Major Milestones

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.

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.