Find a supervisor

Once you know what you would like to study, it’s important to find a supervisor who is an expert in the area, and who can guide you through the three-year programme. This is the first step in the application process.

Student experience manager advising student

Supervisors provide research students with personal and academic advice and direct a research project following the guidelines set out by the University. They are a research student's first point of contact with the Department if any difficulties arise during the research student programme.Supervisors are allocated by taking into account:

  • The requirements set out by a research student's funding body;
  • The expertise of the member of staff;
  • The research area of the research student.

The general pattern is for each student to have a primary supervisor and a second supervisor. In some cases students are given joint supervision and the main supervisory duties are shared equally. One of the joint supervisors remains nominated as a primary supervisor for administrative purposes. Supervisors (but not the primary supervisor) may sometimes be drawn from other Departments.

Where a supervisor is expected to be absent for an extended period of time (e.g. study leave or summer research projects) the PGR Team will advise students of the alternative supervisory arrangements. Most supervisors continue with supervision during study leave.

It is not possible to stipulate precisely the nature and organisation of the supervisory relationship or the roles of different types of supervisor, but the following tries to clarify areas where there may be some confusion. The definitive statement of departmental or university policy on supervision can be found in the Graduate Research Office´s Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes For Research Students and Supervisors.

The roles of different types of supervisor

Primary supervisors

Primary supervisors are responsible (through the postgraduate team) for all communications regarding the student´s progress to their funding body, to faculty and to the course manager. The primary supervisor is responsible for scheduling meetings, commenting on drafts, and determining the overall pattern of work in negotiation with the student.

Second supervisors

Second supervisors are responsible for providing general support and advice as appropriate (for instance on issues in their areas of specialised competence such as methodology). In the first month of registration the student should meet at least once with their second supervisor. In some instances it may be appropriate for particular supervisory sessions to involve both primary and secondary supervisors. This is a matter of negotiation between the supervisors and the student.

Formally, the second supervisor has two roles:

Review meetings – Once per year there should be a review meeting involving the student and primary and second supervisors. The aim of this meeting is to provide an overview of the student’s progress. At this meeting the student should provide a brief (one side of A4) summary of their progress to date.

Pre-final draft review – The second supervisor will read the entire draft prior to submission and, in negotiation with the primary supervisor and the student, advise on any amendments that are necessary before submission.

Joint supervisors

We would normally expect supervision sessions to involve both supervisors. This is especially the case in the first semester. At the end of the first semester the supervisors and student should have negotiated how they want the supervision to be shared and the responsibilities of each supervisor. For instance, while it may be appropriate that both supervisors attend every supervision session and both comment on every draft, there are times when this may be neither desirable nor appropriate. There needs to be a clear understanding by all parties of their separate and shared responsibilities. It is essential that one supervisor assumes responsibility for all communications regarding the student´s progress to their funding body, to faculty and to the course manager.

I have a good working professional relationship with both supervisors. Realistic objectives are set, and feedback given about written work is in a constructive and timely way. I meet regularly (every 4weeks) and the time given to me supervision is always used for this purpose – no interruption etc.

PhD student feedback

The setting of realistic objectives and positive feedback are important as well as constructive criticism. I have found that my supervisors work well as a team and complement each other. Meeting together in one meeting works well for me – it creates an environment of collaboration between supervisions rather than competition which I like. It is important that the strengths of supervisors are matched to the particular project.

Supervision meetings

For full-time research students, we would expect supervisory meetings to be held once per month. Allowing for holidays, this would equate to a minimum of 10 supervisory sessions per year. For part-time students we would expect a minimum of six meetings per year. In the first semester of registration supervisory meetings will probably need to be more frequent and as a general rule meetings should be once every two weeks.

Supervisors should ensure that supervisory sessions are uninterrupted as far as possible by telephone calls, personal callers and departmental business. Although it is not possible to dictate the precise length of meetings we would expect a period of at least one hour to be set aside for each supervision session.

The department has agreed that completion of Supervision Forms is compulsory. The forms should detail the agreed work schedule for the next meeting. The completion of this form is the responsibility of the student who will copy it to the supervisors. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that this is done. These forms are available on the departmental website.

Evaluation of supervisors

The Department and the University Graduate Research Office carry out an annual evaluation of supervision and the Department seeks to feed back the general results of this into the training of supervisors.

If specific problems arise with the supervision process either supervisor or student or both should first contact the course manager who will advise and, where necessary, refer to the Director of Research and/or Head of Department. Similarly, if you are unhappy with any aspect of your work as a research student, and do not wish to consult your supervisor directly, please contact the course manager or any other member of the team.

