PhD coursework FAQ

Do I have to take the Workshop and elective units or can I pick my own subjects outside of these?

You must complete the Research Workshop. With the consent of your Advisory Committee you may be permitted to substitute 1 or 2 of the electives with a subject or subjects considered necessary for your research and at an equivalent level. 

Your principal supervisor will need to email Arts Research to request that you undertake a specific subject(s) with a brief explanation of the committee's reasoning behind the request.

I am a part-time PhD student, what coursework should I do first?

Our advice is that you complete your elective units in the first year of your candidature and then enrol in the Research Workshop in your second year, because the latter is more focused on preparation for Confirmation of candidature, which would be towards the end of your second year.

Is there an attendance requirement (do I have to attend every session of the workshop/subject?)

The Research Workshops have an attendance requirement as an un-assessed hurdle. To complete the subject, students are expected to have attended a minimum of at least 75 percent of the Workshops. To gain the most value out of the workshops, it is expected students will endeavour, and want to attend all classes.

I work full-time and study part-time. I'm unable to take time off during the day to attend these workshops. What do I do?

As attendance at the Research Workshop is a requirement of candidature, we expect that adequate time needs to be available.

Some members of my Advisory Committee are away, how can I pick my electives?

You should consult your supervisors and can also seek advice from the research team: email Arts Research.

Is there a cost to doing the coursework?

There is no financial cost to undertaking the coursework.

Will it take more time to complete my PhD?

No. The coursework component in the first year of your candidature complements the development of your thesis proposal and project. We expect that completing the coursework will enhance rather than detract from your progress, particularly as the 10,000 words of written work submitted for assessment in the coursework can, if appropriate be integrated into your thesis itself.

Can I take additional coursework subjects beyond the amount required?

Yes, subject to discussion with your supervisor and your Advisory Committee to ensure that you are not over-loading at the expense of progress on your thesis. In this case, you would be 'auditing' additional subjects and would need the approval of the subject coordinator to attend. We anticipate that most coordinators of elective subjects would welcome more students participating by 'auditing', but it is their decision based on how many students they have formally enrolled. Please email Arts Research to seek approval to audit a class.

Can I attend one of the other Electives on an ad hoc basis if I want to?

Only with the permission of the staff member teaching that elective; most of the electives will be intensive small group work, and the staff teaching them may, or may not welcome others 'dropping in'. Please email Arts Research to seek approval to audit a class.

I am enrolled in a PhD program at another Australian University and wish to transfer into the PhD Arts. Does the PhD Coursework affect this?

The ability of students to transfer into the PhD Arts has been severely limited because of the requirement to complete the PhD coursework prior to confirmation. Generally only unconfirmed students who have been enrolled for 6 months or less (full-time equivalent candidature) can successfully transfer, though some exceptions exist. Please email Arts Research in advance of any application to discuss your options.

I'm doing a Master of Arts by thesis and I am thinking of converting to a PhD. Should I take the units?

If you are enrolling in a Master of Arts and you are thinking of converting/transferring to a PhD then you will need to undertake coursework in the PhD Workshop, Elective 1 and Elective 2 before your conversion will be approved. 

The introduction of coursework in the PhD has significantly changed the options Master of Arts students have for transfer to the PhD.

In the past, if you were enrolled in a Master of Arts (MA) by thesis - and if you satisfied the initial entry requirements (H2A) for a PhD - you could apply, after about 9 months progress, not for confirmation of the Masters but for conversion to a PhD. This involved developing a PhD thesis proposal and showing excellent progress in your research and was subject to the approval of your Advisory Panel. This constituted confirmation of the PhD candidature. Now, however, a Master of Arts by thesis student would arrive at that point after PhD students have completed their coursework, preparatory to their confirmation.

If you are enrolling in a Master of Arts by thesis, and have the entry requirement for a PhD, and want to keep the option open of conversion to a PhD, then you will need to enrol in and complete the coursework during your first (full-time) year of candidature.

Having completed it, and made good progress in your research, you would have two options.

  1. You could apply for Conversion to the PhD. You should discuss early and often the option of converting to a PhD with your supervisor and - you will need to have their support
  2. You could decide that you don't want to convert to the PhD but instead want to complete the Masters degree in which you are enrolled. In this case, we expect that you will have benefitted from the coursework, and you are able to integrate the 10,000 words of written work completed in the coursework in your Master of Arts thesis

If you are sure that you want to complete a Master of Arts by thesis then you do not need to do any coursework, but need to be clear that the option of conversion to a PhD would be closed off by your choice. (You can, of course, complete a Masters and then start a PhD from scratch, but you need to be aware that if you complete the Masters, you will not be eligible for another APA for the PhD).

