Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PhD) AWARD SUMMARY

Qualifications for Admission to Candidature: A person may apply for admission to the PhD if he or she has obtained or is qualified to obtain a four-year Bachelor degree, or the equivalent, in an appropriate discipline, to at least a Distinction standard. For details see Regulation D.4.1 below

In all cases, prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theologically related area.

In exceptional cases, candidates may be admitted on the grounds of academic and/or professional attainments, including publications, in the theologically related area in which they wish to pursue research for the degree.

Notwithstanding the provisions above, the College may require suitability for candidature to be by such examination or other work as determined by the College.

The College will decline to accept an applicant if it cannot offer supervision in the proposed field of research.

Duration: 3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time.
Structure: Research and thesis of 80,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices, under the direction of a supervisor; AND

compulsory participation in the Research Degree Workshop and Research Seminars.

Some thesis topics may require competence in ancient and/or modern foreign languages or other relevant areas of knowledge.

English Proficiency: Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction require a minimum IELTS (or equivalent) score of 7.0 in all bands of the test.
Contact: The Research Director, Office of the Dean.

1. RATIONALE

The Doctor of Philosophy meets the specifications for a Doctoral Degree (Research) set by the Australian Qualifications Framework. It provides men and women with the opportunity to pursue advanced study in a theologically related area by research at the highest academic level. It is designed for those who seek to further their study in such an area, including interdisciplinary study, for academic, vocational, professional and/or personal reasons. It also offers research training and experience that would support an academic or professional career involving research.

The Doctor of Philosophy is undertaken by research and thesis alone. It provides the opportunity for candidates to embark on a significant, extended piece of research, which investigates a theologically related topic in a systematic, creative and comprehensive manner that is not available in coursework programs. The research will contribute to knowledge in an original way.

2. LEARNING OUTCOMES

Graduates will have systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of theologically related learning and specialized research skills for the advancement of learning in the field. They will have:

Knowledge

  • systematic and critical understanding of the chosen theologically related area
  • mastery of a substantial body of knowledge at the frontier of knowledge in the field, including knowledge that constitutes an original contribution
  • expert understanding of theories pertaining to the field
  • substantial knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to the field

Skills

expert and specialized cognitive, creative, and technical skills in the field of research, so that they are able independently and authoritatively to:

  • critically evaluate existing knowledge and ideas pertaining to the field of research
  • systematically investigate and integrate other information potentially relevant to that field including potentially relevant theories
  • demonstrate and apply theoretical understanding of the field
  • develop or adapt research methodologies to extend existing understanding of the field
  • communicate results of research cogently and appropriately to specialist and non-specialist audiences, using the English language competently and effectively for the purpose

Applications of Knowledge and Skills

  • as a practitioner or learner in relation to the inter-dependent building up of the church and good of the wider community, ongoing capacity to:
  • plan and execute a coherent, significant and original piece of research with intellectual independence and authority
  • generate significant and original knowledge in the field
  • contribute expertise to academic discourses in the field
  • take initiatives, think creatively and make innovations in new situations and/or undertake further learning
  • assume full responsibility and accountability for personal outputs

3. GRADUATE ATTRIBUTES

PhD Graduates will:

  • Be able to identify, analyse and articulate problems and issues in discourses current in their academic, professional and social communities
  • Recognize the level of their own understanding
  • Demonstrate creativity and originality of thought in solving problems and dealing with complex and abstract conceptual matters
  • Be able to access information efficiently using the means most appropriate to purpose and context
  • Value academic integrity and rigour and exercise critical thinking in forming judgments
  • Work autonomously and with an open mind
  • Understand the distinction between information and argument and be adept in marshalling information as evidence in argument
  • Hold responsible values and attitudes as members of academic, professional and social communities, based in part on their experience as SCD research candidates
  • Be able to communicate their thinking coherently and effectively, with appropriate English proficiency, in public debate and printed word
  • Have confidence to engage in public discussions of faith and ethics
  • Appreciate and act on opportunities for lifelong learning and encourage others to recognize learning opportunities for themselves
  • Be willing to assume high-level leadership in their academic, professional and social communities as needed

4. ACADEMIC REGULATIONS

The Academic Regulations below must be read in conjunction with Common Elements for Research Awards found in Section A above.

4.1 Admission to Candidature
4.1.1 The Sydney College of Divinity may admit to candidature in the PhD those persons who have attained:

(a)  A Bachelor (Hons) degree or equivalent with results at Class II, Division 1, from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or

(b)  A Graduate Diploma with a GPA of 3+ and one 18 cpt research unit at Distinction level from the Sydney College of Divinity or an equivalent institution; or

(c)  Qualifications deemed by the College to be equivalent to or higher than those above.

In all cases, prior studies should include sufficient preparation to undertake the proposed research in a theologically related area.

