Research Projects

Research subjects are the perfect opportunity to interrogate a topic that is of particular interest to you with a depth you can’t achieve in regular subjects. With the support of a leading expert, you will conceive and execute a project and make a novel contribution to a field with positive implications for environmental change. Through your independent research and participation in workshops you will develop skills and knowledge that will give you an edge in a competitive employment environment. Industry research projects facilitate work with an industry partner – a great way to network and ensure the practical impact of your work.

For enrolment in:

Semester 2, 2017

Semester 1, 2018

Find a supervisor

At least 1 month prior to application due date

At least 1 month prior to application due date

Information sessions

Date: 7 March 2017 and 4 April 2017

Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Venue: OEP Meeting Room, Ground Floor, Walter Boas Building

Date: 8 August 2017 and 5 September 2017

Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Venue: OEP Meeting Room, Ground Floor, Walter Boas Building

Applications form due (R1)

Date has passed

9 October

Application approvals

Date has passed

Early November

­­Ethics applications

Prior to commencement

Prior to commencement

First research workshop

25 July


OEP research presentations

5 October


Research project due

31 October


Results released

1 December

6 July


The application process, including developing a project proposal, can take some time so it is important to get started early.  You will complete the following steps, though not necessarily in order.

  1. Develop a topic (and think about your personal goals)
  2. Find a supervisor
  3. Decide what subject suits best
  4. Write a proposal
  5. Submit application form

Applications in detail

1. Define your research interest and personal goals

Research is both rewarding and challenging.  Give yourself the best chance of success by ensuring your project aligns with your past studies, existing research skills, interests and career goals. Use the resources below to find inspiration, get information about what the subjects entail and what can be realistically achieved. Remember that supervisors will have advice on topics that are feasible to research within a small project, and often seek students to undertake specific projects. It will help to speak with several potential supervisors as you define your research area.

2.     Find a supervisor

Finding the right supervisor can make a successful research project that much easier.  Identify potential academic supervisors by:

  1. Asking lecturers or one of the OEP student advisors for recommendations
  2. Using the find an expert search tool
  3. Viewing advertised projects online

Check the academic’s homepage or publications to see whether their research interests align with your project.  Supervisors are typically full-time University staff (sometimes Associates or Fellows, rarely sessional i.e. casual staff).  Joint academic supervision is possible and may be required depending on the disciplinary scope of a project.

Once you have identified a potential supervisor, send them an email and ask for an appointment. In your email make sure you describe your research interests, your background knowledge of the area, your existing research training or skills.

Important matters to consider/discuss with potential supervisors include:

  • Your research interest, potential questions and personal goals
  • The size (number of points) and duration (1 or 2 semesters) of subject you’re considering
  • Your background knowledge and skills (e.g. recent subjects and grades)
  • The supervisor’s capacity and interest in supervising your project
  • The supervisor’s availability to supervise (any planned absences?)
  • Compatibility: do you think you can work well together?

Potential supervisors may not have previously supervised an OEP student and may have questions about the process and support provided. Invite them to contact OEP-research if they have further questions.

Strategies for finding an industry supervisor include:

  • Approaching an organisation via a letter and a phone call
  • Working through an academic with existing industry contacts
  • Responding to a project opportunity advertised through the OEP website
  • Collaborating with their employer, whilst still studying, to develop and undertake a research project.

It is advised that students facilitate a meeting between industry and academic supervisors prior to the submission of the application.

3.     Select a subject

Choose a subject that fits within your study plan and is large enough to facilitate the research required to answer your proposed research questions.  Discuss your options with potential supervisors.

Industry Research subjects facilitate working with an Industry Partner and require an industry supervisor.  Industry subjects require additional legal paperwork to protect the student and govern the use of intellectual property.  Please note:

  • Developing a relationship with an industry partner can take considerable time
  • It is critical that that all parties have realistic expectations of the project scope
  • The project must be completed within University timelines for assessment
  • It is advised that projects be ‘of mutual interest, but not time crucial’







Environmental Research Review


5,000 words

One Semester

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: Review of relevant academic literature.


Environmental Research Project (25)


10,000 words

One Semester


Environmental Industry Research (25)

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: Some original research, perhaps analysis of an existing data base, document analysis or collection of small amount of original data. Includes literature review, methodology, interpretation of data, findings.


Environmental Research Project: 25 Long


10,000 words

Two Semesters


Environmental Industry Research: 25 Long



Environmental Research Project (50)


20,000 words

One Semester


Environmental Industry Research (50)

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: More substantial original research, data collection might include fieldwork, sampling, interviews. Report includes literature review, methodology, interpretation of data and findings.


Environmental Research Project: 50 Long


20,000 words

Two Semesters


Environmental Industry Research: 50 Long


4. Write a proposal

There is no set format for research project proposals. The purpose of proposal writing is to demonstrate that you are sufficiently prepared to commence a research subject in the following semester and complete that project on time.

