90 Point Research Portfolios in Research Masters Degrees Procedures


Research masters candidates at the University whose degree includes a 90 point research portfolio, their academic units and their supervisors.


To outline the procedures which must be followed in order for a 90 point research portfolio to be included in a research masters degree.



1. The 90 point research component of a research masters degree must consist of enrolment in one course and must produce one 90 point supervised research output.

2. The research output must fulfil the CUAP requirement for a research masters student to demonstrate a high order of skill in the planning, execution and completion of a piece of original research.

3. The research must be completed to internationally recognised standards and demonstrate that the graduate has a capacity for independent thinking.

4. The research output must be consistent with the NZQA expectation that graduates of all masters programmes (taught and research):

  • show evidence of advanced knowledge about a specialist field of enquiry
  • demonstrate mastery of sophisticated theoretical subject matter
  • evaluate critically the findings and discussion in the literature
  • research, analyse and argue from evidence
  • engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem-solving
  • work independently and apply knowledge to new situations

5. The research portfolio must be rationalisable and examinable as a whole in order to constitute a 90 point research output.

6. Discrete components of the research portfolio must be enquiries into a clearly defined and over-arching research topic.

7. The research portfolio must have a main supervisor with overall responsibility for the supervision of the research portfolio, rather than a series of supervisors responsible for different components of the portfolio.

8. The research portfolio must include an introduction addressing the composition of the research portfolio, the relationship between its component parts, and a discussion of the methodology/methodologies deployed.

9. The research portfolio must include a critical literature review, which makes clear the criteria governing the selection of the literature discussed. The literature review may be a discrete section or may be dispersed through the portfolio.

10. The 90 point research portfolio will usually be a maximum of 30,000 words in length.

11. Where creative practice is involved, the research portfolio may include an examinable performance component or examinable written creative work. In such cases, the 30,000 word limit for the non-creative component of the research portfolio is reduced by 40%.

12. In addition to satisfying the standard requirements, the research portfolio including creative practice component must:

  • Present creative work of value within its field
  • Reveal the significance of the creative work
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of relevant histories, theories and contexts informing the creative work
  • Engage an effective research method that allows the creative process and product to be interrogated
  • Demonstrate rigorous critical reflection on the process leading to the production of the creative work


13. The research portfolio is subject to the same examination process as the 90 or 120 point masters thesis.

14. The portfolio must be examined in its entirety by two examiners; individual components of a portfolio cannot be examined by different examiners.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic unit refers to the faculty, school, department or institute in which the candidate is registered.

Research masters candidates are students enrolled in a masters degree with a research component at the University.

Research portfolio is a coherent, integrated programme of research-based work.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Document management and control

Owner: Pro Vice-Chancellor Education
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies
Approval date: February 2017
Review date: February 2022