Frequently asked questions

Find answers to questions you might have as a PhD student at Victoria.

Provisional to full registration

What does it mean to be provisionally registered?

Your candidature is provisional until you can demonstrate that you possess the knowledge and ability to continue with your PhD. This will normally take you up to twelve months of full-time study. If you fail to show sufficient ability, your candidature will be discontinued.

How do I progress from being provisionally registered?

You must write a full research proposal and fulfil any other requirements set by your school. The proposal must be approved by your school before you can continue with your PhD.

How long should my full research proposal be?

Between 3,000 and 10,000 words. But it depends on school/programme requirements. Discuss matters with your supervisor.

What happens if my school doesn’t think my proposed research is viable?

You may be asked to revise your proposal. You will be given guidelines on what you need to change, and your full registration will be delayed. If your school decides that you don’t have the ability to carry out your research successfully, it may terminate your registration.

Will the University monitor my progress?

Yes. Your supervisors will do so informally, and both you and your supervisors will also have to complete six-monthly progress reports.  Read our guide to six-monthly reports.


Do I need to prepare before I meet my supervisors?

Yes. You should generally aim to give your supervisors something to read, and you should prepare specific questions on the issues that concern you. Think carefully about how you can best make use of your supervisors’ knowledge and experience. See our guide to preparing for meetings.

Is it acceptable for my supervisor to take months to read my latest thesis chapter?

No. Read our guidelines on feedback.

Can I expect written comments from my supervisors?

Yes, on written work you can expect written comments.

What happens if I disagree with my supervisor?

Scholars disagree. Disagreement is nothing to worry about, as long as you can defend your position through reason and argument. Your supervisor will have to accept that your views differ from their own. But you should listen to what your supervisors say to you (especially if both your academic supervisors agree). Remember, they will have considerable experience and broad knowledge of your discipline. In some cases, disagreements can prevent fruitful cooperation. If you feel this is the case, seek advice elsewhere. Read more on how to deal with problems.


Can I publish during my PhD?

Yes. You are generally encouraged to do so if you are interested in a career in academia or research. Ask your supervisors for advice.

What happens if I want to co-publish with my supervisor?

You will need to agree in writing about issues concerning intellectual property and authorship. See the section on publication here.

If I write a paper for publication, can my supervisor claim joint authorship?

If you wrote the paper on your own, you are the author. The supervisor can expect you to acknowledge their input, but they cannot expect credit as an author.

The Thesis

Who decides what I include in my thesis?

Regarding the content of your thesis - you do. It’s your thesis. Your supervisors may offer you advice and guidance, but the final decisions are yours. Please note that your thesis must meet certain standards for presentation before it will be accepted for examination. Thesis guidelines.

How long should my thesis be?

There are strict guidelines on the length of your thesis. Read more here.

Does my thesis need to conform to presentation guidelines?

Yes. Click here for more.

Can I print my thesis on both sides of the paper?

Double-sided printing is acceptable.

Enrolment and registration

Can I suspend my enrolment?

Yes. You will need to apply, you will not receive supervision or have access to University resources, and there are minimum and maximum periods of suspension. Read more here.

Do I have to re-enrol every year?

Read about re-enrolment here.

Thesis submission and examination

When do I have to submit my thesis?

Full-time students must submit within four years of provisional registration; half-time students within six years. Extensions are only granted in exceptional circumstances. You must give your supervisor three months’ notice of your intention to submit.

Must I be enrolled when I submit my thesis?

Yes, and you must be enrolled during the three months prior to submission. Your fees must have been paid in full.

How many copies of my thesis should I submit for examination and where do I hand them in?

You must take three soft-bound copies and one identical PDF copy to the Doctoral Examinations Administrator (DEA) in the Faculty of Graduate Research, 10 Kelburn Parade.  Your thesis will not be accepted for examination until the paper and electronic copies are received and your documentation is complete.

What other documents do I need to submit with my thesis?

You will need to complete several forms.

Does my thesis need to be properly bound when I submit?

