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Doctor of Letters and Doctor of Science Degrees Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The Doctor of Letters and Doctor of Science degrees represent the pinnacle of academic achievement. These degrees are awarded only in exceptional circumstances to applicants with internationally established and outstanding positions as leading authorities through their contribution to scholarship.

(2) Candidates must have published work that gives clear proof that the candidate is a leading authority in the field of study concerned and has made an original and distinguished contribution to the advancement or application of knowledge in that field.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(3) Definitions for the purpose of this policy:

  1. The Dean is the Dean of a University School.
  2. The Director, Research Institute is the Director of a University Research Institute.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

Part A - Eligibility

(4) To be eligible to become a candidate for a higher doctorate a person shall either be a graduate of the University of at least five years standing, or hold equivalent qualifications from another university or institution recognised for the purpose of the University and have a substantial association with the University.

Part B - Criteria for the Award of a Higher Doctorate

(5) Higher doctorates will be conferred upon candidates who have distinguished themselves by their substantial and original contributions to the advancement of learning. The main points which will be taken into account when considering a candidate's submission are:

  1. Evidence of the international and authoritative standing and exceptional reputation of the candidate; and
  2. Evidence of sustained research activity over a long period of time resulting in published works that are deemed to be original works of distinction carried out independently by the candidate.

(6) Before submitting a formal application, candidates may seek the informal guidance of the Dean or Director, Research Institute appropriate to their academic discipline. If in doubt about which Dean or Director, Research Institute to contact, candidates should ask the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Research, Enterprise and International for advice.

Part C - The Contents of a Submission

(7) The candidate will be required to submit the following seven categories of document. The full submission will be assessed against the criteria as listed above.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

(8) The curriculum vitae must state the candidate's educational qualifications and employment, and indicate the candidate's sustained, intellectual and scholarly effort and international standing. The CV should be no more than two A4 sheets.

(9) Typically, a candidate will be working as a senior member of staff in a higher education or other research environment with approximately 15 years post doctoral degree research experience. Examples of items which candidates may wish to include in the Curriculum Vitae are:

  1. a developing history of employment in the field;
  2. an invitation to be a key-note speaker;
  3. receipt of continuous research grants to fund research work;
  4. invitations to review papers for learned journals; and
  5. research supervisory activity.

List of Published Works

(10) A candidate's application will be based wholly or to a substantial extent on original works of distinction carried out independently by the candidate. As a general guideline, a candidate in a scientific discipline might be expected to submit a list of more than 70 published works of which approximately 10 may be identified as the most significant items of the submission.

(11) The list may include a number of refereed articles and review articles, and possibly a book. A candidate in a humanities discipline might normally be expected to submit a number of major publications, for example 2 or 3 books, plus a range of 30 or so publications published in respected journals. However, these are cited as examples only and they are not strict rules. It is recognised that there are enormous differences in publication output between individuals working in one academic discipline and another. The list of published works should be formatted so that the publications are grouped (if appropriate) into the research 'themes' described in the candidate's statement (see clause (13) below).

Title and Statement about the Submission

(12) A brief summary title for the submission is required; and

(13) A statement of at least 5,000 words which is signed by the candidate and which sets out comprehensively the case for the award of the higher doctorate. A submission may represent one or more research 'themes' which have been developed over a period of time. These should be clearly identified in the candidate's statement in order that the University may recognise the focus, variety and scope of the candidate's work.

Statement about Joint Authorship

(14) The University recognises that, in many disciplines, jointly authored papers are the norm rather than the exception. It is acceptable, therefore, to submit multi-authorship papers provided that the candidate identifies the joint principal authors and describes his/her own contribution in sufficient detail to make the extent of this contribution clear.

(15) It is advisable for applicants to seek statements from any joint principal authors that they agree with the description of the extent of the applicant's contribution the joint paper. In disciplines where sole authorship is common, a substantial proportion of the submitted papers (especially within the significant set of 10) should be sole authored.

