Progressing students

As you progress through your higher degree by research there will be numerous interactions with people, systems and resources to support you achieve your goals.

To make the most of these interactions, it is important to understand when and how they occur.

Undertaking a higher degree by research program is a demanding enterprise. To make the most of your time at the University of Newcastle you should take full advantage of the academic, personal and technical support that is available to you.

Primary contacts

Your supervisor is your key contact throughout your degree. They will provide guidance on all aspects of your research. You will meet regularly with your supervisor to ensure you are making progress in your degree.

Each School appoints a Head of School Nominee, who is responsible for monitoring the general progress and welfare of research students in that academic area. Each School's contacts can be found on the list of responsible officers.

Graduate Research is your central point of contact for information and support on the administration and management of your research degree. As an enrolled student we will subscribe you to the HDR Matters newsletters so you can keep up-to-date with the latest news on Higher Degrees by Research.

Graduate Research welcomes visitors to our office for discussions regarding all aspects of the Higher Degree by Research journey.  Please note that appointments are essential for face to face meetings. Appointments can be made through the following link: Graduate Research Appointment. Please check in at NIER A Reception for your appointment

Graduate Research is located in the NIER precinct of the Shortland Campus. Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER). NIER is located at 70 Vale Street, Shortland (between the Callaghan Campus and the Shortland Waters Golf Club), or type 'NIER' into the University Callaghan Interactive Campus Map.

Student Peer Advisors

The Student Peer Advisors (SPA) scheme is available to all current HDR students. You can book a free one-on-one mentoring session with a former or current senior research student, or get advice about a variety of topics, including:

  • Presentation Skills
  • Time Management
  • Practice-led Research
  • Text based analysis
  • Adapting to a new academic culture as a doctoral student
  • Introduction to mental health support
  • Ways to build additional skills throughout the HDR

To see the range of options and book an appointment visit the Graduate Research Bookings System.

Research Computing

The University offers specilaist research computing support to enable powerful new and existing technologies to be applied across all stages of the research lifecycle, from data collection to analysis, processing, visualisation, and data publishing. HDR candidates have access to this support, which is delivered by the Academic Research Computing Support (ARCS) team.

For more information on how your research computing needs can be met, visit the Research Advantage page.


Please refer and subscribe to the Research Training Calendar to keep up-to-date on upcoming research training opportunities.

You will find a range of workshops and materials delivered by the Learning Design and Teaching Innovation team via your Blackboard homepage, which is accessed through UONline . Select ‘LEARNING DEVELOPMENT’ under ‘My Other Sites’ and look for resources and workshops available for research students.

If you or your supervisor believe that you would benefit from improving your English language skills you should approach the on-campus English Language Centre for more information on intensive courses and one-on-one programs.


The Library offers a dedicated Researcher Support service with advice and support for undertaking literature searches, systematic reviews, referencing, citation analysis, current awareness, promotion of research, and management of research data. They can also advise on choosing the right publisher, including how to avoid predatory publishers and which publishers offer Open Access publications. Contact your Faculty’s Research Liaison Librarian for more information.

Specialist Support

The university has a comprehensive program of support services available to all students, including the Careers and Counselling Services (including the After-Hours Crisis Support Line) and the Chaplaincy. There are tailored support services for international students, Indigenous students or those who require disability support.

As a postgraduate student, you are a member of the University of Newcastle Students' Association (UNSA). UNSA supports postgraduate students in a number of ways, including academic and skills-based workshops, social events, clubs and societies, providing a support network and important advocacy work.

The University provides all students with the facilities, technology and funding to succeed. It is important that you know what you are entitled to, and how to access it.

Funding Support

You may be eligible for research funding support of a minimum $1,500 pa (pro-rata) each year. This funding can be used towards conference travel, consumables or other expenses you might need to carry out your research. These funds are administered by your School and are normally only available after the successful completion of confirmation of candidature. Please contact your School’s Research Officer for more information.


Your Faculty is also responsible for providing you with access to a workstation and other office facilities required to undertake your research. see the Guidelines for Resourcing Higher Degree by Research Students (PDF, 23.2KB).

Your School's Research Officer will be able to assist with the allocation of these resources.

Computing Resources

To support you in your studies you will be provided with a free Dell laptop computer, which is yours to keep when you successfully complete. To organise collection of your laptop, please email a signed copy of the Laptop Terms and Conditions to Graduate Research: Click on the link to view the standard suite of software provided.

