Chapter 1: Introduction

1.3 Doctor of Philosophy

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Monash University signifies that the holder has completed a course of graduate training in research under academic supervision and has submitted a thesis that the examiners have declared to be a significant contribution to knowledge and which demonstrates the student’s capacity to carry out independent research.

A student for the PhD must be an enrolled student of the University and is required to carry out a prescribed program of research for a specified period under the direct supervision of a member or members of the academic staff. The student, together with the supervisor(s), is responsible for developing the research program to be followed.

A student may be enrolled on either a full-time or a part-time basis. In fulfilling the requirements for supervised study and research at the University, a student is required to attend the academic unit of enrolment on a regular basis and to be involved in the intellectual life of that unit.

Skills training and coursework components

From 2013 discipline-specific skills training and coursework components will be progressively introduced into the Monash University PhD. By 2015 all faculties on all campuses of the University will offer these mandatory programs within their PhD..

Skills training and coursework components consist of the equivalent of three months’ coursework and/or training and are designed to enhance students’ research and employment-related skills and knowledge. Faculties will recommend the skills training and/or coursework requirements of each program, taking into account the discipline-specific and individual training needs of their students.

1.3.1 PhD (traditional thesis)

In addition to skills training and coursework components the traditional PhD requires a student to submit a thesis, the length of which may vary across disciplines but which would normally not exceed 100,000 words. A PhD project should be designed to take no more than three years of full-time equivalent candidature.

1.3.2 PhD based upon published or unpublished papers

Students have the option of presenting a thesis comprised in part or in full of published or unpublished papers.

These papers will have been written during the course of supervised candidature and will be based upon research undertaken during the course of candidature.

Students undertaking a PhD by publication will also undertake the skills training and coursework components of a PhD program when introduced into their faculty.

1.3.3 Joint-award PhD degrees

Joint-award doctoral degrees are conducted under shared candidature and supervision arrangements agreed to by Monash University and the partner institution. The degree is awarded by both institutions as a cotutelle or joint or double-badged award (see Appendix F ).

Coursework and skills training components are negotiated on a case by case basis for joint award students.

1.3.4 PhD in specialty of Visual Arts

The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture offers a PhD degree where the core of assessable work is an exhibition (or equivalent) accompanied by documentation that supports and comments upon the exhibited work and seeks to explain its contribution to human culture, endeavour and knowledge. A three-unit coursework component provides an appropriate theoretical framework and 48 hours of training provides discipline and employment-related skills.

1.3.5 PhD (Music Composition)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Music Composition) is designed for composers to develop a research-based composition folio that makes an independent and original contribution to knowledge.. In consultation with the supervisors, a student will plan and develop a substantial, research-based folio of original compositions.

The degree also includes one unit of coursework and 96 hours of training.

Students will be required to submit a composition folio consisting of both musical scores and sound recordings. The overall duration of the submitted music would normally be between 50 and 80 minutes. Depending on the complexity of the submitted music, however, the overall duration may deviate considerably from the given range. Students present at least 50 per cent of the music submitted in their folio in public concerts. The supervisors guide the students in the performance and recording of their musical works. Together with the folio of musical compositions students submit a critical commentary of between 20,000 and 25,000 words that demonstrates their capacity to articulate the conceptual and aesthetic basis for their folio of compositions, to assess their compositional work in the context of contemporary music and sonic art, and to research and convey creative processes involved in the production of sound and music. The commentary must be scholarly in character, and, at minimum address the following:

  • explication of a research-based argument that provides the conceptual basis for the folio and its contribution to knowledge
  • compositional approach, process, and techniques
  • aesthetic placement and stylistic predecessors
  • performance context.

1.3.6 PhD (Music Performance)

Students develop and present a live performance in a public venue, and submit a written critical commentary on their work. The performance will embody the results of the research investigation, which will be into the contexts, aesthetic elements and theoretical influences of the project.

The commentary will address performance context and methodology and demonstrate how the performance research contributes towards the body of scholarly knowledge.

Students develop and present a live performance in a public venue, and later submit a written critical commentary. The performance project is presented for examination as a live performance of up to approximately 120 minutes of music, which can be made up of both recorded and live performances. However, at least 80 minutes of the submission will be from a final live performance. The commentary is25,000–30,000 words and the equivalent combined word total is 80,000 words.

Students will demonstrate that they have utilised advanced methodologies of practice as research in performance, developed an understanding of the intersections of theory and practice in the performing arts, advanced the field of practice-based research with an original contribution to knowledge and practice, enhanced their skills in practical performance work, and developed their awareness of the demands of professional practice.

The degree also includes one unit of coursework and 96 hours of training.

1.3.7 PhD (Creative Writing)

The Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing) is designed to enable students to engage intellectually with their creative process and to acquire a professional qualification in the area of creative writing.

