Finishing on time

Information about thesis submission deadlines, how to apply for an extension, and what options are available if you’ve had difficulty during your enrolment and need more time to submit.

When is my thesis due?

You are expected to submit your thesis for examination within your expected course duration:

  • PhD student: within three years (part time six years)
  • Masters student: within 18 months (part time three years).

Your expected thesis submission date may change during your candidature, for example if you take leave of absence, change degrees or change between full and part time study.

You can check your expected thesis submission date through my.unimelb.

  1. Log in to my.unimelb.
  2. Click the Student admin tab.
  3. In the second level tab, click Enrolment.
  4. In the left-hand side panel under Managing my current enrolment (Graduate Research students), click on View milestones and supervisor details.

Extensions to candidature

If you are not able to submit your thesis by your expected thesis submission date, you may be eligible to extend your candidature up to the maximum course duration.

  • PhD students: up to four years (part time eight years)
  • Masters students: up to two years (part time four years).

How to apply

You can apply to extend your enrolled candidature as part of your progress review meeting with your supervisors and advisory committee. Complete the progress review form (sent to you by your Graduate School) with your advisory committee and return it to your graduate research administrator.

Permission to submit after your maximum course duration

A change to this policy occurred in 2017. The change was about submission of a thesis after the maximum course duration has passed. If you are unsure about the change after reading this page, you can ask your graduate research administrator for advice.

In limited circumstances, you may be granted approval to submit your thesis after your maximum course duration date (that is after all possible extensions to your candidature have been exhausted).

There are two options that may allow you to submit your thesis after your maximum course duration:

  • Lapse in good standing: this option applies if you confirmed your candidature on or before 31 December 2017.
  • Late submission: applies if you confirmed your candidature on or after 1 January 2018.

To find the date when your candidature was/will be confirmed, you can check the official notification that was sent to you via email at the time or you can contact your graduate research administrator.

Lapse in good standing

If your candidature is confirmed on or before 31 December 2017, you are eligible to apply for lapsed candidature. Lapse in good standing is a period you may be granted to allow you more time to submit your thesis.

A lapse in good standing period can be granted to:

  • PhD students: up to two calendar years
  • Masters students: up to one calendar year.

Calendar years means that the period granted is not dependent on whether you were full time or part time.

Apply for lapse in good standing

  1. You apply to lapse in good standing as part of your progress review meeting with your supervisors and advisory committee.
  2. Complete the progress review form (sent to you by your Graduate School) with your advisory committee and return it to your graduate research administrator.
  3. If you application is approved, your enrolment will become inactive and changed to lapsed in good standing.
  4. This will allow you to submit your thesis (or its creative equivalent) after the expiration of your maximum course duration.

Contact your graduate research administrator to request a copy of your progress review form if you have not already received it via email.

Conditions for lapse applications

  • Lapse in good standing candidature may only be granted once you have completed your maximum course duration.
  • If you will need to use University facilities or work on University premises (for example access to a laboratory or specific software/databases) to complete your thesis, you should discuss your options to access these resources with your advisory committee. In this case, the advisory committee may approve an extension of your candidature beyond your maximum course duration.
  • If your candidature has been lapsed for some time, it is possible that you may no longer be able to access University systems such as my.unimelb, or the Thesis Examination System. You may need to request that the access be reinstated by using the Special Access to University Facilities - Application for Reinstatement of Access form.

Who approves lapse in good standing?

Your faculty dean or their nominee will assess your lapse in good standing application via your progress review form.

What are the grounds for lapse in good standing?

Lapse in good standing will be considered if:

  • you have demonstrated sufficient understanding of the research topic to make completion likely and you have provided a credible plan for completion during the late submission period, and
  • a delay in submission is due to compelling and serious research-related reasons beyond your control or compelling or unexpected, personal or medical reasons which have arisen during your candidature.

Can I have an extension to the lapse period?

Your graduate research administrator will contact you approximately three months from the date your lapse period is due to end. You can only have an extension to lapse if you were not granted the maximum allowable lapse period.

The maximum allowable lapse period is:

  • PhD students: up to two calendar years
  • Masters students: up to one calendar year.

