Research Degree Programs

MPhil Program and Specific Regulations

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Award Summary
CRICOS 082668K

Qualifications for Admission to Candidature:

A person may apply for admission to the MPhil if he or she has obtained or is qualified to obtain a four-year Bachelor degree, or the equivalent, in an appropriate discipline, to at least a Distinction standard. For details see Regulation B.4.1 below.

In all cases, prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theologically related area.

In exceptional cases, candidates may be admitted on the grounds of academic and/or professional attainments, including publications, in the theologically related area in which they wish to pursue research for the degree.

Notwithstanding the provisions above, the College may require suitability for candidature to be by such examination or other work as determined by the College.

The College will decline to accept an applicant if it cannot offer supervision in the proposed field of research.

Duration: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
Structure:

 

Research and thesis of 30,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices, under the direction of a supervisor; AND compulsory participation in the Research Degree Workshop and Research Seminars. Some thesis topics may require competence in ancient and/or modern foreign languages or other relevant areas of knowledge.
English Proficiency: Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction require a minimum IELTS (or equivalent) score of 7.0 in all bands of the test.

B1. RATIONALE

The Master of Philosophy meets the specifications for a Master’s Degree (Research) set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. It provides men and women with the opportunity to pursue advanced study in a theologically related area by research at a high academic level. It is designed for those who seek to further their study in such an area, including interdisciplinary study, for academic, vocational, professional and/or personal reasons. It also offers research training that would support research at doctoral level.

The Master of Philosophy is undertaken by research and thesis alone. It provides the opportunity for candidates to embark on a significant piece of research, which investigates a theologically related topic in a systematic and comprehensive manner that is not available in coursework programs.

B2. LEARNING OUTCOMES

Graduates will have specialized knowledge and skills for research and/or professional practice and/or further learning and the ability to apply such knowledge and skills in a theologically related area:

Knowledge

  • an advanced and integrated understanding of a complex body of knowledge in one or more theologically related disciplines or areas of practice, including recent developments in the discipline or area of practice
  • advanced knowledge of pertinent research principles and methods.

Skills

Expert and specialized cognitive, technical and creative skills in the field of research, so that they are able independently to:

  • analyse critically, reflect on and synthesize complex information, problems, abstract concepts and theories associated with the field of research
  • research, evaluate and apply established theories to the focal areas of knowledge or practice, using the English language competently and effectively for the purpose
  • design or adapt research methods appropriate to the field of research
  • interpret and transmit knowledge, skills and ideas through coherent and sustained argument to specialist and non-specialist audiences in relation to the field of research
  • make a fresh contribution to knowledge in the field of research.

Applications of Knowledge and Skills

The ability to:

  • plan and execute a substantial piece of research with creativity and initiative
  • apply knowledge and skills in a way that demonstrates autonomy, expert judgment, adaptability and accountability as a practitioner or learner in relation to the inter-dependent building up of the church and good of the wider community.

B3. GRADUATE ATTRIBUTES

MPhil Graduates will:

  1. Be able to identify, analyse and articulate problems and issues in discourses current in their academic, professional and social communities
  2. Recognize the level of their own understanding
  3. Demonstrate creativity in solving problems and dealing with complex and abstract conceptual matters
  4. Be able to access information efficiently using the means most appropriate to purpose and context
  5. Value academic integrity and rigour and exercise critical thinking in forming judgments
  6. Work autonomously and with an open mind
  7. Understand the distinction between information and argument and be able to marshal information as evidence in argument
  8. Hold responsible values and attitudes as members of academic, professional and social communities, based in part on their experience as SCD research candidates
  9. Be able to communicate their thinking coherently and effectively, with appropriate English proficiency, in public debate and printed word
  10. Have confidence to engage in public discussions of faith and ethics
  11. Appreciate opportunities for further learning
  12. Be willing to assume leadership in their academic, professional and social communities as needed

B4. ACADEMIC REGULATIONS

The Academic Regulations below must be read in conjunction with Section 5 : Common Elements for Research Awards.

B4.1 Admission to Candidature
B4.1.1 The Sydney College of Divinity may admit to candidature in the MPhil those persons who have attained:

  1. A Bachelor (Hons) degree or equivalent with results at Class II, Division 1, from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  2. A Graduate Diploma with a GPA of 3+ and one 18 cpt research unit at Distinction level from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or
  3. Qualifications deemed by the College to be equivalent to those above.

In all cases, the prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theologically related area.