Dell 5400

Dell Latitude 5400

  • 14" HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare Non-Touch, Camera & Microphone, WLAN Capable
  • 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-8365U Processor (4 Core,6MB Cache,1.6GHz,15W, vPro-Capable)
  • Windows 10 Home (64bit) English operating system
  • Intel® Core™ i5-8365U Processor with Integrated Intel® UHD 620 Graphics, Thunderbolt
  • 8GB, 1x8GB, DDR4 Non-ECC
  • M.2 256GB PCIe NVMe Class 35 Solid State Drive
  • 4 Cell 68Whr ExpressChargeTM Capable Battery
  • 65W AC Adapter, 7.4mm Barrel and E5 Power Cord (Australia/New Zealand)
  • Intel® Dual Band Wireless AC 9560 (802.11ac) 2x2 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Driver for Intel® Dual Band Wireless AC 9560 (802.11ac) 2x2 + Bluetooth 5.0

IT Services will provide support for the standard configuration of your laptop. Please log a support call with the 17triplezero IT Service Desk.

If your Principal Supervisor has indicated that a more advanced computer is required for your research, your academic unit will arrange for this to be issued to you.

Off-campus candidates may be provided with a laptop upon request. Note that the University is unable to provide comprehensive IT support to candidates located off-campus.

The Academic Research Computing Support (ARCS) team is responsible for meeting the specialised computing needs of researchers, academic staff and research students. If you require access to High Performance Computing facilities or a research application not provided in the standard suite of software you can make a request via ServiceUON.

IT Services has produced a comprehensive booklet on standard Dell HDR laptops, along with a version for candidates who are issued a Mac by their Faculty:

Repair / Replacement of Standard Dell Laptops

The University will provide each candidate with one laptop only under this scheme. The custody and security of the computer and any accessories are your responsibility at all times. You are strongly advised to maintain backup copies of your work stored on the computer at all times.

If your laptop is stolen, lost or damaged, please note the below process for repair / replacement:

  1. The candidate reports potential damage / lost laptop to supervisors and Graduate Research
    1. Candidates reporting damage to their laptops will then be required to submit the laptop to IT Services for verification of the extent of the damage (minor damage may be repaired; and the candidate may be offered a temporary replacement laptop in the interim, subject to laptop availability)
    2. Candidates reporting a lost/stolen laptop will be required to complete a statutory declaration to that effect.
  2. Graduate Research will issue a replacement used Dell laptop subject to laptop availability.
  3. The candidate must return the replacement laptop at the time of thesis submission or cessation of their candidature.

Please note that the standard warranty period for new issue Dell laptops is 4 years. This does not cover any user-fault damage e.g., the laptop being dropped or liquid spillages. IT Services will continue to provide support for HDR laptops that exceed the warranty period, however, if the laptop is not covered by warranty this may affect the likelihood of any damage being repaired.

In an effort to support all HDR candidates throughout their program, the above process will be applied for faulty laptops out of warranty (and subject to availability), a suitable replacement Dell laptop provided.

Travel Assistance

If you travel domestically or internationally as part of your research, insurance support is available for authorised and approved trips. Approval for these activities is included in the funding application process, book-able via, or through your Faculty/School. By doing so, your travel will be automatically registered on the MyTrips system, which is used to locate you in an emergency or disaster. The University's travel policy does not cover personal travel.

Please note that if your travel is not booked through official channels, you may not be covered by the University insurance scheme and you will not be automatically registered on the MyTrips system. For more information, visit the Student Travel webpage.

Your higher degree by research will necessarily involve a great deal of independence as you investigate and develop new knowledge in your field. It is an intellectual journey that you pilot yourself. However, part of that autonomy will involve you displaying initiative and self-motivation to connect with others along the way.

Disciplinary Experts

Your School will provide opportunities to connect with established researchers in your field. Discipline groups hold regular seminars where researchers present their conference papers and other research projects. Research students are invited to attend these seminars via email.

One of the roles of your supervisor is to encourage and support you to publish your work. Once you begin to publish, you will open up exciting new possibilities for collaboration and scaffolding of knowledge. Another of your supervisor’s responsibilities is to assist you develop the necessary skills for peer review. In so doing you will be preparing for increasing interconnectedness with your discipline.

Connecting with other HDR Students

Along with your supervisors, other established researchers and methodology experts, you are advised to connect with your peers in order to make the most of the rich intellectual and social opportunities at the University.

