Support from your supervisor

PhD students with mentor

Your supervisor is here to get the best out of you. They will offer advice and work with you to identify the training and development you need to achieve your goals. You'll benefit from their research expertise and you'll gain new perspectives from your innovative research.

Most important of all, your supervisor is a colleague and mentor. They’ll motivate you to become a confident researcher, someone who’s ready to try things that haven’t been done before. You’ll also be challenged to contribute beyond your research by undertaking placements, outreach or public engagement work, gaining teaching experience or developing business ideas.

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Research of the highest standards

Our students describe how outstanding supervision and doctoral training ensure their research is of the highest quality.


Clear thinking about social justice

Professor Jenny Saul and Katharine Jenkins, the Department of Philosophy

Professor Jenny Saul: "I first met Katharine when I gave a talk at Cambridge, where she was an undergraduate. I met her again when I gave another talk there, where she was doing a masters degree. Each time, we had wonderful conversations about the construction of categories like gender and race. I was very pleased when she decided to join me at Sheffield to work on these issues.

"Katherine is a clear and careful, yet inventive and creative thinker. This is a powerful combination."

Professor Jenny Saul and Katharine Jenkins

Katharine Jenkins: "My PhD project is about how social categories are shaped, and what this means for justice. For example, I look at how people are positioned within society as members of particular genders or particular racialised groups, and I investigate whether being positioned in this way is compatible with the respect people are owed as human beings.

"Working with Jenny is just fantastic. Our supervisions are always productive and stimulating. One of the things I find most helpful is the way that she encourages me to keep sight of the ideas I am most eager to put forward, and to develop them with precision."

Investigating male fertility

Dr Allan Pacey: "My job is to guide Jack and try and get the best from him. We meet formally every month and review progress, but I probably see Jack less formally two or three times a week. This could range from a two-minute chat in the corridor to spending two or three hours carefully going through something he has written and giving feedback.

"I realise I am probably quite a tough supervisor in some ways and I expect things to be done carefully and be well presented. My supervisor instilled these values in me and now I think it's my job to pass this ethos on."

Medical School supervisor and student interview

Jack Pearson: "Investigating male infertility is like diving into the unknown. There are so many aspects, so many pathways my research could lead me down. I am using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to investigate sperm biochemistry and the physics is something new to learn about. I'm motivated by the challenge.

"Allan is an ideal supervisor. He is fair, supportive and encourages the development of my ideas. He creates an efficient working environment yet pays specific attention to detail and ensures all work is of the highest quality. In return, I feel compelled to match his efforts."