Full time MA students usually apply to convert sometime between 10 months and 18 months from the commencement of their MA. For part time students this would be between 20 months and 36 months. It is recommend that you aim to convert at the latest at the 12 month (or 24 month for part time students) point in your candidature.

You must meet the minimum requirements for entry into the PhD program to be eligible to convert, which means you must have completed at least a four-year honours degree at H2A (Melbourne University equivalent) standard or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered by the Associate Dean to be equivalent. Applicants applying to convert should have achieved an overall H1 (80-100%) or H2A (75-79%) grade in the relevant honours or masters degree.

To commence the coursework in the PhD program you must be enrolled in your degree, the workshop and electives by no later than the official start date of the semester in which you wish to commence your degree.

I am enrolled in the MA (ASST) (Advanced Seminars and Shorter Thesis). Do I still have an option of converting to a PhD?

Yes. The structure of the MA (ASST) involves the same amount of coursework as for the PhD.

If you started with the required entry level for a PhD, and if you have completed the MA (ASST) coursework in your first year, and achieved the minimum required grades for the PhD coursework, then we expect you could apply for conversion to the PhD and be given 'credit' for the equivalent coursework. Conversion to the PhD then involves the same process of ensuring you have the support of your Advisory Panel.

Why are the required grades for Workshops different from those for Electives?

The minimum required grade for the Research Workshop is H2A (the standard required for entry to the PhD), but H2 for the Electives. Our thinking here was that we did not want to discourage you from exploring unfamiliar fields in your electives, but you should feel free to tackle something new without fear that you would be penalised if your work was at a lesser standard than usual.

What happens if I don't get the required grades in the Workshop and/or the electives?

Your Advisory Committee will, at confirmation, be making an assessment of the grades achieved in your coursework. Written work in the Research Workshop will have been double-marked by both the workshop coordinator and your principal supervisor. Not meeting the required minimum expectations is a firm indication that you should not be confirmed in your PhD candidature. In this case, there would be an option to convert your candidature to an Master of Arts thesis degree.

If the problem lies with a poor mark in one elective, you should discuss with your supervisor taking a third Elective; the requirement with electives is to have completed two at the required minimum level.

Will the workshop and elective units appear on my transcript?

Yes, any subjects that you are officially enrolled in will appear on your University transcript.

Can I change my elective or workshop if I would prefer to take a different one than the one I'm already enrolled in?

You can withdraw your enrolment from an elective or a workshop but you cannot start one half-way through the semester. You can re-enrol in another elective or workshop as long as this is done before the Census date, which is 31st March for Semester 1 intake, and 31st August for Semester 2 intake. 

Can I choose two electives from the same semester?

Yes. You can choose to enrol in two electives within the same semester as part of the hurdle requirement to obtain your confirmation.

How do I enrol in the workshop and elective subjects?

  1. You must accept your offer by the offer lapse date in your admission letter
  2. To accept, decline or defer your offer refer to the instructions in your admission letter
  3. You must also complete your enrolment by the start date of the semester in which you are enrolling
  4. When you reach the 'Select Subjects' step you will have completed all that you can in the student system but your enrolment won't be complete yet

To finalise your enrolment please submit the online Arts PhD Coursework enrolment request form via the PhD coursework web page. On the form you must:

  1. Agree to the terms and conditions of coursework enrolment
  2. Confirm your candidature commencement date
  3. Confirm your PhD Coursework subject selection 

When we have received your completed Workshop and Elective form and have your commencement date we will complete your enrolment and send you an email to confirm this. It will not be possible to complete your enrolment until we have received the completed form.

Can I apply for leave of absence while completing the PhD Coursework?

Research students are not normally eligible to take Leave of Absence in the first 12 months of their candidature (FTE) unless there are exceptional circumstances.

It is not possible for a student to go on leave of absence from the PhD, and remain enrolled in the PhD coursework. If a research student were to go on leave whilst enrolled in the PhD coursework, they would be automatically withdrawn from any enrolled subjects, and would have to re-take the subject at a later stage in their candidature. As students cannot be confirmed until they have completed the PhD coursework, confirmation will generally be delayed for any student who goes on leave of absence.

Students need also be conscious of the impact of relevant subject census dates on any withdrawal. Please email Arts Research for clarification.