also has examples of each of the Milestones.

  • Assoc Director (Rsch) approves progress reports, but due to large student numbers it is impossible for Assoc Director (Rsch) to be expert in all areas. Thus, a panel chair writes a report about student's progress, Assoc Director (Rsch) checks. IMPORTANT: Your report is not considered complete until the Assoc Director (Rsch) has signed it.
  • Reporting usually consists of a report (previous 12 months) and plan (upcoming 12 months).
  • Biannual monitoring may consist of a seminar or a report. This is up to your research group.


Thesis Proposal Review (TPR)

The Thesis Proposal Review is a special report due 9-12 months (PhD) or 6-9 months (MPhil) after commencement. It is a longer document of 10-15 pages; often the panel will ask the student to give a seminar. The TPR must include:

  • a summary of research problem,
  • how it will be tackled (methodology and approach),
  • extensive literature review, and
  • expected outcomes.

There are five possible outcomes of the review. These are:

  1. Everything is fine, project going well (confirmation),
  2. not quite good enough, but can be fixed (re-do TPR in a few months),
  3. not good enough, chance to turn into an MPhil,
  4.  if currently doing an MPhil and work is absolutely excellent, upgrade from MPhil to PhD (please visit the forms website for the relevant change of program form); and
  5. nothing done, no chance to improve, thus terminate.


Research Integrity Training (RIT)

All students who enrolled from 1 January 2009 are required to participate in research integrity training on responsible research practice (by the ANU Research Office). This is to be completed within the first 18 months of your program. You will also need to report the results in your next annual report.

You can either visit the RIT website to find out more about this training requirement, which is presented as a short course with 10 modules (and takes about 2 hours to complete), or you can access the course through the university ‘Wattle’ system using your student number and password.

You should see ‘Research Integrity Training’ in your list of courses. Click on the link and follow the instructions. If you do not see the course in the list, type ‘research integrity’ in the search box at the bottom of the page and select “research integrity training” from the list.

Coursework (CECS 2010 Study Program)

  • All students are recommended to do coursework (negotiated with panel). It is recommended you complete 24 units (PhD) or 12 units (MPhil) to fill any gaps in your background knowledge.
  • Students do not formally enrol in coursework. Research students generally "audit" these courses. Students are encouraged to speak with the lecturer delivering the course and ask permission to "audit" their course. Auditing a course merely means that you will sit in on the lectures/tutorials. Grading is optional (to be discussed between you and the lecturer) and there is no credit given by the University.
  • All students are recommended to spend time on professional development activities; 60 hours (PhD) or 30 hours (MPhil). There are a range of professional development courses available from the ANU research student website. Commercialisation courses are sometimes available through NICTA.
  • For NICTA students, introductory (1-2 day courses) in all of the 6 NICTA research group disciplines is compulsory.
  • ANU encourages multi-disciplinary research, so you can audit courses not taught in CECS.

Oral Presentation

ANU requires a formal oral presentation in the last 3 months before submission (to be attended by panel), with a report to be written by panel chair. This is satisfied through the CECS PhD monitoring program.

Submitting your thesis

The ultimate milestone for a higher degree research student is the completion and submission of the thesis. The thesis is a significant piece of research and represents the culmination of years of work, collaboration, exploration and discovery.

The thesis and other milestones form the basis of the expected acadedemic performance of HDR students.

Read more about how to submit and what to do after submission.



  • Speak with supervisor about tutoring, usually teaching and tutoring part time is encouraged and recommended (up to 6 hours per week for a full time students). You can do this with supervisory panel approval.
  • Approval from the Assoc Director (Rsch) is required for regularly working more than 6 hours per week. It is not usually given as it is considered too much distraction from your PhD project.
  • Important: International students must check their visa conditions if they are allowed to work and how much.


For information on Examinations, please click here 

Examination process:

  •  Your intention to submit should be lodged with the Examinations office 2 months before actual submission. The email address for this is:
  • Examination outcome will either be ‘Pass’, ‘Pass with corrections’, ‘Revise and resubmit’, or ‘Fail’.
  • Most common is ‘Pass with corrections’ in which you have 12 months to make the corrections to the satisfaction of the College.
  • 'Revise and resubmit’ means you need to undergo a further examination and must formally re-enrol to make corrections.

Prospective examiners:

  • Your thesis is sent to three examiners.
  • The examiners should be external to ANU.
  • At least one of the three examiners must be from an international university.
  • Under no circumstances should an examiner be a past or present supervisory panel member.
  • The Head of your Research School selects the thesis examiners from a list of possible examiners provided by the panel chair. Before the selected examiners are appointed, it is approved by Dean of CECS. Note that a Head can add other examiners.
  • Student MUST NOT know the identities of their examiners. However they can/should discuss possible examiners with their supervisor. E.g., anyone they particularly do not want to be an examiner.

