Higher Degrees by Research Programmes

The Fiji National University (FNU) is an institution of influence fostering a research community defined by global connectedness and networks with national and international research peers.

The university supports research in a broad range of areas relevant to Fiji in partnership with the government and industries to grow our research activities and achievements for the transformation of our societies and economy.

The focus of our research at Fiji National University is applied research, addressing issues pertinent to national development.

Our PhD and Masters by Research students form a valuable part of the University research community. Our research students will have the ability to work on real and important issues for Fiji, as they drive a significant percentage of the University’s research output.

MASTERS BY RESEARCH

This Masters by Research programme is a level 9 program, comprising a 40,000 to 60,000 word thesis which must be the student’s own work, embody the results of the work undertaken by the student to form a substantially original contribution to knowledge,  guided by two supervisors. The Masters by Research programme develops research skills and training to analyse critically, synthesise and reflect on complex information, problems, concepts and theories. It will prepare candidates for further studies into a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme.

Duration of the Program

a) Full Time: 2 years
b) Part-Time: 4 years
c) Maximum Time: 6 years

Credit Points = 240

Areas of Study Supported at FNU

a) Medicine, Nursing and Health Science
b) Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Veterinary Science
c) Business, Hospitality and Tourism Studies
d) Science, Engineering and Technology
e) Education and Humanities

Entry Requirements

The minimum requirements for admission to a Masters by Research programme are:

a) A Bachelor’s Degree with a GPA of 4 or above (FNU GPA equivalent) at level 8; or
b) A Graduate Diploma with a GPA of 3.5 or above (FNU GPA equivalent) at level 9; or
c) A Masters by Coursework at level 9; or
d) Evidence of academic qualification and/or experience that satisfies the HDRC that the applicant has developed knowledge of the field of study or cognate field and has the potential for research that is sufficient to undertake the proposed programme.

The medium of instruction at FNU is the English language. Students must be fluent in English to pursue HDR Programmes. HDR applicants will provide evidence from their undergraduate/other qualifications that will confirm their English language competency.

Supervision

All Masters by Research candidates will be supervised by two supervisors, one senior and one secondary or co-supervisor via regular meetings for guidance and constructive feedback on the work submitted by the candidate.

All Masters by Research candidates are required to complete two research preparatory courses as pre-requisites to candidature confirmation unless exempted due to prior learning. The two courses to complete will be decided by the candidate and the senior supervisor based on the candidate’s prior learning, and skills required to undertake research.

Progress Reviews

The Masters by Research Programme is structured to include progress reviews at regular intervals to ensure the research candidates are on the right track and complete their qualifications in the specified time. Progress reviews for each milestone for full-time candidates include:

a) Candidature confirmation – within 8 months of candidature.
b) Ethics approval (if required).
c) Completion seminar – within 18 months of candidature.

At the completion seminar, a Masters by Research candidate can request to forego the Masters qualification and upgrade the project to PhD. A clear plan and justification for the second phase of research will be assessed by the panel to allow the candidate to upgrade to a PhD.

d) Submission of thesis – at the end of 24 months of candidature.

The thesis will be submitted online via Moodle, Turnitin (a similarity checking software) and DropBox or any other subsequent software that the Senate approves.

For part-time candidates, progress reviews for each milestone is double the times for full-time candidates.

Progress reviews (Candidature Confirmation; and Completion Seminars) will be assessed by panels of four people made up of:

a) two academics from FNU with a completed PhD or Masters by Research qualifications, and with research experience in the field of study;
b) one academic with a completed PhD or Masters by Research qualification with experience in the field of study from an external university; and
c) one academic with a completed PhD or Masters by Research from another discipline at FNU.

The completed thesis will be examined by two external examiners followed by an oral examination.  The outcomes of thesis and oral examinations will be reviewed and endorsed by the HDRC and the Senate for the award.

Transition Arrangements

If a supervisor leaves FNU before a candidate completes their studies, a new supervisor will be appointed.  The candidates will acknowledge the input from their previous supervisors in their thesis.  In exceptional circumstances, a supervisor may be allowed to supervise to completion after leaving FNU, if approved by HDRC.

Credit Transfer Arrangements

If an applicant has completed a part of their Masters by Research at another University and wishes to complete their research at FNU, the PVCR and the HDRC will deliberate a decision on the application.

Normally HDR candidates who have completed two-thirds of their research at another university will not be accepted.

