Arrangements for Masters and PhD supervision are made through the Research coordinator (in table below) of your discipline. PhD students will be assigned a principal supervisor and an associate supervisor, while Masters students will usually work with one supervisor.
When you are writing a research thesis, your most significant contact in the School is your supervisor and it is important to develop a good working relationship with this person. The burden is on both you and your supervisor to come to an understanding of how best to accommodate specific needs. These can vary enormously, so please don't assume your supervisor has the direction of your research already mapped out for you.
Frequency of supervision
On average, most students meet a principal supervisor once or twice a month, but you may want more frequent consultations during the first six months of your candidature, as you establish and refine your topic, and during the final months, as you prepare your final draft for examination. The Arts Faculty's recommendation for supervision consultations is a half-hour meeting every two weeks for a full-time candidate and every four weeks for a part-time candidate. You should make it clear to your supervisor how frequently you wish to meet to discuss your work, and make appropriate appointments to do this. For example, at the beginning of each semester you and your supervisor may wish to arrange a regular monthly / fortnightly appointment so that both of you know what to expect over the coming six months. In general, you should make every effort to establish an understanding with your principal supervisor about frequency of consultations, what kind of advice or assistance you need, and so forth. One of the most common problems in higher degree research results from the student and the supervisor having different expectations of the relationship. Again, it is crucial that you talk to your supervisor about what you each expect and what you would find most helpful.
If you give your supervisor a draft of a chapter, a week might be a reasonable time between delivery of the draft and an interview to discuss your work. At peak teaching or marking periods in the undergraduate calendar, detailed feedback may take longer.
Ask your supervisor for assistance with establishing a bibliography for your topic, for advice on obtaining Inter-Library Loan material, and about any aspect of the School or the University's operations, conferences, possible jobs, and so forth. Most importantly, don't hesitate to raise any doubts or anxieties about your work and its progress. If you run into difficulties at any stage, it is very important to keep in touch with your supervisor. Even if such difficulties are personal or financial, your supervisor will sometimes be able to advise how best to manage your candidature and the progress of your research in these circumstances.
If a PhD candidate does not complete within 4 years of equivalent full-time study, that candidate will lapse and not receive further supervision from the school unless and until s/he has submitted a full draft of the thesis to the program research coordinator and the latter has judged it capable of being brought to an examinable state within six months. In the latter case, the school will provide a maximum further six months supervision for the thesis.
Similarly, if an MA candidate does not complete within 2 years of equivalent full-time study, that candidate will lapse and not receive further supervision from the school unless and until s/he has submitted a full draft of the thesis to the program research coordinator and the latter has judged it capable of being brought to an examinable state within three months. In the latter case, the school will provide a maximum further three months supervision for the thesis.
Problems with supervision
If you experience any persistent difficulties with your supervision, or have questions or concerns that cannot be dealt with by your supervisor, you should in the first instance consult the Research Coordinator of your discipline. The School's Chair of Research and the Head of School are also available to graduate students by appointment and any concerns you bring to them will be dealt with sympathetically and with due confidentiality. In the unlikely event that a problem cannot be resolved satisfactorily within the school you may consult the Associate Dean of Arts (Research and Research Training), who can be contacted through the School of Culture and Communication Our staff web page.
Role of associate supervisor
While the principal supervisor has responsibility for supervision of your thesis, the associate supervisor will, at certain points in your candidature, make a substantial contribution. If your Principal Supervisor takes leave, your Associate Supervisor will take over the primary supervisory role. The Associate Supervisor's responsibilities also include the following:
- At commencement the student and both supervisors meet to discuss the proposed research project. At this meeting, the role of the associate supervisor should be discussed
- At 6-9 months, attend a meeting with the principal supervisor and the student to discuss the confirmation process. Read and provide feedback on a document of 2,000 words prepared as the basis for discussion at this meeting
- At 9-12 months, read and comment on the report and chapter prepared for the confirmation meeting. Participate in the confirmation meeting
- At the end of the second year, read and comment on two chapters from the student's thesis and attend an advisory panel meeting,
- At the end of the third year, read and comment on the progress and materials submitted by the student and attend an advisory panel meeting
- Prior to submission, read the thesis to ensure that it is "examinable"
- From time to time, discuss the student's work with the principal supervisor to ensure that principal and associate supervisors are not giving the student mixed messages
Research Training Coordinators
|Art History and Art Curatorship||Dr Susan Lowishemail@example.com|
|Arts and Cultural Management||Dr Susan Lowishfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Australian Indigenous Studies||Assoc. Professor Chris Healyemail@example.com|
|Creative Writing||Dr Eddie Patersonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|English and Theatre Studies|| Assoc. Professor Anne Maxwell|
Assoc. Professor Denise Varney
|Gender Studies|| Assoc. Professor Angela Ndalianis|
Dr Fran Martin
|Media and Communications|| Dr Robert Hassan|
Dr David Nolan
|Publishing and Communications|| Assoc. Professor Anne Maxwell|
Assoc. Professor Denise Varney
Dr David Nolan
|Screen and Cultural Studies||Assoc. Professor Chris Healyemail@example.com|
The Melbourne School of Graduate Research (MSGR) has introduced annual Advisory Committee meetings for all Research Higher Degree students. The School of Culture and Communication will be holding committee meetings for all PhD students who enrolled from January 2007 and all Masters by Research students who enrolled from June 2010 onwards. These meetings are intended to ensure candidates receive ongoing support towards the successful completion of their thesis, including by having access to a wider range of academic staff for feedback and support. This committee will play an important role at several stages in your candidature, meeting with you to discuss your research progress reports at the key milestones identified in the timeline.
