Department of Physics


Frequently asked questions for postgraduate physics students


Welcome to the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page for postgraduate students in the Department of Physics.

We receive a large number of emails requesting advice on various tasks related to the PhD, MSc, BSc Honours and Postgraduate Diploma in Science degrees, and the answers to these questions are given below.

If the information below does not answer your question please get in contact with the relevant postgraduate coordinator either in person or via email.

You can also contact the Physics academic services coordinator if you need assistance. If they are unable to help, they will be able to help connect you with the relevant information/people.

 

Dissertation and thesis templates


You can download Latex templates for:

Work opportunities in the department


If you are interested in teaching work while you are completing your PhD, the following information from Anna Yang, who coordinates TA/GTAs in physics, may be useful:

  • The physics teaching assistantships are open for applications online once a year around late October and applications close in late November. 
  • Announcements are made via Canvas (if taking a physics course) and the physics PhD mailing list (currently managed by the department's Group Services Administrator, Sithra, at the Department of Physcis reception on the 6th floor of Building 303).

  • To get an idea of the criteria, courses and workload, interested students could visit https://www.tagta.physics.auckland.ac.nz to see information from the last round. (Students will need to use their UoA Google account to access the link, i.e. “yourUPI@aucklanduni.ac.nz”.) PhD students are recommended to observe their time commitment required for PhD studies in the first semester of arrival and try this in the second semester of their studies if interested. PhD students should consult their advisors before applying.

  • For students who have joined the University after the applications are due, they can express their interest and provide a CV and academic transcripts via email (a.yang@auckland.ac.nz). While there may not be work immediately available, suitable opportunities may arise later in the year.

How do I enrol for a Bachelor of Science (Honours)?


Information on how to apply and enrol for a Bachelor of Science (Honours), including GPAs and prerequisites can be found on our programme page: Bachelor of Science Honours (BSc(Hons))

Information about courses can be found on our postgraduate subject pages:

The step-by-step postgraduate application guide will also help you understand the process.

Once you have accepted your conditional or unconditional offer of a place - and selected your courses - you will need to find a supervisor for the research thesis component of the programme.

Then, complete the Supervisor Selection Form and submit it to the 6th floor office. It is not required that you list three potential supervisors, but we do encourage you to have a chat to more than one person while making your decision.

 

How do I enrol for a Postgraduate Diploma in Science?


Information on how to apply and enrol for a Postgraduate Diploma in Science, including GPAs and prerequisites can be found on our programme page: Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci)

Information about courses can be found on our postgraduate subject pages:

The step-by-step postgraduate application guide will also help you understand the process.

Once you have accepted your conditional or unconditional offer of a place, you will need to talk with the postgraduate supervisor to decide how you would like to proceed with the programme. 

There are two options:

  1. With a thesis component | Find a supervisor for the research thesis component of the programme. You want to allow enough time to talk to them about the proposed project, think a little about the skills you will pick up and how this fits with your own goals.

    Then, complete the Supervisor Selection Form and submit it to the Physics Academic Services Coordinator. It is not required that you list three potential supervisors, but we do encourage you to have a chat to more than one person while making your decision.

  2. Without a thesis component | You must take 120 points in course work.  Meet with the postgraduate supervisor to determine the appropriate courses considering your background in physics.

 

How do I enrol for a Master of Science?


Information on how to apply and enrol for a Master of Science, including GPAs and prerequisites can be found on our programme page: Master of Science (MSc)

Information about courses can be found on our postgraduate subject pages:

The step-by-step postgraduate application guide will also help you understand the process.

After applying for the programme:

  • Accept the conditional offer of place (where relevant), you cannot receive a full & unconditional offer of place, apply for a visa, or enrol in any courses without this.
  • For the 120-point research and the 240-point taught masters | Find a supervisor for the research thesis component of the programmeIf you still aren’t sure who to approach, have a look at the expertise of staff in the department and approach someone whose interests match your own. You want to allow enough time to talk to them about the proposed project, think a little about the skills you will pick up and how this fits with your own goals.
  • Then, complete the Supervisor Selection Form and submit it to the Physics Academic Services Coordinator. It is not required that you list three potential supervisors, but we do encourage you to have a chat to more than one person while making your decision.
     

How do I get an extension?


If you are getting close to the due date (28 February if you started in Semester One, or 14 July if you started in Semester Two) and are worried about completing on time, the first thing to do is to talk to your supervisor about your concerns. Then:

  • If they agree that you need a short (maximum two week) extension, contact the MSc Coordinator and ask your supervisor to write an email in support.
    This should ONLY be done if they have cause to believe that the extension will enable you to hand in a qualitatively different thesis that is of a markedly improved quality.
  • If the required extension is longer than two weeks, you will need to complete an AS-503 |  Application for Senate Approval of Extension of Time form.
    This requires an explanation of the need for the extension, medical certificates of other supporting evidence. Your supervisor and the Head of Department need to sign this. The Associate Dean (postgraduate) will then need to consider your if request can be approved.

 

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How do I enrol for a PhD?


Information on how to apply and enrol for a Doctor of Philosophy, can be found on our programme page: Doctor of Philosophy

More information is available from the School of Graduate Studies and the step-by-step guide for doctoral applications, admission and enrolment.

What else do I need to know?