Thesis Examination outcomes

a) A clear pass: the candidate proceeds to the oral examination.
b) A pass with minor changes: the candidate proceeds to the oral examination after satisfactorily completing the minor changes.
c) A pass with substantial changes: the option is provided for the student to revise and resubmit the thesis. It will be decided by HDRC based on examiners’ reports for a second examination or for supervisor and HDRC approval. Once the candidate satisfactorily completes the changes approved by HDRC, the candidate can proceed to the oral examination.
d) A pass with a major rewrite and resubmit for examination: the option is provided for the student to revise and resubmit the thesis for a new examination. The candidate will proceed to oral examination only when HDRC approves the second examination report.
e) A failed thesis: does not merit any qualification.

If the examination outcomes of the two examiners vary, an adjudicator or a third examiner will be appointed.

Re-assessment

If the outcome of the examination is major re-write and re-submit for examination, the thesis will be re-examined.

Appeals

Following the completion of the examination process, candidates have the right to request a review of the decisions taken by the HDRC upon the recommendations made by the examiners. A request for a review of a particular decision may be based on one or a combination of any of the following grounds:

a) That there are exceptional circumstances affecting the candidate’s performance which could not for a valid reason be brought to the attention of examiners or the HDRC at or before the oral examination or were not known to the candidate prior to making his or her submission for examination.
b) That there is evidence of procedural irregularity in the conduct of the examination (including administrative error) of such nature as to cause doubt as to whether the result might have been different had there not been such irregularity.
c) That there is evidence of unfair or improper conduct or assessment on the part of one or more of the examiners or unfair or improper conduct on the part of any independent chair at the oral examination.

Candidates may not challenge the academic judgment of the examiners or HDRC.

Award of the qualification requirements

a) Successful completion of two research preparatory courses (where required);
b) Satisfactory completion of the two milestones reviews;
c) External examiners’ reports for the thesis approved by HDRC;
d) Approval of changes requested by examiners, by supervisors and HDRC; and
e) A satisfactory outcome of the oral exam.

When the decision to award the degree has been made, the HDRC and the Senate will certify that the student is eligible to graduate subject to the candidate having satisfactorily:

a) Met all the requirements of the thesis and oral examinations.
b) Fulfilling all conditions of the award to the satisfaction of the HDRC and the Senate.
c) Lodging a final digital copy of the final version of the thesis with the University Library via OPVCR.

Posthumous Award

A research degree may be granted posthumously based on a submission, completed by a candidate, which is ready for examination.

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PHD)

The PhD programme is a level 10 program, comprising a 60,000 to 100,000 word thesis which must be the student’s own work, embody the results of the work undertaken by the student, make a significant contribution to knowledge; and afford evidence of originality by the discovery of new knowledge and independent critical ability.

Duration of the Program

a) Full Time: 3 years
b) Part-Time: 6 years
c) Maximum Time: 8 years

Credit Points = 360

Areas of Study Supported at FNU

a) Medicine, Nursing and Health Science
b) Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Veterinary Science
c) Business, Hospitality and Tourism Studies
d) Science, Engineering and Technology
e) Education and Humanities

Entry Requirements

The minimum requirements for admission to a PhD programme are:

a) A Bachelors degree with first or upper second class honours at level 8, including a research component compromised of a thesis; or
b) A Masters degree by course work with a GPA of 4 or above (FNU GPA equivalent) at level 9;
c) A Masters by Research degree in a relevant discipline; or
d) Evidence of academic qualification and/or experience that satisfies the Higher Degree by Research Committee (HDRC) that the applicant has developed knowledge of the field of study or cognate field and has the potential for research that is sufficient to undertake the proposed programme.

The medium of instruction at FNU is the English language. Students must be fluent in English to pursue HDR Programmes. HDR applicants will provide evidence from their undergraduate/other qualifications that will confirm their English language competency.

Supervision

All PhD candidates will be supervised by two supervisors, one senior and one secondary or co-supervisor via regular meetings for guidance and constructive feedback on PhD work submitted by PhD candidates.

PhD candidates are required to complete two research preparatory courses as pre-requisites to candidature confirmation unless exempted due to prior learning. The two courses to complete will be decided by the candidate and the senior supervisor based on the candidate’s prior learning, and skills required to undertake the programme.