Your supervisor should be closely involved with the development of the proposal. They should provide advice about the appropriate scope of a project, read at least one draft and sight the final version of your proposal before it is submitted along with the signed research proposal application form.  You can view a model proposal here.

In around 500-1000 words you should:


What is the context that has led you to this research topic? What is interesting, topical or currently changing that makes your inquiry significant and relevant? Make sure you cite relevant literature.

This is the why question.


What is the specific question (or questions) you are asking? i.e. What do you want to know?


Discuss the specific parameters of your research – timelines, scale, location. Indi - cate your plan for finding out the answers to research questions in time available.


Demonstrate that your research approach is logical and will produce information that enables you to answer your questions.

Consider the financial or other resources (labs, vehicles, access to sites) required to conduct the research as your  project

cannot proceed if you do not have adequate resources.


At the proposal stage you need to indicate awareness about ethics and fieldwork processes as required by your particular research project.


What is the contribution of your research? What will we know at the end of it?

5.     Submit application form

The Research and Industry Subject application form (R1) should be completed in consultation with your supervisor and requires signatures from the supervisor(s) and head of department before it will be considered.  The form is quite detailed and it can also take some time to get HoD signatures so start early to ensure a timely submission.

Funding your research

Your application must outline any resources required for your project and establish that these are available.  Research can cost money and there are number of ways students might cover those expenses.

  • Students may cover costs directly
  • Supervisors may be able to contribute financial resources.

Your supervisor’s department will receive a proportion of your enrolment fees and, depending on the department’s policy, some funds may be provided through the supervisor to cover research expenses.

Ethics and Risk assessment

Ethics and risk assessments must be completed before any practical research (e.g. fieldwork, contacting potential interviewees) can be undertaken.  Both are administered through your supervisor’s faculty; discuss the process with them at the earliest opportunity. Ethics committees have a rigid schedule.  Make sure that you prepare your application in good time – missing a deadline can put your research program well behind schedule. Information and forms can be found at the Office for Research Ethics and Integrity and Health and Safety websites.

Industry partners may have their own protocols.  Discuss with your supervisor or subject coordinator which is the most appropriate. If in doubt, use the University protocol.

All students are covered by University public liability insurance once they are enrolled in a subject and are undertaking research which is related to that subject. In addition, students can apply for travel insurance if required for their project.

Summary of process

  1. OEP uses information from the application form (R1) to generate a Standard Letter of Agreement and communicates directly with the Industry Partner to obtain their authorisation
  2. OEP sends a copy of the finalised Letter of Agreement and Deed of Assignment to the student
  3. Student completes and signs the Deed of Assignment and emails a copy to the OEP
  4. OEP authorises student enrolment into subject

The purpose of a Letter of Agreement is set out the legal arrangements relating to the project, including Intellectual Property as well as health and safety responsibilities for the student undertaking the research project.  The Letter of Agreement must be signed by the Industry Partner and the University.

The Deed of Assignment is required as the student is not a party to the Letter of Agreement between the University and the Industry Partner discussed above. Accordingly, in order to give effect to the Letter of Agreement, the student is required to sign the Deed of Assignment in favour of the University. The Deed serves three main purposes:

  1. Assigns the rights to your Project Intellectual property (apart from your Assessment Materials) to the University, in order that the University can uphold the Letter of Agreement which provides that the Industry Partner will own Project Intellectual property, apart from your assessment materials
  2. Provides a license to the University to your Assessment Materials which is sub-licensable to the Industry Partner for its internal business purpose.
  3. Records your agreement to keep confidential any of the University’s or the Industry Partner’s confidential information

Assessment requirements

Students must complete a written research report which represents a minimum of 60% of their assessment for the subject.  They must also give an oral presentation, which may be a hurdle requirement or count towards their overall grade for the subject.

Additional assessment tasks may be required by the supervisor.  The combined word allocation or equivalent should equal the word limit for the subject. Ten minutes of oral presentation is generally accepted to be equivalent to 1,000 words.  Determination of assessment tasks is the responsibility of the supervisor and subject coordinator.

For example, for a 25 point, 10,000 word subject:


Word limit or equivalent

Weight (%)

Final report



Oral presentation

15 mins ~ 1,500 words


Literature review (distinct from final report; material should not be duplicated)






Alternatively the literature review can be treated as a hurdle requirement:

Literature review (material may be included in final report)


0% (Hurdle)

Research report

  • Assessment criteria
  • Format requirements
  • Submission
  • Electronic submission via the LMS
  • Hardcopy submission
  • Digital repository submission
  • Examination
  • Appeals

Assessment criteria

Final research reports are assessed on the following criteria:



Definition of the problem to be investigated.