4.1.2 In exceptional cases, candidates may be admitted on the grounds of academic and/or professional attainments, including publications, in the theologically related area in which they wish to pursue the research.
4.1.3 Notwithstanding the provisions above, the Sydney College of Divinity may require suitability for candidature to be demonstrated by such examination or other work as determined by the Sydney College of Divinity.
4.1.4 The College will decline to accept an applicant if it cannot offer supervision in the proposed field of research.
4.1.5 Applicants must submit together with their application a Summary of Research Intentions, sufficient for the Research Committee to determine the general suitability of the topic and availability of appropriate resources and supervision.
4.1.6 Applicants whose entry qualifications were obtained in an institution where English is not the language of instruction will be required to demonstrate competency in English by an IELTS result of 7.0 in all bands of the test and may be required to attend such English language courses as prescribed by the Sydney College of Divinity.
4.1.7 Applicants will be required to show evidence of competence in ancient and/or modern languages, in order to access primary sources and/or significant secondary works relevant to their thesis topic, and competence in any other relevant area of knowledge. Any language or other requirements will be determined at the time of application in consultation with the proposed supervisor.
4.1.8 Candidates for the PhD are admitted provisionally on the basis of approval of the Summary of Research Intentions. Candidates must submit a formal Thesis Proposal no later than one semester from admission for a full-time candidate or two semesters for a part-time candidate for approval by the Research Committee in order to continue their candidature. This proposal may not be substantially changed after acceptance without application to the Research Committee.
4.1.9 No candidate for the PhD may be concurrently enrolled in any other undergraduate or postgraduate course within the Sydney College of Divinity or any other tertiary institution, except in the case that, on the recommendation of the supervisor, a candidate may be directed to undertake one or more individual units of study on a non-award basis in order to attain a competence emerging as appropriate to the most effective pursuance of the PhD research.
4.1.10 Candidates for the program are registered with the College through the Office of the Dean.
4.1.11 A candidate for the degree will be designated as full-time or part-time based on time to be given to the research. Typically, full-time candidature requires an average of thirty hours per week and part-time candidature requires an average of fifteen hours per week. These hours should preferably be achieved through regular weekly commitment, but they may be achieved through varying periods of more and less intensive work. Clear progress is expected in each semester of enrolment.
4.1.12 A candidate enrolled in the MPhil may apply for transfer to PhD candidature, using the Application to Transfer to a Different Research Degree, following satisfactory completion of 20,000 words of the thesis under the direction of the approved principal supervisor and associate supervisor; a record of having met MPhil regulations; and demonstration that the research is of a sufficient scope and depth to sustain a doctoral thesis. The application should be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the principal supervisor. Applications are determined by the Research Committee. In the event that an application is refused and the student wishes to appeal the decision, the appeal will be referred to the Dean. In the event that the student remains unsatisfied with the outcome, the student may have recourse to formal grievance procedures available through the Dean, as set out in the Student Grievance Policy and Procedures. Period of candidature provisions for the PhD degree apply from the time of transfer. Allowance for time already spent in MPhil candidature will be determined by the Research Committee in relation to the stage already reached in the research, but the remaining period of doctoral candidature will be at least two semesters for full-time candidates and at least four semesters for part-time candidates.
4.2 Course Structure
4.2.1 All PhD candidates proceed to the award by research and thesis alone.
4.2.2 Candidates pursue a program of advanced study and research approved by the Research Committee and submit a thesis embodying the results of the research. The thesis will form an original contribution to research in the area. The thesis is to be 80,000 words maximum, including footnotes/endnotes but excluding bibliography and appendices.
4.2.3 A candidate may not submit as the main content of the thesis any material that has previously been submitted for a degree, unless that material has been significantly reworked in the context of the thesis being submitted.
4.2.4 Not later than one semester after admission to provisional candidature for full-time candidates and two semesters for part-time candidates, the candidate will submit a formal Thesis Proposal for approval by the Research Committee. Following approval, the thesis topic may not be substantially varied except with the permission of the Research Committee.
4.2.5 The Research Committee appoints a principal supervisor and an associate supervisor to oversee the development of the thesis, and may determine any special arrangements for supervision. Normally, the principal supervisor will be a faculty member of the Sydney College of Divinity. In some cases the College may appoint an external supervisor based in another reputable theological college or university. The associate supervisor may likewise be internal or external to the College. In either case the principal supervisor must be research active according to the College’s Research Active in the SCD Policy and the associate supervisor will normally be research active according to the College’s Research Active Policy.
4.2.6 As part of the program for the award of the PhD the candidate is required to participate in the Research Seminars listed for each year of their candidature, and to present a paper at least once a year for full-time candidates and at least once every second year for part-time candidates. Ongoing enrolment in the award is subject to completing these requirements.
4.2.7 Candidates in their first year of enrolment must attend a Research Degree Workshop in addition to the Research Seminars, provided that they have not previously attended such a seminar with the College as part of a previous award. Regardless of such previous attendance, they may be required to attend those parts of the Workshop considered relevant to their current research.
4.2.8 All thesis proposals involving the gathering of personal information from people by surveys, interviews or case studies will be dealt with according to the policies and procedures of the Research Ethics Committee, which makes a recommendation to the Academic Board in consultation with the Research Committee. Ethics clearance is normally sought at the same time as submission of the formal Thesis Proposal. If the need to seek ethics clearance arises subsequently, as the need to gather personal information arises belatedly, the application for ethical clearance should be lodged promptly. Under no circumstances may those elements of the thesis relying on the gathering of personal information proceed before ethical clearance is granted.
4.2.9 All candidates are to nominate a ‘home library’ from amongst the libraries of the Member Institutions of the Sydney College of Divinity. The library will regularly receive a research grant to supplement its collection in the topic area of the candidate.
4.3 Period of Candidature
4.3.1 The period of candidature for the degree is normally be three to four years full-time or six to eight years part-time.
4.3.2 In certain circumstances the Research Committee may grant limited extensions of candidature upon application. The normal upper limits for extension are one semester for full-time candidates and two semesters for part-time candidates.
4.3.3 For serious reasons the Research Committee may grant a candidate leave of absence from the program. This leave will not normally exceed one semester. The period of leave is not counted in the period of candidature.
4.3.4 If the candidate discontinues or does not re-enrol, the candidate is required to apply for re-admission to the PhD program. The Research Committee will process the application and may specify conditions for enrolment.
4.3.5 A candidate resuming after an absence will be enrolled for not less than one semester before being permitted to submit a thesis.
4.4 Monitoring of Candidature
4.4.1 Once a semester, and at any other time considered appropriate, the principal supervisor of the thesis will report to the Research Committee on the progress of the candidate using the appropriate form.
4.5 Termination of Candidature
4.5.1 If the Research Degree Progress Report describes the candidate’s progress as unsatisfactory and there is no advance within a semester, the Research Committee will ask the candidate to show cause why candidature should not be terminated. Unsatisfactory progress occurs when there is no evidence that production of the thesis has been advanced by identifiable further research, constructive meetings of the candidate with the supervisor, or written drafts, and where there are insufficient grounds for special consideration.
4.5.2 Any show-cause submission by the candidate will be considered by the Research Committee and the Committee’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Academic Board. The Committee may recommend the termination of candidature, continuation of candidature, or imposition of conditions on continuation of candidature.
4.5.3 If the candidate does not show cause, the Research Committee will recommend termination of candidature to the Academic Board.
4.5.4 Persons whose candidature has been terminated may have recourse to the appeals procedures set out in the Handbook under General Academic Regulations. The decision of the Appeals Committee is final.
4.6 Examination of Thesis
4.6.1 The candidate will submit to the Office of the Dean three copies of a thesis embodying the results of the candidate’s research. All copies of the thesis will be bound in temporary form. The length of the thesis will conform to the prescribed requirements. The thesis must be written and presented in accordance with the current guidelines for the preparation of a thesis.
4.6.2 The thesis must be the candidate’s own work, must be written in English, and must reach a satisfactory standard of literary presentation.
4.6.3 Before a candidate may submit a thesis, the principal supervisor must sign a Certification of Thesis, to be submitted with the thesis, stating that the thesis conforms to the requirements of the regulations. If the supervisor does not so certify, the Research Committee will determine whether the thesis is to be submitted after having considered written submissions from the principal supervisor, the associate supervisor and the candidate.
4.6.4 The Research Committee appoints three expert examiners, all external to the Sydney College of Divinity, at least two of international standing, and may appoint additional examiners. Examiners will be expected to report in writing two months from the receipt of the thesis. An examiner will normally be replaced if the report is not received within three months.
4.6.5 The examiners will report in writing and make a recommendation that the thesis be placed in one of the five categories:

