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Confirmation of candidature

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The purpose of the confirmation of candidature is to

  • provide objective confirmation that the research direction is sound, the methodologies are appropriate, and the standard of writing is satisfactory
  • grant candidates an opportunity to receive useful advice on their research questions, methods, and progress from a panel of experienced academics
  • identify and address complications that may impede successful completion of the research project
  • assess whether the candidature should continue with their degree.

At the conclusion of the Confirmation of Candidature, the candidate should develop clear goals for the second milestone. These goals should be as clear as possible and demonstrate backward mapping. This backward mapping will reduce problems for the next milestone.

Doctor of Philosophy:Due 6 to 12 months* after course commencement (*full time equivalent)
Master by Research:Due 6 to 12 months* after course commencement (*full time equivalent)
Form - Part 1:HDR09 - Confirmation of Candidature - Part 1 (
Form - Part 2: 

HDR12 - Confirmation of Candidature - Part 2 (

To review the form in full, please view:

Confirmation of Candidature Requirements

To complete the confirmation of candidature, candidates must;

  • Agree to the HDR Student and Supervision Charter
  • Complete the Epigeum - Research Integrity Training (8 core modules)
  • Submit an extensive research proposal
  • Complete an Oral Defence presentation
Part 1 - HDR Supervisory Charter & Epigeum - Research Integrity Training

HDR Supervisory Charter

The Charles Darwin University HDR Supervisory Charter helps candidates, and their supervisors define the boundaries of their working relationship and outlines the roles and expectations of the candidate, the principal supervisor, and the associate supervisors. 

Candidates and their Principal Supervisor must sign a declaration to say they have read and understood the CDU HDR Student and Supervisor Charter.

Epigeum - Research Integrity Training

Research Integrity, Second Edition is an online learning product designed to support new and early career researchers with the responsible conduct of research. The course provides a comprehensive overview of how researchers can meet their responsibilities and obligations, drawing on the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018).

Starting with the key responsibilities of researchers in the first module, the course explores the fundamentals of planning, managing, recording and publishing research. The last module covers the wider responsibilities that researchers assume as they develop their careers, from taking on different roles to communicating their findings to the public.

New CDU HDR students must complete the first eight (core) modules of this course within three months of commencement of their research degree course. We encourage all HDR students to undertake any relevant supplementary modules. Those students who require human research or animal ethics clearance are strongly encouraged to complete the relevant supplementary modules.

How to access the online module details are attached to the Confirmation of Enrolment email.

The Supervisor Charter and Epigeum Research Integrity Training is due within three (3) months of commencement.

To complete Confirmation of Candidature: Part 1:  Please complete the below form; sign the Supervisor Charter declaration and upload Epigeum - Research Integrity, Second Edition certificate.

Review the HDR Supervisor Charter:The Charles Darwin University HDR Supervisory Charter_0.pdf (
Form - Part 1:HDR09 - Confirmation of Candidature - Part 1 (
Part 2: Research Proposal and Oral Defence presentation

The last stage of the confirmation of candidature is to submit your Research Proposal and complete an Oral Defence of your Research Proposal to a group of disciplinary peers and other colleagues on the detailed Research Proposal. The Research Proposal and its Oral Defence are assessed by an HDR Panel formed by the relevant Faculty.

Preparing for your Oral Defence Presentation

The Oral Presentation should be organised at a time suitable for the candidate and the Confirmation of Candidature Panel.

Please follow the steps below to prepare for your CoC Presentation:

Step 1: Submit research proposal 3-4 weeks prior to intended oral presentation date.

Candidates write a research proposal between 7,000 to 10,000 words if enrolled in a PhD and 5,000 to 7,000 words if enrolled in a Masters by Research.

This research proposal must include:

  • an abstract, or an overview of the research, or both;
  • a literature review to justify the importance and unique contribution of this research;
  • an outline and justification of the methods and methodology;
  • ethical, legal, and safety considerations;
  • the budget;
  • a timeline of activities to complete; and
  • a communication plan, such as any likely publications.

Step 2: Your principal supervisor must nominate 3 panel members to assess the confirmation. 

Step 3: Nominate a day, time, and venue. Your faculty or school HDR administration staff can book the venues/zoom or teams and invite the audience.

To prepare for the Oral Defence, the members of the CoC Panel will have read the candidate’s written research proposal.  This proposal will be distributed to all members of the HDR Panel at least 2 weeks before the Oral Defence.

Step 4: Skim the criteria on assessment form to understand how the presentation will be assessed. (Sample of the form below) 

Topics should include an Introduction, literature review, methods, timeline, and risks as well as other sections depending on your research

Step 5: Practice your presentation with you supervisors or other peers to seek feedback.

The Research Proposal and Oral Presentation is due six (6) to twelve (12) months from course commencement. 

Form - Part 2

HDR12 - Confirmation of Candidature - Part 2 (

To review the form in full, please view:

Additional Information

Please read through the information below to help you prepare for your confirmation of candidature and what to do after your have completed your confirmation of candidature.