Demonstration of knowledge of the relevant literature and

a capacity to analyse it in relation to the problem defined.


Use of literature and proven techniques of investigation, to solve or to clarify the readers understanding of the problem being investigated.

Explanations of limitations within the students’ own work and the nature of any contribution made.


Demonstration of competence in technical and/or discipline specific writing.

Assembly of a logical report that is well laid-out



Format requirements

On a title page, include the following details

  • Your full name
  • University of Melbourne Student ID Number
  • Title of the research project
  • The full name of your degree
  • The subject title and number
  • The name of your supervisor and their Faculty
  • The month and year of submission.

Please include the following:

  • A short abstract of up to 500 words (near the start of your report)
  • Up to 5 keywords for the library catalogue
  • Your full name and Student ID Number in the footer of every page of your project
  • Spacing – 1.5 or 2; Font 11 or 12 point depending on your preferred font. E.g. Times New Roman, 12 point font
  • Full acknowledgment of all other material used
  • A Student Declaration worded as follows and signed by you:

“The work in this project was undertaken in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Melbourne for the degree of Master of Environment.”


Research projects must be submitted in digital (via LMS) and hard copies (to OEP office).  The digital version must be submitted by 11pm on the Monday of the week following SWOT VAC to avoid late penalties.  The hard copy may be submitted the following day. Students may also elect  to upload their report to the Library’s online repository for the benefit of future students and academics.

Electronic submission via the LMS

Submit through LMS

  • Click on ‘Assessment’ in the left hand column
  • Select ‘Research Project (final) Semester (one or two, year) and follow the instructions to upload your document

It is highly recommended that you do a test run submission in Turnitin; you can also check your similarity score. You are able to withdraw and resubmit your project any time before the due date.

Please note: You cannot undertake a test submission any time on or after the due date even if you have an approved extension, as you will not be able to withdraw the test.

Hardcopy submission

Submit ONE hard copy with spiral binding or similar (not hard bound) and the Research Project Cover Sheet (R3) attached.

Digital repository submission

An electronic copy of your report (referred to as a thesis for library purposes) will be held by the library. In order to comply with Copyright regulations and to allow students to publish work in academic journals or other contexts, access to your thesis will be restricted to University of Melbourne staff and students only.

Instructions for submission to Minerva:



1.    Go to:

Log in with your University of Melbourne  username and  password.

2. Item Submission – Collection

Choose “Office for Environmental

Programs - MPO”

3. At the “Describe” page, enter your name, thesis title, year submitted, abstract etc as instructed

Enter your Name: Do NOT use the

Look up button.

Abstracts should be short

Degree type: Choose ‘Masters coursework  thesis’


Email: Non University of Melbourne email addresses are okay

Mandatory Thesis: Do NOT tick this  box

Keywords: As a guideline, approximately three or four as appropriate.

4. Access options - Choose “Restricted Access”

“Staff and students of the Univer- sity Only”

5.  Your primary supervisor’s email

If you had more than one super- visor, please put down only the primary academic supervisor at the time of submission.

6. Upload your final research report

This will be the same file that you uploaded to LMS upon submission for   examination.

7. Faculty/Department

Faculty of Science

8. Licence page – you are asked to agree to the standard Open Access repository licence.

Your thesis will only be available to University of Melbourne staff and students.

Click the ‘I agree’ box

9. Certify your submission via this online form (1 minute!)


Examiners are nominated by your supervisors according to the size of the subject:

  • 12.5 points: supervisor
  • 25 points: supervisor and 1 other academic
  • 50 points: 2 other academics

Examiners will remain anonymous until the final result is released and may elect to withhold their identity altogether. Examiners are given 10 business days to mark the report. The subject coordinator will review the comments and grades and calculate the final grade:

  • 12.5 point subjects: supervisor grade typically becomes final grade
  • 25 point and above subjects: if grades are less than a grade band apart (e.g. H2A and H1) the 2 examiners grades are averaged to give the final grade.

If grades are greater than a grade level apart, the coordinator will:

  1. Consult with the supervisor.
  2. Based on advice from supervisor the subject coordinator will either:
    1. consult with the individual examiners to seek a resolution, or
    2. seek a third examiner (nominated by the subject coordinator who will be given up to TEN DAYS to complete their assessment.
  3. The result of the third assessment will be forwarded to the subject coordinator who will review the result in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Examiners for OEP Subjects. A result will be derived (usually by averaging the two marks that lie closest together of the three).

The subject coordinator will do all they can to ensure that student grades are resolved in a timely fashion so that students can graduate as planned. However, there is no guarantee: extensions or inconsistencies in examiners grades can prolong the process.


