Your supervisory team


Each MPhil/PhD student is allocated a supervisory team, which will include as a minimum two members: a principal (first) supervisor and either a second supervisor or an advisor.  if you are a Masters by Research student, you will be allocated a a principal (first) supervisor but may also have a a second supervisor or an advisor 

The success of your research depends to a large extent on the help and guidance provided by the supervisor. The University encourages students and supervisors to maintain close contact, particularly in the early stages of the work, in order to avoid difficulties. 

See below more details about the role and responsibilities of your principal supervisor and your second supervisor or advisor. These should be read in conjunction with the list of your own responsibilities as a research student.  


Principal supervisor

  • The principal supervisor bears the major responsibility for providing advice and support to you on the conduct of your work. However, the independent research will normally be carried out by you alone. 
  • The supervisor is an important resource and is there to offer guidance, ask relevant questions and suggest lines of enquiry but not to provide answers to major research questions.
  • The principal supervisor should be approachable and available for consultation at reasonable times. 
  • A schedule of supervisory meetings and work should be agreed with the principal supervisor and, where necessary, other members of the supervisory team in advance (e.g. at the start of the academic year) 

Read the Code of Practice for Research Degree Students and Supervisors to find out more.

Second supervisor / advisor

  • Where the specialised nature of the student’s research and/or staff availability make the appointment of a second supervisor impractical, an advisor will be appointed in place of a second supervisor. 
  • An advisor may also be appointed as an additional member of the supervisory team where departmental practice and/or gender considerations require, but will have a pastoral role only.

Read the Code of Practice for Research Degree Students and Supervisors to find out more.

Dealing with difficulties in your supervisory relationship

Occasionally, postgraduate researchers can experience difficulties within their supervisory relationship.  Where this does arise, the University would expect you to take reasonable steps to try to resolve such problems or difficulties with your supervisor(s) before referring the matter on.   

  • Where a resolution is not possible or practicable, you should refer this in the first instance to your Department PGR Lead
  • If a resolution is still not found, the matter may then be referred on to your School Director of PGR Education. If your supervisor is also the Department PGR Lead or School Director of PGR Education, please contact the Doctoral School for advice. 
  • In the event that the supervisory problems or difficulties are of such a nature that they could not reasonably be resolved through discussion with the supervisor(s), Department PGR Lead and School Director of PGR Education, the case may be referred to the Head of Department or School, or the Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Postgraduate Research).


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  • Open 10am-4pm on Tuesdays

Quick links

Your responsibilities as a research student

Code of Practice for Research Degree Students and Supervisors

A to Z of the Doctoral School microsite