Flying Start: Partnering with students and other stakeholders to support the transition into doctoral study

  • Steve Johnson Murdoch University
  • Melinda Nicola Murdoch University
  • Julia Hobson Murdoch University
Keywords: doctoral education, transition, partnerships


This paper reports on an extended orientation program for PhD students, ‘Flying Start’, offered to all early PhD students, both domestic and international, across all disciplines and schools at an Australian University. The aims of the program are to provide additional assistance to candidates to meet the requirements for confirmation of candidature (CoC), as well as helping them to identify additional skills they may need as researchers and to understand some of the broader challenges of doctoral study as a complex ‘rite of passage’ (Kiley, 2009). The program is offered three times a year, each offering consisting of two sets of two-day modules, which students ideally take towards the beginning and towards the end of their first six months. Both modules contain workshop streams related to each of the program aims. ‘Flying Start’ takes a blended learning approach that combines intensive mode teaching (IMT) and the provision of online resources to provide guided introductory and concluding sessions, following which students are able to access resources designed to support independent study and development. A key feature of the program is collaboration between Academic Language and Learning (ALL) practitioners, library and counselling staff, and PhD students, to co-develop and present the workshops streams. The paper argues that by making use of the available resources and by collaborating with other stakeholders, including the students themselves, as well as drawing on their own expertise, ALL practitioners are able to make a significant contribution towards enhancing the transition experience of early PhD students.
How to Cite
JohnsonS., NicolaM., & HobsonJ. (2018). Flying Start: Partnering with students and other stakeholders to support the transition into doctoral study. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 12(1), A168-A178. Retrieved from