Confirmation of candidature

Confirmation of candidature

The Confirmation of Candidature is a process requiring candidates to develop a formal thesis proposal in the first 6-8 months of candidature (or part-time equivalent) and present to a panel of experts. This process is a requirement of continuation of candidature at Macquarie, and involves the submission of a proposal, presentation to a panel, oral discussion and defence of the proposal. Exact requirements will vary by department, and may involve follow-up activities if deemed necessary.

In addition, you are expected to present aspects of your research at regular intervals throughout your candidature. This includes presentations to peers, faculty and other internal colleagues, as well as at conferences and seminars external to the University.

The process is designed to ensure the candidate is progressing appropriately and also as a supportive intervention whereby constructive feedback is given from outside of the supervisory team. It provides a timely opportunity to refine, redirect and/or enhance the PhD project as well as demonstrate your written and presentation skills.

If your Confirmation of Candidature is deemed unsatisfactory, your candidature may be terminated. The HDR and MRes Termination of Candidature Procedure Policy provides further information.

This should not be confused with your Annual Progress Report(s).

Confirmation details


While Confirmation of Candidature processes vary by faculty, all follow a similar procedure. A general timeline is:

  • Thesis proposal is developed (within the first 6-8 months for full time candidates and the first 8-10 months for part time candidates). Supervisor approves proposal for review.
  • Supervisor(s) arrange for proposal review by a panel of reviewers consisting of the supervisory team, departmental HDR coordinator or designate, and at least one expert external to the department.
  • A date is set for oral presentation of the proposal to the panel of reviewers. The panel needs to have received the proposal at least one full week before the oral presentation date.
  • The candidate presents what they consider to be the key issues of their intended research project. The review panel will seek clarification from the candidate on these and related issues.
  • The candidate then departs. The review panel discusses the proposal and the principal supervisor develops the report which will contain comments and recommendations about the proposal and other aspects supporting PhD completion - and will include a final decision about confirmation of candidacy.
  • A formal letter will be sent to the candidate with the results of the review process. The letter will confirm candidature and/or will recommend conditions before candidature can be confirmed. A time frame will be included with conditions. In extreme cases, candidature will be terminated.
  • If candidature was deemed to be conditional, the candidate responds to the conditions. The candidate (with supervisor) reports to the review panel chair, in writing, to confirm conditions have been addressed.
  • A formal letter confirming candidature will be sent. The report and final confirmation are attached to the candidate’s official university file.
  • Appeals: Candidates who have concerns about the outcome or any aspect of the review process should contact the department HDR academic coordinator.

Preparing the proposal

As stated, exact details of the Confirmation of Candidature will vary by faculty and discipline. Your thesis proposal must be developed with your principal supervisor and signed by them before being forwarded to the review panel. Usually, a thesis proposal includes the following sections:

  • Title of thesis
  • Summary of the project
  • Theoretical orientation
  • Critical review of the literature and/or discussion of the literature
  • Aims, significance and expected outcomes
  • Research question(s) (macro) and sub-questions
  • Research design including data collection, data analysis strategies
  • Ethical considerations (may include completed Ethics Application as Appendix)
  • Bibliography to date
  • Anticipated time frame for completion (including publishing schedule if appropriate)
  • Funding and other support needs

Candidates may wish to refer to practical guides and information briefs (available at the Library). Books are available which address the doctoral research experience including designing and formatting thesis-based research. The Library also has handouts related to proposal development.

Confirmation by Faculty

Faculty of Arts

Confirmation of Candidature in the Faculty of Arts involves the candidate presenting their written/creative work and, in some departments, an oral presentation. This presentation of work is given to a panel of experts in their own discipline/department, who will assess the feasibility of the project and offer suggestions.

At the five-month mark (or part-time equivalent) of your candidature, you will be alerted by the Arts HDR Office of the Candidature Confirmation process and be provided with the Candidature Confirmation Form for you and your supervisor to complete. In consultation with your supervisor, you must detail your research plan, budget, Ethics Approval (if applicable), required training, and provide a substantial written component.

A written component will often contain an updated thesis proposal or sample piece of work (thesis chapter, draft article, etc). Word length is 7,000-8,000 words for PhD candidates, and 4,000-5,000 for MPhil. Word-length includes end/foot notes but excludes bibliography.

Oral presentations run for 15 minutes and include a clear outline of your project's significance, aims, and objectives, as well as demonstrating your conceptual framework.

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Research Planning

You and your supervisor should develop a research plan over your first semester (or part-time equivalent). The research plan should include provision for development of the research proposal, literature reviews, review of theories and/or methodologies, identification of tasks and milestones, and a thesis completion timetable. A draft expenditure plan should also be included.

The Research Plan should be submitted to your department’s HDR director within six months (or part-time equivalent) from the date of enrolment. Contact your department’s HDR director for information on departmental requirements and deadlines.

Faculty of Medical Health and Science

Contact for information.

Faculty of Business and Economics

Research Protocol

At the end of the first six months of your candidature (or part-time equivalent), you will be required to present a Research Protocol to an Assessment Panel. This should contain a plan of research, budget, and substantial piece of writing that showcases your progress. This may be a refined research proposal, journal article or chapter. You will also be required to provide a Turnitin similarity report, generated through iLearn.

The Assessment Panel will consist of the Associate Dean of Higher Degree Research, your head of department, principal supervisor and your associate supervisor. You will make a 20 minute presentation to the Panel, which will be followed by question time. They may also provide advice, and then determine if your Protocol is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Barring any coursework requirements, a Satisfactory outcome will confirm your candidature.

An unsatisfactory outcome will require you to complete some extra work, with a time limit of six months (or part-time equivalent). If you fail to achieve a satisfactory outcome at the 12-month mark (or part-time equivalent), your candidature may be terminated.

Faculty of Human Sciences

The Faculty of Human Sciences’ Confirmation has two parts: The Faculty Commencement Report (FCR) at three months (or part-time equivalent), and the Confirmation of Candidature at six months (or part-time equivalent). Both documents are similar in nature. Your FCR is reviewed by several academic staff, including your head of department. The FCR serves as a basis for review during your Confirmation of Candidature.

You and your supervisor will be contacted when your report is due. The specific requirements may vary dependent on your research and department, but you can expect your FCR report to require:

  • Participation in the University and Faculty Commencement Programs
  • A robust and realistic research proposal
  • A detailed budget for research and associated activities, including plans for the Post Graduate Research Fund (PGRF) and other available funding
  • A detailed timeline showing how you will complete your research and writing before the deadline
  • A departmental-arranged presentation to academics
  • Ethics application (if applicable)
  • Required research training, eg Biosafety
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