HDR students

This page offers an informal guide for the PhD and MPhil programs at the Research School of Chemistry (RSC). For official ANU Rules see the 2017 Research Award Rules on the ANU legislation page.

Arrival / Enrolment

Students can enrol prior to arrival at the ANU – the instructions are detailed on the offer letters from admissions.

Prior to arrival the student will be contacted by the HDR Administrator with details about induction (incl. safety induction) and paperwork relating to milestones, and other HDR administrative responsibilities.

Upon arrival at the RSC the students will be inducted into the program, and will receive access to the building and labs, once all required inductions, training and forms are complete.

If you require a letter confirming your status as a current student, the degree you are studying and whether you are studying full-time or part-time, you can download a letter from ISIS. Please refer to the ANU Website for further instructions on how to download your official letter.

Program / Scholarship details

Duration of program: A PhD takes at least 2 years and must not take longer than 4 years to complete. In exceptional cases of approved leave for personal and medical reasons, enrolment can be extended to a maximum of 5 years. Time periods halve for a Masters (MPhil). They double for part-time PhD or MPhil enrolment.

Scholarship length: 3 years in the first instance, with a maximum of two 3 months extensions (conditional on DA approved satisfactory progress). An MPhil scholarship is 12 months in the first instance with two 6 month extensions.

All ANU scholarships end after 3.5 years. Scholarship extensions can be applied for via ISIS - please go to 'Manage My Degree - HDR' section. Note that, when your scholarship expires you cannot work as a research assistant in the school whilst working on your thesis write up.

Scholarships payments: scholarships are paid through the ANU payroll system on a fortnightly basis into the bank account nominated upon arrival. You can change/update the bank account through ISIS at any time.

Tuition Fee Waiver: also called HDR Fee Remission Merit Scholarship. Fee waivers are generally valid until the end of the program, however they are only issued to International students that hold a competitive stipend scholarship.

Travel / Computer Allowance

All new students are provided with an allowance of $3000 for the duration of their program to pay for participation at conferences, workshops and symposia (e.g. travel, registration and accommodation), and/or costs associated with thesis production and editing.

Funds can be used for travel to workshops, conferences and symposia throughout your candidature. This is managed by the HDR Student Coordinator, and requests to use this allowance should be addressed to the HDR Student Coordinator, with authorisation from your supervisor.

ANU/VC Travel Grant: the ANU provides a small (<$1000) allowance for international travel for students on program for >12 months. Further information can be found of the ANU Services page.

RSC will provide all HDR students with a standard issue Dell PC or iMac desktop at the commencement of their studies. The type of desktop you receive will be dependent on the operating platform your Research Group is currently using. The Travel and Computer allowance maybe used to purchase a laptop of choice for the duration of your studies should it be required. Any new computer or laptop must be ordered via the school IT office and returned to the RSC upon program completion.

Own computer: If you have your own computer and wish to use it for your studies (e.g. laptop), the RSC IT team can set it up for use within the school.

Leave of Absence / Candidature Management

Leave: there are three types of leave - (i) recreational / annual, (ii) personal, (iii) medical.

Recreational leave is 20 days per year and should be approved by your supervisor. An accurate record of the use of the days should be kept for reference.

Personal and medical leave: periods exceeding a minimum of 1 week must be requested via the ISIS - Manage My Degree eForms. Your scholarship conditions determine the length of paid leave you are entitled to, and the maximal leave period. (In general, the maximum is 12 months for medical leave and up to 2 years for combined personal and medical leave.) Some scholarships pay for up to 3 months medical leave, including maternity leave.

Any approved personal and medical leave taken is not counted as program time, but it counts towards the maximum of 5 years for a PhD.


The Joint Colleges of Science, Health and Medicine have developed a Career Development Framework that provides a structured approach to developing and recording the acquisition of skills and training activities carried out throughout a candidates HDR program. The framework provides a certificate of completion for students to demonstrate to future employers their transferable skills. All HDR students can access the framework through Wattle – https://wattle.anu.edu.au. If you do not have access please email hdr.careerdev.science@anu.edu.au for more information.

Research student workshops and training (including thesis boot camp) are carried outthroughout the year by the ANU Centre for Continuing Education -  please visit their  website for dates and times of the specific workshops.

Academic Skills and Learning Centre aims to assist students to develop their academic, critical thinking and communication strategies - see ANU academicskills.anu.edu.au.

HDR students highly recommend the Workshop in Science Communication, offered twice per annum by The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science. To register for this course, please visit cpas.anu.edu.au, click into “Short Courses” and again into “Science Communication for ANU Staff and Students” which gives you further information on this workshop. Registration is on a first come first served basis: numbers are restricted.

Books recommended by HDR students (available in the ANU library):

  • "Write like a Chemist: A guide and a resource", by Buntrock, R.E.
  • "Write like a Chemist" by Robinson, M.S., Stoller, F.L. & Costanza-Robinson, M.


Many scientific societies support the participation of graduate students at conferences with greatly reduced registration fees and travel grants. Actual travel grants usually require being a member.

The following chemical societies encourage memberships of ANU students: RACI, RSC and NZIC. At present (2016), NZIC offers the best benefit/cost ratio, followed by RSC.

For the more biologically inclined, ASBMB is the best home.

Supervisory panel

Your supervisory panel consists of a Chair/Principal Supervisor and additional supervisors or advisors who can assist with aspects of your research. The panel should be decided within the first 3 months of your candidature - please pass the "details of candidature" form to your supervisor for completion. (NB: Please complete student UID, Name, Research title and supervisor panel details (incl. supervisor / advisor name and UID).