Students will be required to submit a piece of their own creative writing together with a critical commentary both of which must be produced during candidature and under supervision. For the purpose of this course, 'piece of creative writing' will be understood to be constituted by a novel, a group of short stories, a play or a group of plays, a sequence of poems, or a portfolio of works of various genres. The critical commentary will be a piece of critical writing focused on the student's piece of creative writing, the writing of which will itself be considered as an act of research into the nature of literary creativity. The critical commentary will involve thoroughly researching the various aspects of the creative writing project: the characteristics of the genre, the influence of the context and the shaping elements in a work of art.

Students submit a piece of their own creative writing together with a critical commentary both of which must be produced during candidature and under supervision.

Each component must be no less than 35,000 words, and the combined word total of the creative writing and the critical commentary should be 75,000–100,000 words.

The degree also includes one unit of coursework and 96 hours of training.

1.3.8 PhD (Theatre Performance)

The student will develop and present a live performance in a public venue, which will normally be in one of the fields of directing, theatre making or dramatic writing. The student's performance will embody the results of the research investigation, which will be into the contexts, theoretical influences, aesthetic elements and performance making processes of the project. The critical commentary will be an explication and analysis of the performance research project and will address methodological and theoretical issues that arise during the research investigation.

Students develop and present a live performance in a public venue, and later submit a written critical commentary. The performance will normally be 60–90 minutes and the commentary 30,000–35,000 words. The equivalent combined word total is 80,000 words.

The degree also includes one unit of coursework and 96 hours of training.

1.3.9 PhD (Translation Studies)

Students are required to submit a body of translated work together with an exegesis (critical commentary), which must be produced during candidature and under supervision. The translation component should be no less than 40,000 in length and the exegesis no less than 35,000. The total word count for the PhD should be from 75,000–100,000 words.

For the purpose of this course, 'piece of translation' will be understood to be constituted by a novel, a group of short stories, a play or a group of plays, a sequence of poems or a portfolio of works of various genres. Translation is understood as the product not only of informed academic research and critical interpretation, but also of scholarly reappropriation and recontextualisation. The translation will involve thoroughly researching the various aspects of the translation process, including the characteristics of the genre(s), and the theoretical, historical and literary influence of the context. The student will be expected to examine the multiple contexts within which the author and his/her text have existed. They will be encouraged to publish their work-in-progress and/or seek publishers for it during candidature.

The course consists of a translation portfolio and an exegesis, both of which are produced under supervision during the period of candidature. The translation component should be no less than 40,000 words and the exegesis no less than 35,000 words. The total word count for the PhD should be 75,000–100,000 words.

The degree also includes one unit of coursework and 96 hours of training.

1.3.10 PhD (Journalism)

The Faculty of Arts offers a PhD program in which the assessable work consists of a major piece of original journalistic research and work in a non-fiction genre of at least 50,000 words or equivalent and an accompanying scholarly exegesis of 25-35,000 exploring the scholarly context and contribution to knowledge of their research. Students are required to complete a compulsory program of coursework study and training.

The journalism project should embody evidence of the student’s research methodologies and achievements at the required level. The project:

  • may be produced in any publication medium appropriate to the content, including print, video, radio, digital multimedia and exhibition; there is considerable flexibility and scope for innovation in the design of the form and content of the journalism project and students should liaise closely with the proposed supervisory team to formulate a rigorous and original project; and
  • must be of a scale/length/duration that would normally be produced and published within the approved medium as an outcome of two year's full-time work, e.g. a feature-length (70–90 minutes) film/video documentary where the student is researcher and writer and director; a non-fiction book of 50,000–80,000 words; a series of six thematically related 45-minute video documentaries where the student is researcher, journalist and interviewer/presenter as part of a larger television production team; or a series of ten 50–60 minute radio documentaries researched, produced and presented by the student.

The exegesis should demonstrate how the professional/creative component contributes to scholarly knowledge in the field. It should address contextual, methodological and/or theoretical issues related to the themes or issue explored in the journalism project. It should demonstrate that the student has acquired the ability to research and contribute to journalism studies, and will normally be between 25,000 and 30,000 words.

1.3.11 Staff PhD

From 28 May 2014, students will no longer be admitted into a Staff PhD. Requirements as outlined below are for students who are currently enrolled in this study program.

Staff students submit a thesis based upon published or unpublished papers. 

Staff students enrolled in the practice-based degrees identified in sections 1.3.5 to 1.3.10 submit a practice-based component together with an exegesis based on published and unpublished papers. Students must meet the requirements governing the relationship between the content of the exegesis and the practice-based component and 75% of each component will be based upon research undertaken during the course of employment at Monash University.
Staff students are exempt from coursework and skills training requirements in all PhD degrees.

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