  • (a) that the award be granted
  • (b) that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  • (c) that major amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  • (d) that a significantly revised thesis be re-submitted for examination
  • (e) that the award not be granted.
4.6.6 In the event of a disagreement arising amongst examiners, the Research Committee may appoint a fourth examiner or may make a recommendation to the Academic Board of the College.
4.6.7 The Research Committee may recommend that the candidate undergo an oral or written examination requested by the examiners or initiated by the Research Committee.
4.6.8 In the case of D.4.6.5 (b), (c) or (d), the Research Committee will determine the time to be allowed for completion or re-submission. In both cases, the candidate will re-enrol for the specified period.
4.6.9 In the event of a re-submission, the Research Committee may appoint the same examiners or may appoint one or more different examiners. The same examination process will apply except that examiners will be asked to make a recommendation in one of three categories:

  1. that the award be granted
  2. that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  3. that the award not be granted.
4.7 Examiners’ Reports
4.7.1 Candidates will be given a copy of the examiners’ reports at the completion of the examination process. Examiners’ names will be included unless a written request to the contrary has been received by the Office of the Dean.
4.8 Submission of the Completed Thesis
4.8.1 When any corrections as determined by the Research Committee in light of the examiners’ reports have been completed, two bound copies of the thesis and one electronic copy are to be submitted to the Office of the Dean. The bound copies are to conform to the guidelines for the presentation and binding of theses following examination.
4.8.2 A copy of the bound thesis is to be deposited in a College library designated by the candidate; the other bound copy and electronic copy remain with the Office of the Dean. The copies will be available for consultation, loan, electronic distribution and photocopying forthwith. In exceptional cases the Research Committee, on application of the candidate, may determine that the thesis will not be available until after the expiry of a period, normally no longer than a year. The candidate holds copyright in the thesis and it is expected that any use made of it will be appropriately acknowledged by the user.
4.9 Saving Clause
4.9.1 Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, the Academic Board of the Sydney College of Divinity may, in any case in which it may deem it appropriate to do so, vary, dispense with or suspend any requirement or prescription by these regulations, and report forthwith to the Council of the Sydney College of Divinity.