- Improve students' experience by providing a wider range of academic staff committed to a candidate's progress;
- Expand the feedback a candidate receives on the progress of their work
- Increase the breadth of ideas and insight to which candidates are exposed
- Ensure that the candidate has access to academic advice at all times, in particular in the absence of his/her main supervisor
- Provide advice to the candidate about opportunities during or after the degree (including conferences, exchange programs, tutoring, relevant workshops, grant opportunities and publishing)
- Improve completion patterns by providing students with structured planning of their research work
- Disciplinary Research Coordinator or nominee (who will convene and chair the meetings)
- For PhD students: your principal supervisor (who will be responsible for regular supervision) and your associate supervisor (who will take over regular supervision when your principal supervisor is absent for more than two months, and also read a full, final draft of your thesis before it is sent to examiners). Alternatively, some students may have two co-supervisors.
- For Master of Arts students: your supervisor and another academic staff member, usually from the same discipline.
It will be the responsibility of the Chair to schedule the meetings. Committee members will be required to have read the candidate's report prior to the meeting and discuss the candidate's work and issues flagged in the candidate’s submission. The committee is also required to discuss with the candidate the following:
- Ethics (if applicable)
- Any difficulties experienced by the candidate
- PhD timeline for completion
- Candidature milestones or hurdle requirements
- Milestones set for the next period under review
- Research supervision
- Publications, presentations, funding opportunities, tutoring and any relevant workshops or short courses that may assist the candidate.
Advisory committee members who are not supervisors are not expected to read entire drafts, provide reports or provide supervision outside of the committee meetings.
It is expected that Advisory committees will try to reflect gender balance in an appropriate way. It is recommended that, wherever possible, these committees contain at least one female member of staff. Supervision arrangements, the appointment of an associate supervisor for example, should be made with the question of gender balance in mind. If, for female PhD candidates, both supervisors are male and the Research Coordinator is also male, then steps should be taken to ensure that a female member of staff is represented at the Advisory committee meeting as an observing fourth party.
The Advisory committee's comments and recommendations should be clearly recorded in the Annual Progress Report form. Students should make sure they take a copy for reference for their next Advisory committee meeting.
At The University of Melbourne, all research students are encouraged to make an oral presentation of their research in an open forum during each year of their candidature. You may present at the Graduate Seminar Series administered by the Culture and Communication Graduate Committee (CCGS) or at the School's twice yearly Work in Progress Days.
Two presentations are mandatory for RHD candidates:
- Students approaching confirmation of their PhD candidature or their MA Formal Review are required by the University to present their work in an open school forum
- The University also requires RHD candidates nearing completion to present at a completion seminar in the three months prior to submssion for MA candidates, or six months prior for PhD candidates
RHD candidates are also encouraged to present at external conferences or seminars, though these cannot meet the requirements of the mandatory presentations listed above.
Research Higher Degrees (RHD) resources
Visit the Faculty of Arts Graduate research students web page for information about:
Visit the Graduate Research Hub for information about:
Visit Melbourne Scholarships for information about:
Visit the International students website for information about:
The School of Culture and Communication has the following mobility opportunities:
- AHIS40016 Aboriginal Art in the Northern Territory
- AHIS40013 Contemporary Art in China
- AHIS40020 Museology in Florence
For more information, please contact the Global Mobility team.