Personal and pastoral support for research students

Recommended good practice

The role of personal tutor is pivotal to supporting and guiding doctoral research students towards becoming independent researchers and reaching their full potential. The following arrangements should be in place in all departments for the provision of personal and pastoral support:

  • All doctoral research students should have a named tutor identified to provide personal and pastoral support, who is not connected with the student's research project
  • Arrangements within the department for personal and pastoral tutoring and what the doctoral research student can expect from this, should be outlined at inductions and be explained in the department's PGR handbook
  • These arrangements should include details of other services available for students to access - such as the counselling service, TUoS' Nightline, the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, Central Support and Welfare Services, International Student Support, the University Health Service
  • All doctoral research students should be invited to an introduction meeting with their personal tutor within four weeks of their arrival to study their doctoral degree (pro rata for part-time students, and agreed Skype arrangements for distance learners). There should then be one follow-up meeting per semester, with a record maintained of these meeting
  • The confidentiality of provision should be assured, except in disciplinary or other serious cases, when this should be made clear to the individual
  • Any issues should be identified and resolved at an early stage - the PGR Director or equivalent could take responsibility for ensuring this happens
  • The department should provide the option, wherever possible, for students to speak to a female member of staff regarding issues they do not feel comfortable discussing with their male personal tutor
  • Departments should consider providing a 'buddy' scheme for their doctoral research students, and a postgraduate society, in supporting personal and pastoral provision
  • Departments should make use of training to be provided to help personal tutors recognise and effectively deal with mental health issues of their students

More information on personal and pastoral tutorial support for departments and PGR tutors