Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC)

The Research Higher Degrees Committee is responsible for advising the Academic Board on all matters of policy relating to research higher degrees (graduate courses in which the research component is at least 66%), including the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Philosophy and Masters by research. If you have any queries concerning the forms, policies and guidelines to be used, please contact the RHDC Secretary, Elena Goodey.

2017 Meetings

The Committee will meet on the following Wednesdays from 2.15pm - 4.15pm in the Jim Potter Room, Old Physics Building

1 February
8 March
26 April
24 May
28 June
16 August
20 September
8 November

Composition and Terms of Reference

DownloadTerms of Reference(11 KB)

1. Membership

2. Chairperson

Academic Board must appoint a person to chair the Committee for a period of up to two years. A person so appointed will be eligible for re-appointment. Academic Board must also appoint two Deputy Chairpersons, in consultation with the Chairperson, one of whom will chair the committee's scholarships sub-committee.

3. Quorum

A quorum for the committee is 3 or 20% of the current membership, whichever is greater. A meeting may only proceed where there is at least two academic staff members present.

4. Terms of Reference

4.1 To advise the Academic Board on all matters of policy relating to research higher degrees including the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Philosophy, higher doctorates and other research higher degrees comprising research and coursework.

4.2 In accordance with Statute 11.1, Academic Board policies, procedures, guidelines and principles, the committee shall review and, as appropriate, make recommendations to the Board on all proposed new courses, discontinuation and/or suspension of research programs.

4.3 In relation to coursework components of research higher degrees:

4.4 To regularly monitor research programs to ensure consistency and compliance with University statutes, regulations, policies and procedures and, where appropriate, make recommendations to the Academic Board.

4.5 To monitor the progress of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs.

4.6 The Committee will monitor delegations to faculties to ensure that they are regularly reviewing the appropriateness of existing research programs and the delegated responsibility for approving minor program changes.

4.7 The Committee, on its own initiative or on referral from the Board, shall determine criteria to be used by faculties in the development of proposals for new research degrees and programs.

4.8 On receipt of annual reports from faculties, advise the Board on matters affecting candidature and examination, including approval of admissions to candidature, confirmation of candidature, variations in conditions of candidature, and the appointment of examiners.

4.9To have oversight of and input into any tools used for monitoring of candidature progress.

4.10 To advise and make recommendations concerning the selection of students into research programs including but not limited to:

4.11 To advise and make recommendations concerning research scholarships, student awards and prizes, including but not limited to

4.12 To monitor the distribution of APA and other RHD stipends in faculties and receive annual reports on the equity and transparency of the selection process of distribution of APAs and other stipends;

4.13 To receive and make recommendations to the Board on reports from the RHD Scholarships Sub-committee.

4.14 To review the citations for PhD candidates to be presented at the graduation ceremonies.

4.15 From time to time to make recommendations which might amend these terms of reference or provide for specification of delegated authorities or provisions by which the Committee might regulate its own affairs.

5. Reporting

The Research Higher Degrees Committee will report to the next meeting of the Academic Board after each committee meeting.

6. Secretariat

University Services will provide secretariat support to the committee.

RHDC Scholarships Sub-Commitee

The Terms of Reference to the RHDC Scholarships Sub-Committee can be found here.

Course Proposals

Faculties recommending a new course or program, or a substantial change to an existing course or program to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC), should complete the Course Proposal Form, or the Course Change Form. These forms are to be forwarded to the Research Higher Degrees Committee (RHDC) Secretary.

RHDC Faculty Shepherds

If you need advice on the academic aspects of the proposal, please contact your RHDC Faculty Shepherd.

Faculty Shepherd contact

Architecture, Building and Planning

Professor Lesleyanne Hawthorne

Population Health, Ex: 49132, Email


Associate Professor Tony Wirth

Engineering, Ex: 41324, Email

Business and Economics and Melbourne Business School

Professor Sundhya Pahuja

Law, Ex: 47102, Email


Professor Graham Sewell

Faculty of Business and Economics, Ex: 47028, Email


Professor Philomena Murray

Social and Political Sciences, Ex: 45151, Email


Professor Lea Delbridge

Physiology, Ex: 45853, Email

Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

Professor Katrina Mcferran

Music, Ex: 47382, Email


Professor Alison Lewis

Languages and Linguistics,
Ex: 45103, Email

Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences

Professor Nigel Curtis

MDHS, Ex: 93456366, Email

Victorian College of the Arts and Music

Professor Glenn Browning

Vet Sciences, Ex: 47342, Email

Chair RHDC

Professor Joy Damousi, Ex: 47360, Email

Role of Shepherds

Definition A 'shepherd' is a member of the Research Higher Degrees Committee with designated responsibility to work with one or more faculties to provide advice and guidance both to the faculties concerned and to the Committee on matters such as faculty course change proposals and changes to legislation of an academic nature. A shepherd's advice may be sought by a faculty during development of the proposal if there are any unusual aspects in the proposal.

Course proposals
On receipt of a proposal the Committee Secretary will forward a copy to the responsible RHD shepherd. It is the responsibility of the shepherd to examine the proposal in detail with respect to the guidelines for shepherds, and to more general academic issues such as entry requirements, student workload/contact hours/duration of course/points value, levels of any coursework requirements, assessment/examination details. The shepherd should discuss any concerns with the appropriate faculty/departmental officers and attempt to negotiate acceptable changes.
It is also the role of the shepherd to ensure that the legislation reflects the structure of the approved course.

The original proposal together with the shepherd's report and any amendments are then returned to the Research Higher Degrees Committee Secretary.

RHDC Membership

Research Higher Degrees Committee - Membership 2016



President, Academic Board (or nominee) Professor Rachel Webster
Pro Vice-Chancellor Graduate Research Professor Dick Strugnell
A chairperson nominated by the President of Academic Board Professor Joy Damousi
Chair, RHD Scholarships Subcommittee (or nominee) Professor Alison Lewis
Director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education or nominee Associate Professor Sophie Arkoudis
Research Higher Degree Candidature Manager Ms Stephanie Morrison-Duff
Academic Secretary or Academic Governance Officer Ms Penelope Pepperell
Six members of academic staff who are active in research and supervision of higher degree candidates elected by Academic Board (for a term of 3 years) Professor Alison Lewis (Deputy Chair)
Professor Dragan Nesic
Professor Lea Delbridge
Professor Tony Wirth
Professor Philomena Murray
Up to six appointed members to be determined annually having regard to gender balance and disciplinary expertise of the membership. Professor Sundhya Pahuja
Professor Katrina McFerran
Professor Lesleyanne Hawthorne
Professor Nigel Curtis
Professor Glenn Browning
Professor Graham Sewell
Two nominees of the President of the Graduate Students Association (GSA) both of whom must be enrolled in a research higher degree Ms Lida Rashidi
Mr Keyvan Allahyari
Two representatives from Associate Deans, Research Training, one from STEM and one from HASS disciplines, (nominated by the Chair in consultation with the President.)Associate Professor Barb Bolt (HASS)
Professor Chris Manzie (STEM)
Two faculty-based Research managers appointed annually by the President in consultation with the Chairperson.Ms Dimity Evans
Ms Alice Boland
Up to two additional members, not being members of the Academic Board, nominated annually by the President of the Academic Board having regard to gender balance and disciplinary expertise of the membership.

Dr Kylie Smith
Associate Professor Sean Scalmer
Elena Goodey