Progress Reviews

The PhD Programme is structured to include progress reviews at regular intervals to ensure the research candidates are on the right track and complete their qualifications in the specified time. Progress reviews for each milestone for full-time candidates include:

a) Candidature confirmation – within 10 months of candidature;
b) Ethics approval (if required);
c) Mid candidature review – within 20 months of candidature;
d) Completion seminar – within 30 months; and
e) Submission of thesis – at the end of 36 months of candidature.

The thesis will be submitted online via Moodle, Turnitin (similarity checking software), and DropBox or any subsequent software that the Senate approves.

For part-time candidates, progress reviews for each milestone is double the times for full-time candidates.

Milestones for progress reviews (Candidature Confirmation; Mid Candidature Review and Completion Seminars) will be assessed by panels of four people including:

a) two academics from FNU with a completed PhD qualification, and with research experience in the field of study;
b) one academic with a completed PhD and experience in the field of study from an external university; and
c) one academic with a completed PhD from another discipline at FNU.

The completed thesis will be examined by two external examiners followed by an oral examination. The outcomes of thesis and oral examinations will be reviewed and endorsed by the Higher Degrees by Research Committee (HDRC) and the Senate.

Transition Arrangements

If a supervisor leaves FNU before a candidate completes their studies, a new supervisor will be appointed. The candidates will acknowledge the input from their previous supervisors in their thesis. In exceptional circumstances, a supervisor may be allowed to supervise to completion after leaving FNU, if approved by HDRC. 

Credit Transfer Arrangements

If an applicant has completed a part of PhD studies at another University and wishes to complete their research at FNU, Pro Vice Chancellor Research (PVCR) and HDRC will deliberate a decision on the application.

Normally HDR candidates who have completed two-thirds of their research at another university will not be accepted.

Thesis Examination outcomes

a) A clear pass: the candidate proceeds to the oral examination.
b) A pass with minor changes: the candidate proceeds to the oral examination after satisfactorily completing the minor changes.
c) A pass with substantial changes: the option is provided for the student to revise and resubmit the thesis. It will be decided by HDRC based on examiners’ reports for a second examination or for supervisor and HDRC approval. Once the candidate satisfactorily completes the changes approved by HDRC, the candidate can proceed to the oral examination.
d) A pass with a major rewrite and resubmit for examination: the option is provided for the student to revise and resubmit the thesis for a new examination. The candidate will proceed to oral examination only when HDRC approves the second examination report.
e) A fail may result in the option to award another degree on the recommendation of HDRC. Requirements for alternative degrees will apply.
f) A failed thesis: does not merit any qualification.

If the examination outcomes of the two examiners vary, an adjudicator or a third examiner will be appointed.

Re-assessment

If the outcome of the examination is major re-write and re-submit for examination, the thesis will be re-examined.

Appeals

Following the completion of the examination process, candidates have the right to request a review of the decisions taken by the HDRC upon the recommendations made by the examiners. A request for a review of a particular decision may be based on one or a combination of any of the following grounds:

a) That there are exceptional circumstances affecting the candidate’s performance which could not for a valid reason be brought to the attention of examiners or the HDRC at or before the oral examination or were not known to the candidate prior to making his or her submission for examination.
b) That there is evidence of procedural irregularity in the conduct of the examination (including administrative error) of such nature as to cause doubt as to whether the result might have been different had there not been such irregularity.
c) That there is evidence of unfair or improper conduct or assessment on the part of one or more of the examiners or unfair or improper conduct on the part of any independent chair at the oral examination.

Candidates may not challenge the academic judgment of the examiners or HDRC.

Award of the qualification requirements

a) Successful completion of two research preparatory courses (where required);
b) Satisfactory completion of the three milestone reviews;
c) External examiners’ reports for the thesis approved by HDRC;
d) Approval of changes requested by examiners, by supervisors and HDRC;
e) A satisfactory outcome of the oral exam.

When the decision to award the degree has been made, the HDRC and the Senate will certify that the student is eligible to graduate subject to the candidate having satisfactorily:

a) Met all the requirements of the thesis and oral examinations.
b) Fulfilling all conditions of the award to the satisfaction of the HDRC and the Senate.
c) Lodging a final digital copy of the final version of the thesis with the University Library via OPVCR.

Posthumous Award

A research degree may be granted posthumously based on a submission, completed by a candidate, which is ready for examination.

 

APPLICATIONS

Applicants can apply for HDR Admission through online portal available on FNU website.

For further information on HDR Programmes please contact the Research Office.