Milestone reviews

Learn more about your candidature milestone requirements and the Advisory Committees that advise on your PhD and MA progress.

Overview of milestone timelines and requirements

Milestones play an important role in the successful completion of a graduate research degree. They enable you to provide updates to your research findings and receive formal feedback on your progress to date. The formal mechanism for reviewing your progress against these milestones are the Confirmation and progress reviews.

The Faculty of Arts has specific written requirements to support and facilitate your progress towards your thesis submission. The tables below outline the minimum progress requirements at each milestone. Your principal supervisor and Advisory Committee will monitor your progress and comment on your written work, as well as agree on goals for the upcoming review period and identify any professional development needs.

You will receive the relevant online form for your upcoming review approximately three months before the due date. It is your responsibility to organise the meetings with your Advisory Committee. You can check the Student Portal to view the date of your next progress review.

PhD milestone timeline

PhD Advisory Committee meetingsFull-timePart-time Supporting documents to be attached to online review form Oral presentation required
Progress review N/A 1 year Summary of Progress^ No
Pre-Confirmation6 months6 monthsSchool-specific requirements for Asia Institute, Languages and Linguistics, and Political and Social Sciences. Please refer to your Advisory Committee.Please refer to your Advisory Committee.
Confirmation review 9 months 18 months Confirmation Report* + 10,000 words of thesis Yes (Confirmation Seminar)
Progress review N/A 3 years Summary of Progress^ No
Progress review 2 years 4 years         Summary of Progress^ + 30,000-40,000 words of thesis, additional to materials submitted at previous reviews No
Progress review N/A 5 years Summary of Progress^ No
Thesis submission
OR
Progress review
Eligible for a 6-month extension
3 years 6 years Submitted thesis
OR
Complete draft thesis + Summary of Progress^
Yes, within 6 months of thesis submission (Completion Seminar)
Thesis submission
OR
Progress review
Eligible for a 6-month extension
(Late submission: this option applies if your candidature was confirmed on or after 1 January 2018)
3.5 years 7 years Submitted thesis
OR
Full final draft + Summary of Progress^
Yes, within 6 months of thesis submission (Completion Seminar)
Thesis submission
OR
Progress review
(Lapse: this option applies if your candidature was confirmed on or after 1 January 2017)
4 years 8 years Submitted thesis
OR
Summary of Progress^
Yes (Completion Seminar)

MA milestone timeline

MA Advisory Committee meetingsFull-timePart-time Supporting documents to be attached to online review form Oral presentation required
Confirmation review 6 months 1 year Confirmation Report* + 5,000 words of thesis Yes (Confirmation Seminar)
Progress review 1 year 2 years Summary of Progress^ + 15,000 words of thesis No
Thesis submission
OR
Progress review
Eligible for a 6-month extension
(Late submission: this option applies if your candidature was confirmed on or after 1 January 2018)
1.5 years 3 years Submitted thesis
OR
Complete draft thesis + Summary of Progress^
Yes, within 6 months of thesis submission (Completion Seminar)
Thesis submission
OR
Progress review
(Lapse: this option applies if your candidature was confirmed on or after 1 January 2017)
2 years 4 years Submitted thesis
OR
Summary of Progress^
Yes (Completion Seminar)

Confirmation report*

  • An abstract of approximately 100 words that includes a concise statement of the research question/problem/aims/hypothesis
  • A critical summary and analysis of relevant literature including the conceptual framework (theoretical approach), research questions, and discussing the significance/importance of the study
  • A plan of the research (ie preliminary methodology) including potential fieldwork, interviews, archival research etc.
  • The funding required to support these research activities and how this funding will be sought
  • A reference list or bibliography
  • A summary of progress to date including preliminary data, resources developed, etc.
  • An argument for the relevance and importance of the study
  • A detailed chapter plan
  • Research Ethics application (if applicable), and
  • Identification of any difficulties experienced during the period under review

Beyond these formal requirements, there is no formula for a successful Confirmation report. Each project is different and the structure of individual reports will reflect that.

