ECS Masters Thesis Induction Page

For any additional information not listed on this or other VUW pages, please consult with the Graduate and Equity Coordinator, Diana Siwiak. Talk to Diana Siwiak or Tony McLoughlin if you have any questions or need any assistance at any time.



NB! For part-time students, deadlines are proportionately increased 2 times (i.e., proposal due in 2 months, progress reports on 6th and 16th month, and thesis submitted within 2 years).

Thesis examination

  • Both students and supervisors should read the ECS Masters Examination Process
  • Student notifies supervisor of intention to submit
  • Student must be enrolled at least one month prior to submission
  • IF a thesis is to be under embargo, this paperwork must be completed before submitting for examination
  • If you have any holds or fees to pay, you must clear these before you can be put under examination
  • Examination takes up to one month
  • Three outcomes: Grade (and class of Honours or Distinction) OR Resubmission OR Fail
    • A -- A+ results in a distinction.
    • B+ -- A- results in a merit.

Time Expectations

  • regular supervisor meetings, followed up by a meeting summary via digital means (email, shared document)
    • meeting summaries are required by Diana Siwiak
    • if email summaries are not sufficient, more rigorous meeting logs will be instantiated
  • 40-45 minimum hours of research per week (Full-Time Enrolment)
    • this does not include extraneous workshops, tutoring, or non-thesis related work
    • this does include supervisor meetings, lab group meetings, and relevant workshops
  • majority of research time must be spent on campus or at research institute/facility
  • the School and University offer various research training workshops
    • inform your supervisors if you sign up for workshops
    • workshops cost the University money, you must honour your commitments when signing up for a workshop
  • allotted leave is up to four weeks per 12 months (not per calendar year)
    • this takes time away from your research
    • it is there for vacation, personal circumstances, conference time, and sick leave
    • using this time is strongly encouraged
    • inform your academic supervisor when taking this leave

Changes to Enrolment

  • Suspension
    • Suspensions are given in whole months.
    • Over the entire Masters you can suspend for up to 12 months.
    • For international students, visa requirements means that there is a maximum of three months suspension available in any 12 month period (not calendar year)
    • Suspension stops the clock for submission time
    • Suspensions affect scholarships and visas
    • Applications for suspension should be made well in advance, as only medical certificates can be retroactively applied to suspensions
  • Extensions
    • You are expected to have submitted your Masters thesis before the end of 12 months (1 year) full time enrolment
    • In exceptional circumstances, you can apply for an extension for up to three months
    • The application must include your draft thesis and a clear, realistic plan for getting to the finished thesis
    • Normal practice is for an extension to be granted only if there are academic grounds for the delay in submission (other factors should have been handled by suspension)
  • Part-Time and Full-Time Enrolment
    • international students cannot often obtain part-time enrolment owing to visa restrictions
    • part-time enrolment is 0.5 FTE, that is 20 hours per week on your thesis research and writing

NB! Modifications to enrolment, such as change between part-time and full-time, suspension, and extensions are handled by Patricia Stein in the Faculty Office

Work Expectations

  • As a thesis student, remember that this is your research project.
    • Supervisors are there to guide and assist.
    • Keep an ongoing conversation with your supervisors regarding your progress.
    • Take the initiative. Be up front. Ask for help.
    • Good engagement between supervisors and student ensures higher chance of success
  • Manage your time and your supervisor’s time wisely. Plan ahead.
    • Your rush is not their rush.
    • Supervisors are busy. Ask them in advance to schedule time to review your drafts.
    • Your thesis drafts should be submitted to supervisors with enough time such that proper advice and feedback can be given and incorporated.
  • Discuss and create a workflow with your supervisors
    • What environments will you be working in? (LaTeX vs. Word)
    • How many drafts do they expect to see? (e.g., three drafts per chapter is common)
    • If more than one supervisor, what's the order of draft distribution?