Advice for candidates - From the Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Tara Brabazon
  • This is a key first moment in your HDR candidature.  It is also ‘the deal breaker’ in your candidature.  This is the point where your supervisors and assessors will determine whether you have the intellectual ability to complete high level research.
  • There are two parts to the CoC:  a written proposal and an oral presentation on your research.  The written proposal is frequently granted the most weight, but you must be prepared to answer questions on your research.
  • Work hard on the written proposal.  Ensure the prose is well drafted, you present clear headings, sentences and paragraphs. Your assessors need to see that you can write with clarity, rigour and precision.
  • Ensure your CoC document is reference-heavy.  You need to display the reading that you have conducted.  Include a strong and expansive reference list / bibliography.
  • A piece of writing must be run through iThenticate, CDU’s text matching software. This is a diagnostic process, to enable discussions about academic integrity and research integrity.
  • For the PhD CoC, ensure that you have a section on originality.  Ensure you make a clear case why your research project is not a masters.  Make the case – do not assume the case.  Demonstrate why this is a PhD.
  • Feel comfortable presenting the problems and challenges with your work.  Log the issues that worry you.  This demonstrates thoughtfulness in and through your candidature.
  • Spend time working on your oral presentation.  You will be assessed on your communication skills during this milestone.  If you are nervous about the presentation or questions, then conduct an informal ‘mock’ session with your supervisor, friends and / or colleagues. 
  • Ensure that you understand the genre of a doctorate.  Recognize and discuss the specificity of your doctoral mode: traditional doctoral, professional doctorate, artefact and exegesis.   
  • For artefact / exegesis theses, remember to demonstrate a balanced attention to both elements.  Do not neglect the exegesis.
  • At the conclusion of the CoC, remember to develop clear goals for your second milestone. Make these goals as clear as possible. Demonstrate backward mapping. This backward mapping will reduce problems for your next milestone.
Advice for supervisors and assessors - From the Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Tara Brabazon
  • There are two components to this first milestone:  a written document and an oral presentation.  In most disciplines, the written document should be weighted more heavily than the oral presentation.
  • Remember to manage your expectations.  This is not a viva voce at the conclusion of a doctorate.  This is the first hurdle in a research degree programme.  The most problematic CoCs emerge from inexperienced supervisors and assessors, lacking international experience, who do not know what to look for at this key early stage.  The goal is not to ‘trip up’ the student, but to verify that the student can research at the required level of scholarship, manage time and can take direction.  Is the project viable?  The answer to that question determines the success of the CoC.
  • Be clear about your expectations.  Discuss them with the supervisory team, assessors and members of the Faculty or School. Reflect on how these expectations have emerged.  Have they emerged from a rose-coloured reflection on your own PhD?
  • Before any CoC meeting or seminar, ensure the supervisory team and assessors understand that the key requirement of a PhD candidature is to finish in three years. The goal of a Research Masters is to finish in two years.
  • Ensure there is agreement about the ‘deal breaker’ flaws in a research programme, thesis or candidate’s ability.  Early attrition is the best attrition.  If the candidate is not able to manage the rigour of a doctorate or masters, then use this milestone as a hard barrier to end their candidature.  If the panel recommends a revision, then be explicit about what is required to lift the project to the required standard.
  • Assess the candidate’s capacity to read at the required level, write at the required level, understand and deploy research methods, and manage complex theory. Conduct a diagnostic:  do they hold the technical skills required for your discipline.  If candidates are under-performing in some of these areas, then those issues are not necessarily a ‘deal-breaker,’ but a diagnostic is required at this time, logging the challenges and creating strategies and scenarios to solve them.
  • At all times ensure the conduct of the CoC oral presentation maintains standards of scholarly and professional excellence.  Personal comments, behaviour that unsettles the candidate or inappropriate discussions between staff are not only to be avoided, but are also grounds to stop proceedings and re-commence on another day.  Associate Deans have the right to demand high standards in the conduct of milestone meetings.
  • Cultural safety for candidates undergirds all milestones.  The CoC panel should be informed of any issues that may impact on the student performing at the best of their ability in the oral presentation.  If the student has a university-lodged impairment and disability action plan, academic staff must consider the best strategy to create an inclusive and enabling CoC experience.
  • Most importantly, at the conclusion of the CoC ensure that there are clear, verifiable and trackable goals and outcomes in place for the second milestone.  Backward mapping must be in place
iThenticate - User Guide and Log in details

A guide to the iThenticate system can be found here: iThenticate user guides (

Having difficulty accessing IThenticate?

  1. Visit Plagiarism Detection Software | iThenticate
  2. Choose "Forget Password."
  3. Enter your student email, which is based on your student number (e.g., if your number is 107107, your email is
  4. Click submit.

Additionally, check your junk mail for the reset email. For further assistance, contact

HDR Candidate Profile

Congratulations on completing your confirmation of candidature!

As a part of the CDU research community, it is important for you to have your public profile to help you promote your research and networking.

Please fill out the form below if you would like to add your profile to CDU Researchers Webportal 

HDR43 - Candidate Researchers Profile (

Research Ethics and Ethics clearance for HDR students

If your research involves human research participants, animals, defence trade controls, or issues surrounding First Nations people, you will need to seek ethics clearance, after you have completed your confirmation of candidature.

All of the relevant information about Research Ethics and Integrity at Charles Darwin University can be found here

Research tools

Outrider 24 - The Confirmation of Candidature - YouTube by Professor Tara Brabazon

How is a PhD finished quickly? The answer is - produce a strong first year of enrolment. But what is a 'strong first year'? The Outrider this week applies backward mapping to the first year of a higher degree.

Listen here
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