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As well as agreeing how regularly you will be meeting your supervisor, you should discuss what you both expect from the student/supervisor relationship. Each relationship is unique, but below is a broad outline of what is normally expected.

The information below is adapted from RIS' Code of Practice - you are strongly encouraged to read the Code of Practice, available here, for further information.

What is expected of you


  • Every student must ensure that their contact details and addresses are kept up-to-date on their student record.
  • All students must maintain appropriate standards of behaviour when dealing with others. Induction
  • The student should ensure that he/she has read, understood and complies with the University's Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes. The student should also confirm to the Research and Resources Administrator that they have read and understood the School’s guidance on the use of unfair means.
  • In the early stages of the research the student should discuss with the supervisor the type of guidance believed to be most helpful and the training which may be required, in order to clarify both the needs and aims of the research. He/she should work with the supervisor to identify and select strategies to meet these needs and aims. This will require undertaking a Training Needs Analysis.
  • The student should work with the supervisor to establish an effective supervisory relationship, tackling the research with a positive commitment, and taking full advantage of the resources and facilities offered by the academic environment.
  • The student should reach an agreement with the supervisor on the record keeping of supervisory meetings. Both the student and supervisor should keep copies of the written or electronic record and send them to the Research and Resources Administrator within 3 working days of each meeting.
  • The student should discuss any financial arrangements in connection with their work with their supervisor and ensure that these are carried out in accordance with the University's Financial Directives.
  • The student should check his/her University email account on a regular basis (at least weekly), so as not to miss important messages.

Note: An Induction Passport is available to all new research students on arrival at the University. It provides helpful advice and information about University events and procedures.


  • The student should agree with the supervisor to have regular meetings, which should take place at least every four to six weeks (pro-rated for PT students, and to attend supervisory sessions in accordance with the agreed schedule.
  • The student should work with the supervisor to establish and maintain a satisfactory timetable for the research. The student should aim, by the end of the first year (or second year for part-time students) to have defined the area of research, become acquainted with the background knowledge required and the relevant literature, and have established a provisional timetable for conducting the research and writing the thesis. All students should also have made satisfactory progress in the Doctoral Development Programme.
  • The student should submit written work to the supervisor regularly and in good time, in accordance with the agreed timetable. This work should be word processed, not handwritten.
  • The student should take note of any guidance and feedback offered by the supervisor.
  • The student should discuss any problems, such as those of access to data, information, facilities, equipment or supervisory relationship with the supervisor at the time, since the early identification and resolution of problems can prevent difficulties later on. If the student feels unable to raise the problem with the supervisor, then the student's Personal Tutor, the Research and Resources Administrator, Postgraduate Research Director or the Head of School should be consulted. If for any reason this is not felt to be possible, the student should contact Research & Innovation Services for advice. Further advice and support is also available from the Advice Centre in the Union of Students and from the University's Counselling Service.
  • The student must attend regularly and must agree in advance with the supervisor any period(s) of absence from the University and seek appropriate permission.

The importance of prompt identification and resolution of any problems cannot be over-emphasised, and it is the responsibility of the student in the first instance to ensure that any problems are raised at the appropriate level at the earliest opportunity.

Academic progress

  • The student should keep written records of his/her work, which may form the basis of progress reports required by the supervisor, department, Faculty or funding body.
  • The student is responsible for filling in the School’s internal 6 monthly progress reports on time.
  • The student should raise with the supervisor any concerns which he/she may have concerning the progress being made and request additional support if necessary.
  • The student should ensure that they comply with the University’s and the School’s research ethics policies. Specifically, the student must apply for and obtain research ethics approval, if required, prior to beginning their data collection.

The final stages

  • The student should familiarise him/herself with the procedures for the submission and examination of their thesis.
  • The student should familiarise him/herself with the guidance on acceptable support in writing in the Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes.
  • Prior to submission the student should provide the supervisor with the opportunity to see a draft of the complete thesis. The decision to submit rests with the student, and whilst the student should take due account of his/her supervisor's opinion, it must be stressed that at this stage it is advisory only.

(Source: Adapt. from the RIS Code of Practice for Research Students [1])

See also The role of the supervisor
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