Research Degrees



1. The University of South Australia (University) aspires to provide an exceptional study experience for students in our research degrees. This policy sets out the University’s principles and commitments for the provision and management of research degrees at the University of South Australia.

This policy is to be read in conjunction with the Research Degree procedures listed below.


2. This policy applies to research degree students, research degree supervisors, staff associated with the support, coordination and leadership of research degree programs, and examiners of the final work of research degree students.

3. This policy applies to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), PhD by Portfolio of Publications, Professional Doctorate by Research and Master of Research degrees.

4. Administration of research degrees will be in accordance with this policy, its procedures, and any other relevant University policy or procedure.


5. Coursework undergraduate and postgraduate programs, including honours degrees.

6. Postgraduate coursework degrees with a significant research component; refer to Policy A-49.3 Postgraduate Coursework Degrees with a Significant Research Component.


7. Academic Board is the approving authority for this policy.

8. The Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise is the officer responsible for organisation-wide adherence to this policy and its procedures.

9. Members of the University Community are responsible for complying with this policy and related procedures.

10. Deans of Research (or their delegates) in each Academic Unit are responsible for ensuring the effective conduct of research education within the Academic Unit.

11. Research degree students and research degree supervisors, and staff associated with the support, coordination and leadership of research degree programs are responsible for understanding and complying with this policy and its procedures, and all other relevant policies, procedures and codes, including national codes where indicated. International research degree students are additionally responsible for compliance with the requirements of their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).

12. The procedural responsibilities of this policy are provided in the Research Degree procedures, listed below.

Policy Principles

13. The University pursues research excellence, and this pursuit underpins the University’s approach to both research supervision and research degree support. The University works with partners and end-users to create research teams that can tackle significant real-world challenges; our researchers strive to make a difference in the world of ideas and of practice.

14. The University values the pursuit of research, and the development and mentoring of new and emerging researchers through the supervision and support of research degree students. All members of the University Community have a right to expect respectful and ethical behaviour from others and have a personal responsibility to exhibit respectful and ethical behaviour toward others.

15. The University upholds the highest standards of research integrity and expects the responsible conduct of research from all members of the University Community.

16. The University ensures all research processes and procedures are equitable, inclusive and transparent and conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

17. The University ensures research degree students have access to high quality supervision, resources for degree progression and completion, and access to services and support to enable the development of knowledge and career capabilities embodied in the Research Degree Graduate Qualities.


Academic Unit. A major organisational unit with responsibility for academic programs. At UniSA, there are seven Academic Units:  UniSA: Allied Health & Human Performance; UniSA: Business; UniSA: Clinical & Health Sciences; UniSA: Creative; UniSA: Education Futures; UniSA: Justice & Society; and UniSA: STEM.

Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a form issued by the University to international students studying in Australia on a student visa, for student visa purposes.

Dean of Research is the research leadership role in each Academic Unit who enacts the University’s research strategy and is responsible for the oversight of research degree programs in their Academic Unit. The Dean of Research may delegate the leadership and management of research education and related activities to a Professorial Lead with portfolio responsibility for the research degrees in the Academic Unit.

Enterprise Agreement/Collective Agreement is the current University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement and the University of South Australia Senior Staff Collective Agreement (as varied or replaced from time to time).  

Natural justice is a principle that provides procedural fairness to all parties by ensuring that: all parties must be given an opportunity to present their case; the respondent must be provided with notice and information about allegations made against them and information about their rights including to have a support person; the respondent must be given a reasonable timeframe within which to respond; the decision maker must declare any conflict of interest; and the decision maker must act fairly and without bias, consider all relevant evidence, and base any decision on evidence that supports it.

Research Degree Graduate Qualities are outcomes that result from doing a research degree at UniSA. Importantly, these competencies are transferable to many careers. A UniSA research degree graduate is an effective problem solver, capable of applying logical, critical and creative thinking to a range of research problems, can work both autonomously and collaboratively as a researcher within a particular discipline or professional area and within wider but related areas. 

Research degree student is an individual enrolled in a research degree.

Staff member is an individual employed by the University under its Enterprise Agreement or Collective Agreement, and also includes adjuncts, visiting academics and guest lecturers, and volunteers, whether they are paid or unpaid.  

Supervisors are members of the University Community who have oversight and/or direction of the work of staff or students.

University Community refers to all students and staff members of the University including honorary title holders, adjuncts, visiting academics, guest lecturers and volunteers who are contributing to the work of the University but who are not staff members.  

Associated Documentation

Procedure AB-58 P1: Research Degrees Admission and Enrolment

Procedure AB-58 P2: Research Degrees Supervision

Procedure AB-58 P3: Research Degrees Student Progression

Procedure AB-58 P4: Research Degrees Leave

Procedure AB-58 P5: Research Degrees Program Transfer

Procedure AB-58 P6: Research Degrees Thesis Preparation and Examination

Procedure AB-58 P7: Research Degrees Student Research Misconduct

Appendix AB-58 AD1: Minimum Resources for Research Degree Students

Appendix AB-58 AD3: Research Misconduct

Guideline AB-58 AD4: Preparation of Research Statements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (by Portfolio of Publications)

Guideline AB-58 AD5: Research Degrees Statement of Agreement

Guideline AB-58 AD6: Preparation of Research Proposals in Research Degrees 

Guideline AB-58 AD7: Presentation of the Research Degree Thesis, or Exegesis (consolidated)

Guideline AB-58 AD8: Oral Defence of the Thesis in Research Degrees

Guideline AB-58 AD9: Supervisory Panels in Research Degrees at UniSA

Guideline AB-58 AD10: Key Responsibilities in Research Degrees Management and Supervision

Policy AB-59: Research Degrees and Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships

Procedure AB-59 P1: Research Degrees and Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships

Policy M -1: Privacy policy

Policy A-48: Enrolment

Policy A-49.3: Postgraduate Coursework Degrees with a Significant Research Component

Policy AB-60: Higher Doctorates

Policy AB-61: PhD Program Collaboration

Policy AB-64: Supervision of Research Degree Students

Policy C-17: Student complaints resolution

Policy RES-1: Responsible Practice in Research

Student Appeals Committee Procedure

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, including NHMRC Supervision Guide

Code of Conduct for Students

Graduate Qualities for Research Degree Students

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code 2018)

Guideline: Generative Artificial Intelligence and Research


Officer Responsible for Update and Review: Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise

Approved by:

Academic Board, 27 November 2020

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, 20 August 2021 (minor amendments)

Academic Board, 25 February 2022

Academic Board, 26 November 2022

Commencement Date: 1 January 2021

Review Date:  December 2025

History:  This policy supersedes Policy RES-10.4 Higher Degrees by Research