Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Student Administration
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Secretariat
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Academic Council

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The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Courses - Research Thesis

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy sets out the principles underpinning the administration, examination and management of theses as a research component in the following RTS (Research Training Scheme) compliant courses: Master's degree courses (by thesis and coursework); and Professional Doctorates (by thesis and coursework). This policy does not apply to Higher Degree by Research courses administered by the Graduate Research School.


The University means The University of Western Australia.

research output means the production of work that may be wholly in written form or in the form of a composition, performance, exhibition or creative or other approved work.

thesis means the output of research in a course in which the output constitutes more than 66.6 per cent per cent of the requirements of the course in question.

Professional Doctorate is RTS compliant and embodies an original contribution to knowledge by way of a research thesis (for example, through the discovery of new knowledge, the formulation of theories or the innovative re-interpretation of known data and established ideas). It can include up to one third of coursework offered at master's level or beyond and provides an opportunity for those with a first professional qualification and professional experience to undertake advanced studies and research in their professional fields. The thesis is concerned primarily with deducing implications for practice and policy, while not neglecting the possibility of testing theory, extending existing theory, or developing new theory.

Research Training Scheme (RTS) is a performance-based funding scheme administered by the Department of Education and Training. Domestic students under the Research Training Scheme are exempt from paying student contributions and tuition fees, if UWA so decides. Research Training Scheme courses consist of master's and doctoral courses whose research component is at least 66.6 per cent of the total course.

Policy statement:

1 General Principles

1.1 Where a thesis forms part of the course requirement of a RTS compliant course, it must be represented in accordance with the specifications as set out in Table 1:

Table 1

AQF Level

UWA Course Type

Volume of learning

Credit point value of the thesis component

Research output


Master's degree course by thesis and coursework - RTS compliant

48 credit points

At least 36 credit points

Thesis / other research output as per course rules

72 credit points

At least 48 credit points

96 credit points

At least 66 credit points


Professional Doctorate - (by thesis and coursework) - RTS compliant

144 credit points

At least 96 credit points

2 Forms of theses

2.1 A master's research thesis, which may consist partly or wholly of published work, must demonstrate sound knowledge of the subject matter and independence of thought.

2.2 A thesis undertaken in a professional doctorate course:

a) must be written in English (unless the faculty has approved otherwise);

b) must consist of up to 70000 words (including footnotes, references and appendices)

c) may be concerned with the application and development of theory but not necessarily its generation;

d) relates to the relevant industry or profession; and

e) need not involve the same level of abstraction and conceptualisation as the Doctor of Philosophy thesis; and

f) presented in the form specified in the rules for the relevant course, must:

(i) make a sound, rigorous and original contribution to research;

(ii) demonstrate the student's comprehensive understanding of the relevant literature;

(iii) demonstrate the student's ability to use appropriate methodologies and techniques;

(iv) demonstrate the student's ability to communicate the research and findings in a professional manner; and

(v) question, analyse, critique and develop the profession and its practices.

3 Enrolment and candidature

3.1 A student in a RTS compliant master's by thesis and coursework course must:

a) enrol each year until they complete all coursework units and submit for examination all other examinable components of the course;

b) within the first six months of their enrolment, or earlier if required in the rules for the course, submit the following for approval by the faculty:

i. the name(s) of the student's supervisor; and

ii. the title of the student's thesis.

3.1.1 Faculty approval is required for any proposed changes to the title of the research thesis.

3.2 A student in a professional doctorate course may be permitted to complete the course, or part of it, at an offshore institution, under arrangements approved by the Academic Board.

3.3 A student in a professional doctorate course must meet candidature requirements in accordance with the University Policy on Graduate Research Training and in the rules for the course, where applicable.

4 Supervisors and supervision

4.1 A supervisor must act in accordance with the University Policy on Graduate Research Training and Conduct for the Responsible Practice of Research.

4.1.1 The Dean of the faculty, after consulting with the Dean of Graduate Research and Postdoctoral Training, may refer infringements to the codes to the Vice-Chancellor.

5 Submission

5.1 Thesis produced as part of fulfilling the requirements of a RTS compliant course must be submitted in accordance with the University Policy on Graduate Research Training and in the rules for the course, where applicable.

5.1.1 A publication by a student, enrolled in either a RTS compliant master's coursework course or in the professional doctorate course, may be submitted as an appendix in support of a thesis.

5.2 A thesis in a RTS compliant master's by thesis and coursework course must normally be submitted within two years, or equivalent where enrolment has part-time elements.

5.2.1 A thesis referred to in 5.2 is not accepted for examination if the substance of the thesis has previously been submitted for a degree in this or another institution.

5.3 A student is not permitted to withdraw, alter or add to a thesis, including jointly authored work, after it has been submitted for examination, unless there are exceptional circumstances and with permission of the faculty.