B4.1.2 In exceptional cases, candidates may be admitted on the grounds of other academic and/or professional attainments, including publications, in the theologically related area in which they wish to pursue the research.
B4.1.3 Notwithstanding the provisions above, the Sydney College of Divinity may require suitability for candidature to be demonstrated by such examination or other work as determined by the Sydney College of Divinity.
B4.1.4 The College will decline to accept an applicant if it cannot offer supervision in the proposed field of research.
B4.1.5 Applicants must submit together with their application a Summary of Research Intentions, sufficient for the Research Committee to determine the general suitability of the topic and availability of appropriate resources and supervision.
B4.1.6 Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction will be required to demonstrate competency in English by an IELTS result of 7.0 in all bands of the test and may be required to attend such English language courses as prescribed by the Sydney College of Divinity.
B4.1.7 Applicants will be required to show evidence of competence in ancient and/or modern languages, in order to access primary sources and/or significant secondary works relevant to their thesis topic, and competence in any other relevant area of knowledge. Any language or other requirements will be determined at the time of application in consultation with the proposed supervisor.
B4.1.8 Candidates for the MPhil are admitted provisionally on the basis of approval of the Summary of Research Intentions. Candidates must submit a formal Thesis Proposal within one semester of admission for a full-time candidate and within two semesters of admission for a part-time candidate for approval by the Research Committee in order to continue their candidature. This proposal may not be substantially changed after acceptance without application to the Research Committee.
B4.1.9 No candidate for the MPhil may be concurrently enrolled in any other undergraduate or postgraduate course within the Sydney College of Divinity or any other tertiary institution, except in the case that, on the recommendation of the supervisor, a candidate may be directed to undertake one or more individual units of study on a non-award basis in order to attain a competence emerging as appropriate to the most effective pursuance of the MPhil research.
B4.1.10 Candidates for the program are registered with the College through the Office of the Dean.
B4.1.11 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. Clear progress is expected in each semester of enrolment.
B4.1.12 A candidate enrolled in the MPhil may apply for transfer to PhD or ThD candidature, using the Application to Transfer to a Different Research Degree, following satisfactory completion of 20,000 words of the thesis under the direction of the approved principal supervisor and associate supervisor; a record of having met MPhil regulations; and demonstration that the research is of a sufficient scope and depth to sustain a doctoral thesis. The application should be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the principal supervisor. A candidate wishing to transfer to the DMin should meet the conditions for transfer to PhD or ThD and also discuss the implications with the Research Director and his supervisors, actual or potential. Applications are determined by the Research Committee. In the event that an application is refused and the student wishes to appeal the decision, the appeal will be referred to the Dean. In the event that the student remains unsatisfied with the outcome, the student may have recourse to formal grievance procedures available through the Dean, as set out in the Student Grievance Policy and Procedures. Period of candidature provisions for the relevant doctoral degree apply from the time of transfer. Allowance for time already spent in MPhil candidature will be determined by the Committee in relation to the stage already reached in the research, but the remaining period of doctoral candidature will be at least two semesters for full-time candidates and at least four semesters for part-time candidates.
B4.2 Course Structure
B4.2.1 All MPhil candidates proceed to the award by research and thesis alone.
B4.2.2 Candidates pursue a program of advanced study and research approved by the Research Committee and submit a thesis embodying the results of the research. The thesis will form a fresh contribution to research in the area. The thesis is to be 30,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices.
B4.2.3 A candidate may not submit as the main content of the thesis any material that has previously been submitted for a degree, unless that material has been significantly reworked in the context of the thesis being submitted.
B4.2.4 Not later than one semester after admission to provisional candidature for full-time candidates and two semesters for part-time candidates, the candidate will submit a formal Thesis Proposal for approval by the Research Committee. Following approval, the thesis topic may not be substantially varied except with the permission of the Research Committee.
B4.2.5 The Research Committee appoints a principal supervisor and an associate supervisor to oversee the development of the thesis, and may determine any special arrangements for supervision. Normally, the principal supervisor will be a faculty member of the Sydney College of Divinity. In some cases the College may appoint an external supervisor based in another reputable theological college or university. The associate supervisor may likewise be internal or external to the College. In either case the principal supervisor must be research active according to the College’s Research Active in the SCD Policy and the associate supervisor will normally be research active according to the College’s Research Active in the SCD Policy.
B4.2.6 As part of the program for the award of the MPhil the candidate is required to participate in the Research Seminars listed for each year of their candidature, and to present a paper at least once a year for full-time candidates and at least once every second year for part-time candidates. Ongoing enrolment in the award is subject to completing these requirements.
B4.2.7 Candidates in their first year of enrolment must attend a Research Degree Workshop in addition to the Research Seminars.
B4.2.8 All thesis proposals involving the gathering of personal information from people by surveys, interviews or case studies will be dealt with according to the policies and procedures of the Research Ethics Committee, which makes a recommendation to the Academic Board in consultation with the Research Committee. Ethics clearance is normally sought at the same time as submission of the formal Thesis Proposal. If the need to seek ethics clearance arises subsequently, as the need to gather personal information arises belatedly, the application for ethical clearance should be lodged promptly. Under no circumstances may those elements of the thesis relying on the gathering of personal information proceed before ethical clearance is granted.
B4.2.9 All candidates are to nominate a ‘home library’ from amongst the libraries of the Member Institutions of the Sydney College of Divinity. The library will regularly receive a research grant to supplement its collection in the topic area of the candidate.
B4.3 Period of Candidature
B4.3.1 The period of candidature for the degree is one year full-time or two years part-time.
B4.3.2 In certain circumstances the Research Committee may grant limited extensions of candidature upon application. The normal upper limits for extension are one semester for full-time candidates and two semesters for part-time candidates.
B4.3.3 For serious reasons the Research Committee may grant a candidate leave of absence from the program. This leave will not normally exceed one semester. The period of leave is not counted in the period of candidature.
B4.3.4 If the candidate discontinues or does not re-enrol, the candidate is required to apply for re-admission to the MPhil program. The Research Committee will process the application and may specify conditions for enrolment.
B4.3.5 A candidate resuming after an absence must be enrolled for not less than one semester before being permitted to submit a thesis.
B4.4 Monitoring of Candidature
B4.4.1 Once a semester, and at any other time considered appropriate, the principal supervisor of the thesis will report to the Research Committee on the progress of the candidate using the Research Degree Progress Report form.
B4.5 Period of Candidature
B4.5.1 If the Research Degree Progress Report describes the candidate’s progress as unsatisfactory and there is no advance within a semester, the Research Committee will ask the candidate to show cause why candidature should not be terminated. Unsatisfactory progress occurs when there is no evidence that production of the thesis has been advanced by identifiable further research, constructive meetings of the candidate with the supervisor, or written drafts, and where there are insufficient grounds for special consideration.
B4.5.2 Any show-cause submission by the candidate will be considered by the Research Committee and the Committee’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Academic Board. The Committee may recommend the termination of candidature, continuation of candidature, or imposition of conditions on continuation of candidature.
B4.5.3 If the candidate does not show cause, the Research Committee will recommend termination of candidature to the Academic Board.
B4.5.4 Persons whose candidature has been terminated may have recourse to the appeals procedures set out in the Handbook under General Academic Regulations. The decision of the Appeals Committee is final.
B4.6 Examination of Thesis
B4.6.1 The candidate will submit to the Office of the Dean two copies of a thesis embodying the results of the candidate’s research. All copies of the thesis will be bound in temporary form. The length of the thesis will conform to the prescribed requirements. The thesis must be written and presented in accordance with the current guidelines for the preparation of a thesis.
B4.6.2 The thesis must be the candidate’s own work, must be written in English, and must reach a satisfactory standard of literary presentation.
B4.6.3 Before a candidate may submit a thesis, the principal supervisor must sign a Certification of Thesis, to be submitted with the thesis, stating that the thesis conforms to the requirements of the regulations. If the supervisor does not so certify, the Research Committee will determine whether the thesis is to be submitted after having considered written submissions from the principal supervisor, the associate supervisor and the candidate.
B4.6.4 The Research Committee appoints two expert examiners, both external to the Sydney College of Divinity, and may appoint additional examiners. Examiners will be expected to report in writing two months from the receipt of the thesis. An examiner will normally be replaced if the report is not received within three months.
B4.6.5 The examiners will report in writing and make a recommendation that the thesis be placed in one of the five categories:

  1. that the award be granted
  2. that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  3. that major amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  4. that a significantly revised thesis be re-submitted for examination
  5. that the award not be granted.
B4.6.6 In the event of a disagreement arising between examiners, the Research Committee may appoint a third examiner or may make a recommendation to the Academic Board of the College.
B4.6.7 The Research Committee may recommend that the candidate undergo an oral or written examination requested by the examiners or initiated by the Research Committee.
B4.6.8 In the case of B4.6.5 (b), (c) or (d), the Research Committee will determine the time to be allowed for completion or re-submission. In both cases, the candidate will re-enrol for the specified period.
B4.6.9 In the event of a re-submission, the Research Committee may appoint the same examiners or may appoint one or more different examiners. The same examination process will apply except that examiners will be asked to make a recommendation in one of three categories:

  1. that the award be granted
  2. that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  3. that the award not be granted.
B4.7 Examiners’ Reports
B4.7.1 Candidates will be given a copy of the examiners’ reports at the completion of the examination process. Examiners’ names will be included unless a written request to the contrary has been received by the Office of the Dean.
B4.8 Submission of the Completed Thesis
B4.8.1 When any corrections as determined by the Research Committee in light of the examiners’ reports and the supervisor’s comments have been completed, two bound copies of the thesis and one electronic copy are to be submitted to the Office of the Dean. The bound copies are to conform to the guidelines for the presentation and binding of theses following examination.
B4.8.2 A copy of the bound thesis is to be deposited in a College library designated by the candidate; the other bound copy and electronic copy remain with the Office of the Dean. The copies will be available for consultation, loan, electronic distribution and photocopying forthwith. In exceptional cases the Research Committee, on application of the candidate, may determine that the thesis will not be available until after the expiry of a period, normally no longer than a year. The candidate holds copyright in the thesis and it is expected that any use made of it will be appropriately acknowledged by the user.
B4.9 Saving Clause
B4.9.1 Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, the Academic Board of the Sydney College of Divinity may, in any case in which it may deem it appropriate to do so, vary, dispense with or suspend any requirement or prescription by these regulations, and report forthwith to the Council of the Sydney College of Divinity.

B5. COMMON ELEMENTS IN HIGHER RESEARCH DEGREES

 

Study
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