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Graduate Research and Supervision Policy




Policy statements

Policy ownership and support


Approval information

PDF version


1. Purpose

1.1 The Graduate Research and Supervision Policy (the policy) outlines expectations and responsibilities for managing research undertaken as part of a graduate research program at UTS.

2. Scope

2.1 This policy applies to all UTS graduate research students, and to all staff and affiliates of the university acting in a supervisory capacity.

3. Principles

3.1 UTS is committed to the principles outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Research Code).

3.2 This policy is drafted in line with the Student Rules (in particular, section 11 on graduate research) and the Delegations.

3.3 UTS Graduate Research School Board (under Delegation 4.3.18) will ensure that all UTS graduate research students are provided with appropriately qualified and trained supervisors.

3.4 In addition to a final thesis, the development of research skills and research integrity is considered part of the graduate research student’s training at UTS.

3.5 A graduate research degree is a period of supervised research; as such supervision is continuous throughout the graduate research students’ candidature.

3.6 Faculties are responsible for establishing their own internal authorities, for example, faculty research committees and faculty-specific procedures for setting limits on the number of students allocated to a supervisor at one time. All supervisors must comply with their faculty’s supervision requirements and procedures.

3.7 The Graduate Research School is responsible for the development and publication of mandatory procedures for the management of graduate research degrees to implement this policy. Supervisors and students must comply with these procedures.

3.8 Theses will be managed, stored and published in line with the Open Access Policy, Records Management Policy and Delegations (Delegation 4.9).

4. Policy statements


4.1 UTS graduate research students will be supervised by a panel that includes at least two supervisors. The panel should comprise:

  • at least one principal supervisor (or two or more joint supervisors), and
  • at least one other panel member (may be joint supervisors, alternate supervisors, co-supervisors, external advisors/supervisors).

4.2 All graduate research students and supervisors (including any person acting in a supervisory capacity) must read and comply with the Research Code and all research-related UTS policy instruments.

4.3 Supervisors must provide advice to students on complying with:

  • the Research Code
  • Student Rules and other policy instruments
  • legislation relevant to the research area
  • any agreements associated with the student’s candidature and/or research project
  • Graduate Research School procedures for the management of graduate research degrees (see research policies and guidelines on research students (Staff Connect)).

4.4 Supervisors will support and monitor student activity by:

  • encouraging student engagement with the research community
  • providing timely and critical feedback on drafts of a student’s written work, including their thesis
  • working with the student to design a research program with applicable supporting studies and activities, through a graduate research study plan (GRSP)
  • providing guidance in all research-related activities
  • overseeing all stages of the student’s candidature
  • ensuring frequent and continuous communication with the student
  • assisting students in developing the necessary skills to complete their graduate research degree and future research activities, and
  • supporting the student through the thesis writing and examination processes.

4.5 In addition to the responsibilities listed in policy statements 4.3 and 4.4, principal supervisors must:

  • liaise with and make recommendations to the appropriate faculty Responsible Academic Officer (RAO) on any matters relevant to the student’s candidature
  • act as a primary liaison point with students
  • liaise with panel members as appropriate
  • provide fair and accurate progress reports to the RAO, and
  • organise candidature assessments.

4.6 A supervisor may only be appointed to a supervisory panel when they:

  • are appropriately experienced
  • satisfy UTS conditions for supervisor registration
  • are admitted to the supervisor register in accordance with the procedures approved and published by the Graduate Research School Board (see research policies and guidelines on research students (Staff Connect)).

4.7 Changes to a supervisory panel are permitted but must be made in consultation with all parties. The Dean, Graduate Research School is responsible for:

  • managing changes to supervisory panels
  • approving all supervisory arrangements.

4.8 Supervisors should specifically comply with requirements of the Code of Conduct in relation to conflicts of interest (section 4.4).

Student rights and responsibilities

4.9 Students must be aware of and comply with:

4.10 Students who are also UTS staff members must comply with the Code of Conduct as a normal condition of their employment.

4.11 Students are expected to take responsibility for maintaining the progress of their work in accordance with their GRSP and ongoing arrangements with the supervisory panel.

4.12 In order to fulfil the period of candidature in accordance with Rule 11.7, it is expected that students dedicate at least 35 hours per week to their graduate research program (if enrolled full-time) or a minimum of 17.5 hours per week (if enrolled part-time) to ensure timely completion of candidature.

4.13 In fulfilling their ethical studentship responsibilities, students must:

  • be aware of the university’s position and policies in relation to research ethics
  • make regular contact with supervisors and respond to contact and feedback
  • ask for support when needed, in particular where there are factors that might impact their research studies or candidature
  • raise difficulties arising from their research with their principal supervisor in an effort to seek resolution as soon as practicable
  • seek to participate in peer review processes where a research project receives public funding
  • be familiar with conflicts of interest, and disclose any as soon as they become apparent
  • comply with all agreements as outlined in policy statement 4.9.

