Finishing on time

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

If you’ve been directed to this page after having an extension or lapse approved, please follow these links to find out what you need to know.

Thesis due dates

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

  • PhD/doctoral 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 your research degree, 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.

Expected course duration

If your research has gone to plan, you may have submitted your thesis before your expected course duration.

If you need more time, you can do one of the following as part of your progress review meeting:

  • If you are yet to reach your maximum course duration, apply for an extension.
  • When you reach your maximum course duration:
    • apply to lapse, or
    • be considered for late submission.

See also Permission to submit after your maximum course duration.

Extension to candidature

Find out about extensions, how to apply, and what you need to know when you have had an extension approved.

Extension to candidature

Permission to submit after your maximum course duration

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: this option applies if your candidature was confirmed on or before 31 December 2017.
  • Late submission: applies if your candidature was confirmed 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 local graduate research administrator.

A change to the Graduate Research Training 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, please contact your local graduate research administrator for advice.

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/doctoral students: up to 2 calendar years
  • Masters students: up to 1 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 you may no longer be able to access University systems such as my.unimelb or the Thesis Examination System. You may need to request for the access to 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 may include bereavements (eg death of family members) or traumatic experiences (eg being victim of a crime), or medical conditions that made it impossible for you to work on your thesis.


If you are experiencing difficulties during your candidature that may affect your ability to progress, you may want to follow these steps.

  1. Talk to your supervisor
  2. Make a student advice appointment with your local graduate research administrator
  3. Consider making changes to your candidature (eg take leave or change to part time)
  4. Review University managed online resources:
  5. Review external online resources
  6. Access University support services