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Category Research
Type Guideline
Approved by Senate, 25 March 2015
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 January 2016
Last approved revision 
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Dean, Graduate Research School

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


The University of Otago PhD Regulations allow a nominated creative component to be integrated within a PhD thesis and presented for examination. This has significant implications for the resources and processes of the PhD candidate, supervisor and host Academic Unit, and would normally only be considered for candidates whose research project adheres to these guidelines.

These guidelines cover matters that need to be considered for admission, confirmation, submission and examination of candidates producing a PhD that includes a nominated creative component.

Organisational scope

These guidelines apply to PhD thesis candidates intending to produce a PhD that includes a nominated creative component.


Creative component
The nominated creative component can include: live performance such as theatre, dance and music; visual art and craft; creative writing; indigenous traditional practice; media production; creative on-line content; or other forms appropriate to the discipline.
Academic unit
This may be a department, centre, college or school.


1. Admission

  1. Expression of intent
    It is expected that PhD applicants will indicate their wish to present a nominated creative component for examination within their initial research proposal prior to admission into the University of Otago PhD programme. This would include a brief description of the expected creative outputs for examination (e.g. performance, exhibition, design, novel, film, carving etc), expected resources required by the research, and an indication of how theoretical and practical components will be integrated. Only in exceptional circumstances would nominated creative practice components be introduced into a research project following admission.
  2. Prior training and experience
    It is expected that PhD applicants seeking to present a nominated creative component for examination have advanced training and/or professional experience in the discipline. Advanced training may be understood as a postgraduate degree or diploma, and professional experience may be understood as at least two years of employment and/or professional productivity in the relevant field(s).
  3. Supervisor selection
    In addition to the University of Otago expectation that a primary supervisor will have a PhD or equivalent academic status, for candidates seeking to have a nominated creative component presented for examination, it is expected that at least one of the supervisors will also have relevant professional experience in the field of research.

2. Confirmation of candidature

  1. Confirmation of nominated creative components
    At the progress meeting considering confirmation, the candidate must confirm their wish to present a nominated creative component  as part of their thesis, and seek approval for this from the Academic Head ( HOD ), Faculty Dean (or nominee), and the Graduate Research Committee.
  2. Content of review
    In addition to the normal expectations during the provisional period for a PhD candidate, it is expected that a candidate intending to present a nominated creative component as part of their thesis would have:
    1. clarified the intended examinable format of the nominated creative component (as discussed in the examination guidelines below) within their completed research proposal;
    2. completed a draft of the methodology section of their thesis, both outlining their approach to the research, and addressing how theory and practice will be integrated in process and presentation.
  3. Criteria for progression
    The decision of the Academic Head ( HOD ), Faculty Dean (or nominee) and the Graduate Research Committee to approve a PhD candidate's inclusion of a nominated creative practice component at or following a progress meeting will be informed by:
    1. the candidate's eligibility to engage in creative practice research within a PhD;
    2. the candidate's progress within their provisional year; and
    3. the Academic Unit's capacity to provide resources for the research, supervision and examination processes required by the candidate's research proposal.
    It is not expected that PhD candidates would be allowed to introduce a nominated creative practice component for examination following confirmation.

3. Submission and examination

  1. Submission formats
    Candidates including a nominated creative component for examination within a PhD will normally present this in one or more of the following three formats:
    1. as printed material integrated into the bound thesis;
    2. as a digital recording in a portable format that can accompany the thesis;
    3. as a live performance or exhibition,  in which case this should be documented and included in the thesis.
    For candidates including a nominated creative component, theses may not exceed 60,000 words of text excluding the nominated creative component.
  2. Process
    When determining the result of the examination, the usual PhD examination regulations apply. The examiners can require amendments to the thesis or may require the thesis to be revised and resubmitted. In making their determination, the examiners may require amendments to the nominated creative component, to the accompanying written work, or to both components of the thesis.
    Where amendments or re-examination is required for a PhD which includes a live performed creative work or an exhibition as part of the assessed material, the Convener of Examiners must be consulted to determine if it is feasible to re‑stage the live performance or exhibition for examiners. Where this is deemed not possible, examiners will be referred to audiovisual documentation of the resubmitted performance or exhibition.
  3. Examination of live performance/exhibition
    While the research process might incorporate (and make reference to) several performances or exhibitions, only one live performance/exhibition can require the attendance of the doctoral examiners. The costs associated with bringing examiners to such an event will be borne by the Academic Unit the student is enrolled in, and should be considered as an event independent of the oral examination. It is expected that the normal protocols determining that examiners do not confer on the candidate's work would be observed at any such event. It is expected that the submission of examiners' reports, the oral examination and the recommendation of the Convener of Examiners will follow the normal schedules and protocols for PhD examinations and not be guided by the timing of examiners viewing creative practice at live events.
  4. Attribution
    It is the candidate's responsibility to attribute correctly the contributions to creative work made by collaborators. This should include commentary in the introduction of the thesis (and elsewhere as appropriate) regarding the nature of any collaboration and the respective roles of the candidate and any collaborators [in this work].
  5. Copyright
    It will also be the candidate's responsibility to obtain third-party permission on copyright for:
    1. any subsequent public dissemination of such recordings;
    2. presentation on any publicly-accessible digital archive.
    This should be obtained through media release forms or other relevant contract.
  6. Documentation
    All productions or exhibitions being presented for examination must also be recorded (and documented). It will be the candidate's responsibility to organise such recordings.
    1. If a live production or exhibition is presented for examination as a digital recording, the candidate is expected to articulate their role in the digital recording and editing process within their written thesis.
    2. The candidate will be expected to gain the permission of any co-producers of the digital recording of the work.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of these guidelines or need further clarification, contact:

The Dean, Graduate Research School

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