5. COMMON ELEMENTS IN HIGHER RESEARCH DEGREES

5.1 Overall Nature of Research Programs

All MPhil, PhD and ThD candidates proceed to the award by research and thesis alone. For DMin candidates 20% of the award is by coursework and 80% by research and thesis. In all research programs both full-time and part-time candidature are available. Typically, full-time candidature requires an average of thirty hours per week and part-time candidature requires an average of fifteen hours per week. These hours should preferably be achieved through regular weekly commitment, but they may be achieved through varying periods of more and less intensive work.

5.2    Oversight

Oversight of the MPhil, DMin, PhD and ThD falls to the Research Committee. Where relevant, ethics clearance is determined by the Research Ethics Committee. The Research Committee is a committees of the Academic Board and makes recommendations to it. This includes recommendations for award of degrees. The Academic Board in turn makes a recommendation to the Council, which resolves on award or non-award of the degree. The Research Ethics Committee is a committee of the Dean, who notifies .significant matters to the Academic Board. The Research Ethics Committee may exchange .information with the Research Committee.

The Research Committee has practical responsibility, with regard to the degrees listed above, for such matters as the admission of candidates, the approval of thesis topics, the appointment of supervisors and associate supervisors, the progress of candidates through the program, the provision of research seminars and workshops, the examination of completed theses, the implementation of any recommendations from the examiners, and the recommendation to the Academic Board that a candidate may proceed to graduation. The Academic Board in turn makes a recommendation to the Council concerning the award of the degree.

The management of the programs is the responsibility of the Research Director, who is also a member of the Research Committee, and the Academic Board. The Research Director should be contacted by all intending candidates. The Research Director provides initial guidance in respect of the desired program, qualifications for admission, the DMin coursework if relevant, the intended research topic and supervision of the research, and remains the key contact for candidates in managing their progress.

5.3 Enrolment

Candidates enrol through the Office of the Dean following an interview with the Research Director. The Director receives and forwards the application for enrolment, together with the Summary of Research Intentions, to the Research Committee which grants acceptance into the program.

In the case of the MPhil, PhD and ThD, candidature is provisional until the acceptance of the Thesis Proposal by the Research Committee. In the case of the DMin, transition from coursework to thesis occurs following the achievement of commendable results in the two coursework units and acceptance of the Thesis Proposal by the Research Committee.

5.4    Thesis Proposal

In the case of the MPhil, PhD and ThD, a formal Thesis Proposal will be submitted to the Research Committee within one semester of admission for a full-time candidate and within two semesters of admission for a part-time candidate. In the case of the DMin, a formal Thesis Proposal will be submitted to the Research Committee no later than one semester after completion of the course units for a full-time candidate and no later than two semesters after completion of the course units for a part-time candidate. In all cases, the formal Thesis Proposal may not be substantially changed after acceptance without application to the committee.

5.5 Research Supervision

All candidates have two supervisors, a principal supervisor, who must hold a doctoral degree and be research active according to the College’s Research Active in the SCD Policy, and an associate supervisor, who must hold a doctoral degree, carry out research and normally be research active according to the College’s Research Active Policy. These are formally appointed by the Research Committee . Normally, the principal supervisor will be a faculty member of the Sydney College of Divinity. In some cases the College may appoint an external supervisor based in another reputable theological college, university, or comparable institution. The associate supervisor may likewise be internal or external to the College. In the case of the DMin, the associate supervisor may be a relevant recognized expert professional in a .relevant field of ministry.

As well as being research active, the principal supervisor should have .experience in research supervision. College Faculty who may become research active and thus eligible to act as supervisors are expected to participate in scheduled supervision workshops provided by the College. Especially in cases where a designated principal supervisor may not yet have overseen a research project through to a satisfactory conclusion, appropriate mentoring in this task will be provided by the Research Director.

Intending candidates may or may not have identified a specific topic within the intended area. Some may already have discussed the matter informally with a potential supervisor. In their Summary of Research Intentions accompanying the application to enrol candidates may request a particular person as supervisor, but the supervisor is appointed by the Research Committee .and approached by the Research Director.

The associate supervisor may be asked to act as principal supervisor in the temporary absence of the principal supervisor, for example, on study leave. The associate supervisor may otherwise provide additional research support, for example, with regard to a particular aspect of the research in which he or she is a recognized expert. The Code of Supervisory Practice, appended to this section, informs the supervisory relationships.

Each semester the supervisors report to the Research Committee concerning the candidate’s progress and any other related matter, using the Research Degree Progress Report form, which requires also candidate comment on the supervisor’s comments. This enables the Committee to monitor progress, offer advice to supervisors and/or candidates, and make appropriate recommendations to the Academic Board. In the event of continued unsatisfactory progress termination of candidature may be recommended. Unsatisfactory progress occurs when there is no evidence that production of the thesis has been advanced by identifiable further research, constructive meetings of the candidate with the supervisor, or written drafts, and where there are insufficient grounds for special consideration. Typically, unsatisfactory progress in one semester will attract directions to achieve particular goals in the following semester, and unsatisfactory progress for a second semester will lead to a requirement that the candidate show cause why the candidature should not be terminated.