4.14 In addition to the rights outlined in the Student Charter, students have a right to continuous supervision in line with this policy and involvement in:

  • the negotiation of their research topic (within the constraints of faculty resources and expertise)
  • the development of their GRSP and information pertinent to the negotiation of the stages of their research degree.

4.15 Changes to candidature are permitted (for example, full-time to part-time attendance mode or leaves of absence), and must be discussed with supervisors as soon as any issues arise.

Progress, theses and examination

4.16 The GRSP must be drafted and agreed between supervisors and students in line with procedures approved and published by the Graduate Research School Board.

4.17 Continuation and/or completion of a graduate research student’s candidature is conditional on the student maintaining satisfactory progress at all stages of the research program, in line with the UTS Rules, Delegations (Delegation 4.6, on progression) and the goals outlined in the GRSP.

4.18 Procedures on thesis presentation, submission and examination are approved and published by the Graduate Research School Board, in line with section 11, Student Rules.

Conflict management

4.19 The university acknowledges that, from time to time, issues may arise between the supervisor and the graduate research student. It is recommended where students have any issue, they should:

  • advise their principal supervisor immediately with any concerns regarding the role or potential role of any person as their supervisor or examiner
  • contact the faculty RAO where the concerns are about a principal supervisor, and
  • contact the Graduate Research School where an issue persists or is not addressed by the processes above.

4.20 Supervisors must report any potential research misconduct by a graduate research student to the relevant RAO, in accordance with Rule 11.21; and, where the graduate research student is also a staff member, in accordance with provisions for research misconduct outlined in the Research Ethics and Integrity Policy.

4.21 The Graduate Research School Board will approve procedures for the management of conflict under this policy, the provisions outlined in the Code of Conduct and the Student Rules.

5. Policy ownership and support

5.1 Policy owner: The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for policy enforcement and compliance, ensuring its principles and statements are observed, and for the approval of any associated university-level procedures.

5.2 Policy contact: The Dean, Graduate Research School is the person responsible for implementation of this policy and development of any associated university-level procedures, and acts as a primary point of contact for advice on implementing its provisions.

5.3 Supervisors and principal supervisors are responsible for providing guidance and advice to students throughout their candidature as outlined in this policy and any associated procedures.

5.4 Graduate research students (students) are responsible for meeting professional standards in conducting research by adhering to all relevant university rules, policy instruments and guidelines, as well as national codes and statements on research conduct and practice. Students are responsible for seeking guidance and training as required, as outlined in this policy.

6. Definitions

These definitions apply for this policy and all associated procedures. Definitions in Schedule 1, Student Rules also apply.

Affiliate includes honorary appointees, emeritus professors and members of university and faculty committees (excluding UTS Council and its committees), and any other person appointed or engaged by UTS to perform work for the university.

Alternate supervisor means a secondary supervisor who may act in the role of principal or joint supervisor where the principle or joint supervisor is unavailable. An alternate supervisor must be a salaried UTS employee or have a formal agreement with UTS that includes supervision of graduate research students.

Co-supervisor means a secondary supervisor who participates in candidature assessments and meetings with the graduate research student as appropriate.

External advisor/supervisor means a person external to the university (ie not a salaried UTS employee) who may be appointed to the supervisory panel to provide specialist experience and advice to the student.

Graduate research study plan (GRSP) means a formal study plan agreed between supervisors and graduate research students; identifying structures, stages, supports, development needs and tracking progress from enrolment to completion.

Joint-supervisor means at least two supervisors share primary academic responsibility for a graduate research student with another salaried UTS employee.

Principal supervisor is the lead (first) supervisor who takes primary academic responsibility for the graduate research student. The principal supervisor is a salaried UTS employee or has a formal agreement with UTS that includes supervision of graduate research students.

Student, for the purposes of this policy, means graduate research student.

Supervisory panel is a group of supervisors appointed by the Dean, Graduate Research School on the recommendation of the faculty. Supervisory panels oversee the progress of graduate research students in line with Delegations (Delegation 4.6).

At a minimum, two supervisors are appointed to a supervisory panel, however, the total number and type of supervisors will vary across faculties. Supervisory panels must include at least one principal supervisor (or two or more joint-supervisors); other panel members may be joint supervisors, alternate supervisors, co-supervisors, external supervisors or advisors with expertise in the area of research.

Approval information

Policy contact Dean, Graduate Research School
Approval authority Academic Board
Review year 2020
Version 1.0
File number UR17/2420
Superseded documents Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Degree Students (2014, UR14/442)

Version history

Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Academic Board (AB/17-2/36) 07/06/2017 29/06/2017 New instrument.

PDF version

Graduate Research and Supervision Policy (PDF)


Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Code of Conduct: section 4.4

Open Access Policy

Records Management Policy

Research Ethics and Integrity Policy

Research-related policy instruments

Research students: all research policies and guidelines (Staff Connect)

Delegations: 4.3.18, 4.6, 4.9

Student Charter

Student Rules: section 11, Rule 11.7, Rule 11.21

UTS Rules

Additional reading

Research students (Staff Connect)