Coursework FAQ

View frequently asked questions about PhD Coursework component requirements.

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

It is Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) course requirement that you complete the PhD Coursework component, that consists of the Workshop (2 x 6.25 credit points) and Elective (2 x 6.25 credit points) components.

The Workshop component includes the Intensive Research Workshop and relevant Researching stream. The Intensive Research Workshop will be held on Fridays 20 and 27 March 2020.

With the consent of the Assistant Dean, PhD Coursework, you may be permitted to substitute one of the Electives (not by credit points) with a subject considered necessary for your research and at an equivalent level.

You will need to do the following in order to be considered for the substitution:

  1. Obtain written support from your supervisor and approval from the relevant subject coordinator; and
  2. Attach the evidence of written support and approval, and a brief explanation of the reasoning behind the request in your Graduate Research Enrolment Request Form

If approved for substitution, you will enrolled and informed accordingly.

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

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

Is there an attendance requirement?

The Workshop component  has an attendance requirement as an un-assessed hurdle. To complete the component, you are expected to have attended a minimum of at least 75% of the Workshop. To gain the most value out of the Workshop, it is expected that you 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 workshop classes. What do I do?

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

Is there a cost to doing the PhD Coursework?

There is no financial cost to undertaking the coursework.

Will it take more time to complete my PhD?

No. The PhD Coursework component in the first year of your candidature complements the development of your thesis proposal and project. We expect that completing the PhD Coursework will enhance rather than detract from your progress, particularly as the 10,000 words of written work submitted for assessment in the PhD 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.

Additional subjects should be relevant to your research and not exceed the maximum credit point allowance - 100 points for PhD graduate researchers (inclusive of the compulsory PhD coursework subjects) and 50 points for Master by Research (MA) graduate researchers. If you wish to enrol in coursework subjects beyond the PhD Coursework Component, you will need to fill out the Add and Drop Coursework Subjects form.

Please note that the Faculty does not permit 'auditing' of classes. You may email the relevant subject coordinator 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 in the Faculty of Arts. Does the PhD Coursework affect this?

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

I'm doing the MA and I am thinking of converting to the PhD. Should I take the units?

If you are enrolling in the MA and you are thinking of converting to the PhD, then you will need to undertake PhD Coursework component before your conversion can be considered and approved. For more information, please see the Graduate Research Enrolment web page.

The introduction of coursework in the PhD has significantly changed the options MA graduate researchers have for transfer to the PhD. For more information, please see the Conversion and transfer web page.

If you are enrolling in the MA, meet the minimum course entry requirement for the PhD* and want to keep the option open of conversion, then you will need to enrol in and complete the PhD 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts). You should discuss early and often the option of converting with your supervisor and - you will need to have their support
  2. You could decide that you don't want to convert, but instead want to complete the MA degree in which you are enrolled. In this case, we expect that you will have benefited from the PhD Coursework and you are able to integrate the 10,000 words of written work completed in the coursework in your MA thesis

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

Full time MA graduate researchers usually apply to convert sometime between 10 months and 18 months from the commencement of their MA. For part time graduate researchers, 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 PhD Coursework in the PhD program, you must be enrolled in your degree by no later than 2 March 2020.

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

Yes. The structure of the MA-ASST involves the same amount of coursework as does the PhD.

If you started with the required entry level for the PhD, completed the MA-ASST compulsory coursework in your first year and achieved the equivalent 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 the Workshop different from those for Electives?

The minimum required grade for the Workshop component is H2A, but H3 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 PhD Coursework. Written work in the 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 MA 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 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 subjects, and 31st August for Semester 2 subjects. Please note that all Elective subjects have different Census Dates and should b checked against the relevant entry in the Handbook.

Can I choose two Electives from the same semester/availability?

Yes. You can choose to enrol in two Electives within the same semester/availability as part of the hurdle requirement to obtain your Confirmation.

How do I enrol in the PhD Coursework component?

  1. You must accept your offer by the offer lapse date in your offer letter
  2. To accept, decline or defer your offer, refer to the instructions in your offer 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 Graduate Research Enrolment Request Form via the Graduate research enrolment web page. On the form you must:

  1. Agree to the terms and conditions of coursework enrolment
  2. Confirm your candidature commencement date
  3. If you are enrolling as an MA student, confirm if conversion to PhD is applicable
  4. Confirm your PhD Coursework subject selection

When we have received your completed Graduate Research Enrolment Request 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?

Graduate researchers are not normally eligible to take leave of absence in the first 12 months of their candidature (full time equivalent), unless there are exceptional circumstances.

It is not possible for a graduate research to go on leave of absence from the PhD/MA and remain enrolled in the PhD coursework. If you were to go on leave whilst enrolled in the PhD Coursework, you would be automatically withdrawn from any enrolled subjects, and would have to re-take the subject at a later stage in your candidature. As graduate researchers cannot be Confirmed until they have completed the PhD coursework, Confirmation will generally be delayed for any graduate researcher who goes on leave of absence.

Graduate researchers need to also be conscious of the impact of relevant subject Census Dates on any withdrawal. Please refer to the Handbook for clarification.