For example, the report may take the form of a single 10,000 word document, addressing all of the requirements listed above or it might take the form of a shorter overview document, together with a substantive chapter. You should consult with your Advisory Committee/principal supervisor as to which format of the 10,000 words is appropriate to your discipline or thesis.

The key aim is to convince the panel that you have gained a satisfactory level of knowledge of the relevant field to which the research will contribute, that the project is clearly conceived, feasible and likely to achieve its aims within the timeframe for a timely completion, and that the level of critical analysis, writing and scholarship is of an appropriate standard.

Summary of progress^

This summary should be attached as an additional document if the information has not already been provided in the progress review form:

  • Your name and thesis title
  • A brief abstract (approximately 100 words) that includes a concise statement of the research question
  • A chapter outline of the thesis along with a statement on the progress of writing for each chapter (eg commenced/not commenced; percentage completed), and
  • A timeline or plan for the completion of the thesis, the stage reached in relation to the overall research plan and work to be completed, which should culminate in the completion of a draft thesis at the 3 year point of candidature

If applicable:

  • A list of publications (eg peer reviewed, conference proceedings) produced, conference presentations made; or other research outputs
  • Creative works if relevant, and
  • Any written materials requested by the Advisory Committee or discipline specific documentation

When you are close to thesis submission, the plan for completion should include specific details of the planned completion seminar, as well as factor in time for supervisor feedback and significant editing.

If you have any questions about the timelines above, you are encouraged to contact your discipline/school graduate research academic coordinator who can help you clarify the expectations.


Milestone requirements

Timely completion of progress reviews is a course requirement. Your candidature and scholarship may be cancelled if progress reviews are not completed within the expected timeline. You are required to submit your thesis within the maximum course duration for your research degree. To ensure that you maintain progress, you will need to make plans with your supervisors on how you will meet the requirements for every stage of your candidature.

Finishing on time

Confirmation

Confirmation is a key point in the candidature. Its purpose is to determine whether work to date on the graduate research proposal indicates a strong likelihood that it will result in a high quality thesis, completed in the required time. Further information about Confirmation can be found on the Graduate Research Hub.

Confirmation

RIOT

All graduate researchers must complete the online component of the Research Integrity Online Training (RIOT) prior to Confirmation. RIOT covers the principles of research integrity and their application to the planning, conducting and reporting of research. RIOT also presents other aspects of the responsible conduct of research including human research ethics, the care and use of animals in research, and the broad societal responsibilities of research. For detailed information please see:

RIOT website

iThenticate

All graduate researchers are provided with access to iThenticate, a text-matching tool that assists with similarity checks and plagiarism detection. You are strongly encouraged to use iThenticate for any substantial pieces of writing (eg. a thesis chapter or the summary of progress report). Your similarity report should be uploaded as an exported PDF to your online review form.

iThenticate website

Fieldwork

If a fieldwork component is envisaged, graduate researchers must include a fieldwork plan, basic methodology, timetable and a tentative fieldwork budget with their Confirmation report form to be eligible to apply for any of the Faculty's travel funding schemes after Confirmation. This fieldwork documentation must be submitted along with the Confirmation report form.

Travel funding schemes

More information on each milestone can be found on the Graduate Research Hub:

Reviewing my progress

Mapping my degree


Advisory Committee

All graduate researchers must have at least two academic supervisors for the duration of their candidature. Advisory Committees are convened in line with University guidelines, below. A Chair of the Advisory Committee is appointed within a month of your commencement. You must meet with your Advisory Committee at each milestone stage to monitor progress, complete and sign-off on the Confirmation and progress review forms. The goal of the Advisory Committee is to ensure that the thesis project is on track and supported within the specified timelines.

You can view your Advisory Committee members on the main page when you log in to my.unimelb (Student Admin > Graduate Research tab).

Working with my supervisors