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Information for current PhD students

New Zealand PhD programmes are research only - they have no coursework component.

Students need to enrol every year while undertaking the PhD. See information about the re-enrolment process here (Graduate Research School website)

Progress reporting

Progress reports are due at the following intervals: six monthly until confirmation, and then annually thereafter until the submission of the thesis.

Change of thesis details

The University’s Graduate Research Office requires the following changes to be recorded via a hard copy form:

  • Change of Topic
  • Change of Supervisory arrangements
  • Change to Full-time/Part-time status
  • Change of supervising department or subject code
  • Off-Campus request (including travel and relocation)

All changes are made via the change of research details form (PDF)

Travel overseas during the PhD

PhD students should liaise with their departmental administrator regarding overseas travel bookings and travel insurance.

See Guidelines for Postgraduate Students Travelling Overseas for Research
See Postgraduate Travel Overseas Research and Safety Plan (DOCX)

Permission is required to study overseas for more than two months, and candidates must remain enrolled while studying off shore (note that deferred candidates do not need to request permission from the University to be overseas). Before embarking on overseas study, supervisory and resourcing arrangements should be discussed with supervisors. All candidates other than New Zealand Citizens should be aware that there are time limits on total overseas study, beyond which international study fees will be charged.The following guidelines apply:

  • Candidates traveling overseas for more than two months shall need to apply for permission to undertake their research while overseas by submitting a Change of Research Details form (PDF).
  • Travel overseas covering less than two months of enrolment will not require permission and shall not be counted towards official total time spent overseas during the PhD. However, if travel for research-related reasons is initially intended to be for less than two months, but then exceeds this threshold, permission must be applied for, and the two months shall be counted towards the total time overseas.
  • For Otago Scholarship recipients, approval of travel up to one year, for research-related reasons, will also automatically grant overseas tenure on their scholarship unless otherwise stated. Scholarship tenure for travel for personal reasons shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Overseas tenure on a scholarship over one year (across the PhD) is not permitted, and the recipient would forfeit their scholarship if and when that limit was reached.
  • New Zealand citizens are entitled to pay domestic fees while studying overseas.
  • For all candidates except New Zealand citizens, domestic fee status is retained only if travel is approved for research-related reasons and the total approved/official time spent overseas across the PhD does not exceed twelve months.
  • If a candidate loses eligibility for domestic fee status more than two months into a semester, then international fee status (and fees) shall be applied from the following semester. However, any scholarship support would be lost from the time the candidate lost eligibility for domestic fee status (a part-month) of domestic status will allow scholarship support in that month).
  • If a candidate loses eligibility for domestic fee status less than two months into a semester, then international fee status (and fees) shall be applied from the start of the current semester. Any scholarship support would be lost from the time the candidate lost eligibility for domestic fee status; scholarship fee payments to that point would remain at the domestic rate (a part month of domestic status will allow scholarship support in that month).

Also see PhD travel grants

Applying for a period of deferral 

A deferral is a period of temporary withdrawal, for either academic or personal reasons. A deferral stops the clock in terms of EFTS, calendar years, tuition fees and scholarships. Deferrals will not normally be granted for periods of less than two months or more than 12 months in the first instance. Multiple deferrals (i.e. more than two) will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. A reason must be stated on the deferral application, and the application should be endorsed by the supervisor(s), the Head of Department and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

To apply for a deferral:

  • Go into your eVision portal
  • Go to My research
  • Click on See more
  • Click on Deferral request
  • Complete the details

Then an email should come through to your course administrator who will print out the form and get it signed off.

Permanent Withdrawal

Any decision to withdraw permanently from a Doctoral programme should be made after careful consideration of all the factors involved, and after discussion with appropriate parties, including supervisors and the Head of Department, where appropriate.
In order to submit a permanent withdrawal, the candidate will need to log in to eVision, enter the Graduate Research area and submit a request through this portal. This will be processed by the Doctoral Office and notification will be sent to the candidate, primary supervisor and head of department once the process is complete.

Writing the thesis

Submission and examination process

A summary of the submission process can be found here and the examination process here, FAQ here. A plagiarism check is required before submission and has to be confirmed on the thesis submission form. See Plagiarism

Postgraduate Publishing Bursaries

Postgraduate Publishing Bursaries are available to support candidates to complete papers arising from their research during the examination period. Eligibility conditions and regulations are appended to the application form.


Students apply for a place in a graduation ceremony via your eVision student portal, which can only be done when applications are open. Please refer to for further information.

Contact information

Ruth Helms
Manager, Academic Programmes
University of Otago, Christchurch
PO Box 4345
Christchurch, New Zealand

Tel +64 3 364 0527