  • No VUW thesis is required to have associated publications, however they are greatly encouraged
  • Publications provide the opportunity to publish ground-breaking work and get external feedback on your work
  • Publications help students gain post-masters employment in research or academia
  • You must include a plan for publications within your proposal if you plan to publish your work

  • Discuss and determine authorship and ownership of publications with supervisors
  • Discuss publication venue (conference, journal) with supervisors
  • Contact our Subject Librarian Nicola Atkinson for assistance in acquiring literature to review and choosing strategic venues at which to publish


  • If it is not yours, provide proper attribution
  • If it is yours and is published, provide proper attribution
  • This includes words, pictures, graphs, code, and licenses.
  • Use VUW's plagiarism software, Turnitin. Contact Diana Siwiak for access.
  • Creating ongoing logs of supervisory meetings ensures proof of research, which could provide justification in plagiarism cases

Intellectual Property

Some sort of agreement must be signed prior to commencing research

  • You must choose one of the three options below:
    • Sign and return the form to Tony McLoughlin;
    • Inform us that you are not willing to sign the default agreement and wish to re-negotiate, e.g. to clearly indicate that background IP is being brought in, or whatever other reasons;
    • Inform us that you need more time because your research involves external parties who have vested interest in the research; you (the student) must then provide another reasonable deadline, so that Tony McLoughlin can follow-up.


  • Most scholarships last a limited amount of time, however many students take longer to complete
    • Plan ahead. Save money.
  • A hardship fund is available from the University throughout your enrolment for extraordinary circumstances
  • The Faculty Strategic Research Grant (FSRG) might be able to provide limited funding for travel to conferences once you’ve moved to full registration.
    • Applications are taken twice a year (usually March and September). You need to apply well in advance of the conference for this, sometimes even before the paper has been submitted.
  • Contact your supervisor for additional information about funding questions

Data and Thesis Management

  • Maintain version control through an appropriate VUW or ECS entity, such as ECS GitLab
  • Be wary of external cloud services (such as iCloud, Dropbox, GitHub, and Google Drive), as they have license conditions that impose restrictions, ownership, and limitations, which may change
  • Discuss this with your supervisors and decide on a viable plan


Minimum Resources Agreement (MRA)

  • There is an agreement between the Students Association and the University about the minimum resources you should have access to. Please consult the MRA for details
  • Discuss with your supervisors if you need particular gear or resources outside of the MRA

Student Conduct

  • As an ECS thesis student, we expect you to conduct yourself as an adult and maintain responsibility over your studies and your workload
  • Motivation is crucial in a self-directed project, such as a VUW thesis. You need to find ways to get yourself back on track when you lose focus.
  • Many of our spaces are shared, so they need to be treated with care and consideration. Your parents aren't here to clean up after you!

Supervisors’ Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of supervisors is to assist candidates to complete the research within an agreed time frame. This includes taking reasonable steps, consistent with available resources, to:
  • provide a framework within which the academic work can take place;
  • provide academic guidance;
  • provide appropriate and timely feedback;
  • assess progress;
  • facilitate administrative compliance;
  • act as a guide to University facilities;
  • guide the candidate to identify other relevant expertise to progress the research;
  • encourage the candidate to participate in University intellectual life and develop professional contacts outside the University; and
  • identify potential examiners and recommend their appointment to the Head of School well in advance of the thesis being submitted for examination.

You should be meeting regularly with your supervisor.

Candidates’ Responsibilities

Completing a Masters requires progressive development of skills, competence and confidence. Candidates must take responsibility for independently pursuing their studies with the guidance of their supervisor in a manner which develops their own intellectual independence. This includes taking reasonable steps, consistent with available resources, to:
  • plan and actively pursue the research;
  • identify and deal with any research-related problems;
  • comply with administrative requirements;
  • meet ethical guidelines;
  • give at least one month’s notice to their supervisor of their intention to submit;
  • take responsibility for the final form of the thesis; and
  • participate in University intellectual life.

Additional Resources