Effective candidature management for supervisors

Candidature management is a partnership between the graduate researcher and the supervisor, advisory committee, graduate research coordinator and professional staff in Academic Divisions and Academic Services. The responsibilities of supervisors during each phase of candidature are outlined below.

Commencement: Induction and Orientation

The roles and the responsibilities of the supervisor and candidate should be clarified right at the start of candidature. At this time, supervisors can alert the commencing graduate researcher to commonly encountered tasks, processes and standards expected of their research program and provide clear information and advice on what is required to produce an adequate thesis.

One of the first tasks of academic staff is to establish the candidate's advisory committee. An advisory committee must be established for all commencing graduate researchers. The committee meets at key stages during candidature for the benefit of the candidate, the supervisors, the department and the university. Further information on the composition and responsibilities of the advisory committee is available in Graduate Research Training Policy.

Finally, supervisors are encouraged from the outset to refer graduate researchers to the extensive networks of graduate development activities and support systems designed to assist candidates throughout their candidature. These include:


Confirmation is the most significant milestone in the first year of candidature. Its purpose is to determine whether or not work to date on the research project indicates a strong likelihood that it will result in a high quality thesis, completed in the required time. The confirmation process can be challenging and sometimes stressful for students: for many, it provides their first opportunity to formally present their research proposal to peers, colleagues and superiors. It may also be their first opportunity for sustained critical feedback.

Confirmation report forms are sent directly to graduate researchers: 6 months prior to the confirmation due date for PhD confirmation and 3 months prior for Masters by Research confirmation. Students need to complete these forms in conjunction with their supervisors. A sample copy of the form and further information can be found on the Graduate Research Hub.

Additional advice for students undergoing confirmation is available online as a component of the Postgraduate Essentials course, Strategies for a Successful Start to your PhD, which can be accessed here.

Monitoring Progress

The research progress of the candidate is evaluated through confirmation and the submission of progress reports. In addition to assisting candidates in the timely completion of these hurdles, all supervisors should monitor their candidate's progress throughout candidature. Regular meetings and ongoing feedback provide candidates with structured support, and identify any problems related to the research project before they become insurmountable.

Supervisors and advisory committee are responsible for monitoring and reporting on the student's progress as described in the Graduate Research Training Policy and the Graduate Research Progress Procedure. Further information about progress review meetings can be found on the Graduate Research Hub.

Where a candidate's progress is unsatisfactory, formal unsatisfactory progress proceedings can be initiated at any stage during candidature as per the Graduate Research Training Policy.

If Difficulties Arise

The supervisory relationship has an especially personal dimension whenever students face crises of confidence or personal problems. Thankfully, there are a multitude of support networks that supervisors can refer students to when negotiating trouble spots. In the first instance, supervisors are encouraged to speak with other members of the advisory committee, the graduate research coordinator and Head of Department. The Graduate Research Candidature team in Academic Services and Chancellery (Graduate Research) staff can also be contacted to discuss any issues arising during the course of supervision.

Staff and students can also seek advice from the University's Counselling Service and Student Equity and Disability Support.

For information on student grievance procedures, click here.

Completion Seminars

The supervisor has a major role to play in supporting graduate researchers during the completion of their degrees. In addition to supporting students to complete their research and write the thesis, supervisors in the final six months of candidature will be required to:

  • Assist in organising a public presentation of candidate's research for their completion seminar
  • Ensure that the student is aware of the requirements for the final presentation of the thesis
  • Discuss with students the possible strategies and opportunities that may facilitate their entry into the broader research community. Some information is also given on the Graduate Research Hub.

The Melbourne CSHE offer an online course to assist completing graduate researchers candidates: Postgraduate Essentials: Completion and Beyond.

Thesis Submission & Examination