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PhD Supervisors

The UCL Graduate School provides documentation to guide research student Supervisors through the regulatory framework.

All research student Supervisors should be familiar with the content entitled 'Essential Information' on the UCL Graduate School website and in particular, the Graduate Research Degrees Code of Practice.

Your first point of reference and source of advice should be the Departmental Graduate Tutor.

If, however, a Supervisor or student has problems and feels unable to speak to their Departmental Graduate Tutor or Faculty Graduate Tutor, they can contact in confidence:

  • Ben Colvill at the UCL Graduate School (email: ben.colvill@ucl.ac.uk, tel: 020 7679 7841, ext: 37841), or
  • Professor David Muller, who is an experienced Departmental Graduate Tutor at UCL and acts as an advisor within CALT on matters related to the support of research supervision (email: d.muller@ich.ucl.ac.uk).

The following sessions and workshops are run by the UCL Graduate School and CALT:

  1. The UCL Graduate School provides a 90-minute briefing session, Introduction to Research Student Supervision at UCL, which is mandatory for all research student Supervisors. This session gives an overview of the most important regulations and key aspects of research supervision.
    (NB: This briefing session is a prerequisite for enrolment on the workshops below, unless you have already supervised at least one PhD student to successful completion in the last 5 years.)
  2. A full-day workshop, Effective Research Supervision, outlining some of the most common difficulties faced by PhD Supervisors and students. This workshop is recommended for new research student Supervisors, but also serves as a refresher course for experienced Supervisors.
  3. A half-day workshop, An Introduction to Examining Research Doctorates . This half-day session is run by the Graduate School and provides an introduction to UCL's procedures and guidelines for examining research doctorates, as well as preparation for examining at other institutions.
  4. A half-day or lunchtime forum, enabling discussions of more specific issues encountered by experienced Supervisors.
  5. Events tailored to the needs of your department, to enable more direct focus on issues which are specific to a discipline and to the departmental context. If you are interested in this option, please contact Moira Wright, Programme and Projects Officer, (moira.wright@ucl.ac.uk).

CALT liaises with Professor John Wakeford in order to run the above workshops for UCL staff. John is an external consultant with more than 20 years’ experience of running workshops for research student Supervisors at universities across the UK. 

  • In order to be cost-effective, some of these events are scheduled only when there is sufficient demand. Please enter your details on the Single Training Booking System if you are interested in new dates and you will be emailed when a new date is organised.
  • If you are an external candidate and you have not already created a profile for the Single Training Booking System (STBS), please create a new account by registering here.

PhD Diaries

Professor John Wakeford has generously donated to UCL a collection of case studies named 'PhD diaries', which describe various difficulties arising during research degrees.

All the diaries are genuine, first-hand accounts and perspectives written generally by research students or Supervisors from universities across the UK. They describe their own experiences and many have welcomed the opportunity to recount and share their experiences, particularly if they might be used to help others in the future. The text has been approved by the participants themselves with only names of participants and their institutions changed.

Supervisors may find it helpful to refer their students to the PhD diaries in certain cases. Students who are currently engaged in research and experiencing specific difficulties may find reading about similar cases useful, since it is often easier to reflect on someone else’s problems than on one’s own.

The PhD diaries are available on the Teaching and Learning Portal here:

You can view additional diaries on Professor Wakeford's website.


Currently UCL has 10,500 graduate students and over 4,000 academic staff spread across 70 departments in 10 Faculties (statistics from UCL Registry). UCL Graduate School confirms that feedback from PhD students shows that the great majority are either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience of learning to carry out research under the guidance of an academic Supervisor.

Research student supervision is a core academic responsibility, requiring expertise in both teaching and research. As demonstrated by the positive feedback from its research students, UCL succeeds in providing research supervision of very high quality and this is in part due to the support framework available for academics who are responsible for research supervision. This webpage provides an overview of what is available.

The relationship between an academic Supervisor and a research student is a unique one, which evolves over several years to achieve a number of objectives:

  • To provide the student with a thorough grounding in all aspects of research within the context of an academic discipline;
  • To prepare the student for a range of careers;
  • To create a learning experience that is intellectually challenging and personally fulfilling within a stimulating and supportive environment;
  • To ensure that students are able to complete their PhD in a timely manner.

The nature of the relationship means that academic Supervisors deal with a range of situations requiring a sensitive and informed approach. The resources below are available to support them.

Useful Links

External Links

Your Feedback

From time to time the UCL Graduate School and CALT review the support available to research student Supervisors. Please do not hesitate to contact us (Ben Colvill, email: ben.colvill@ucl.ac.uk, tel: 020 7679 7841, ext: 37841 if you think there are ways in which UCL can improve the quality of this support.

Page last modified on 03 jun 14 07:44