Candidates experiencing extended academic or personal difficulties should discuss their situation promptly with their supervisor and the Research Director in order to establish the most effective way for them to proceed to eventual completion. In some situations it may be appropriate to apply for an extension. The normal upper limits for extension are one semester for full-time candidates and two semesters for part-time candidates. In other situations it may be appropriate to apply for leave of absence for a semester. Such applications should be addressed to the Research Director and are considered by the Research Committee.

5.6 Compulsory Research Degree Workshops

These workshops are compulsory for all new thesis writers, including DMin candidates moving to the thesis stage of their candidature. Held annually, they are offered in intensive mode, early in first semester. They will also be offered early in the second semester for any new students in the MPhil, PhD or ThD, or any DMin students moving to the thesis stage of their degree. New thesis writers may be at slightly different stages of preparation for the research but all will find the matters covered wholly or largely .relevant to their situation. Presented by various lecturers, they are designed to introduce candidates to practical matters affecting the production of a thesis such as:

  • defining a thesis topic and planning chapters
  • research methodologies
  • bibliographical aids
  • using the library to best effect in research
  • writing a formal thesis proposal
  • ethical considerations and ethics clearance procedures
  • examiners’ expectations
  • guidelines for writing and documenting
  • writing an abstract
  • participating in the SCD research seminars and in conferences.

5.7 Compulsory Research Seminars

Several Research Seminars (about eight) are held in the evening at intervals throughout the year, coordinated by the Research Director. Ongoing enrolment in all research degrees is subject to completing attendance requirements and presenting a paper related to the research seminar at least once each year for full-time candidates and at least once every second year for part-time candidates. DMin candidates participate in these seminars once they have entered the thesis stage of their candidature. The seminars provide an informal testing ground for the reception of the research, opportunities for gaining awareness of broader research areas and research procedures potentially applicable to one’s own research, and engagement with the overall cohort of research students in mitigation of any sense of isolation.

Where the candidate normally resides abroad or in an Australian location remote from the usual physical location of the seminars in Sydney, the Research Director will advise the candidate concerning minimum participation in the seminars. All such candidates are expected to attend at least one seminar in person in the course of the year in person and to present a paper at least once a year or at least once every two years, as above. The seminars will be located so as to allow for live-streaming of at least half of them and candidates will be expected to arrange to join such seminars using appropriate technology. Seminars begin again in March. Relevant advice is available from the Office of the Dean.

5.8 Research Ethics

Any research involving human subjects must have the approval of the Sydney College of Divinity Research Ethics Committee, which is a committee of the Dean.

All thesis proposals involving the gathering of personal information from people by surveys, interviews or case studies will be dealt with according to the procedures and policies of the Research Ethics Committee available on the College website under Ethics in Research. The Research Ethics Committee makes recommendations to the Academic Board in consultation with the Research Committee.

Note that ethics clearance may also be pertinent if the research involves using such material collected by others. Note also that the recording of oral history may or may not include the gathering of personal information.

Information about obtaining ethics clearance to proceed with research involving human subjects is available on the College website, together with the Application for Ethical Clearance of Research Involving Human Subjects. Guidance may be sought from the supervisor and the Research Director, and the Research Ethics Committee may be consulted through the Dean.

Ethics clearance is normally sought at the same time as submission of the formal Thesis Proposal. If the need to seek ethics clearance arises subsequently, as the need to gather personal information emerges belatedly, the application for ethical clearance should be lodged promptly. Under no circumstances may those elements of the thesis relying on the gathering of personal information proceed before ethical clearance is granted.

Whether or not a candidate needs to obtain a specific ethics clearance, it is still obligatory to conduct ethical research. Ethical research includes avoidance of the following:

  • a) Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the representation of another’s works or ideas as one’s own; it includes the unacknowledged word for word use or paraphrasing of another person’s work, and the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person’s ideas.
  • b) Fraud: Academic fraud is the falsification and fabrication of research results and dishonesty in reporting research results.
  • c) Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation is the giving of false or misleading information in academic matters. It includes falsely claiming credit for past study and falsely stating that thesis material has not been used in another thesis beyond the permitted scope.
  • d) Unethical behaviour: Unethical behaviour is behaviour that breaches accepted ethical standards. It includes failing to observe the terms of an ethical approval to conduct research and misuse of confidential information obtained in field education.

Failure to conduct ethical research may result in the candidate being charged with academic misconduct. Candidates should not assume that such misconduct will not be detected. The Academic Misconduct Regulations can be found on the College website.

5.9 Libraries

The Sydney College of Divinity Library is the sum total of all the individual libraries of the Member Institutions and the Korean School of Theology. All the College’s students have access to all these libraries on production of their Student Identity Card. They will be required to conform to the particular regulations pertaining in each library.

Each research degree candidate will be asked to nominate as a home library one of the College libraries, typically but not necessarily the library of the Institution in which the supervisor is based. This enables the College, in consultation with the supervisor and candidate, to build up research resources in the topic area of the candidate using a Research Degree Library Resources Grant to the library from the Sydney College of Divinity. The grant is made to the nominated library each semester in which the candidate is enrolled.

