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Research degree supervision

The expectation for supervisors of research degree students is that a research degree candidate shall have at least two, and normally not more than three, supervisors.

Research Degree Supervision

One supervisor is named the Director of Studies (the first supervisor) with responsibility to supervise the candidate on a regular and frequent basis in accordance with the Code of Practice for Postgraduate Research. Normally a Director of Studies should not be responsible for supervising more than six students as Director of Studies at any one time, and be internal to the University.

The Director of Studies must have specific expertise in the student's field of study and/or the theoretical approaches to be applied. The second/third supervisor(s) may be internal or external to the University and may be appointed on the basis of specific expertise to the field of study or to provide expertise for the successful completion of the study

A supervision team shall normally have had a combined experience of supervising not fewer than two candidates to successful completion.

Supervisors must meet the University's requirements for appropriate supervision training.

Director of Studies

Responsibilities include:

  • establishing a clear understanding of the mutual expectations between the director and the student, including frequency of contact
  • normally, it is expected that over the course of an academic year an average of at least one supervisory meeting per month will be taking place between the director and the student
  • giving general guidance to the student about the nature of research and the standard expected
  • familiarising themself with the regulations for enrolment and registration, and giving specific guidance to the student regarding School and University procedures
  • ensuring that Applications for Annual Review, Follow-Up Review, or Special Review, are made by the date specified
  • nominating the examination team for approval as part of the student's declaration of Intention to Submit for Examination, but taking no part in the organisation of the viva or exchange of examiners' reports
  • liaising with the School's postgraduate tutor, principal lecturer (R&I) and associate dean (R&I)
  • giving specific guidance to the student about the planning of the research programme, literature and sources, attendance at mandatory and optional research training, about requisite techniques (including arranging for instruction where necessary), about ethical issues, appropriate referencing and citation, and about research misconduct
  • making known to researchers any concerns that a researcher may be dyslexic, so that the researcher may obtain official assessment of the suspected condition and obtain appropriate assistance
  • keeping records of supervisory meetings using the student's E-Vision record
  • being accessible to the student at other appropriate times when they may reasonably need advice
  • giving detailed advice to the student on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of the work
  • requesting written work, as appropriate, and returning such work to the student with constructive criticism and within a reasonable period
  • arranging, as appropriate, for the student to talk about their work to staff or graduate seminars, and to have practice in oral examinations
  • ensuring that the student is fully aware of regulations which affect their conduct and/or work
  • authorising applications for ethics review by providing a signature upon request via the University's ERM online ethics system
  • ensuring that the supervisory team are working together and that each member is aware of their responsibilities
  • agreeing holiday absences for full-time students
  • providing guidance to students required to make amendments or revisions to their submitted and examined theses.

The responsibilities of the second supervisor(s) and any advisers are to be worked out in consultation with the Director of Studies and the student. The detailed arrangements of supervision will differ from discipline to discipline, and even within disciplines, but in general it is considered good practice to keep a written record of expectations and of supervisory session outcomes.

Research Supervisor Training Course

Research supervisors must undertake some basic training for the supervision of research degree students that familiarise staff with contextual and practical issues related to supervision at this level. Training also focuses on Teesside University specific information, so is relevant for staff who have supervised at other institutions taking up a post at Teesside.

The course provides basic training in the knowledge and skills needed by new supervisors of postgraduate research. It aims to meet the demands of the QAA Quality Code and the policy of the Teesside University with an emphasis on understanding of the programme on which research students are registered at Teesside, and practical supervisor skills. The course is be divided into a number sessions based on the role and responsibilities of the supervisor of doctoral candidates; good doctoral project management; and practical supervision skills.

The aim of this course is to provide University staff and postdoctoral researchers with the opportunity to begin to reflect upon and evaluate the policy, practice, and support entailed in the supervision of candidates for higher degrees.

On successful completion of this course, the supervisor will be able to:

  • reflect critically on practice to improve practice and initiate change
  • demonstrate in-depth and critical knowledge of research supervision
  • engage confidently in professional and academic communication within their specialist field .

Contact details

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