Find a PhD supervisor by subject area

Everyday Life and Critical Diversities
Dr Matthias Benzer Quality of life; ideas informing approaches to happiness, suffering, corporeality, dying and death; biopolitical dimensions of instruments for quality of life measurement (health sector).
Dr Jo Britton Kinship and families; Muslim children and informal education; racialisation of crime; criminalisation of minority ethnic groups; mixed race and whiteness; European Muslims.
Dr Harriett Churchill Children, young people and families; social citizenship and family support policies aimed at reducing social exclusion and poverty within families with children; gender relations; gender inequalities and family relations; parenting interventions; youth support and early interventions in social work.
Dr Katherine Davies Kinship and relatedness; friendship; personal relationships and social change; sibling relationships; inheritance and social transmission; life course; youth and childhood; qualitative methodologies.
Dr Alex Dennis Criticisms of contemporary social theory; empirical studies of deviance in historical and cultural perspective; studies of ‘protest’ and dissent.
Dr Jo Dillon Participation; children’s rights; child protection proceedings; research with children using qualitative and creative research methods.
Professor Sally Hines Transgender and gender diversity; gender; sexuality; the body; intimacies; citizenship, recognition and social movements.
Dr Majella Kilkey Migration; family social policy; families and the reconciliation of work and family life; transnational families; disabled men and fathering; gender social policy analysis at the interface of paid work; care and welfare; gender and paid domestic work; Europeanisation and globalisation.
Dr Hannah Lewis Migration policies; 'race' and multicultural strategies; immigration; community; family; transnational relationships; work and leisure among
migrants; forced labour.
Dr Alvaro Martinez-Perez Social stratification; inequalities; labour markets; education; gender; family; informal economy; electoral behaviour; political participation.
Dr Lucy Mayblin Asylum, refugees, human rights, historical and political sociology, postcolonialism, decoloniality, policy making and power.
Professor Kate Morris Family experiences of child welfare services, how social workers theorise family and understand family practices; the impact of inequality; new approaches to supporting families.
Professor Sarah Neal Ethnicity; race and multiculture; community; belonging and place; rurality and the countryside; social policymaking; social inequalities and inclusion.
Dr Michaela Rogers Interpersonal violence and abuse; gender-based violence and abuse; gender, trans and gender diversity; hidden and marginalised communities; multiple social exclusion; qualitative and narrative methods.
Professor Louise Ryan Migration, gender, ethnicity and identity.
Mr Robin Sen Evidence-based interventions with vulnerable children and families; organisational issues and their impact on children and families practice; safeguarding; looked after children.
Dr Lukasz Szulc Cultural and critical media studies; Digital media; Identity; Queer theory and LGBTQ studies; Nations and nationalism; migration and globalisation.
Dr Mark Tomlinson Child poverty and well-being; the transmission of disadvantage from childhood to adulthood; the measurement of well-being; the relationship between social, innovation and industrial policy; poverty and deprivation; labour markets.
Dr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh Children’s rights with an international context; social constructions of childhood in the Global South and parent-child relationships in Africa.
Professor Alan Walker Ageing; intellectual disability and ageing; social empowerment in theory and practice; political economy of social policy; comparative social policy in Europe, China and East Asia; comparative social quality; comparative welfare regimes; social quality regimes.
Dr Julie Walsh Family; everyday sociology; migration, race and ethnicity; community; childhood.
Dr Lorna Warren Ageing, caregiving and gender; older people and the social model of disability; ageing, caring and wellbeing; service user involvement.
Dr Kate Weiner Sociology of health and illness, social studies of science and technology, everyday health practices, digital health, expert and lay knowledge, constructions of biomedicine, genetics, heart disease, self-tracking. 
Dr Andrea Wigfield Evidence-based policy and practice; social exclusion and marginalised communities; contemporary challenges facing women, carers and older people; good relations.
Science, Technology and Medicine in Society (STeMiS)
Dr Ysabel Gerrard Social media and society; feminist media theory; gender and digital cultures; fandom and audience studies; digital research methods.
Dr Tim Highfield Visual, temporal, cultural and political perspectives of social and digital media.
Professor Helen Kennedy New media theory, practice and creativity; social media data mining, big data analytics and data visualisation; the myths of new media; media industries and cultural labour.
Dr Xavier L'hoiry Organised crime; illicit market prices; criminal expertise; surveillance; the Police and policing.
Professor Paul Martin Clinical and commercial development of emerging biotechnologies; implications of contemporary developments in the neurosciences for both the social science and society; sociology of sociotechnical expectations.