Supervisory Panel

Initial supervisory panel:

  • Usually the Panel Chair is the academic that the student was initially in contact with. This can be changed, however. The initial supervisor does not need to be part of the final supervisory panel.
  • A panel at ANU consists of three or more people. The panel roles are as follows:
    • Panel Chair (person responsible for signing of forms, reports, etc.),
    • Supervisor (one or more, there should be one primary supervisor – the person who will be in most direct contact with the student for all matters relating to the student's research),
    • Advisors (more informal role, while a supervisor has right to direct research an advisor does not).
  • Supervisors need to have PhD as well, but advisors do not. Supervisors and advisors can come from outside the ANU, even from overseas.
  • Panel Chair must be a member of ANU staff/adjunct (as is for NICTA).
  • The Primary Supervisor can be a different person to the Panel Chair.
  • Panel Chair is usually the person that signs any forms relating to the students candidature (e.g. leave of absence, extension of program, milestone reports, etc.)
  • NICTA students must have at least one ANU Supervisor (not advisor).

Student's role in establishing panel:

  • Confirmation of supervisory arrangements should occur within the first three months of start date.
  • The student should discuss supervisory arrangements with the initial panel chair; talk to relevant people. Note: Anybody who was on a student's panel (even if for only one day or as advisor) cannot be an examiner!
  • Changes in supervisory panel can be made with the agreement of the panel chair only. If the panel chair is to be changed, then the Head of School must approve this.
  • A change of Panel Chair/Primary Supervisor often means a change of research direction. Please provide a written reason on the form if you change your Panel Chair/Primary Supervisor.
  • A PhD/MPhil is a student's project. As the student has the most to gain, you should be the driving force in contact with your panel, supervisors, others etc. as/when needed.
  • Establishing expectations with your supervisor.

Mentors and Advisors

Student Mentors

The CECS research student mentoring scheme has been designed to help new research students during the first six months of their program. The program primarily involves experienced graduate students acting as mentors to provide guidance related to the postgraduate research experience. These mentors have gone through the same transition experience, so they can understand the challenges and feelings of newly arriving students. The mentors are available for you to have a chat with and can provide some basic guidance on University life as well as helping you get to know other students in the College. If you are interested in becoming a student mentor, please email 

Current Student Mentors can be found here.

Student Advisors

The Student Advisor Program has been set up so students can discuss any issues (academic or personal) affecting their studies with an academic. All discussions are on an informal and confidential basis and as both male and female advisors are available gender-related issues can be freely discussed. The advisors are volunteering their services and no record is kept of any discussions. Depending on the problem the advisor may refer the student to the appropriate staff member within CECS or resource within the University

Current Student Advisors can be found here.

Rules and guidelines

It is important that you become familiar with University rules, policies and guidelines that are likely to affect you as a graduate research student.

Academic Policies

These links are to the policies that create the framework for your research degree. You must adhere to these policies at all times.

Research Degree Helpful Information

  • Research Skills Training: This website has all the information about research training from all over the university and outside it. Check it often for updates.
  • Copyright guidelines. Learn how to comply with copyright policy and also your rights as a copyright owner.
  • Dean of Students office:  The Dean of Students is here to advise and assist students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, when problems or grievances arise in their academic or personal life at ANU. The Dean can help you to resolve issues, and can also direct you to other on-campus advice and support services.
  • Human Ethics: . If you intend using participants in your research, you may need to get ethical clearance. This website outlines how to apply and who to contact.
  • Intellectual Property Policy: . This policy promotes the advancement and transmission of knowledge generated in connection with teaching or research within the University.
  • Responsible Research Practices: . This policy outlines the standards of research integrity students and staff are expected to adhere to and how to deal with misconduct in research.

Campus Information

CECS Information

Health and Wellbeing

A dedicated team of academic and professional staff are available within the College to provide support for all our HDR students. 

Questions to do with the administration of your program should be directed to your HDR administrator (see below) in the first instance. Any forms that you complete should first be signed by your Chair of Panel and then sent to your HDR administrator in the Student Services Office, CSIT Building (108).

Within each school there is also an Academic Network Convenor who is primarily reponsible for admission matters, while each school has a Delegated Authority (DA) with a responsibility for oversight of the exmaination process.

Each school also has a Director who has responsibilty for the academic leadership of each school, including research education.


Mrs Marie-Claire Milicevic

Service Officer - Industry and Grants
CSIT (108), Level 2
+61 2 6125 0704

Updated:  1 June 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CECS Webmaster