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Responsibilities of Supervisors

Before agreeing to supervise a student, supervisors should satisfy themselves that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise to supervise the project which the student wishes to undertake, that the project is appropriate for the degree concerned and can reasonably be undertaken with the resources available and in the required timescale, and that they are confident, as far as is possible, that the student has the capacity to undertake the project successfully.

Supervisors are expected:

(a) To give guidance about the nature of research and the standard expected, about the planning of the research programme, about literature and sources and the use of requisite techniques (including instruction where necessary) and to encourage students to keep aware of all relevant developments within the subject.

(b) To discuss training requirements with students and recommend attendance on the Research Student Skills Programme or such other taught courses or specialist training as appropriate, beyond compulsory training provided by the department.

(c) To draw the attention of students to all relevant University and departmental regulations and monitoring arrangements as well as any regulations attached to a scholarship or studentship held by the student. In particular, where a student is funded by a research council, supervisors should familiarise themselves with the relevant research council’s requirements.

(d) To give detailed advice on the necessary completion dates of successive stages of the work, agreeing objectives for each stage so that the thesis may be submitted within the scheduled time. It is important that students are made aware of the expectation that they should complete their thesis within the period of registration at the beginning of their research programme. Supervisors should discuss with students a likely submission date at the beginning of the last year of fee-paying registration.

(e) To monitor the progress of students against the agreed plan for completion of their research programme and inform students if either their progress or the standard of their work is unsatisfactory. Supervisors are strongly recommended to maintain records of the frequency, length and outcome of their supervisory meetings with students and copies of work submitted by the student and of the feedback given.

(f) To liaise with the Director of Graduate Studies as appropriate with regard to the progress of individual students and to report on each student's progress in line with departmental procedures for monitoring progress.

(g) To provide advice on writing up the work, requesting written work as appropriate and returning such work with constructive criticism and within reasonable time. The early submission of a piece of written work will help to identify any areas in which further training or development is needed, and supervisors may wish to require the submission of a piece of written work within the first six months of registration. To read through a complete draft of the thesis and provide detailed comments.

(h) To maintain contact with students through regular supervisory meetings and other types of structured communication as appropriate, to ensure that meetings are largely uninterrupted and of adequate length. The frequency of such contact should be agreed between the student and supervisor at the start of the project and should be reviewed throughout the period of study. It is expected that these arrangements will vary depending on the stage which the student has reached in their project and on the nature of the academic discipline. As a guide to frequency of interaction, one such contact per month throughout the year is an expected acceptable minimum for full-time students. Supervisors may wish to agree a schedule of supervision meetings with each student at the start of each academic year. Supervisors should keep a note of any missed meetings.

Contact with part-time students will typically be less frequent than that with full-time students of the same discipline in proportion to the length of their period of study. Supervisors are expected to ensure that part-time students are aware of the frequency of supervisory contact and feedback that they can expect during their period of study.

(i) To be accessible to students at other times by arrangement should advice on academic or personal problems be required. To refer students to the Senior Tutor’s Office, Advice and Welfare Services or other University support services as appropriate.

(j) To inform students should they plan to be out of contact for more than two weeks to allow students to plan accordingly.

(k) To make appropriate contact arrangements/alternative supervision arrangements should either a supervisor or student be away from the University for more than a month, for example during study visits/leave, industrial placements or University vacations. Where the student is expected to be away from the University for the majority of their period of study the supervisors should ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place for the supervision of these students and that these arrangements are agreed with and communicated clearly to the student. The normal expectation is that such students can expect the same frequency of supervision as other comparable students within the department, recognising that the mode of supervision and provision of feedback may differ significantly.

(l) To assist the student in development of personal transferable skills, as appropriate, through for example:

(i) Arranging for students to discuss their work at staff or graduate seminars.
(ii) Encouraging and assisting students to publish the results of their research and to present it at scholarly conferences.
(iii) Encouraging students to participate in the Research Student Skills Programme.
(iv) Recommending to students, where appropriate, that they should undertake additional training in written or oral English language skills.

(m) To respect the contribution and intellectual property rights of the student in external output of any form (e.g. publications, patents etc.) emanating from the research and ensuring that developments in regards to IP are in line with the University’s IP Policy.

(n) To advise the Deputy Registrar’s Office of cases where particular consideration may need to be given to the protection of intellectual property developed within a project. RIS is responsible for ensuring that students retain appropriate rights over the results of their research and that undue restrictions are not placed on access to the student's thesis by a research sponsor.

(o) To encourage the student to approach other workers in the field and appropriate academic bodies and societies.

(p) To advise students on matters of confidentiality or ethical considerations relating to particular techniques, sources or results.

(q) To ensure that the correct safety procedures are followed when using equipment or laboratory materials (full details on safety procedures are available from Departmental Safety Officers and from the University Safety Officer).

(r) To ensure that, should a major change in research direction occur, appropriate adjustments are made to the supervisory arrangements and, if necessary, to advise the Department's Director of Graduate Studies should the student's research lead in a direction which the supervisor is not equipped to supervise.

(s) To agree with the other supervisor(s) and with the student the respective responsibilities and roles of the different supervisors and to maintain good communication with the other supervisor(s) concerning the student's progress throughout the period of study.

(t) To recommend examiners for the student's thesis to the department in good time, normally at least one month before submission of the thesis, for proposal to the University, after discussion with the student to check that the proposed examiners have not had significant input into the project or a significant personal or financial relationship with the student.

(u) In cases where a thesis is referred for resubmission, if the candidate wishes, to advise on the necessary revisions in consultation with the internal examiner or examination advisor if necessary.