Master of Research

Master of Research

Traditionally in Australian universities students take an honours year (a fourth year of a bachelor degree with a mix of coursework and small thesis project) as the pathway to a PhD. Macquarie has moved away from this, with the new entry requirement for a PhD being a Master of Research (MRes). This is a two-year degree, with the first year being advanced coursework, and the second year dedicated to a project. It's designed to be aligned with Europe's Bologna Process model of graduate study and the beginning of a US graduate program.

There's a stipend (scholarship) available for full-time domestic students. And it's possible to get credit for previous study (e.g. a coursework masters, or an honours degree) for entry straight into the second year -- effectively, it's an extra year to work on the PhD project.

For more information about the MRes in general:

You can also find information about the structure of the MRes:

Year one coursework

This first year of the MRes consists of 8 units (32 credit points) of coursework. At the end of the year, after completing the coursework, you will decide on the topic of your Year 2 project. Full official details of the program are in the Handbook.


Unit Selection

1. All Computing students should take the following three units, which are concerned with research skills in computing and a general overview of computing research.

2. Students should choose two units from the following, which are connected to the research groupings in the Department.

You should choose the remaining three units from the following:

Once the program has been put together, it has to be approved by the MRes advisor, A/Prof Mark Dras.

Project Decision

By the second Wednesday of December, you will have decided on a topic for the Year 2 project. At this point you should send to the MRes advisor, Mark Dras, a document with the following information:

  • the name of your supervisor or supervisory panel;
  • the title of your project; and
  • a summary of the main project goals and ideas (around 3 paragraphs).

Year two project

This second year of the MRes consists of a 32 credit point thesis project, with some structured activities along the way that will help with completing the project. Your project will be a significant individual piece of research, carried out under the supervision of one or more members of the academic staff. You will have decided on the topic and title for your project in December of Year 1, based on discussions with your academic supervisor. Year 2 will be the development of this initial idea into a full thesis. Year 2 starts in early January, when the university re-opens.

Full official details of the program are in the Handbook.

Activity 1: Research Frontiers in Computing 2

It will be structured around a series of seminars and reading sessions organised by the Department research groups, reading sessions with other students, and specific sessions with your supervisor.

Assessment will be in the form of a 3,000-4,000 word report based on the seminars, similar to COMP700, due in late August. The report mark will constitute 10% of your assessment for the MRes Year 2. Assessment will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Introduction of the background and evolution of the research area.
  2. Analysis of the state of the art.
  3. Discussion of the open problems and subfields.
  4. Clear presentation and good writing skills.

Activity 2: Literature Review

This will be a structured approach to writing the literature review that will make up part of your thesis.

  • There will be a number of Faculty and Department sessions covering how to write a literature review.
  • These will interleave with student-supervisor sessions covering the content of the literature review.
  • You will submit an initial literature review in mid-April.
  • You will submit a final literature review (maximum 3000 words) by the end of May.

The literature review will be assessed on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis, on the following criteria:

  • Comprehensiveness of Abstract;
  • Clarity of Problem Statement;
  • Review of Related Work;
  • Quality of Writing; and
  • Appropriate Use of Referencing Conventions.

Activity 3: Research Methods

This will consist of a number of sessions covering research methods in general, along with student-supervisor sessions covering research methods specific to the subfield of the thesis topic. You will make a presentation on the research methods used in one specific subfield of Computing.

The presentation will be assessed on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Activity 4: Research Planning

This will consist of a number of sessions on project management, and specifically on how to plan a research project. As part of it, you will be required to produce a research plan after discussion with your supervisor supervisor for a project of up to 4 years duration (i.e. for a PhD scope) with the main focus on the first year. You will then give a presentation to the Department on this plan at the end of June, drawing also on the literature review (Activity 2) for background. The final PhD research plan will be due by mid November.

The presentation will be assessed on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Activity 5: Thesis

You will produce a thesis equivalent to 15,000-20,000 words, incorporating the literature review (Activity 2) on the basis of your research plan (Activity 4), due early- to mid-October.

As an indication of the sort of projects that you could do, look at the following links:

The thesis will be examined by two academics external to the university, and will constitute 90% of your assessment.


For full-time students finishing the project by the second semester of 2014, the general schedule of the due dates of the main activities is summarised below.

  • May: Research Methods presentation, literature review.
  • June: MRes project progress report plus presentations.
  • August: Research Frontiers report.
  • October: Submit thesis.
  • November: Final PhD plan.
Back to the top of this page