Your peers are uniquely placed to empathise with the current stage of your research journey. Across the university they may also challenge you in ways that others cannot; by introducing you to transdisciplinary methods and innovative ways of working that will expand your horizons and help develop your skills beyond the disciplinary field.

For this purpose, the University has established a network of Student Peer Advisors (SPA). The SPA scheme offers free one-on-one sessions for research students to access support and advice from former of senior research students about a variety of topics, including use of social media in research, maintaining a positive supervisor relationship, a variety of research methods and much more. Make your connection at:

The Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) is an opportunity for PhD students to share their emerging research with peers and to talk to candidates from other Schools about their research. It’s also a chance to win $5,000 for research related expenses and a fully paid trip with their supervisor to attend the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition!

Presenters have just three minutes to deliver an engaging presentation to an audience of non-specialists. The skills of public speaking, conciseness and pursuant opportunities for collaboration are beneficial to all researchers.

Heats are held by each School annually, with the University Final taking place around August. Local community, industry and business representatives are invited to attend the final and the networking event after the competition.

It is an important to contribute to the intellectual debates and community of practice in your area by presenting your own research to your peers and other Faculty researchers. Each College has a Colloquium; an annual forum for research students to present their ongoing work.

Your School will also invite you to attend other students’ Confirmation seminars. These will help you to understand more about the Confirmation process and to meet and support others along the way.

As a postgraduate student, you are a member of the University of Newcastle Students' Association (UNSA). UNSA supports postgraduate students in a number of ways, including academic and skills-based workshops, social events, clubs and societies.

Interacting with Industry

A higher degree by research will give added impetus to your chosen career path. It will also open up exciting new pathways for you to explore. At the University of Newcastle you will be located within a dynamic research precinct interconnected with local, national and global industry.

Explore the opportunities for developing world-class innovation through the Doctoral Training Centres, which are opening up new possibilities for researchers and research trainees to collaborate in their research and make lasting impact.

Graduate Research facilitates opportunities for research engagement between organisations and PhD candidates. Our research engagement opportunities provide mutual benefit through sharing and exchange of knowledge, skills and experience. Organisations benefit from PhD candidates’ advanced research skills and knowledge being applied to bespoke projects, while enhancing their profile and relationship with the university.  While PhD candidates benefit from experiencing current organisational practice, developing professional networks and applying research and professional transferable skills in a non-academic context.

The University invites organisations to provide internships through the APR Internship program - details on this initiative are included below.



Australian Postgraduate Research (APR) Intern is Australia’s only all sector—all discipline PhD internship program, transforming Australian businesses through university research collaborations.

The two key markers all higher degree by research candidates need to be aware of are progress reporting and the confirmation process.

Progress Reporting

Progress reports are an opportunity for you to reflect on and measure your progress, your supervision, resources available to you and to identify any barriers in meeting your completion targets. Your supervisors will also contribute to the report.

There are three sections to the report:

Section A - Candidate's Report: This where you will reflect on your progress. This section is not shared with your supervisors.

Section B - Supervisor's Report: This is where your supervisors will reflect on your progress. You will not have access to this section of the report.

Section C - Joint Report: In this section, you and your supervisors will agree targets for the next 12 months.

While Sections A and B are confidential the progress reporting exercise should be approached as an opportunity for you and your supervisor to mutually reflect on performance and improvements. It is recommended that in the lead up to the reporting rounds, you and your supervisor(s) meet to discuss these points. Ideally, there will be no surprises at these junctures. There will be multiple opportunities for two-way informal feedback throughout your degree, and you should aim to be in contact with your supervisor at least monthly.

Annual progress reports are ordinarily completed in November. Mid-year progress reports will be completed in May or June and are applicable if any of the following apply to you:

  • you are an international student
  • concerns were expressed in your previous annual progress report
  • your Research Training Program (RTP) entitlement has expired
  • you have returned from a Leave of Absence taken in Semester 2
  • you are enrolled as an off-campus HDR candidate and in receipt of a University scholarship
  • This is the first report round since you commenced your program. All candidates are required to complete a progress report within six months of commencing their program.

You will complete your sections in myHub (through myUON) – via ‘Progress Reports’. A PDF User Guide is available. The supervisor sections are completed in Nustar.

If concerns are raised about your progress it is likely that a Faculty progress support plan or an intervention strategy will be implemented. This may also be prompted by an unsuccessful confirmation outcome or offer conditions not being met. A progress support plan is Please read the information related to intervention strategies.

