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Finding your supervisor

The relationship with your supervisor is of crucial importance to your research and progress as a PhD candidate. The department will normally allocate two supervisors, at least one of whom will be actively engaged in, or has had experience of, research in the field of your thesis. Your supervisors will be your guides and mentors as you design, research and finally write up your PhD project.

Before you submit your application, you must ensure we have a member of staff who shares your research interests. You should consult our staff research directory to find out who is doing what in the department and identify potential supervisors. You should make contact initially via email with potential supervisors prior to submitting an application. While individual academics cannot make a decision to accept a given application, most successful applicants have contacted potential supervisors to secure in-principle interest in supervising their particular research project. If you have an expression of interest, we strongly encourage you to speak with your potential supervisor as soon as possible, as part of the process. You can do this by phone, Skype, or in person.

Please note that if the department does not have a member of staff in your specialist area, or if all academics in your area are currently at full supervisory capacity, we will not be able to make an offer, no matter how good the quality of your application is.

Also note that an expression of interest from a supervisor, or even their involvement in refining your proposal, is not a guarantee that your application will be successful—particularly if your submitted proposal is not up-to-scratch. One of the primary reasons for unsuccessful applications is an inadequately specified research proposal, which does not go far enough in convincing potential supervisors that the applicant has it within them to write a successful PhD. In order to get your prospective supervisor(s) to say ‘yes’, you really do have to submit an excellent proposal!