A research study program for Higher Degree by Research students involves an original research project, or series of projects, conducted with the guidance of supervisors who are experts in their area.
The information outlined gives prospective students an idea about what study may entail. This could assist a student to plan their study, estimate their work load and ensure they meet the academic commitments required as part of their ongoing study as progress in each semester is a requirement of ongoing study.
Full-time / part-time student
A candidate for the degree will be designated as full-time or part-time based on time to be given to the research. Typically, full-time candidature requires an average of thirty hours per week and part-time candidature requires an average of fifteen hours per week. These hours should preferably be achieved through regular weekly commitment, but they may be achieved through varying periods of more and less intensive work.
Academic responsibilities of research candidates
The responsibilities are very briefly listed to help students get an idea of what could be expected.
Summary of Research Intentions and Thesis Proposal (Research Proposal)
Upon application for candidature, all research candidates will submit a Summary of Research Intentions, where they present the preliminary title, rationale, methodology, and structure of the proposed thesis. Upon ratification of the applicant’s candidature by the Research Committee, MPhil, PhD and ThD candidates, in conjunction with their Supervisor and Associate Supervisor, then prepare their Thesis Proposal within the time frame prescribed by the Research Degree Regulations for ratification by the Research Committee (one semester for full-time students, two semesters for part-time students). Then full entry, as opposed to provisional entry, is granted to the candidate into the research degree.
By contrast, when DMin candidates complete their two preliminary units at high credit level, they then submit their Thesis Proposal to the Research Committee. Where any proposed research topic involves the collation of data from human subjects, an Application for Ethical Clearance of Research Involving Human Subjects must be submitted to the Ethics Committee. Ethics clearance is normally sought at the same time as submission of the formal Thesis Proposal.
Orientation, Research Degree Thesis Writers’ Workshop, and training
All new candidates will attend virtually (through the Zoom remote video conferencing platform) the compulsory orientation program.
All MPhil, DMin, PhD and ThD candidates will also attend by Zoom the compulsory Research Degree Thesis Writers’ Workshop, held in either first or second semester. This session is designed to introduce candidates to practical matters affecting the production of a thesis.
Further training touching on each stage of the production of a thesis could be available.
Research Seminar attendance
Eight compulsory Research Seminars are held during the year, four occurring each semester. Seminars commence in March and conclude in November. Ongoing enrolment in all research degrees is subject to completing attendance requirements (i.e. 4 minimum each year) and presenting a paper related to the research seminar at least once each year for full-time candidates and at least once every second year for part-time candidates. DMin candidates participate in these seminars once they have entered the thesis stage of their candidature. Attendance can be in person or virtual.
Each semester the supervisors formally report to the Research Committee concerning the candidate’s progress and any other related matter. In the event of continued unsatisfactory progress termination of candidature may be recommended.
Regular meetings with Supervisor
Candidates should work out a schedule of regular meetings with their Supervisor to discuss their progress, academic issues arising from their research, and to receive feedback from their supervisor on any submitted work of the candidate in draft or final form. It is the responsibility of the candidate to fit their schedule into their Supervisors’ availability and preferably to have prior agenda formulated for the meeting, of which the Supervisor is aware. Meetings can be held in person or virtually.
Whether or not a candidate needs to obtain a specific ethics clearance, it is still obligatory to conduct ethical research. Ethical research includes avoidance of the following:
- Unethical behaviour
Failure to conduct ethical research may result in the candidate being charged with academic misconduct.
Nomination of home library for research and wider library borrowing rights
Each research degree candidate will be asked to nominate a home library.
Sydney College of Divinity has established an agreement with Macquarie University for borrowing rights. If candidates would like to avail themselves of this provision, they should contact the Research Director for the procedure.
Finalising thesis for examination
Candidates should make themselves aware from the outset of their candidature regarding the Research Degrees Regulations on the preparation of the thesis for submission for examination, noting (a) the specific guidelines for the submission of the thesis, (b) bibliography and referencing, (c) the candidate’s submission of the Intention to Submit Form to the Research Director. Furthermore, they should also familiarise themselves in the same document regarding the examination process, the criteria for assessment, and the presentation and binding of the thesis following examination.