Students who wish to appeal against the grade and mark must make a case in writing to the subject coordinator within a month of the official release of results. The subject coordinator may dismiss the appeal if s/he believes an adequate case for re-marking has not been made. The subject coordinator may ask the supervisor to appoint an additional Examiner who will make an independent assessment of the research project and provide a mark and a 300 word report to the subject coordinator. The subject coordinator will then act as the arbitrator of the appeal process, based on the three reports and a letter from the supervisor indicating the supervisor’s position. The original mark will then be confirmed or adjusted.

Any reduction (or change) in the mark as a result of the appeal will be reported to the Academic Board. Students retain the right of appeal beyond the Office for Environmental Programs to the Academic Board, but it should be noted that such appeals will address only procedural matters and not questions of academic judgment.


Students are required to do an oral presentation during their project (minimum 15 minutes), which can be a hurdle requirement or represent 5-20% of their overall assessment. The OEP runs research presentation days approximately one month prior to the submission date for the final report.  Students can also elect to present in an alternative forum (e.g. departmental seminar).  Presentations must be assessed by two academics, typically the supervisor and a colleague.  Marking sheets should be returned to the OEP as soon as possible after the event.

Additional assessments

Additional assessments are typically marked by your supervisor or a nominated colleague (no payment available).  Assessments should be submitted to your supervisor and the OEP notified (e.g. CC’ed into an email) by 5pm on the due date.  Late penalties of 3% per day will apply. Extensions of up to a week can be awarded by the supervisor.  Supervisor feedback and grade awarded for additional assessments should be returned to students as soon as possible and the OEP notified.  The requirements of your assessment tasks (e.g. criteria) should be set and clear from the start of semester, so do speak to your supervisor if you have any questions.

Additional assessment tasks may include:




Detailed research proposal


Supervisor and/or

additional academic

Comprehensive literature review


Supervisor and/or

additional academic

Research diary

Hurdle, 5-20%


Lab notes

Hurdle, 10-40%

Supervisor and/or

additional academic


Hurdle, 10-40%

Supervisor and/or

additional academic


Hurdle, 5-20%

Supervisor and additional academic

Preparation of data,



Supervisor and/or

additional academic

Short lay article e.g. opinion piece, article for ‘The Conversation’,

brochure for practitioners, service providers  and users and/or additional academic


Supervisor and/or

additional academic

Extensions and special consideration

If you experience genuine, unintended and unanticipated disruption which may make it difficult for you to submit your research report on time - such as accident or illness - you may apply for an extension before the due date.  This does NOT include computer failure or having multiple assignments due at the same time.

The subject coordinator can award extensions of up to 10 business days. Applications can be made via the online form (R4).  Some form of evidence (e.g. doctors certificate) will likely be required to support your application.

Longer extensions require an application for Special Consideration, which can be made via the student portal.  Please inform the coordinator at the time of application and if an extension is awarded.

A penalty of 3% per day will be applied to all final research reports and any additional assessment tasks that are submitted late without approved extension or special consideration.

Undertaking your research project

Independent study

An OEP research subject may be the first opportunity a student gets to conceive and execute their own research, which is both exciting and fulfilling! It also means that students are primarily responsible for their own progress and learning.  Students should:

  • Ensure that they have the necessary background and skills for the project
  • Draw on Academic Skills unit to develop study skills where appropriate
  • Create and stick to a realistic research plan.
  • Keep themselves motivated
  • Submit additional assessment tasks on schedule
  • Be proactive in their dealings with their supervisor.


Supervisors should be the first port of call for discipline specific advice on research questions, analysis and investigation; and skills for data collection and analysis. They are expected to meet with students ‘regularly’ and provide timely feedback on progress and written work.  Each supervision relationship is unique – Students and supervisors will negotiate what works best for them.  Some tips include:

  • Organise regular meetings (University recommends minimum one hour per fortnight on average)
  • Be on time, work to an agenda, take notes (during and/or after)
  • Have reasonable expectation on the turnaround of feedback on writing
  • Research can take surprising and unexpected directions – seek your supervisor’s guidance.

Subject coordinator

In addition to supervisors, the subject coordinator provides guidance on administrative and academic matters; for example, subject changes, ethics applications or supervision challenges. Students can make an appointment to see subject coordinator via the Student Advising System.


Research workshops are run throughout the semester and students are required to attend at least six, two hour sessions over the course of their subject.  The workshops are highly valued by students, providing a combination of practical strategies and research skills, and a regular opportunity for peer support and feedback.  The details of the first workshop will be included in approval emails.

Information for supervisors

Download the supervisor guide

Submit a project for student application  

Supervisors should complete this form to circulate information about a potential research project available to students in the Master of Environment. Students in this program can complete a research project of 25 points or 50 points, and some will complete a small 12.5 literature-based research project. It is possible for projects to include an industry component (wth appropriate industry supervisor and agreements). Projects can be completed across one or two semesters.

Frequently Asked Questions