The research portfolio

The 120-point research portfolio is an alternative way of taking a research masters in some subjects.

About the research portfolio

The research portfolio combines a number of smaller research projects into one package.

Length and content

A research portfolio is the same length overall as a 120-point thesis (approximately 40,000 words) but usually consists of two to four research projects or essays instead of a single project.

The different projects form a coherent package organised around a central theme. The theme may be a defined area within one subject or it may cross more than one subject; it is determined in consultation with a Graduate Adviser and supervisor.

The research portfolio’s components include a specified number and type of assessed pieces of work – one may be of dissertation length.

Academic expectations

The research portfolio, through its individual and combined components, is expected to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Master sophisticated subject matter.
  • Design a well-structured, relevant and integrated plan of research.
  • Carry out research projects using appropriate methods of investigation and analysis.
  • Identify and critically evaluate the findings and discussions in scholarly literature and other forms of information.
  • Engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem solving.
  • Engage in independent thinking, informed by relevant scholarly literature and other research.
  • Argue and reach conclusions that are informed by independent enquiry and other available information.
  • Use language effectively to communicate research findings and supporting argumentation.

Formatting and binding

Your disciplinary area will specify how they want you to present your research portfolio (there are no specific University requirements).


Course codes for enrolment

Research portfolios have individual alphanumeric course codes. You will find this on the "Postgraduate courses" page for your subject. Visit our subjects and courses page.

Auditing classes

As part of your research portfolio you may attend classes held for taught courses. However, you do not enrol in these individual courses but only in the research portfolio course code. For example, if you are doing a research portfolio in English you would only enrol in ENGLISH 797 Research Portfolio, regardless of any classes you may attend or whether you are including a dissertation.

Prerequisites and approval

Enrolment in a research portfolio is at the discretion of your disciplinary area, and there may also be prerequisites.

Semester One or Two start

If your disciplinary area approves, you may be able to begin study either:

  • Semester One and complete in Semester Two.
  • Semester Two and complete in Semester One of the following year.


Submission dates

Please see the online Calendar for information on submission dates.

Masters thesis and research portfolio submission process

Faculty student centres manage the examination process for masters theses and research portfolios. Students must submit three temporary-bound copies of their work and a digital copy (sent to  

Faculty of Arts research Masters students must submit to the Arts Assignment Centre on Level 3 of the Humanities Building (14a Symonds St). Students enrolled in non-Arts subjects (e.g. Economics, Employment Relations and Organisation Studies, Geography, Mathematics, Music and Psychology) must submit to the relevant other Faculty.

For Education, submit your temporary-bound copies to the Faculty of Education Student Centre.

Students will be sent the substantive comments that their examiners have made, and thesis candidates will be able to make minor corrections to their work before having their thesis hard-bound and deposited in the University library.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact the Arts Students’ Centre.

Extensions and suspensions


In certain circumstances you may be approved an extension of time.

Further extensions
If you need a further extension, your request must be endorsed by your disciplinary area and approved by the Faculty’s Assistant Dean (Postgraduate).

See your supervisor in the first instance. The following conditions apply:

  • Approval may only be granted if you require the extension because of exceptional circumstances beyond your control.
  • Any further extension will not normally exceed one semester.
  • You must be enrolled for the extension period and will be charged tuition fees at the rate of 10 points for each two-month period or part thereof.
  • If circumstances such as illness prevent you from studying, it may be advisable to request a suspension and take time off rather than have an extension of time.


You are expected to be enrolled on a continuous basis. If you need to take time off because of exceptional circumstances, you must request approval to suspend your enrolment. You may be permitted to suspend your enrolment for not normally more than two consecutive semesters.

The period of suspension will not count towards the time limits for degree completion.

See your supervisor in the first instance. Your request must be endorsed by your disciplinary area and approved by the Faculty’s Assistant Dean (Postgraduate).