Responsibilities of the supervisor

An outline of supervisors' responsibilities towards PGR students and the wider University.



  • At the outset of the research, the supervisor should explore in detail the student's academic background to identify any areas in which further training (including English language training) is required. In particular, the supervisor should advise the student in the choice of subject-specific knowledge and skills training required. Supervisors should be aware of the difficulties which may face international students who may, in the early stages, require more frequent contact and advice.
  • The supervisor will give guidance on the nature of the research and the standard expected; the selection of a research programme and the topic to be covered; the planning and timing of the successive stages of the research programme; literature and sources; research methods and instrumental techniques; attendance at appropriate courses; data management, avoidance of unfair means and respect for copyright.
  • The supervisor should ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the DDP and its benefits, to ensure students make the most appropriate choice of modules and other training and development opportunities.
  • The supervisor should ensure that the student has a clear understanding in general terms of the main aspects of graduate research: the concept of originality; the different kinds of research; the form and structure of the thesis (including the appropriate forms of referencing); the necessary standards to be achieved; the importance of planning and time management; the procedures for monitoring and reporting progress.
  • The supervisor should ensure that the student is aware of the University's Good Research and Innovation Practices (GRIP) Policy. In addition, the supervisor should ensure that the student has a clear understanding in general terms of 'research ethics', where this is relevant (i.e. if they are undertaking research that involves contact with human participants and/or with human data and/or human tissue) and a clear understanding of research governance, where this is relevant. 
  • The supervisor should work with the student to establish an effective supervisory relationship, thereby supporting the student. This should include an agreement on the frequency of progress meetings and the arrangements for keeping records.
  • The supervisor should set a target date for Confirmation Review and and regular progress milestones at induction, to ensure that all parties acknowledge the length of time available for each stage of the project.


  • The supervisor should ensure that the research project can be completed fully, including preparation and submission of the thesis, within the student's tuition fee-paying period, and should advise the student accordingly.
  • The supervisor must ensure that a clear agreement is made with the student on the frequency and nature of the supervisory contact required at any particular stage of the project. Supervisory sessions should be uninterrupted as far as possible by telephone calls, visitors and other departmental business. The frequency of such sessions should be every four to six weeks as a minimum (pro-rata for part-time); the frequency may depend on the nature of the research (e.g. whether laboratory work is involved) and the specific research project. The length of sessions will also vary, from student to student, across time and between disciplines.
  • The supervisor should comply with the attendance and engagement monitoring requirements of the department/University and notify their department at an early stage if a student's attendance or engagement gives cause for concern.
  • Written records of formal supervisory meetings should be made and retained by both the student and supervisor for at least the duration of the student's registration. 
  • Both the supervisor and student should keep any relevant or significant correspondence, including emails, which relate to the student's degree.  This is especially important for students who are studying via the Remote Location programme or who are spending a significant amount of time off-campus.
  • The student and supervisor must have an agreed procedure for dealing with urgent problems (e.g. by telephone, e-mail and/or the arrangement of additional meetings at short notice).
  • The supervisor should, in discussion with the student, establish and maintain a satisfactory timetable for the research, including the necessary completion dates for each stage, so that the thesis may be submitted on time. This planning should take into account the requirements of the relevant funding body in relation to submission.
  • The supervisor should read promptly all the written work submitted in accordance with the agreed timetable and provide constructive and timely feedback.  The supervisor should advise the student of any obstacles to providing timely feedback, e.g. planned periods of time away from the University, particularly when the student is approaching submission.
  • The supervisor should arrange, as appropriate, (in many departments it is a requirement) for the student to present work to staff or graduate seminars and should take an active part in introducing the student to meetings of learned societies and to other researchers in the field. The supervisor should provide advice, where appropriate, on publication of any of the research.
  • The supervisor should advise the student, in advance, of any planned periods of absence from the University. If the period of absence is significant (more than the length of time between supervisory meetings), the supervisor should ensure that appropriate arrangements for alternative supervision are made and that the student is informed of them.
  • The supervisor should take note of feedback from the student.
  • The supervisor should engage with mandatory Continuing Professional Development appropriate to their level of
    supervisory experience, in line with University requirements.

Academic progress

  • The supervisor should ensure that the student is informed of any inadequacy of standards of work below that generally expected from research students and should suggest remedial action, or training, as appropriate.
  • The supervisor should comply with all departmental, faculty and/or sponsor requirements concerning the monitoring of progress and submission of progress reports. 

The final stages

  • The supervisor should nominate appropriate examiners well in advance of the thesis being submitted, bearing in mind that all nominations require faculty approval before they can be appointed.  Failure to do so will lead to delays in dispatching the student’s thesis and arranging the viva examination.
  • The supervisor should read and comment on drafts of the thesis before submission.
  • The supervisor should ensure that the student understands the procedures for the submission and examination of the thesis and should assist the student in preparing for the oral examination, including offering a mock viva.
  • Should the student be asked to resubmit their thesis, the supervisor will be responsible for continuing to provide support and supervision throughout the resubmission period.
  • The supervisor should discuss and agree with the student if there is a need to embargo the thesis and should sign off on the Access to Thesis form which specifies any embargo requirements.