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.

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. All ANU scholarships end after 3.5 years. Note that, when your scholarship expires you cannot work as a research assistant in the school whilst writing up.  

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 3 months extensions.

Scholarship extensions can be applied for via ISIS - please go to 'Manage My Degree - HDR' section.

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 valid until the end of the program.

Travel / Computer Allowance

Allowance: all new students are given 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), the purchase of a new computer and/or costs associated with thesis production and editing.

Own computer: If you have your own computer (e.g. laptop), the RSC IT team can set it up for use within the school. Any new computer must be ordered via the school and returned to the RSC upon program completion.

The remaining 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Research student workshops and training (including thesis boot camp) are carried out throughout the year by the ANU Centre for Continuing Education - check out 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, google into 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 scholarship ends.

If you wish to submit your thesis as "Thesis by Compilation" you MUST complete the attached form and pass it to the Delegated Authority (currently Prof Gottfried Otting) prior to your submission date (12 month's notice is prescribed, but later notice often is more appropriate). The signed 'Statement of Contribution' must be bound within your thesis to be submitted to the examiners. If you do not complete this form and get it approved by the DA your thesis will not be submitted to your examiners. Once the form is completed please pass to the HDR Administrator for processing.

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.

About 3 months prior to your intended submission date you should contact the exams office to notify them of your intention to submit. Email: researchthesis.enq@anu.edu.au – provide name, UID, thesis title and intended date of submission.The exams office will then send you the forms for completion. Your supervisor will nominate two, or three examiners (their identity is NOT to be revealed to the candidate).

When you are ready to submit, you need to make an appointment with the exams office and submit three bound copies of your thesis with the signed forms for completion (binding can be inexpensive, e.g. soft bound or with plastic comb spine - talk to HDR Administrator about in-house facilities). Details of formatting can be found online at: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/submitting-a-thesis.

Your thesis will be sent to the examiners. They have three months to provide a written report of their recommendations, based on which the Delegatd Authority in the school will make a recommendation to the Associate Dean at the College. The student will receive requests for corrections (if required) from the exams office.

The student, in collaboration with their supervisor 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. Then the student must provide:

  • ONE hard bound copy - ensuring the declaration page is signed;
  • The written report
  • Approval from your supervisor - confirming the thesis has been changed to their satisfaction (approval can be a signature on the written report, or email confirmation).

This is all passed to the HDR Administrator for processing.

OVERSEAS STUDENTS - if you are overseas you can request the ANU Printing services to print, bind and submit your thesis for you.

The final thesis will be approved by the Delegated Authority and Associate Dean prior to the exams office issuing a letter of congratulations.

A digital version of your thesis is required and must be deposited to the library at least 6 weeks before graduation.

Additional Income

The RSC will provide all HDR students with the opportunity to develop skills, experience and training (whilst earning some money) working within the school.

A number of positions have been created to enable HDR students to work up to 60 hours per year (earning ~$2500) in one of the following areas:

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:

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

The procedure is as follows:

  • 'Expression of Interest' sent to HDR Administrator;
  • HDR Student Coordinator contacts the relevant supervisor with details;
  • Supervisor contact the student to discuss commencement date, role etc.;
  • Supervisor provides details to HDR Administrator so that casual contract of employment can be generated;
  • Once student has offer letter they can commence work - student to complete online timesheets (minimum of 1 hour per week up to 60 hours per year);

If you have any questions, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the HDR Administrator.

Contacts and Support services