For changes in panel membership, you need to discuss with your supervisor in the first instance. Then return the form to the HDR Administrator for processing.

For issues / problems with your panel that cannot be discussed with your supervisor please contact the Associate Director (HDR) and/or the HDR Administrator (see 'contacts' page for details).

PhD Milestones

Milestones are a compulsory requirement of the ANU – their intention is to help you manage your progress. For details on the ANU requirements please see the Research Student Milestones online.

  • Annual Plan (3 months)
  • Annual Reports and Plans (every 12 months). NB: that Annual Reports and Plans can be as short as a single page! The important point is to sit down and plan your progress.
  • Mid Term Review – seminar (15-18 months) and written report (Thesis Proposal Report (TPR)). The report is for the supervisory panel to assess your progress. (*The RSC decided to move the TPR to 15-18mths so that students do not need to provide both an Annual Report and TPR at 12 months)
  • End of Term – seminar (36 months) (*RSC moved Oral Presentation to 3 years from commencement so that a plan for submission at 3.5 years can be determined).

After 3 years you are expected to wind up your experimental work and commence writing your thesis. Submission should be at 3.5 years, when your scholarship ends.

At the midterm review, the supervisory panel decides whether to recommend continuation to PhD or conversion to an MPhil or disenrollment if submission of a Masters thesis is unlikely to result in the degree. A Masters thesis should be finished in 1.5 years and must not take longer than 2 years. 

The milestones are managed via an online system – accessible through ISIS.

Thesis Submission

Once you submit your thesis, your scholarship ends.

When you are preparing for thesis submission, you will need to complete the Notification of Intent to submit eForm via ISIS. This eForm should be completed 2 – 3 months prior to your intended submission date, this form will then ask you to provide details of the Working Thesis format (Thesis by Publication, Standard format, Thesis by creative work or Thesis by alternative format), Intended submission date and Thesis titles. This information can be changed at any time prior to the submission of your thesis through “Manage my Degree” eForms on ISIS.

NB> The ANU Policy for Thesis by Compilation can be found here. The examiners will be directed to this policy. Note, in particular, paragraph 4, which describes the sections to be contributed by the student beyond the publications.

Once the Notification of Intent to submit eForm has been completed your Primary supervisor will be notified and required to nominate two or three examiners (their identity is NOT to be revealed to the candidate). Once all this information has been provided by your supervisor the form will then be passed to the Delegated Authority (Associate Director (HDR)) and the College Deputy Dean (Education) for final approval.

On Submission day, you will need to go to the “Manage my Degree” tab in ISIS and select the “Thesis Submission” milestone. And complete all of the required fields. Once this has been completed and the thesis has been uploaded to the system the relevant delegates are notified by email.

Your thesis will then be sent to the examiners. Examiners have three months to provide a written report of their recommendations, based on which the Delegated Authority in the school will make a recommendation to the College Deputy Dean (Education). You be notified of requests for corrections (if required) from the examinations office.

In collaboration with your primary supervisor, you must make the recommended changes. A written report outlining the changes made (or a justification if changes have not been made) needs to be approved by your supervisor. nce corrections have been made you must go into the “Thesis submission” milestone and accept the correction recommendation. This will then generate the “Thesis Correction” eForm. To which you will then be able to then upload the following documentation:

  • Response to corrections letter

Once all documentation is uploaded to the eForm, it is then sent to the Supervisor, then Delegated Authority and the Deputy Dean for revision and approval.

Once the final thesis has been approved, you will receive an email from the Examinations and Graduations office notifying you of the outcome of your award.

Additional Income

The RSC is currently working on updating its 60 hour program, which has been designed to provide HDR Students within their second and third years a chance to develop skills, experience and training whilst earning money completing specified jobs within the school. A limited number of positions will be offered within the School twice a year. As the new program is currently under development more information will be provided once available.

If you are interested in undertaking one of the roles above, please can you send a short email 'Expression of Interest' to the HDR Administrator (rsc.hdr.sa@anu.edu.au) outlining the following:

  • Your name;
  • UID;
  • CV
  • Approx. commencement date
  • The supervisor and/or area you wish to work in

We are hoping to have the new Program in place by April 2019. Information will be updated when more information is available

Contacts and Support services

Research School of Chemistry HDR Representative Committee

The RSC HDR Representative Committee organise RSC HDR Social Events, the Student Expo and numerous other events and activities throughout the year.

Members of the committee meet monthly to discuss student and program related issues in the RSC and meet with the RSC Executive Committee quarterly. If you have any issues or concerns you would like raised in these meetings please contact one of the below RSC HDR Representative Committee members.

The 2019 RSC HDR Representative Committee members are Lily Wang, Hannah Bollard, Patrick Yates, Vanessa Vongsouthi, Heather Aitken, Harrison Barnett, Cassidy Whitefield & Mitchell Blyth.


HDR Career Development Framework

The HDR Career Development Framework was launched late 2018 to assist HDR students in the Joint Colleges of Science, Health and Medicine to develop, and get recognition for, a broad range of academic and work-relevant skills.

The framework covers four tracks (Research; Teaching and Learning; Policy and Governance; Industry and Innovation) with students needing to provide evidence of completion in at least two tracks.

Activities (workshops, courses, MOOCs, publications, leadership roles etc.) are assigned Career Development Skill (CDS) points. Students must gain at least 30 CDS points across two tracks, with a minimum of 10 points in each track.

Upon completion a “Certificate of Completion” will be provided for students to present to future employers.

To log into the Career Development Framework please go to: https://wattlecourses.anu.edu.au – select COSCDP.

For further information please email hdr.careerdev.science@anu.edu.au

RSC HDR Info Booklet