Professor Clive Norris The sociology of policing; the police use of informers; the impact and effectiveness of CCTV surveillance; surveillance in the workplace; the sociology of the new surveillance; decision making in the criminal justice system.
Dr Warren Pearce Climate change communication and policy; public minclusion in research governance; the rise of randomised trials within UK public policy.
Professor Kate Reed Theorising gender; gender inequality and health; ethnicity and health; gender and genetics.
Dr Lizzie Richardson The performance and qualification of work as an economic activity; cultural production; office technologies; consumption work; cultural studies.
Professor Sarah Salway Public health; race/ethnicity; gender; poverty; reproductive health; chronic health conditions.
Dr Harrison Smith Surveillance; data analytics industries; the geoweb; mobile digital culture; digital marketing.
Dr Lukasz Szulc Cultural and critical media studies; Digital media; Identity; Queer theory and LGBTQ studies; Nations and nationalism; migration and globalisation.
Dr Stefania Vicari Dynamics of civic engagement on digital platforms of communication; digital activism; digital health.
Dr Kate Weiner Sociology of health and illness, social studies of science and technology, everyday health practices, digital health, expert and lay knowledge, constructions of biomedicine, genetics, heart disease, self-tracking. 
Dr Ros Williams Health and social media; digital health; sociology of health and illness; genetics; race and ancestry; science and technology in society/STS; digital methods; tissue donation and biobanking.
Social Inequalities and Social Ordering
Dr Jo Britton Kinship and families; Muslim children and informal education; racialisation of crime; criminalisation of minority ethnic groups; mixed race and whiteness; European Muslims.
Dr Harriet Churchill Children, young people and families; social citizenship and family support policies aimed at reducing social exclusion and poverty within families with children; gender relations; gender inequalities and family relations; parenting interventions; youth support and early interventions in social work.
Dr Tom Clark Sociology of evil; extreme deviance; crime causation narratives; public understandings of serial murder; cultural criminology; sociology of (lower league) football; sociology of football singing; the impact of research on social work practice.
Dr Katherine Davies Kinship and relatedness; friendship; personal relationships and social change; sibling relationships; inheritance and social transmission;
life course; youth and childhood; qualitative methodologies.
Dr Alex Dennis Criticisms of contemporary social theory; empirical studies of deviance in historical and cultural perspective; studies of ‘protest’ and dissent.
Dr Jo Dillon Participation; children’s rights; child protection proceedings; research with children using qualitative and creative research methods.
Dr Liam Foster Ageing, pensions and income in later life; gender; work and care; remembrance and sport; pensions reform and the impact of particular governments.
Professor Sally Hines Transgender and gender diversity; gender; sexuality; the body; intimacies; citizenship, recognition and social movements.
Professor Nathan Hughes Youth and young adult criminal justice policy; childhood neurodevelopmental impairment; developmental science and its applications to the social sciences; family-focused policy, practice and research methods.
Dr Majella Kilkey Migration; family social policy; families and the reconciliation of work and family life; transnational families; disabled men and fathering; gender social policy analysis at the interface of paid work; care and welfare; gender and paid domestic work; Europeanisation and globalisation.
Dr Hannah Lewis Migration policies; 'race' and multicultural strategies; immigration; community; family; transnational relationships; work and leisure among migrants; forced labour.
Dr Xavier L'Hoiry Organised crime; illicit market prices; criminal expertise; surveillance; the Police and policing.
Dr Alvaro Martinez-Perez Social stratification; inequalities; labour markets; education; gender; family; informal economy; electoral behaviour; political participation.
Dr Lucy Mayblin Asylum, refugees, human rights, historical and political sociology, postcolonialism, decoloniality, policy making and power.
Professor Kate Morris Family experiences of child welfare services, how social workers theorise family and understand family practices; the impact of inequality; new approaches to supporting families.
Professor Sarah Neal Ethnicity; race and multiculture; community; belonging and place; rurality and the countryside; social policymaking; social inequalities and inclusion.
Professor Clive Norris The sociology of policing; the police use of informers; the impact and effectiveness of CCTV surveillance; surveillance in the workplace; the sociology of the new surveillance; decision making in the criminal justice system.
Professor Kate Reed Theorising gender; gender inequality and health; ethnicity and health; gender and genetics.
Dr Michaela Rogers Interpersonal violence and abuse; gender-based violence and abuse; gender, trans and gender diversity; hidden and marginalised communities; multiple social exclusion; qualitative and narrative methods.
Professor Louise Ryan Migration, gender, ethnicity and identity.
Professor Sarah Salway Public health; race/ethnicity; gender; poverty; reproductive health; chronic health conditions.