1. A thesis, which must be submitted digitally and in print, must be accompanied by a signed declaration by the student that it is their own work. The portion of material presented for examination that is claimed as original must be indicated in the thesis.

2. Where submitted items have been jointly authored:

a) the work done by the student must be clearly indicated and certified as such by the co-authors; and

b) the co-authors must certify that they agree to inclusion of work that they have co-authored.

3. In the case of thesis undertaken for a professional doctorate course:

a) the sources from which a student's information is derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used and to which the assistance of individuals, associations or institutions has been obtained must be acknowledged generally in a preface or introduction, specifically in notes, a bibliography or appendices, and must be, throughout the thesis, shown clearly and fully by appropriate references

b) a student is normally required to submit digitally four print copies of the thesis and is not permitted to withdraw a thesis after it has been submitted in a form suitable for examination

6 Examination

6.1 The appointment of examiners for the examination of a thesis must be undertaken in accordance with the schedule and the relevant course rules where applicable, as set out in Table 2:

Table 2

Dissertations / Thesis submitted as part of:

Number of examiners

External examiner requirement

Master's degree course (by thesis and coursework)

At least two

At least one must be external to the University

Professional Doctorate (by thesis and coursework)

At least three

At least two must be external to the University, unless the faculty or board determines otherwise

6.2 The advice to professional doctorate thesis examiners and the assessment criteria set out in Schedule 1 must be provided to all examiners.

6.3 Examiners of research thesis, submitted for fulfilment of the course requirements for a RTS compliant master's degree by thesis and coursework course or professional doctorate course, must not consult with each other or anyone connected with the thesis during the actual examination of the thesis and prior to submission of independent reports. The faculty or board concerned may ask examiners to consult or otherwise communicate with each other before, or after, receipt of their individual reports.

6.4 A thesis prepared during the course of enrolment for a professional doctorate may be accepted, on the recommendation of the faculty, board or committee concerned, by the Board of the Graduate Research School (BGRS) for examination as one of the following set out in Table 3:

Table 3

Professional Doctorate thesis examined as a

Classification by the BGRS

Award conferred to student

Course result recorded on Academic record as

(a) MPhil thesis


Master of Philosophy

'MPhil Awarded'

(b) PhD thesis

Doctor of Philosophy

'PhD Awarded'

6.5 Where a professional doctorate thesis submitted for examination as MPhil thesis or a PhD thesis and the BGRS, after considering the examiners' reports, determines that the thesis is not suitable for the appropriate award, the faculty, board or committee concerned may proceed to examine the thesis as a thesis for a professional doctorate.


1. Where the BGRS has classified as "Passed", it must arrange for details of the student's qualification for the appropriate degree to be entered on the academic record.

2. Where the BGRS has determined, after considering examiners' reports that thesis is not suitable for the award of the appropriate degree the BGRS must:

a) so advise the student;

b) arrange for the academic record to be annotated to indicate that the thesis was examined, but found unsuitable, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy; and

c) inform the appropriate faculty, board or committee concerned of the outcome

7 Thesis Classification

7.1 A research thesis must be classified by the faculty, board or committee in accordance with the specifications provided in Table 4.

Table 4

Initial Classification

Revision/ Resubmit


Completed within specified time frame

Final Classification recorded

One copy of thesis to:

Passed (correction or amendment not required)




● University Library

● Appropriate School

● Student

Passed (subject to revision)

Revision must be completed within four months of the date of notification of classification




Resubmitted within agreed timeframe









*A thesis must not be classified as "Resubmit" unless the faculty, board or committee concerned agree it shows some merit, and if under approved supervision and with a limited amount of work, may be sufficiently improved for resubmission. If a thesis is classified as "Resubmit", the faculty board or committee concerned must (a) notify the student of the additional work required before it may be resubmitted, and (b) set a time limit for its resubmission.

7.2 Access to the thesis or appendix may be restricted for a period of time not normally exceeding two years from the date the thesis is classified, as passed in accordance with the specifications provided in Table 5:

Table 5 - Intellectual property and confidentiality

Restriction Criteria

During the restricted access period:

● Restriction normally only applies if:

a) thesis contains confidential material; or

b) it was a condition imposed by the owner of private records and material used by the student; or

c) the student was obligated by a condition of contract

● access must be given to examiners of the thesis and the faculty, board or committee concerned with its examination

● access may be given on the written consent of the student and the Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Research)


Written application by student or interested party such as the faculty, board or committee, after consultation with Student, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and other interested parties must be submitted to the Library.

8 Accessibility to thesis

8.1 Theses, which contain written work that is clear and concise, must be clearly and appropriately referenced and be recorded in a form (i.e. in print and digitally) that is permanently available and accessible, via the University Library.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Academic Secretary

Related Policies or legislation:

University Policy on Courses: Postgraduate Coursework (UP15/7)

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