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?

You must complete the Research Workshop. With the consent of the Assistant Dean, you may be permitted to substitute one of the electives (not per credit points) with a subject considered necessary for your research and at an equivalent level.

You will need to obtain support from your supervisor and approval from the relevant subject coordinator, attach the evidence of support and approval in the email to Arts Research to request from the Assistant Dean that you undertake a specific subject(s) with a brief explanation of the reasoning behind the request.

I am a part-time Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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, 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts)?

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.

Additional subjects should be relevant to the candidate's research and not exceed the maximum credit point allowance for Graduate Research students, 100 points for Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) candidates (inclusive of the compulsory PhD coursework subjects), 50 points for MA. Candidates wanting to enrol in additional coursework subjects will need to fill out the Add and Drop 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts). Does the PhD Coursework affect this?

The ability of students to transfer into the Doctor of Philosophy (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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts). Should I take the units?

If you are enrolling in a Master of Arts and you are thinking of converting/transferring to a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) then you will need to undertake PhD Coursework Workshop, Elective 1 and Elective 2 before your conversion will be approved. For more information please see the Graduate research enrolment web page.

The introduction of coursework in the Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) has significantly changed the options Master of Arts students have for transfer to the PhD. For more information please see the Conversion and transfer web page.

In the past, if you were enrolled in a Master of Arts (Thesis only) - and if you satisfied the initial entry requirements (H2A) for a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) - you could apply, after about 9 months progress, not for confirmation of the Masters but for conversion to a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts). 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts), and want to keep the option open of conversion to a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts), 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts). You should discuss early and often the option of converting to a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) with your supervisor and - you will need to have their support
  2. You could decide that you don't want to convert to the Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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 Doctorof Philosophy (Arts) would be closed off by your choice. (You can, of course, complete a Masters and then start a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) from scratch, but you need to be aware that if you complete the Masters, you will not be eligible for another APA for the Doctor of Philosophy (Arts)).

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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts)?

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

If you started with the required entry level for a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts), 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) and be given 'credit' for the equivalent coursework. Conversion to the Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts)), 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 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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) 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 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?

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 Doctor of Philosophy (Arts), 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.