Mr Robin Sen Evidence-based interventions with vulnerable children and families; organisational issues and their impact on children and families practice; safeguarding; looked after children.
Dr Lukasz Szulc Cultural and critical media studies; Digital media; Identity; Queer theory and LGBTQ studies; Nations and nationalism; migration and globalisation.
Dr Mark Tomlinson Child poverty and well-being; the transmission of disadvantage from childhood to adulthood; the measurement of well-being; the relationship between social, innovation and industrial policy; poverty and deprivation; labour markets.
Dr Afua Twum-Danso Imoh Children’s rights with an international context; social constructions of childhood in the Global South and parent-child relationships in Africa.
Professor Alan Walker Ageing; intellectual disability and ageing; social empowerment in theory and practice; political economy of social policy; comparative social policy in Europe, China and East Asia; comparative social quality; comparative welfare regimes; social quality regimes.
Dr Julie Walsh Family; everyday sociology; migration, race and ethnicity; community; childhood.
Dr Lorna Warren Ageing, caregiving and gender; older people and the social model of disability; ageing, caring and wellbeing; service user involvement.
Professor Sue White Professional judgement and decision-making; how science, formal knowledge, rhetoric, moral judgement, emotion and subjectivity interact in professional practice.
Dr Andrea Wigfield Evidence-based policy and practice; social exclusion and marginalised communities; contemporary challenges facing women, carers and older people; good relations.
Dr Ros Williams Health and social media; digital health; sociology of health and illness; genetics; race and ancestry; science and technology in society/STS; digital methods; tissue donation and biobanking.
Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse
Dr Jo Britton Kinship and families; Muslim children and informal education; racialisation of crime; criminalisation of minority ethnic groups; mixed race and whiteness; European Muslims.
Dr Harriet Churchill Children, young people and families; social citizenship and family support policies aimed at reducing social exclusion and poverty within families with children; gender relations; gender inequalities and family relations; parenting interventions; youth support and early interventions in social work.
Dr Katherine Davies Kinship and relatedness; friendship; personal relationships and social change; sibling relationships; inheritance and social transmission;
life course; youth and childhood; qualitative methodologies.
Dr Liam Foster Ageing, pensions and income in later life; gender; work and care; remembrance and sport; pensions reform and the impact of particular governments.
Professor Nathan Hughes Youth and young adult criminal justice policy; childhood neurodevelopmental impairment; developmental science and its applications to the social sciences; family-focused policy, practice and research methods.
Dr Majella Kilkey Migration; family social policy; families and the reconciliation of work and family life; transnational families; disabled men and fathering; gender social policy analysis at the interface of paid work; care and welfare; gender and paid domestic work; Europeanisation and globalisation.
Professor Kate Morris Family experiences of child welfare services, how social workers theorise family and understand family practices; the impact of inequality; new approaches to supporting families.
Professor Kate Reed Theorising gender; gender inequality and health; ethnicity and health; gender and genetics.
Professor Sarah Salway Public health; race/ethnicity; gender; poverty; reproductive health; chronic health conditions.
Mr Robin Sen Evidence-based interventions with vulnerable children and families; organisational issues and their impact on children and families practice; safeguarding; looked after children.
Dr Mark Tomlinson Child poverty and well-being; the transmission of disadvantage from childhood to adulthood; the measurement of well-being; the relationship between social, innovation and industrial policy; poverty and deprivation; labour markets.
Dr Afua Twum Danso-Imoh Children’s rights with an international context; social constructions of childhood in the Global South and parent-child relationships in Africa.
Dr Stefania Vicari Dynamics of civic engagement on digital platforms of communication; digital activism; digital health.
Professor Alan Walker Ageing; intellectual disability and ageing; social empowerment in theory and practice; political economy of social policy; comparative social policy in Europe, China and East Asia; comparative social quality; comparative welfare regimes; social quality regimes.
Dr Julie Walsh Family; everyday sociology; migration, race and ethnicity; community; childhood.
Dr Lorna Warren Ageing, caregiving and gender; older people and the social model of disability; ageing, caring and wellbeing; service user involvement.
Dr Kate Weiner Sociology of health and illness, social studies of science and technology, everyday health practices, digital health, expert and lay knowledge, constructions of biomedicine, genetics, heart disease, self-tracking. 
Dr Ros Williams Health and social media; digital health; sociology of health and illness; genetics; race and ancestry; science and technology in society/STS; digital methods; tissue donation and biobanking.

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