HDR overview

Getting started

Congratulations on your candidature as a Higher Degree Research Student and welcome to ANU Physics! Here is the guide to help you get started.

Before arrival

After arrival

  • Organise a mobile phone service and advise family/friends your safe arrival.
  • Open a bank account.
  • Apply for a Tax File Number if you plan to work.
  • Order your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) card (see reference documents) with Allianz (if you've selected ANU to organise the insurance for you).
  • Familiarise yourself with Canberra.
  • Finalise your enrolment (can be done before your arrival)
  • Get in touch with the Physics Student Administration team by contacting us on rspe.hdr.sa@anu.edu.au or visiting us in Oliphant building, building 60, office 408 and 410.

Physics Student Administration team

Prof Lan Fu is the Higher Degree Research Program Convenor for Physics (e-mail lan.fu@anu.edu.au) and A/Prof Elena Ostrovskaya is the Deputy Convenor (e-mail elena.ostrovskaya@anu.edu.au). Either of them can help you with questions related to your PhD or MPhil program, particularly academic matters.

Karen Nulty and Liudmila Mangos are your HDR Administrators and will be able to help you with any administrative matters.


Research students can start at any time through the year and our HDR Program Convenor or Deputy Convenor run several induction sessions for new students. Your departmental administrator will also arrange a department-specific induction.


There are numerous resources to help you on your PhD journey:

Student events

Physics holds a number of student events through the year:

  • Student lunches or barbecues – this is an opportunity for our students to get together with fellow students from other departments, expand their networks and make new friends.
  • John Carver Seminar Series – one of the major student events, held in September each year. Students are invited to present a 15-minute talk on the research their working on to an audience of fellow students and a panel of judges. Winners receive valuable prizes and certificates are awarded to all participants.
  • 3 Minute Thesis Competition
  • HDR Student Retreat – held at ANU Kioloa coastal campus, a great opportunity for our students to interact with their colleagues from across the School in a fun and relaxed coastal setting.

Academic progress

In addition to the standard academic milestones, such as annual progress reports, Physics students are required to complete a mid-term review (MTR) at the end of the second year of their PhD program. Mid-term review is presented as a seminar which is attended by the student’s supervisory panel and other students and academic staff from their department and the wider RSPE. Mid-term review seminars are advertised within the School by the department the student is enrolled in.

The primary supervisor prepares a report following the seminar. MTR is listed as a Supplementary Review milestone in the student’s profile in ISIS. After the seminar has been completed, the student needs to initiate the eForm milestone in ISIS. The primary supervisor uploads the MTR report as part of the eForm approval process.

A more detailed breakdown of HDR milestones is available on our Milestone Guidelines page

Transferring from MPhil to PhD

MPhil students who have demonstrated excellent progress may request to transfer to the PhD program with support from their supervisor. Transfer to the PhD program is usually considered at the end of the first year of the MPhil program. Students must have completed their first progress report and thesis proposal review before the request for transfer can be considered. Students need to present a seminar to a panel consisting of the program convenor, deputy convenor and two other academic staff members (not from the student’s department). The panel will make a recommendation whether the student should be transferred to the PhD program. Student’s publications will be highly regarded during the review but it is not compulsory for the transfer.

If the panel recommends the transfer to the PhD program, an application for the transfer should be submitted as outlined in Research Program Change and Research Program Transfer.

Funding opportunities

We offer a number of funding opportunities for students who would like to attend conferences, make a collaborative visit or need resources for their PhD project.

  • Vice-Chancellor's HDR Travel Grants
  • ANU-IARU travel grant aims to promote collaboration and strengthen ties with IARU partner universities through student mobility.
  • Robert and Helen Crompton Award - a generous award established by Professor Robert Crompton and Mrs Helen Crompton. The Robert and Helen Crompton Award of up to A$15,000 will be available each year to assist postgraduate research students enrolled at the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE) to undertake part of the research program overseas or make a collaborative visit to an overseas institution, for 3 to 6 months. It is the intention of the Research School and the donor that the Award is used to enhance career opportunities and experience of students. Nominations for this award are usually called for in March each year.
  • Award for Space Plasma, Astronomy & Astrophysics - nominations are called for in March each year.
  • Physics students who are experiencing difficulties and need financial support to complete their studies can apply for the Ben Williams Student Support Grant
  • Research Professional funding opportunity search

Awards and Prizes

Student's achievements are celebrated and recognised by prizes for the best thesis awarded annually:


Student admin team

Phone+61 2 612 51315

Program Convenor - Prof Lan Fu

Phone+61 2 612 54060

Deputy Convenor - A/Prof Elena Ostrovskaya

Phone+61 2 612 53798

Updated:  10 June 2020/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster