Quality Manual

Responsibilities of the Supervisor

1. Policy 

Supervisors will provide guidance and assistance to students so that they may carry out their research and present their results to the best advantage. Every supervisor and every research student will be provided with guidance on their respective roles and responsibilities.

2. Role of the supervisor

The general role of supervisors is to guide and assist students during their period of registered study. The roles of supervisor and Examiner are quite distinct and it is not one of the roles of the supervisor to assess the thesis. The specific roles of supervisors may differ depending on the academic discipline, departmental practice and whether the member of staff is acting as main, second, temporary or permanent supervisor.  The main supervisor (or delegate) will also consider requests for annual leave in line with School/Departmental policy.

3. Continuing professional development

Supervisors should ensure that they undertake training as part of their continuing professional development, so that their work as a supervisor is supported. Supervisors should take the initiative in updating their knowledge and skills by participating in a range of appropriate activities and sharing good practice.

4. Documentation check

At the outset the supervisor should check that the student has received information sent by the University concerning registration and that s/he has registered for that session. Before or at initial registration or, at the latest within four weeks of initial registration, supervisors should check that all their research students have received copies of essential documentation relevant to their research studies or have been informed where to locate them on the web. As a minimum, this should include: information about registration and services, the School Handbook, and any relevant safety advice.

5. Research plan

Supervisors will assist their students to plan their research studies, including helping students to define their research topic, to identify schemes and specific tasks, to identify the relevant research literature, data bases and other relevant sources, and to be aware of the standards in the discipline. The supervisor and student should design a programme of research in which (subject to research progress and taking into account special cases) the student aims to have written up all or much of the thesis by the end of his/her period of registered study (ie normally three years for a full-time doctoral student). For full-time doctoral students, aiming for this deadline will facilitate the completion of the entire doctoral examination process within four years. The student may need to register for some taught modules or attend research training courses - the supervisor will advise the student how to do this.

6.    Advising on regulations

Supervisors should have a reasonable knowledge and understanding of the University's regulations governing research study and the University, Faculty and departmental procedures governing research study and supervision. They are required to advise their research students on these regulations and procedures or, if they feel a question is outside their knowledge, to direct their students to other sources such as Student Services (or Central Administration at UNMC and the Graduate School at UNNC).

Supervisors also have a responsibility to ensure that other members of the supervisory team are kept informed of the student's progress, and any issues which may be having an impact on their programme.

7.     Advising on services and facilities

Supervisors should have a reasonable knowledge of and be able to advise their research students on the availability of the University's academic services and facilities (for example library and computing facilities) and how to make use of them.

The supervisor should keep under review with the student the facilities which the student requires in order to carry out his/her research and make these needs known to the Head of School.

8.    Minimum number of supervisions

Supervisors are responsible for providing appropriate and regular supervision for their students during their period of registered study, and for being accessible at mutually convenient times to listen and offer advice. Supervisors must provide their part-time students with a minimum of 6 recorded supervisions a year and their full-time students with a minimum of 10 recorded supervisions a year, although it is expected that in many cases the actual number of meetings between supervisor and student may exceed these minima. These requirements may be modified under the rules for supervising students working off-site (see below).

9.    Format for supervisions

A 'supervision meeting' may be defined as involving contact between supervisor(s) and student which is simultaneous, which may include face-to-face meetings, but can also include Skype, video-conference sessions, or the use of other packages which enable contemporaneous dialogue between the parties involved.  It is important that at the supervision meetings students' progress to date and the future direction of their research is discussed.

There is no specified format for these meetings so, for example, a group meeting of research students or a progress seminar with the supervisor would be acceptable for some but not all of the formal meetings.  In exceptional circumstances where meetings are not feasible, contact should be maintained, for example by telephone or e-mail.


10.  Supervision record

In order that proper audit of supervision provision can be carried out and so that supervisors may undertake continuous monitoring of their students' progress, supervisors are required to ensure the maintenance of a supervision record of at least the minimum 6 or 10 minimum supervisions/meetings a year (as appropriate).

Supervisors should advise their students on the procedures for monitoring their progress which are described in the section of this Quality Manual entitled Annual Review of Research Students

These include:


(i)   Supervision Records - attendance at supervision sessions and completion of supervision records;

(ii)  Annual Reviews - annual review of progress and completion of the Annual Report Forms;

(iii) MPhil and doctoral registration - procedures for upgrading or downgrading students and for confirming MPhil or doctoral registration.

Supervisors may, from time to time, be required to provide reports on their students' progress for other purposes and to other agencies, for example, the Research Councils and other sponsors. Such reports should be provided within the required deadline to ensure, in particular, that the continuation of students' funding by outside agencies is not compromised.

11.  Training needs

The supervisor should discuss with the student what personal, academic and professional skills training the student requires in order to complete his/her research studies and to provide a skills base for a future career. The supervisor should agree with the student a research training programme ( see below ) which is compatible with the student's needs and which is achievable in relation to the student's research commitments within the limits of his/her registered period of study, making it clear where attendance at training courses is compulsory or voluntary. This programme should be reviewed each year. The supervisor should take reasonable steps to ensure that the student's training needs are met - normally such training will be delivered within the University and the supervisor should, therefore, be aware of any research training offered through the Graduate School, the Faculty and the School.

The supervisor should also ensure that the student receives adequate training in research ethics (see below for Code of Research Conduct and Research Ethics) and is given assistance in applying for ethical approval if appropriate.

12.  Safety

The supervisor should be aware of and advise the student of the correct safety procedures pertaining to his/her research and, if in doubt, should seek advice from the Head of School, School Safety Officer, University Safety Office or UNMC/UNNC Safety Committee as appropriate.

13.  Meetings, conferences and publication

Where appropriate the supervisor should encourage and facilitate meetings between the student and academics in the field, through departmental colloquia, seminars, external meetings and conferences and should encourage the student to publish the results of his/her research.

14.  Written work

The supervisor should request written work as appropriate, and read and provide constructive criticism on it within a reasonable time.

15.  Supervision during thesis pending period

During the thesis pending period students are entitled to a minimum of six meetings (either face to face or electronic) with their supervisor and for the supervisor to read and comment on one draft of the student's thesis prior to submission. There is no entitlement to supervision with regard to the resubmission of a thesis.  Guidance on the use of proof readers is available here.

16.  Thesis presentation

Supervisors should advise students on the timing, construction and form of presentation of their thesis and should check that the student receives a copy of the University's guidance on presenting a thesis, from Student Services (or Central Administration at UNMC or Graduate School at UNNC).

17.  Examination of Thesis

The Supervisor is responsible for advising the Internal Examiner whether the electronic version of the thesis can be shared with the External Examiner.

18. Submission of Data

Supervisors should ensure that, in circumstances where it is appropriate to the student’s discipline, the student is aware of the requirement to submit all data collected during the period of study as a research student of this University, to their School prior to arrangement of the viva voce examination.


Information on Registration for Students

Annual Review of Research Students

Research Supervisor Resources (Workspace)

Sample Supervision Record

Role of Proof Readers

Code of Research Conduct and Research Ethics (Research Ethics Workspace - login required)

Students Studying in Outside Organisations


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