Where the candidate normally resides abroad or in an Australian location remote from the libraries of the College, the candidate will nevertheless make use of the College libraries through electronic access, interlibrary loans, and personal use during visits to Sydney or to the location of other College libraries. The College will assess such a candidate’s probable library needs at the time of enrolment and periodically, and may advise or negotiate use of a suitable university or college library elsewhere on behalf of the candidate. The College takes responsibility for ensuring adequate library access for all its students.

5.10 Presenting the Thesis for Examination

Approximately three months before the expected date of submission the candidate should notify the Office of the Dean that submission is expected at that time using the Intention to Submit form, unless this information has already been provided in the most recent semester report. If using the Intention to Submit form the candidate should ensure that the supervisor has provided comment.

TWO copies for MPhil thesis and THREE copies for either a DMin, PhD or ThD thesis must be submitted to the Office of the Dean for examination. Temporary binding and medium bond paper should be used.

The supervisor is required to sign a Certification of Thesis to be submitted with the thesis.

5.11 Guidelines for the Preparation of the Thesis

All copies of the thesis should be in good quality typescript on one side of the paper only. In the main body of the thesis double-spacing of typescript is preferred, but one-and-a-half-spacing is acceptable. Single-spacing may be used only for appendices and footnotes or endnotes. The paper should be good quality, medium weight white stock, sufficiently opaque for normal reading.

Gender-inclusive language should be used except in quotations, paraphrases, or re-creations of the language used in a different culture. God may be referred to in the gender language appropriate to normal practice within a particular theological tradition.

The size of the paper should be A4 (297mm x 210mm) except for illustrative material such as drawings, maps and printouts, on which no restriction is placed.

The margins on each sheet should be not less than 40mm on the left-hand side, 20mm on the right-hand side, 30mm at the top, and 20mm at the bottom.

The recommended structural sequence of a thesis is as follows:

Title Page

  • Declaration of Originality
  • Acknowledgements (if any)
  • Preface (if any)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of illustrations and tables (if any)
  • Abstract
  • Introduction (if separate from Chapter 1)
  • Chapters in sequence
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix or appendices (if any)
  • Bibliography

The title page should contain the thesis title, author’s name, degree and year of submission.

The Declaration of Originality should take the following form:

This thesis is based upon original work by the author and a study of the relevant published works as indicated and acknowledged in the text.

  • Signed:……………………………………………..
  • (Author’s signature)
  • Date………………………………………………..

The table of contents should be reasonably detailed in a thesis, since an index is not usually included.

Beginning with the first page of the first chapter (which may be headed either ‘Introduction’ or ‘Chapter 1’) pages should be numbered consecutively using Arabic numerals. Preceding pages, except the title page, should normally be given lower case Roman numerals, beginning with the page immediately after the title page.

Each copy of the thesis should have an abstract of 500-700 words bound in. The abstract should indicate the problem investigated, the procedure followed, the general results obtained and the major conclusions reached. It should not contain any illustrative material or tables. Note that it should not be replicated in the introductory paragraphs.

Appendices contain any supplementary material that the author considers necessary to the interpretation of the text itself. Appendices elaborate information or argument expressed within the body of the thesis; they do not introduce substantial new information or new argument. Materials that are generally more appropriately included in an appendix would include long tables, data that supports arguments contained in the thesis, detailed reports, detailed technical arguments and computer printouts.

Materials such as illustrations, charts or tables must not be submitted on the back of typed sheets. Except with the approval of the supervisor, these should be bound facing the text to which they refer, or if necessary, as right-hand pages, immediately after the first reference to them. The caption should be placed at the bottom of the page.

Materials such as diagrams, maps, and tables that exceed A4 size should be either:

(i) folded so as to read as a right-hand page when opened; or

(ii) clearly referred to in the text, numbered and folded for insertion in a pocket in the back inside cover of the thesis binding.

Footnotes at the bottom of each page are preferred but endnotes are permitted. It is normal to begin footnotes or endnotes at 1 for each chapter. Harvard-style notes included in the main body of the thesis are not generally appropriate for advancing theological argument but may be permitted if clearly appropriate to a particular thesis.

5.12  Bibliography and Referencing

No single method of referencing is prescribed, but candidates should use one or other of the generally recognized systems of referencing and do so consistently. Recommended Style Manuals:

That of the Journal of Theological Studies.

Patrick H. Alexander and others, The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999, and Student Supplement rev. 2009.

Lawrence D. McIntosh, compiler, A Style Manual for the Presentation of Papers and Theses in Religion and Theology, Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies in Association with ANZTLA and ANZATS, 1994.

5.13 Criteria for Assessment

The thesis will be assessed, amongst other things, according to the following criteria:

  • The clarity with which the research question/problem is stated and the scope of the study defined.
  • The appropriateness of the theoretical or conceptual framework to the investigation.
  • The appropriateness of the methodology to the research question/ problem.
  • The precision and consistency with which key terminology is used.
  • The depth of critical assessment of the relevant literature.
  • The capacity to demonstrate a link between the literature review and the research question/problem.
  • The degree of skill in constructing arguments and sustaining a position throughout the thesis.
  • The level of competency in considering possible objections to the position advanced in the thesis.
  • The degree of proficiency in using rigorous argument.
  • The careful and accurate presentation of the scholarly apparatus.
  • The originality (for doctorates) and the level of contribution made to the understanding of the subject.
  • A clear statement of the conclusions reached.
  • Justification of the conclusions reached in terms of the arguments presented.
  • An ability to relate the conclusions of the study to the wider field.
  • The suitability of a substantial amount of the material for publication.

