PhD - Subject Area Changes Policy and Procedures


Academic units at the University who wish to add, amend or delete the subject areas available for PhD candidates to enrol in.


This document outlines the policy and procedures to be followed by an Academic Unit in order to amend the list of PhD subject areas available for a candidate to enrol in.


1.    Applications to add, amend or delete a subject area must be made to the Board of Graduate Studies, through the appropriate faculty committee(s)  


Adding a PhD subject area

2.    Applications to include a new subject area or amend an existing subject area must include the following information:

  • A list of staff members who are considered to be qualified to act as supervisors for doctoral research and their qualifications
  • evidence of previous experience in supervising postgraduate student thesis research and bringing that research to successful completion
  • a list of publications that support the claim that the staff members are ‘research active’ in the proposed subject area
  • a statement of the resources that are available for the support of research in the particular area and an assurance that they will meet the minimum international requirements for the support of research in the subject area
  • confirmation that the PhD candidates will be provided with the level of resources and support detailed in the document Doctoral Candidates - Resources and Support Guidelines
  • a statement of support from those heads of academic units whose staff and other resources are included in the statement of support and supervision available to PhD candidates in the proposed new subject area
  • a statement of the structure of the academic unit providing evidence that an appropriate committee is available to assess candidates’ thesis research proposals and academic progress

Amending a PhD subject area 

3.     Applications to rename an existing subject area must include the following information:

  • rationale for the name change and overview of consultation process
  • a statement addressing the retirement plan for the existing PhD subject and how current students in the programme will be managed
  • a table detailing current staff members who have been supervising in the existing PhD subject in the previous 5 years and the number of students supervised by each staff member in that subject in that time period
  • a table showing the number of students currently enrolled in the existing subject area in relation to scheduled year of submission

Cross-disciplinary subject areas

4.    Subject areas that foster cross-disciplinary research may be approved across faculties and be managed by joint boards of studies with joint representation from all the Academic Units involved

5.    Such boards of studies are to consider and make recommendations regarding applications for doctoral registration

6.    Boards of studies must identify a single academic unit where the cross-disciplinary candidate will reside and be managed for research purposes

7.    The main supervisor of a cross-disciplinary candidate will normally be a member of the host academic unit, but some flexibility is possible regarding location of the main supervisor especially where there is cross-disciplinary research

Deleting a PhD subject area

8.    Applications to delete an existing subject area in the list must include the following information:

  • the reason/s for the subject area being deleted
  • whether there are any candidates currently enrolled in the subject area and how these will be managed by the academic unit


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic Units are those units with which the PhD subject area is associated and may be managed by either a faculty or a board of studies. Academic units include faculties, schools, departments and institutes

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries

Document management and control

Content manager: School of Graduate Studies

Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies

Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies

Date approved: March 2018

Review date: March 2021