Note that students who are currently lapsed and have a lapse period ending on or before 31 December 2017 have been offered to apply for an extension of one year only.

If you are not eligible for an extension to lapse, your candidature will be considered to be abandoned, in accordance in the Graduate Research Training Policy.

Your local graduate research administrator will contact you approximately three months before your lapse in good standing period is due to end.

Late submission

If your candidature is confirmed on or after 1 January 2018, you can seek approval for a late submission. Late submission is a period you may be granted to allow more time to submit.

A late submission can only be granted if the delay in thesis submission is due to compelling and serious research-related reasons beyond your control, or compelling or unexpected personal or medical reasons that have arisen during your candidature.

The end date of your late submission period is considered to be your maximum submission date; this is the date by which you must submit your thesis (or creative equivalent). You can find the date in the late submission approval email from your faculty.

Late submission can be granted:

  • PhD students: up to two calendar years
  • Masters students: up to one calendar year.

Calendar year means that the period granted is not dependent on whether you were full time or part time.

Your faculty graduate research administrator will send you a reminder three months before your maximum submission date. If you do not submit your thesis by this date, the University will be unable to accept your thesis and your candidature will be terminated.

Who applies for and who approves late submission?

Your advisory committee can apply for late submission on your behalf. An unsatisfactory progress committee may also recommend late submission as an outcome of a request to be heard meeting.

A late submission panel considers applications on behalf of the faculty dean.

Conditions for late submission

  • Late submission is only granted if you've completed the maximum course duration.
  • If you will need to use University facilities or work on University premises (for example access to a laboratory or specific software/databases) to complete your thesis, you should discuss your options to access these resources with your advisory committee. In this case, you will be enrolled for a part of the late submission period (this is not an additional entitlement).
  • At some stage during late submission, it is possible that you may no longer be able to access University systems such as my.unimelb, or the Thesis Examination System. You may need to request that the access be reinstated by using the Special Access to University Facilities - Application for Reinstatement of Access form.

What are the grounds for a late submission?

A late submission will be considered if:

  • you have demonstrated sufficient understanding of the research topic to make completion likely and you have provided a credible plan for completion during the late submission period; and
  • a delay in submission is due to compelling and serious research-related reasons beyond your control, or due to compelling or unexpected, personal or medical reasons which have arisen during your candidature.

Compelling and serious research related reasons beyond your control may include:

  • delays to ethics approval
  • unexpected change of direction of research due to external or other factors (for example, legislative requirements)
  • delays to experimental work
  • delayed access to, or loss of, a research site(s)
  • delays in being granted visa approval to travel to another country/countries to access research sites and/or archival repositories
  • delays in accessing archival, museum or other research sites due to delays in getting approval to access such sites
  • loss of data
  • equipment breakdown
  • loss of access to equipment.

Compelling or unexpected, personal or medical reasons include bereavements (for example, death of family members) or traumatic experiences (for example, being victim of a crime), or medical conditions that made it impossible for you to work on your thesis.

Definitions

Expected course duration

The length of the course expressed as time. You are expected to complete the thesis or equivalent and submit in these timeframes:

  • PhD: three years full time equivalent
  • Masters by research: between 18 months and 2 years full time equivalent, depending on the course.

Maximum course duration

Equivalent to the maximum allowed under the Research Training Program (RTP):

  • PhD: four years full time equivalent
  • Masters by research: two years full time equivalent.

Lapse in good standing

The period granted at the end of the maximum course duration (irrespective of prior enrolment study rate (full or part time)):

  • PhD: up to two calendar years
  • Masters by research: up to one calendar year.

Late submission period

The period granted at the end of the maximum course duration for late submission (irrespective of prior enrolment study rate (full or part time)):

  • PhD: up to two calendar years
  • Masters by research: up to one calendar year.

Maximum submission date

The maximum course duration plus an additional period of time allowed for late submission:

  • PhD: four years full time equivalent + up to two calendar years
  • Masters by research: two years full time equivalent + up to one calendar year.

A shorter period of late submission may be approved.