  • The first thing you need to do is talk to potential supervisors. More than one is fine, if you aren't sure who to work with - everyone in the department is happy to talk to prospective PhD applicants.
  • Think about what you want to get out of your PhD: skills, knowledge and understanding, a pathway to a specific type of employment that requires a PhD. Talk about this with your supervisor to ensure that you find a good fit. Feel free to talk to other students who work with the same supervisor, to make sure your expectations are realistic.
  • Once you have an idea who you want to work with, discuss with them a research topic and write a research proposal.
  • Figure out what your funding options are early on. Some supervisors will have funded projects available, so you should ask. If you are coming from outside the University, you should also find out whether you qualify for a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (you can calculate your GPE here). 

Do I need a co-supervisor?

Yes. In the first instance, you should discuss this with your main supervisor who will provide suggestions.

How do I write the research proposal?

The research proposal - also called a Statement of Research Intent - is used by the department, once your qualifications and supporting documents have been checked centrally. It is used for several things:

  • To make sure that you have chosen a supervisor who can support you in what you aim to do
  • To make sure the department has the resources to support your chosen area of research
  • To test that you can outline a credible research proposal, that you have looked into some initial literature in the field, and that you know what an original contribution to research in this field will look like.

Related link

  • Doctoral enrolment (including what to expect after you apply and how to track your application process)
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How does the PhD Provisional Registration work?


You will receive an email from the School of Graduate Studies two to three months before your provisional registration needs to be confirmed. This will give you one to two months to write your research proposal and prepare your presentation.

The department will email you shortly after the School of Graduate Studies email to offer you a date for your presentation and Provisional Year Interview, which you and your supervisor will need to confirm. This is an opportunity for you to ask any other necessary questions.

What needs to be in the research proposal?

Evidence of what you have done and what you plan to do. It is (almost) that simple. Talk to your supervisor in advance about their expectations, and allow time for them to review your proposal.

Guidelines specific to Physics, and a coversheet that needs supervisor sign off before submission are available here. In brief:

  • Provisional thesis title
  • Names of supervisors/advisors
  • Objectives / Aims: Clearly specify the purpose of this research. Include the main research questions and hypotheses.
  • Contribution of the proposed research: Briefly describe and evaluate the existing literature. Describe how the work will contribute significant and original findings.
  • Methodology: Briefly outline the processes, techniques and methodologies or the theoretical approach that will be used to achieve the objectives above.
  • Proposed thesis structure: Outline the proposed structure of the thesis
  • Timetable for research: Outline the proposed schedule for the research, including completion dates for each stage. Outline work already completed or in progress to date.
  • Ethical approvals: Is ethics approval required? If so, has it been applied for and obtained?
  • Resources: Explain what resources are needed, including a budget and source of funding. Are resources currently available and do you have access to them? If not, how are they to be procured?
  • Endorsement and comments: The candidate’s main supervisor(s) should ensure that a completed copy of the attached cover sheet (“Coversheet for Doctoral Thesis Research Proposal”) accompanies the proposal. The endorsement on the coversheet should include comments on the merits of the proposed research and an assessment of the PhD candidate’s ability to successfully conclude the work. All co-supervisors must also indicate their endorsement of the proposal by signing the coversheet.

Your research proposal should be submitted to the PhD coordinator two weeks before the presentation date, to ensure that the committee have time to read it. At the same time, please send the Physics Group Services Coordinator a short abstract for your presentation.

What needs to be in the presentation?

The department will schedule you to give a presentation to the department, usually along with another student, in the month before the School of Graduate Studies deadline. This is usually in the Departmental Colloquium booking, currently 11 am on Wednesdays, to maximise the ability of everyone to attend. You should therefore be aiming your talk at a general physics audience. It should be 20 minutes long and you should be prepared to answer 5 minutes of questions. This is constrained by the room booking, so do practise in advance to make sure you have the length right.

How flexible is the timing of this?

The timing is not particularly flexible, as supervisors and Graduate Committee members need to be available on the day to attend your presentation and your Provisional Year Interview. Times be be adjusted where there is a good cause but it can be difficult to find a time that suits everyone.

What is the Provisional Year Interview?

The Provisional Year Interview (or Provisional Year Review) is typically a half hour discussion with three members of the Graduate Committee, and is held the same day as the presentation (ideally) in the afternoon. The goal is to check that you are on track to complete your PhD successfully, and the committee will ask questions about your progress, whether there are things that have held up progress, whether you have all the resources you need to complete - things like that. We will also check off your provisional goals - so do take these seriously, and check what they are in advance!

Both the written proposal and the presentation will be used to inform the interview.

Anything else I should think about?

Have you completed the Doctoral Needs Analysis with your supervisor? If not - do it now!

The Committee will then need to complete this form: have a look through in advance for what we will ask about (including the mandatory provisional goals)!

Finally, you need to complete this form that you need to complete with your supervisor, sign, and take it to the Physics Group Services Administrator (situated in the Department of Physics reception, 6th floor, Building 303). Please attach the committee report from your interview, as well as your registration record (doc_53) - this will have been attached to the initial email from the School of Graduate Studies regarding your Provisional Annual Report.

Related links

 

PhD completion


What do I need to know about completion?

A few months before submission, your supervisor needs to arrange examiners. You can chat to your supervisor about this when you are getting close, but it isn't your job.

On submission, you need to fill out the Declaration on the DOC7 form.

If you have co-authored work in your thesis, fill out this declaration.

Changes to registration during your PhD


What forms do I need to fill out if I make any changes to my registration during my PhD?

  • Change of Supervision arrangements: fill out the appropriate section of the DOC6 form
  • Suspension: fill out the appropriate section of the DOC6 form
  • Extended absence for field/lab/research work: fill out the appropriate section of the DOC6 form
  • Extension required? Fill out the appropriate section of the DOC6 form
  • Switching to Part-time or Terminating your registration? fill out the appropriate section of the DOC6 form