5.14 Examination Process

Examiners should be suggested by the supervisor after discussion with the candidate but the candidate is not informed who is approached or appointed. When the examiners’ reports are received, the names of the examiners will be made available to the candidate unless an examiner requests otherwise. At the request of a candidate the College will agree that a certain person will not be appointed as an examiner if there is a reasonable expectation that the person would have a conflict of interest.

The thesis is submitted to the Office of the Dean and the supervisor conveys suggestions for examiners to the Research Director, who undertakes preliminary enquiries. The examiners are appointed by the Research Committee at its first meeting following receipt of the thesis. It would be unusual for the Committee to depart completely from the supervisor’s suggestions.

Once the examiners have agreed to examine the thesis, they are normally expected to return their report within two months of having received the thesis.

For a DMin, PhD or ThD thesis three expert examiners are appointed, all external to the College, at least two of international standing. For an MPhil thesis two expert examiners are appointed, both external to the College.

Five categories of response are available:

  • (a) that the award be granted
  • (b) that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  • (c) that major amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  • (d) that a significantly revised thesis be re-submitted for examination
  • (e) that the award not be granted.

The examiners’ reports are addressed to the Research Director and received by the Research Committee. In the case of unanimous agreement on category (1), the Committee will normally resolve to recommend award of the degree outright and send the reports to both the candidate and the supervisor for their information. In all other cases, the reports will be sent together by the Research Director to the supervisor, who is invited to write a response addressed to the Committee concerned. In light of both the examiners’ reports and the supervisor’s response, the Committee determines what instructions are to be given to the candidate and the date for amendments to be completed in the case of (b) or (c) or for re-submission in the case of (d). The Research Director then advises the candidate and the supervisor accordingly. Where amendments under (b) or (c) are required, these should be made in consultation with supervisor. When they have been completed satisfactorily, the supervisor will inform the Research Director, and the Research Director will inform the Committee. When revision under (4) is invited, the supervisor will continue in the normal supervisory role until resubmission and re-examination.

In light of the examiners’ reports and completion of any other required work, the Research Committee recommends accordingly to the Academic Board, which then sends its own recommendation on to Council for confirmation, and the candidate is invited to graduate.

5.15 Presentation and Binding of Thesis Following Examination

When the thesis has been examined and accepted, two copies bound in the manner described below should be sent to the Office of the Research Director, along with one copy in electronic form.

Each copy of the final version of the thesis should be bound in boards, covered with buckram or similar, and embossed on the spine as follows:

  • a) At the bottom and across, the words:
    • ‘Sydney College of Divinity’
  • b) 90mm from the bottom and across, the degree and year of submission, for example:
    • PhD
    • 2017
  • c) Evenly spaced between the statement in (b) and the top of the spine, the initials and surname of the author. No other lettering or decoration should appear on the spine.
  • d) Where the spine of the thesis is too thin to support lettering across, the wording should be printed along the spine reading from top to bottom.

5.16  Grievances

The Sydney College of Divinity has in place a set of grievance procedures which cover academic and non-academic aspects of candidature in the research programs of the College. The grievance procedures can be accessed on the college website.

5.17  APPENDIX: CODE OF SUPERVISORY PRACTICE

5.17.1  Introduction

The research enterprise is one that involves the candidate, the supervisor and the Sydney College of Divinity. Each of the three has responsibilities and obligations to ensure that the enterprise is fruitful.

The Academic Board of the Sydney College of Divinity, through its Research Committee:

  1. determines the eligibility of the candidate to undertake research at master’s or doctoral level;
  2. determines that the research project is appropriate for the degree;
  3. ensures that proper supervision can be provided and maintained throughout the research period;
  4. appoints supervisors expert in the areas of research and willing to undertake the obligations of supervision;
  5. establishes and monitors mechanisms whereby conflict between the supervisor and the student may be resolved;
  6. establishes procedures for all stages of the examination process;
  7. establishes procedures whereby staff inexperienced in supervision are assisted with supervision;
  8. establishes minimum reporting procedures;
  9. establishes examination criteria for theses;
  10. and, through its Research Ethics Committee:
  11. determines ethics clearance for research involving human subjects.

5.17.2  Policy Determination

In the light of these responsibilities the following Code of Practice governing supervision of research for higher degrees is adopted.

5.17.2.1     The Supervisor

The supervisors are appointed by the Research Committee, after consultation with the candidate. See 5 above.