Confirmation Process

The confirmation process is a significant early milestone in your research degree. The purpose of the confirmation process is to support candidates in the early stages of their candidature. The process will allow candidates to receive objective confirmation that their research direction is sound, the methodologies appropriate and the standard of writing satisfactory. Any difficulties that might impede successful completion can be identified and remedied. It takes place within twelve months of commencement on a full-time basis (or part-time equivalent).

To be confirmed, you will satisfy the following requirements:

  • The provision of a written document containing at least:
    • a critical review of recent work in the field
    • an updated research proposal - an updated plan of research
    • an updated timetable for completion of the thesis
    • a comprehensive statement of the resources required to complete the project within the funded period.
  • The provision of an oral presentation to a confirmation committee.
  • The provision of a verbal defence of the research proposal before a confirmation committee.
  • The issues of ethics and safety approvals; intellectual property; and data retention and management must also be considered.

Consult with your supervisor during your preparations for confirmation, and refer to the Confirmation Guidelines to better understand the broader process. The Evaluation Topics list is provided to inform candidates on the expected areas of focus for Confirmation Committees. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, as each Committee is given broad discretion in order to evaluate the research direction of each candidate.

The Confirmation Committee will determine an outcome following the completion of the confirmation process. There are three possible outcomes:

1. candidature is confirmed;

2. the candidate is required to revise their work and undertake a second attempt at confirmation within three months (FTE), or;

3. a recommendation is made to the Committee for termination of candidature.

Please be aware that there is no automatic second attempt at confirmation if the first attempt is not successful. The confirmation panel will only recommend a second attempt if they believe that the required standard for confirmation can be reached within a period of three months.

Note that the process now takes place in myHub (through myUON) – via the ‘My Research’ and ‘My Confirmation’ tabs. A Video Guide and PDF User Guide are available. The supervisor fields are completed in Nustar.

Ethics approval

Research projects which involve the use of animals or humans must apply for ethical clearance. Though the responsibility for this rests with your supervisor, you should be actively involved in drafting information and preparing documents to lodge with the application.

It is your responsibility to follow ethical practices which are appropriate to the particular discipline and relevant profession, and as specified by the University Human Research Ethics Committee, Animal Care and Ethics Committee, and the ethical guidelines set down by any relevant government or funding body.

In some instances applications are also required for ethics clearance from other institutional ethics committees, for example the Hunter New England Health, the Department of Education and Communities, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Detailed guidelines are included with the applications for animal or human ethics clearance.

Mandatory Training in Animal Handling

If you are a research student and will be using animals in your research you must complete Module 1 and 2 of the Code & Animal Research Ethics (CARE) as soon as you are enrolled.

The training is online and free.  The modules take a few hours each to complete. They involve reading the information then completing a quiz.  A certificate is issued on completion.

Please visit Code & Animal Research Ethics (CARE) for further information and to register for the training.

Research Export Controls

The Australian Government has strict controls in place for the export of certain types of goods, services and information. ​​HDR candidates are subject to these controls.

Export can be tangible (e.g. physical transport of items, data on a USB or laptop) or intangible (e.g. emails, password access to files). ​​​Controlled items are listed on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL).

Further information on research export controls is available on the Research Advantage site.

Safe Working

You are responsible for maintaining safe working practices relevant to the field of research, and adhere to relevant documents within the Health and Safety Management System.

Research projects that involve the use of any of the following must be given clearance by the University Safety Officer:

  • recombinant DNA
  • biologically hazardous materials
  • chemically hazardous materials
  • carcinogens
  • teratogens
  • radioisotopes
  • ionising radiation
  • non-ionising radiation
  • other recognisable hazards

This should be arranged through your supervisor.

Online incident reporting

AIMS enables HDR candidates to report and investigate Health and Safety injuries, illnesses, near misses and hazards, as well as Environmental incidents, quickly and easily.

Travel Assistance

If you travel domestically or internationally as part of your research, insurance support is available for authorised and approved trips. Approval for these activities is included in the funding application process, book-able via, or through your Faculty/School. By doing so, your travel will be automatically registered on the MyTrips system, which is used to locate you in an emergency or disaster. The University’s travel policy does not cover personal travel.

Please note that if your travel is not booked through official channels, you may not be covered by the University insurance scheme and you will not be automatically registered on the MyTrips system. For more information, visit the Student Travel webpage.

Research Training Calendar

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.