The Supervisory Agreement Process and Doctoral Confirmation

The Doctoral Supervisory Agreement form is the first milestone in the PhD lifecycle for PhD students and is due six months after enrolment. 

The Doctoral Confirmation process is an important stage in a student’s candidature and must be completed by all Doctoral students to confirm their candidature as a PhD candidate. 

Doctoral Supervisory Agreement

The Doctoral supervisory agreement form must be completed by PhD candidates, their supervisors and the relevant department/school Postgraduate Coordinator 6 months after initial enrolment as a PhD candidate. The form is then submitted to the Postgraduate Office for approval by the Dean of Postgraduate Research.

The purpose of the form is to confirm the composition of the student’s supervisory team, to endorse the student’s initial research proposal and to confirm the availability of resources to support the project. Importantly the form includes the Supervisory Agreement which establishes expectations between student and supervisor around supervision – for example specifying the roles of each supervisor and the frequency of supervisory meetings. This agreement should be a “living document” that can be revisited through the tenure of the PhD. Some departments/schools have additional requirements (e.g., completion of Health and Safety documentation) – ensure that you talk to your supervisors about what is required.

Individual departments/schools may have additional requirements; please ensure that you are aware of the processes in your Department/School.‌

You will be notified by the Postgraduate Office when the Dean of Postgraduate Research has approved your Supervisory Agreement, or if there are any concerns that need to be discussed.

The next milestone after completion of the Supervisory Agreement is completion of the PhD Confirmation Process, usually 12 months after initial enrolment. Further details about the Confirmation Process (further information found under the 'Doctoral Confirmation Process' tab). 

If you require an extension of more than one month to the date of submission of your Supervisory Agreement you need to complete the Extension for doctoral supervisory agreement. Please see changes to your doctoral studies‌ for more information.

Doctoral Confirmation Process

The confirmation process is detailed below. Part of this process requires the assessment panel to complete the Doctoral confirmation report form and submit this to the Postgraduate Office for approval by the Dean of Postgraduate Research.

The Dean may:

  • confirm the student’s enrolment
  • support the student’s continued enrolment subject to certain conditions
  • discontinue the student’s enrolment

The confirmation process is normally completed 12 to 14 months after initial enrolment as a PhD candidate. Some departments conduct this process at a different time – please check the exact timing of this process in your department/school.

Completing the Confirmation Process

To complete the confirmation process the student must:

Submit a written report to department (usually due at 12 months after initial PhD enrolment). Information about the exact nature and structure of the report will be provided by your department/school. The written report should contain the following information:

  • a relevant literature review (or equivalent) that sets your research in the context of previous work in the field;
  • a description of your proposed research, including the planned methodology and data analysis techniques;
  • a report of your process to date (including any data collected);
  • a timeline for the completion of your thesis


Give an oral presentation (usually due by 14 months after initial PhD enrolment).  The exact nature of the oral presentation will be determined by your department/school and will include a question-and-answer session following your presentation. The Assessment Panel should consist of at least three members: Senior Supervisor; at least one Co or Associate Supervisor; and at least one Independent Assessor. 

You will be provided with written and oral feedback on both the written report and the oral presentation. This feedback will include comment from at least one additional academic, approved by the HoD/S or nominee, who is not part of the student’s supervisory team.

Following the confirmation process a Doctoral confirmation report form with a recommendation regarding confirmation of enrolment will be submitted by the Department to the Dean of Postgraduate Research for approval.

Possible recommendations are:

  • that your enrolment as a Doctoral candidate be confirmed;
  • that there be an extension of your current provisional enrolment, for a maximum of 6 months, to allow for issues raised in the conformation process to be addressed. In such circumstances you and your supervisory team must develop a timeline and clear goals to be achieved in this period. If goals are satisfactorily met within the recommended timeframe, then your enrolment is confirmed. If the goals are not met, your enrolment will be discontinued.
  • that you be invited to withdraw your enrolment, or your enrolment will be discontinued. In making this recommendation consideration would be given as to whether an alternative qualification pathway (e.g., transfer to a Master’s by Thesis only) is possible.

You will be notified by the Postgraduate Office when the Dean of Postgraduate Research has approved your Confirmation Report and confirmed your Doctoral candidature.

The next milestone is the submission of a Doctoral progress report form 6 months after your Doctoral confirmation. You will be sent a reminder in advance of your Progress Report Form being due. You will be required to submit a progress report form every 6 months until the submission of your thesis for examination.

If you require an extension of more than two months to the date of completion of your Doctoral confirmation process you need to complete the Extension for doctoral confirmation form outlining the length of extension requested and the reason for requesting the extension. Before applying for an extension please first discuss the matter with your supervisors. Your application for an extension will be considered by the Dean of Postgraduate Research in consultation with your supervisors. You will be notified on the outcome of your request by the Postgraduate Office as soon as possible. Please note that being granted an extension to the completion of the confirmation process does not also result in an extension to the final submission date of your thesis.

For more information or to start your application, please get in touch with us.