Higher Doctorates Policy and Procedure

Policy overview

1 Purpose

These regulations apply to the award of (earned) higher doctorates to graduates on the basis of work submitted by a graduate for such an award. The regulations do not apply to the award of honorary higher doctorates which the Council may confer in accordance with its policy 'Honorary Award and Title Policy'.

2 Scope

All USQ Academic Staff.

3 Policy Statement

A higher doctorate is the highest academic award of the University. A higher doctorate is designed to give formal public recognition to scholars who have made substantial, original and distinguished contribution to the knowledge and understanding of any branch of learning with which the University is concerned. The higher doctorate degrees listed in the schedule below may be undertaken pursuant to these regulations.

4 Procedures

4.1 Applicant Requirements

Applicants for admission to candidature must:

  1. be graduates of ten years' standing of the University or hold qualifications in another university or institution recognized for the purpose by the University, and
  2. have a substantial research association with the University, and
  3. normally have a doctorate.

4.2 Work Requirements

Work submitted for a higher doctorate:

  1. must be a substantial and scholarly contribution to the advancement of the relevant discipline, surpassing the standard of work required for the award of Doctor of Philosophy
  2. will normally be 'published work' in that the work will have been available publicly for a reasonable period of time for review and criticism
  3. may include work conjointly authored provided the conjoint work is clearly indicated and the applicant submitting the work was responsible for the initiation and conduct or direction of the major portion of such work
  4. must not have been the basis upon which the applicant was awarded any other degree from any educational institution.

4.3 Admission Procedures

4.3.1 Application for Admission

  1. Application for admission to candidature shall be made in writing to the Office of Research and Higher Degrees. The Office will attend to all procedural matters relating to the candidature. These matters include referral to the relevant Faculty and the Higher Degrees Review and Admissions Committee, notification of candidature and examination management as detailed in this document. The application shall include:
    1. an application for admission
    2. a statement and evidence of academic qualifications
    3. a full employment history
    4. a full list of publications
    5. copies of at least 10 of the applicant's most significant works.
  2. A statement of how each of the submitted research outputs developed, the way in which the outputs relate to each other and constitute a theme and the extent to which the publications make a contribution to knowledge. The applicant shall indicate if the work or any part thereof, and if so what part, has been submitted for a degree in this or any other university, by the applicant, or in the case of conjoint work, by the applicant or any of the applicant's collaborators.

4.3.2 Preliminary Assessment

  1. Upon receipt of an application, the Office of Research and Higher Degrees shall consult the Dean of the Faculty through which the applicant proposes to submit work for the higher doctorate in order to confirm that the work falls within the Faculty's purview. Following identification of the relevant Faculty, a Higher Doctorate Committee will be established by the Dean to assess whether the potential candidate is qualified for admission to candidature. A Higher Doctorate Committee will comprise:
    1. the Associate Dean (Research) or Director of Research who shall be chair of the committee
    2. at least two members of the relevant faculty's Research Committee.
  2. The Higher Doctorate Committee may:
    1. seek further information from the applicant, or
    2. decline to support the application in which case the Committee will forward the application to the Higher Degrees Review and Admissions Committee giving reasons for the Committee's decision, or
    3. determine that the applicant satisfies the requirements for admission to candidature and the work submitted for the degree is prima facie worthy of examination. The Committee will recommend to the Higher Degree Review and Admissions Committee that the applicant should be admitted as a candidate.

4.3.3 Admission to Candidature

  1. The Higher Degree Review and Admissions Committee shall consider the recommendation of the Higher Doctorate Committee as to the eligibility of the applicant and shall decide whether he/she will be admitted as a candidate.
  2. The Office of Research and Higher Degrees will convey the decision of the Higher Degrees Review and Admissions Committee to the candidate.
  3. Upon admission to candidature, candidates shall pay the enrolment fee as determined from time to time by the University.

4.4 Examination

4.4.1 Submission

After admission to candidature, a candidate must lodge with the Office of Research and Higher Degrees, in a form approved by the Higher Doctorate Committee, four copies of the documents lodged with the Office under clause 4.3.1.

This submission must be completed within six months of enrolment.

4.4.2 Examiners

Where an applicant is admitted to candidature:

  1. the Higher Doctorate Committee must advise the Research Committee of the three persons it considers appropriate examiners of the candidate's work, and
  2. the candidate may, within ten days after receipt of notice under clause 4.3.2 1b, advise the Research Committee in writing of any persons the candidate objects, for stated reasons, to being appointed examiners.

The Research Committee, after considering the advice of the Higher Doctorate Committee and any objections from the candidate, will appoint three examiners to assess the candidate's work.

Examiners must be external to the University. At least one of the examiners must be from an overseas university. Such examiners must not have published, or engaged in substantial research collaboration, with the candidate.

Each selected examiner will be contacted to ensure willingness to act and the ability to complete the examination within two months.

Communication between examiners is not normally permitted. Should an examiner wish to contact other examiner(s), a request in writing explaining the reason/s for the interaction must be provided for consideration by the Chair of the Research Committee. Under no circumstances will any examiner's details be revealed to other examiners without their consent.

4.4.3 The Examination

Each examiner must independently assess the candidate's work.

Examiners may question the candidate in writing through the Chair, Research Committee about any aspect of the material which an examiner believes requires clarification. The Chair, Research Committee must send a copy of the question and the candidate's answer to each examiner.

A written report is required of examiners together with a recommendation either to grant the award or not.

When all examiners reports are received they are forwarded to the Higher Doctorate Committee for the provision of a recommendation, through the Dean of the Faculty, to the Chair, Research Committee. The Chair, Research Committee shall recommend to the Vice-Chancellor that, where the candidate has satisfied the requirements for the award, the degree be awarded.

A candidate shall not be recommended as having satisfied the requirements for the award of a higher doctorate unless all examiners report that the work submitted for examination satisfies the requirements of the 'policy statement'.

The Chair, Research Committee shall advise the candidate of a decision not to grant the award.

Candidates, whether successful or not, shall normally be provided with copies of the examiners' comments, subject to any editing (including the suppression of the examiners' names) approved by the Chair, Research Committee.

All examiners shall be advised of the recommendations of other examiners and the decision made about the award of the degree.

4.5 Right to Re-apply

A candidate who fails to qualify for the award of a higher doctorate may, after a period of not less than five years, re-apply for admission to candidature for the degree.

4.6 Distribution of Work

One copy of any successful submission for a higher doctorate shall be lodged in the University Library.

4.7 Schedule


Administering Faculties

Doctor of Letters (DLitt)

Arts and Education

Doctor of Business (DBus)


Doctor of Engineering (DEng)

Engineering and Surveying

Doctor of Science (DSc)


5 References


6 Policy Information

Accountable Officer

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)

Responsible Officer

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)

Policy Type

Academic Quality Policy

Policy Suite

Joint PhD Proposal Procedure

Subordinate Schedules

Approved Date


Effective Date


Review Date

Relevant Legislation

Related Policies

Student Expectations and Responsibilities Policy

Related Procedures

Related forms, publications and websites


Terms defined in the Definitions Dictionary

Definitions that relate to this policy only


Higher doctorate awards research

Record No


Complying with the law and observing Policy and Procedure is a condition of working and/or studying at the University.

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