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Your Rights as a Research Student



  • At least two supervisors must be appointed to each research student, one of whom must be a research supervisor.
  • The standard supervision model consists of a research supervisor and an auxiliary supervisor, but you may request a different model if you prefer. Approach your Faculty Postgraduate Research Coordinator to discuss your options.
  • Your supervisor(s) should be in regular contact, and work with you to develop a progress plan.
  • When you submit written work to your supervisor, they are required to return it to you with relevant constructive feedback within one month for (the equivalent of) one thesis chapter.
  • When your supervisor is absent for a period of one month or more, the Head of School must put in place appropriate alternative supervisory arrangements.
  • If you’re not happy with your supervisor, you may change your supervisory arrangements. Consult your Faculty Postgraduate Research Coordinator on the process.
  • Your supervisor is expected to provide you with assistance in developing important applications such as ethics applications, progress plans, and progress reports.


Intellectual Property

You own the copyright in your thesis and scholarly works in the absence of any agreement to the contrary. You should assess your particular circumstances by reading the University’s Intellectual Property Policy 2016. See also: Intellectual Property.


Resources and facilities

You have the right to be provided with an induction so that you understand key dates and policies, and what administrative support is available to you – including who to contact.

You are also entitled to appropriate access to work space as you require – although this might not include your own desk or office.

Research students have the right to professional development opportunities, such as attending conferences and taking on teaching roles, if appropriate.

Additionally, you have the right to technical support, and research and communication tools, and to apply to conduct research off campus.


Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS)

Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS) is University funding for HDR students to attend conferences around the world; conduct fieldwork or overseas research; or to obtain special equipment. It can also be used for thesis production if you don’t have a scholarship.


Length of candidature

Correction to length of candidature: PhD is entitled to 3.5 years full-time equivalent for thesis submission, with expectation that examination and graduation is completed within 4 years. Full time Masters by Research students must submit their thesis for examination by 1.5 years, with expectation that examination and graduation (or transfer to PhD) is completed within 2 years. You may request an extension if you have extenuating reasons for not submitting within time.


Hours and leave

A full-time research student is expected to spend at least 35 hours per week on their research studies. They are entitled to up to 4 weeks of recreation leave annually.

A part-time research student spends less than 35 hours per week on their research studies. International students are not normally permitted to study part-time but international research students have the same right to recreation leave as domestic students.


Suspension and leave of absence

Research students are entitled to take a suspension or short leave. If the leave is more than a few days advise your supervisor and check with HDRAC on what you need to do. This is to prevent you unnecessarily losing the time in which you must complete your degree, or using up your scholarship funding. For more information:


Maternity leave

Research students who are receiving a research training program or similar scholarship and who have completed 12 full-time months of their degree may be entitled to 12 weeks paid leave.


Reviewing progress

Students have a responsibility to report to their Research Supervisor (or raise concerns during their Progress Review), if they are experiencing problems with their progress.

You have the right to see what your supervisor has written on their section of the Progress Report before your Progress Review interview, as well as the right to respond to your supervisor’s comments during the interview, and in writing afterwards on the progress report form (highly recommended).

If you receive an outcome of Unsatisfactory Progress and are asked to Show Good Cause as to why you should be permitted to continue in your candidature, seek assistance from SUPRA. See also: Show Good Cause for Research Students.

You cannot be terminated without notice and reasons, and must first be asked to show good cause. If the Faculty determines you have not shown cause and are therefore terminated, you have a right to appeal and to seek assistance from SUPRA.



Supervision of Higher Degree by Research Students Policy 2013
Progress Planning and Review of Higher Degree by Research Students Policy 2015
Essential Resources for Postgraduate Research Students 2016
Intellectual Property Policy 2016
Research Training Scholarships Policy 2018
Thesis and Examination of Higher Degree by Research Policy 2015
University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule 2011 (as amended)

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