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This information is for postgraduate students undertaking research dissertations, projects, or creative research components for their degrees. These are typically 40–60 points in taught postgraduate programmes and are core components in some honours degrees, postgraduate diplomas, and taught masters' degrees.

For information for postgraduate students undertaking a thesis (i.e. of over 90 points), see information for graduate research candidates.

Who has oversight of my programme?

Unlike research students undertaking a master's or PhD thesis that are administered by the Graduate Research School, taught postgraduate programmes are overseen by the division that the department or programme sits in.

The four Divisions in the University are:

  • Commerce (Otago Business School)
  • Health Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Sciences

Each division has a Pro-Vice-Chancellor and a number of Associate Deans, who – along with others – provide leadership and administrative oversight. The Associate Deans (Postgraduate) in each division provide oversight and liaise with departments and programmes in relation to taught postgraduate programmes.

The Associate Deans (Postgraduate) are:

Who do I contact?

In most instances, the first point of contact for academic queries arising as a result of COVID‑19 will be the same as for any other academic matter. Usually this will be your supervisor or your programme co‑ordinator

If you feel that, having sought answers to questions from your normal contact, you are still unclear about something, you should contact your Head of Department, Head of Programme, or Head of School as appropriate. They may refer you to the Associate Dean (Postgraduate) in your division, or elsewhere to address your problem.

In a rare instance, you may feel unable to speak to people in your programme or department, then contact the Associate Dean (Postgraduate) in your School if you have one, or the Associate Dean (Postgraduate) in your Division (contact details above).

I can't do my original dissertation / research project

While COVID-19 lockdowns may be a thing of the past, the COVID Protection Framework Traffic Light System is likely to bring other challenges that might impact on your research.

The first step is to work with your supervisor to identify the things that have the potential to become issues for your research project. These are likely to include illness and self-isolation for yourself and your household/housemates, and compliance with the traffic light framework. Plan for what can be changed or adapted or delayed, as the situation requires.

Second, in the event that you need to make changes to your research plans, document these (supervisor-approved) changes and keep records, in case you need evidence later.

Will the disruptions caused by COVID‑19 be considered in the examination of my dissertation?

Yes, where those disruptions have not been addressed in other ways.

Examiners of dissertations that have been produced in the time period that COVID‑19 disrupted normal life in 2020–2022 will be provided with guidelines to account for this.

In addition, the University has established a process for 'special consideration for impaired performance' due to the impact of COVID‑19 on study. This is available for dissertations, research projects and reports, or creative research components and will include a notice for the examiner explaining the disruption to the student's work due to COVID‑19, how this has been addressed, and requesting that this be taken into account when assessing the student's work and assigning a mark.

For further information, see

Can I get an extension to the submission date of my dissertation?


Each of the divisions has its own guidelines and forms for applying for dissertation/research project extensions. In most cases, HoDs are able to grant a 1-month extension. If you need a longer extension than this (up to 3 months), you will need to apply to your Division's Associate Dean (Postgraduate) using the forms provided in your Division. Consult your supervisor, programme co-ordinator, or Associate Dean (Postgraduate).

Can I defer my dissertation or project research?

Once you have enrolled in your course, you cannot defer your dissertation or research project.

Because dissertations or projects are administered as a paper (with a four-letter subject code followed by a three-digit number, e.g. GEOG 490), deferrals are not possible.

This is why students and supervisors are encouraged to first re-scope or re-scale their projects to something that is manageable in the current context.

I'm struggling on multiple fronts. Where can I get support?

The phrase 'we are in unprecedented times' has become commonplace for a reason. Everyone will cope in different ways and has different things to cope with as well. Supervisors are aware of this and will be accommodating and sympathetic.

The University has a range of support options available, see

Pūtea Tautoko student support fund

For information on financial support available, see

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