The examination copies may have a temporary soft binding. The final Library version must be hard-bound.

How long will it take for my thesis to be examined?

Your examiners are asked to submit their reports within eight weeks of receiving the thesis. You can expect the whole examination process to take four months and occasionally longer.

Will I need to have an oral examination?

Yes. The oral defence of your thesis is an integral part of the doctoral examination process at Victoria. Your oral will be held in Wellington, and you are expected to attend your oral in person.

Can my supervisors attend my oral examination?

Yes. But they will not be part of the examining committee and they will not be able to answer questions on your behalf.

If I am required to re-submit my thesis, will it be re-examined?

Yes. Normally, you will have the same examiners. They will re-read your thesis and make new recommendations.

Will I have the same supervisor if I have to revise my thesis?

Your school may recommend a new primary supervisor if it thinks you might benefit. But it will only normally do this if you have been asked to re-submit.

The final version of your Thesis and graduation

How many copies of my thesis do I give the Library?

The final version of your thesis must be deposited in the Library in both hard-bound and electronic versions – one of each. Read the FGR guidelines on depositing your thesis.

Can I restrict access to my PhD if it contains sensitive information?

Normally, no. PhD theses are expected to be publicly available under the Official Information Act. It is also an important part of the university tradition that knowledge is openly available for review and criticism by peers. In exceptional circumstances, you may apply to restrict access for a limited period of time. But you must have very good reasons, and you must apply as early as possible. Our page on thesis availability contains more information.

Who holds the copyright on my thesis?

You will retain the copyright to your thesis after deposit in the Library. In general, research students own the intellectual property created exclusively by them in the course of their studies.

Do I have to apply to graduate?

Yes. You will be sent information on this after you have fulfilled all the requirements of your PhD.

Financial issues

Can I re-apply for scholarship funding if I missed out on my first application?

Yes. Read our guide to funding opportunities.

Will I be eligible to apply for funding to meet the costs of my research?

Yes. But if there is something without which you cannot do your research, you should discuss this with your Head of School at first enrolment or on full registration – whenever your research requirements become clear.

Can I undertake paid work during my studies?

Yes. Speak to your Head of School or supervisor about the possibility of tutoring or demonstrating. You must, however, ensure that you devote sufficient time to your PhD. Full-time students are expected to spend at least 30 hours per week on their thesis. Conditions may also apply to scholarship holders. Please check the conditions of your scholarship or talk with the Scholarships Office.  Victoria Scholarships webpage.

Resources and support services

Check out our webpage on support services and research resources.

What resources can I expect to have at my disposal during my PhD?

Your school must have the facilities to allow you to carry out your research before it can enrol you. Beyond that, the University has a Minimum Resources Agreement guaranteeing PhD students access to office and laboratory space, furniture, computing facilities and internet and email access. You will also have full access to the University Library and the opportunity to apply for grants to attend conferences and to pay for research-related expenses.

What’s available to help me improve my study and seminar skills?

Student Learning Support Service runs writing workshops and seminars specifically designed for postgraduates on a range of topics. Student Learning Support Service homepage.  The PGSA also organises interactive workshops and other events that may be useful. PGSA homepage.

Is there an organisation that supports the interests of PhD students at Victoria?

The Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) represents all postgraduate students at Victoria and acts as an advocate of postgrad interests at various levels within the University. Visit the PGSA homepage. Victoria University Students’ Association also has a Student Advocate. VUWSA Advocacy and Advice webpage.

How do I raise any issues I might have about my studies?

You can discuss things that concern you with your supervisors. You can also be frank about your concerns in your six-monthly reports. Click here for further information about dealing with problems.

Are there childcare facilities on campus?

Yes. See the Crèche website for more information.

Can the University help me find accommodation?

Yes. Visit the Accommodation Service website.

How do I meet other postgrads?

There should be other postgrad students in your school. Otherwise, the Postgraduate Students’ Association may be a good place to start. PGSA homepage.
Click here for more helpful info.

Where can find the regulations governing the PhD?

Click here for links to University statutes, policies, procedures and guidelines.