Research Supervision

Each research student is allocated to a supervisory team, to see them through their studies. This team usually comprises three members of academic staff as follows: 

First (Lead) Supervisor: has expertise in your chosen research area and/or methodology;

Second Supervisor:       brings a different perspective on the research process;

PGR Pastoral Tutor:      helps with any non-academic issues that may arise.

Research students are required to meet with their full supervision team within three weeks of their initial registration with the University. At this meeting you and your supervisors are required to complete a Research Supervision Agreement and a Training Needs Analysis Form, and upload these documents to your MyPGR record, along with a write-up of your supervision meeting. Your supervision agreement and training eneds analysis should then be reviewed on an annual basis and an updated version of each document should be uploaded to MyPGR each year.

The minimum frequency of formal supervision meetings are as follows:

  • For full-time students: ten times a year, at regular intervals
  • For part-time students: six times a year, at regular intervals
  • For continuation students: three times a year, at regular intervals (roughly once a term).

Normally, supervision meetings should be held face-to-face but where this is not possible contact may be made via email, telephone, post or video conferencing (such as Skype) and recorded as a formal supervision meeting. This should be agreed in advance between you and your supervisor(s).

Students are required to maintain detailed records of each supervision meeting, which should include information regarding matters discussed and any agreed actions. Use of the online MyPGR system (see section 4 for further details) to record these meetings is compulsory. Once you have uploaded the record of the meeting, your supervisor(s) will review, comment on, and sign off the record.

Twice a year a formal progress review meeting will take place in which you and both of your supervisors specifically discuss your academic progress and training. These meetings are usually held in December/January and May/June. Following these meetings, a report on matters discussed should be entered on to MyPGR, by either you or your lead supervisor. A review of your training needs should be included in the report. 

Please check with your DPGR regarding the specific progress review arrangements for your discipline.

The College of Humanities expects all supervisors to continue supervising their research students while on research leave. In exceptional circumstances, however, the College will consider re-assigning a first supervisor, in your best interests, if it is felt that the nature of the supervisor’s research leave means they are unable to maintain a suitable level of supervision. The location of the supervisor whilst on leave, the availability of a replacement supervisor and the acceptability to you of proposed contact and supervisory arrangements will all be taken into consideration if a change of supervisor is requested. 

The final decision lies with the College Director of Postgraduate Research and you will be informed in writing if it is decided that a new supervisor is to be assigned.

Supervisor leaving the University

If your supervisor resigns or retires from the University they should inform the discipline DPGR as soon as possible so that a new supervisor can be appointed, and so you can be informed. 

If it is in your best interests that the services of your original supervisor be retained, the discipline DPGR will need to make a case to the College DPGR, seeking to retain the academic as an external supervisor. An external supervisor can only act as second supervisor so a member of University staff must be appointed as first supervisor, responsible for your progress and for ensuring that all relevant regulations and Codes of Practice are followed.

Student requests for change of supervisor

When a student wishes to request that their supervisor be changed they should discuss the matter with their PGR pastoral tutor or the discipline DPGR in the first instance. If their supervisor is the discipline DPGR, then the student should discuss this with their head of discipline. Requests to change supervisor should be made with the appropriate form, available from the PGR Support Team, which will then be passed to the College DPGR for approval.

Supervisor resignation from student supervision

If a supervisor does not wish to continue with the supervision of a particular student, they should make a case, in writing, to the discipline DPGR. 

Following consultation with the supervisor and the student, and having ascertained whether suitable alternative supervision is available, the DPGR should decide on the appropriate course of action. The student’s best interests should be the primary consideration when making this decision.

Continuity of supervision

In all cases of a change of supervisor, it is the responsibility of the initial supervisor to fully brief their successor.

Authorisation of change to supervisory arrangements

Any change to supervisory arrangements requires the approval of the College DPGR, and requests should be made on the appropriate form, available from the PGR Support Team.

Role of PGR Pastoral Tutor

A PGR Pastoral Tutor is a designated member of staff with a responsibility to provide pastoral support for you at your request (which may include providing advice for you in cases when difficulties arise between you and your supervisor(s)). Every student has a PGR Pastoral Tutor appointed alongside their supervisors. As PGR Pastoral Tutors are not necessarily subject specialists, they may be replaced when on study leave.

Initial meeting with PGR Pastoral Tutor

Research students are required to meet their PGR Pastoral Tutor as soon as possible after registration and the PGR Pastoral Tutor should be present at the first supervision meeting, which should be with the whole supervisory team.  

Frequency and mode of contact with PGR Pastoral Tutor

Your PGR Pastoral Tutor will contact you at least once per term (by email, telephone, video conferencing, or in person) to offer you the opportunity, if it is needed, for advice and support on pastoral matters which are adversely affecting your ability to study, and to ensure that a record of this contact be recorded in MyPGR. 

Records of meetings

Your mentor should make a written record of any significant matters in your MyPGR record. It is worth noting that these records are considered confidential and therefore are not available to supervisors on MyPGR.