Requirements for Transfer between Masters by Research to PhD

UNSW allows Masters by Research candidates to transfer to the PhD program if they meet the PhD entry requirements at the time of request for transfer. To qualify for entry to the PhD, the candidate must have Honours Class 2 Division 1 equivalence.

This document outlines the following:
- relevant UNSW Policies and Guidelines
- Arts and Social Sciences Requirements (HDC documentation, Honours 2.1 Equivalence)

1. Relevant UNSW Policies and Guidelines

This transfer takes place in reference to the following policies and guidelines:

Variation of Candidature Procedure, 2.1.2 Approval process
(i). The candidate must complete the variation to candidature form provided on the Graduate Research School (GRS) website, indicating the variation(s) being requested.
(ii). All requests should be accompanied by a signature from the candidate’s supervisor. However there are situations where a supervisor’s signature may not be required. Examples include where a supervisor has resigned from the University or in cases where there is a breakdown in the relationship between supervisor and candidate.
(iii). All requests must be accompanied by a signature from the postgraduate research coordinator or Head of School, recommending that the variation(s) be approved.
(iv). Requests for program transfer must be considered by the Committee, and accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation as specified on the GRS website*

Progress Review and Confirmation of Research Candidatures Procedure, 3.2.6 The confirmation review (CONFR) (iii):

For Masters level candidates, transfer to enrolment in a PhD degree requires that the candidate is qualified for admission to the PhD and that candidature is confirmed as part of the APR. Alternatively, if the request for conversion to a PhD degree does not coincide with the annual review schedule, an additional review may be arranged for confirmation of candidature.

Admissions Policy, 4.3.7 Doctor of Philosophy qualifications:

(a) An applicant for admission to the degree shall have been awarded an appropriate four year degree of Bachelor with first or upper second class Honours from the University of New South Wales or a completed Masters by Research including a substantial research component from the University of New South Wales or a qualification at a level from another tertiary institution considered equivalent by the Faculty Research Committee or Higher Degree Committee (HDC).
(b) In exceptional cases, an applicant who the HDC considers holds academic and professional qualifications equivalent to the required qualifications may be permitted to enrol in the degree.
(c) If the HDC is not satisfied with the qualifications submitted by an applicant the HDC may require the applicant to undergo such assessment or carry out such work as the HDC may prescribe, before permitting enrolment as a candidate in the degree.

Related Links:

2. Arts and Social Sciences Requirements
2.1 Documentation

Following appropriate review within the School, requests from candidates to transfer enrolment from Masters by Research to PhD require consideration by the HDC. Approval is not guaranteed. Each case is considered on its merits, and when necessary, the HDC reserves the right to seek independent advice (including but not limited to assigning expert readers).

Cases must include the following documentation:

Completed online variation form
Student’s application attached to their variation request which they submit via GRIS. This should include:

  • A revised proposal (including rationale, literature review and methodology)
  • A statement indicating in specific terms how the project is expanded to the level of a PhD: an explanation of how the revised research meets the expectations of a PhD as an ‘original contribution to knowledge’, in a way that is not expected of a Masters (up to one page).
  • Table of contents and chapter plan for both the Master by Research and the PhD. An approximate word count for the chapters must be included.
  • At least 1 polished chapter
  • A timeline for completion of the PhD.

• An APR must be held, and a mark of 'Satisfactory' in the Annual Progress Review awarded.

• A copy of the Annual Progress Review in which the Panel recommends that the candidate has satisfied all the requirements for confirmation of a PhD candidate and that the candidate may transfer to a PhD. A Reader’s Report must also be provided as part of any APR intended to be a case for transfer. The documents should present a detailed and specific justification for transfer addressing both the candidate’s capacity and the project’s viability and merit.

• Supporting documents proving at least Honours Class 2 Division 1 or a statement and supporting documentation showing Honours Class 2 Division 1 equivalence as detailed in 2.2

• A letter of recommendation from the supervisor, endorsed by the School/Centre postgraduate research coordinator, addressing the candidate’s capacity to complete the project as a PhD. If there is a change of supervision required, statements of support from both the outgoing and incoming supervisors must be included.

• A Letter from the Postgraduate Coordinator/Head of School recommending the transfer. This should present a clear case as to why they are supporting the transfer and how the candidate meets the requirements to transfer.

2.2 Showing Honours Class 2 Division Equivalence

If the candidate does not have an Honours Class 2 degree at Division 1 level or better, they will need to provide a detailed statement as to what qualifications or experience they have which would establish that their qualifications are equivalent to such a degree. This must include what has been done while enrolled in the Masters degree to achieve such equivalence if it cannot be demonstrated at the time of initial enrolment.

Other evidence of H21 E may include:

• If you have completed and received at least 75% for research methodology courses (for Schools/ Centres where there are formal methodology courses) and/ or

• Acceptance of a first author refereed conference abstract or journal publication containing original research findings relevant to the proposed PhD research.

• Other relevant research outputs deemed equivalent to Honours level research. These can be specific to the professional experience of the applicant (e.g., reports), but details must be provided about the applicant’s role in research design, method and analysis, and in the production of the output