Statement Describing Previous Submission of the Works

(16) A statement is required if a candidate has previously submitted any of the published works for a degree at this or any other university and, if so, what part. Such material which has been included in a successful submission for another higher degree or diploma will not be taken into account in the assessment for a Western Sydney University higher doctorate, but will be regarded as supplementing the remainder of the work.


(17) A candidate must submit the names, qualifications/status and addresses of two persons who are not members of the University staff who will be willing to act as referees for his/her submission if requested by the Dean or Director, Research Institute. The University will consult these referees but has the right to contact any other referees of its choice.

The Published Works

(18) The candidate must submit 3 sets of the published works. The submitted works must be printed and published in recognised, prestigious national or international refereed journals (for example in publications by learned societies or commercial journals), as chapters in books, or as complete books.

(19) Candidates are invited to submit seminal work with a maximum of ten significant publications. Other work, including that shown to have been accepted for and to be awaiting publication, may also be presented but will only be considered as supplementing the main body of printed work. In keeping with the candidate's 'statement about the submission' (see clause (13) above), the submissions should be grouped according to the research themes, numbered, and an appropriate index provided.

Part D - Admission

(20) Applications should be made in writing to the Vice-Chancellor and President.

(21) The Vice-Chancellor and President will invite applicants to submit whatever material is considered necessary to satisfy the admission criteria stated in Part C of this policy.

(22) The Vice-Chancellor and President will confer with the Chair, Academic Senate and appoint a Higher Doctorate Panel, to consider the application. This panel will consist of:

  1. Vice-Chancellor and President or nominee. (Chair)
  2. Chair, Academic Senate or nominee.
  3. Two members of the university professoriate nominated by the Vice-Chancellor and President in consultation with the Chair, Research Studies Committee, at least one of whom shall have expertise in the same or related discipline as the applicant.

(23) The panel may consult external advisors who are acknowledged experts in the field.

(24) The panel will consider the material submitted by the applicant together with referees' reports and any other relevant material and make a confidential recommendation to the Executive Committee of Academic Senate on behalf of Academic Senate. The Executive Committee of Academic Senate will convey its confidential recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

Part E - Examination and Award of Degree

The Examiners

(25) The candidate shall lodge three copies of the work submitted for the degree with the Graduate Research School.

(26) The Higher Doctorate Panel in consultation with the appropriate School or University Research Institute shall appoint at least three external examiners. The names of the examiners will be confidential and will not be revealed to the candidate.

Examination of Candidate's Work

(27) The Graduate Research School will send a copy of the work submitted by the candidate or appropriate documentation to each of the examiners together with the advice of the examination requirements. Each examiner will return an independent and separate report direct to the Graduate Research School. These reports will recommend either that the degree be awarded or that the degree not be awarded.

(28) The examiners' reports are confidential to the University and no extracts from their reports, correspondence or notes shall be quoted verbatim to candidates, either orally or in writing. However the examiners will be asked to make additional comments specifically for transmission to the candidate, if they are recommending rejection.

(29) The confidential examiners' reports will be considered by the Higher Doctorate Panel which will make a confidential recommendation to the Executive Committee of Academic Senate, on behalf of Academic Senate. The Executive Committee of Academic Senate will convey its confidential recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

(30) When the Board of Trustees has made its determination the Executive Committee of Academic Senate will make a report to Academic Senate:

  1. The names of successful candidates will be reported to Academic Senate;
  2. A de-identified report will be supplied to Academic Senate for unsuccessful candidates.

(31) An unsuccessful submission will not exclude the candidate from applying again to submit for a higher doctorate, on one further occasion only, at a later stage. This will not be earlier than two years from the date of the failure decision for the first submission. The date of the failure decision is the date on which the Executive Committee of Academic Senate decided not to recommend that the degree be awarded.

Degree Conferment

(32) On the recommendation of the Executive Committee of Academic Senate, on behalf of Academic Senate, the Degree of Doctor shall be awarded by the Board of Trustees for published and unpublished work which in the opinion of the examiners has been generally recognised by scholars in the field concerned as a distinguished contribution to knowledge.

Part F - Fees

(33) The fee to be paid on acceptance as a candidate shall be prescribed from time to time by the Vice-Chancellor and President.