The Sydney College of Divinity expects that supervisors will:

  • Assist the student to identify and refine a thesis topic suitable in scope and intellectual challenge for the particular degree.
  • Advise the student on appropriate source material and its availability.
  • Monitor the progress of the work by scheduling regular meetings with the student as mutually convenient. Some meetings should be in person but others may be by email or other means. The supervisor should normally expect to be in communication with the candidate about once a month and never less than once a semester. Frequency will probably vary according to stage of development of the thesis. It is the responsibility of the student to maintain appropriate communication with the supervisor, but the supervisor should contact the Research Director if an inexplicable silence occurs and continues to the extent that it is not possible to complete the semester report with input from both the supervisor and the student.
  • With the candidate, provide a progress report on the candidature at the end of each semester, to be sent to the Research Director for consideration by the Research Committee.
  • Record the outcomes or decisions taken at each meeting with the student and reflect such matters in the semester report.
  • Report on issues concerning the student’s progress to the Research Committee at other times should the supervisor deem it necessary.
  • Provide advice to the student in relation to presentation of short papers at the Research Seminars.
  • Provide critical comment on drafts of sections of the work.
  • Read and critically comment on the final draft of the thesis.
  • Certify that the thesis meets the requirements of the College and is ready to be presented for examination, or advise the candidate and Research Committee otherwise, with reasons.
  • Suggest the names of the requisite number of possible examiners plus at least one other.
  • Encourage the student to become part of the wider academic community by participating in seminars and conferences.
  • Advise the successful candidate on possible avenues of publication.
  • Provide ongoing assistance to students who have been required to amend and/or re-submit their theses (see section on Rewriting below).
  • Alert the Research Committee, through the Research Director, to any problems encountered in the supervisory relationship.
  • Inform the student and the Research DELETE Committee, through the Research Director, of any planned extended leave so that arrangements may be made for the associate supervisor to take over the supervision.
  • Ensure effective communication with the associate supervisor.

5.17.2.2 The Associate Supervisor

The associate supervisor will:

  • Respond to requests from the student for occasional meetings, in person or by email or other means, as mutually convenient.
  • Provide guidance in respect of research resources for particular purposes and read relevant .sections of draft material as requested by the student.
  • Take on the role of acting principal supervisor during any period of prolonged unavailability on the part of the principal supervisor.
  • Inform the student and the Research Committee, through the Research Director, of any planned extended leave.

5.17.2.3     The Student

The student will:

  • Submit to the Research Director in the Office of the Dean an application to enrol and a Summary of Research Intentions. Where candidates have already approached one or more potential supervisors to discuss the proposed area of research they should indicate this in their initial Summary of Research Intentions. The application and the Summary of Research Intentions are considered by the Research Committee, and the appointment of a supervisor and associate supervisor is included in the determinations of the Committee.
  • Become familiar with the regulations governing the submission and examination of theses.
  • Arrange with the principal supervisor for regular meetings at mutually convenient times. Some meetings should be in person but others may be by email or other means. The student will normally be in communication with the supervisor about once a month and never less than once a semester. It is the responsibility of the student to maintain appropriate communication with the supervisor.
  • Arrange with the associate supervisor to meet as needed to assist progress.
  • At the end of each meeting, have a clear idea of what work is to be done before the next scheduled meeting. Difficulties encountered in carrying out the work should be communicated to the supervisor (or associate supervisor) before the date of the scheduled meeting.
  • Provide drafts of sections of work to the principal supervisor at agreed intervals.
  • Alert the Research Committee, through the Research Director, to serious problems encountered in the supervisory relationship.

5.17.2.4     Supervision of Students Living Outside Sydney

In order to make advanced theological education available to those who wish to benefit from it, the College permits some candidates living away from Sydney to pursue higher degrees by research. In order to carry out its responsibility to ensure adequate supervision the College requires of such students that they:

  1. Arrange for a substantive meeting with their supervisor twice per semester in person or by email or other means.
  2. Communicate at least briefly with the supervisor at least once a month, irrespective of the progress that has been made in the month that has elapsed.

In addition, in some cases, the Research Committee may require students to devote some period to the writing of the thesis in ongoing close contact with the supervisor. This may entail residing for a time close to the supervisor’s workplace. The associated costs will be met by the student.

5.17.2.5     Difficulties in Supervision

From time to time, students and supervisors may experience difficulties in the supervisory relationship. Disappointment at adverse comments on a draft, increased workload or personal circumstances may cause discouragement or disenchantment with the research task. In many cases, these setbacks are temporary, and either resolve themselves or are overcome through renegotiation of the thesis timetable by the student and supervisor, keeping in mind the due completion date. Advice may be sought by either party from the Research Director or the Dean.

If the difficulties prove to be of a more intractable nature, candidates may avail themselves of the informal and formal grievance procedures indicated above at 17.

5.17.2.6 Examination of Thesis: the Supervisor’s Subsequent Role

When the Research Committee invites the candidate to carry out further work on the thesis, the Dean will forward the examiners’ reports to the supervisor, who will be invited to write a response that will include a recommendation on how long the candidate might need to complete the re-writing.

The role of the supervisor will be to assist the candidate to appreciate shortcomings in the thesis and to implement the examiners’ recommendations as affirmed by the Research Committee in the time allowed. See 15 above.

5.17.2.7 Difficulties of Students from a Non-English-Speaking Background

The thesis submitted for examination must be clearly written in English and the expression should not hinder the reading and comprehension of the argument. For those candidates with a non-English background, proof-reading and advice on felicitous expression and correct English are particularly important. Such students may be recommended to seek the assistance of persons competent in English. Any arrangements that may ensue are completely independent of the Sydney College of Divinity. In any modification of expression, the content of the thesis must remain the work of the candidate.

If there is any doubt, the Research Director should be consulted.