The Primary/First Supervisor has a variety of roles. In broad terms they are the research student’s academic advisor, tutor, and champion. The research student can normally expect their Primary/First Supervisor to:
- Provide regular supervision. The frequency of supervision will vary during the duration of the research. The research student can expect more intensive supervision in the first year and final year when their supervisor will be reading and commenting on drafts of the thesis. At a minimum, there must be at least four formal supervision meetings each year; however, due to the nature of the Doctor of Philosophy (External) Programme, it is recommended that there are significantly more supervisory meetings (ideally on a monthly basis) to provide support and to ensure engagement. Research students will not normally be required to physically attend the meetings unless there is a particular request or reason to do so. The discussion and action points arising should be summarised in a formal written record. It is the responsibility of the supervisor(s) to keep records of the supervisory sessions, to ensure the research student is sent an electronic copy of the record of the meeting, and for electronic copies of the record to be kept within the Faculty/School centrally. The research student’s Faculty/School should advise them of the amount of supervision which they can expect;
- Be accessible, within reason (e.g., by e-mail contact) outside planned supervision meetings when advice may be required. Overseas research students should bear in mind different time zones to that of the UK and national holiday periods;
- Provide guidance on the nature and requirements of the research degree being pursued and standards expected. This should include providing the research student with a clear understanding on the main aspects of undertaking postgraduate research, the nature of a research degree awarded at Swansea University and the form and structure of a thesis;
- Provide guidance and advice to the research student to ensure the research can be completed, including the preparation of the thesis, normally by the end of their minimum candidature period;
- Assist the research student in producing a detailed work-plan and timetable for the research and monitor their progress in relation to this plan;
- Give advice and guidance on the research undertaken. This would include advice and guidance on:
Choice of topic; also, ensuring the correct procedure is followed in the event any subsequent changes are made to the research student’s research topic. For more information, the ATAS and Change of Research Topic Policy and Procedure should be referred to.
Selection of research questions or hypotheses;
Literature in the research student’s field and how to access it;
Selection of research methods;
Where applicable, ethical considerations of the research student’s research;
Fieldwork/laboratory work to be undertaken;
How to write for an academic audience;
Thesis structure, content and presentation.
- Complete Progression Reports as required in a timely fashion.
- Ensure the research student is given sufficient warning at the earliest stage where their progress is inadequate or of an unsatisfactory standard;
- Request written work as appropriate and in accordance with the agreed work-plan and return such work with constructive feedback within an agreed period of time;
- Provide guidance and advice on the writing up of the thesis, including reading and giving commentary upon the whole of the thesis during the period of composition. However, the thesis is the research student’s own work, and they have the final responsibility for ensuring the thesis is submitted by the maximum candidature end date;
- Prepare the research student for the viva voce examination and explain its role in the overall examination process;
- Provide supervision in the event of any re-submission;
- Maintain the necessary supervisory expertise, including accessing relevant professional development opportunities in order to effectively perform in the role of supervisor;
- Provide advice on how to network within the research student’s specialist field and opportunities to achieve this. This may include advice on which learned societies to join and which conferences to attend;
- Provide advice on how and where the research student should present their work, e.g., in seminars within the Faculty/School and University and/or at meetings/conferences;
- Give advice on how and where to publish, if appropriate.