MBPhD Programme


PhD Supervisors

Research Degree Supervisors

Each student has a Supervisory Panel consisting of a Principal and Subsidiary Supervisor.

The panel may also include other persons, for instance members of collaborating bodies, or persons with special expertise necessary for research.

The panel will meet as necessary and be involved in the MPhil to PhD transfer process.

What can you expect from your Principal and Subsidiary Supervisors?

Principal Supervision

You can expect your Principal Supervisor to:

1. Participate in the selection process and be present at your admission interview.

2. Agree with you, within a month of registration, a suitable topic of research which will stimulate interest and can be completed as a research project and written up within the prescribed period of study (normally three years Full-time or five years Part-time).

3. Introduce you to the Department, its facilities and procedures, and to other students and relevant staff (especially important for Part-time students); and encourage attendance at Graduate School events.

4. Advise you of the name of the Departmental Graduate Tutor, and ensure that you know that you may contact the Departmental Graduate Tutor and/or Faculty Graduate Tutor to discuss graduate matters including problems regarding your supervision.

5. Agree with you courses in the Graduate School Skills Development Programme to be taken over the full period of the MPhil/PhD and advise you of the extent to which participation in those courses will be taken into account in the decision whether to transfer registration from MPhil to PhD.

6. Ensure that you use the Research Student Log effectively and review and approve the Log records in a timely fashion.

7. Arrange for you to be made familiar with the research facilities and activities at UCL and of your responsibility to avoid any form of research misconduct, and enable and encourage you to play a full part in the social and intellectual life of your Department and UCL.

8. Ensure that risk assessment of laboratory and/or field-based activities has been carried out in accordance with UCL and departmental procedures and that you receive the required safety training.

9. Ensure that ethics approval has been obtained in accordance with UCL procedures.

10. Determine, in consultation with the Head of Department, at the start of a student’s project, whether an assignment of Intellectual Property Rights/Copyright is necessary and if so, ensure that an agreement on IPR/Copyright has been established at the outset of the project.

11. Establish a strict timetable of regular meetings with you at which all matters relating to your work can be discussed; such meetings should take place at least every two months.  Note: Research Student Log p12.

12. Include within the timetable of regular meetings annual assessment meetings and ensure that written evidence of the meeting is kept within the Department that these assessments have taken place. Note: Research Student Log p12.

13. Agree with you no later than 3 months after registration the basic structure of the research project, an appropriate research method, a realistic plan of work, and any additional required study including Skills Development Training.

14. Agree with you no later than 24 months after registration a realistic timetable for the completion of the research and writing up of your thesis (for Full-time PhD; no later than 48 months for Part-time PhD).

15. Provide you with prompt constructive criticism and reaction on submitted draft work to facilitate timely completion of your thesis.

16. Discuss with you the work accomplished and revise the objectives as the work proceeds in the light of progress made and external factors (such as newly published findings).

17. Submit to the Departmental Graduate Tutor and to the Departmental Graduate Committee, where appropriate, a standard report about your progress after the first six months of the programme of study, at the end of the first year of the programme of study and annually thereafter. These should be uploaded to the Research Student Log.  Note: that the progress report at the end of the first year should be based not only on your research work to date but also on an oral presentation by you, and on English language proficiency, both written and spoken, if necessary.

18. Arrange (in consultation with the Subsidiary Supervisor and the Departmental Graduate Tutor) for a replacement in the event of his or her absence for a period exceeding 4 weeks.

19. Inform you about the procedure for transfer from MPhil to PhD, initiate the transfer at an appropriate time, provide guidance in the drafting of the Transfer Report, arrange a meeting of the Supervisory Panel to assess the Report and interview you, advise the Departmental Graduate Tutor and you of the result and give full reasons for any failure to meet the required standards, and liaise with the UCL Registry regarding changes to your registration status.  Note 1: where Transfer of Registration has not been completed within 18 months of first registration for Full-time students (and typically no later than 30 months Part-time), the Principal Supervisor should draw the situation to the attention of the Departmental Graduate Tutor for consideration as to whether the student should write up for the MPhil and not proceed to the PhD.  Note 2: for upgrading to PhD, the procedure outlined on p. 13 should be followed.

20. Encourage you to present your work in progress from time to time, as appropriate, attend relevant conferences, meetings and workshops, and to consult relevant sources of information and advice inside and outside your Department.

21. Make recommendations at a suitable point during the final year to the appropriate person in the UCL Registry for the appointment of internal and external examiners, discuss with you when to submit your thesis for the MPhil or PhD examination, and ensure that you enter your thesis for examination in good time (normally 4-6 months before the examination).

22. Arrange the Viva Voce examination and advise the UCL Registry (Student Centre) of the date, and, subsequently, advise all third parties, e.g. collaborators, sponsors, etc. of the examination result.  Note: this is important in relation to Research Councils’ 4 year deadline for thesis


23. Assist you in obtaining knowledge and information about career opportunities and refer you to careers guidance services in UCL and elsewhere.

24. Ensure that you maintain records of your research in a state which can be investigated and understood by anyone with a legitimate right to enquire.

25. Report to the Academic Registrar any suspected instance of research misconduct, including plagiarism.

Subsidiary Supervision

You can expect your Subsidiary Supervisor to:

1. Participate in the selection process and be present at your admission interview if s/he has been identified at this time.

2. Keep acquainted with the progress of your work, to be present at, at least, annual supervisory meetings and participate in the MPhil to PhD transfer process.

3. Provide for continuity of supervision in the event of the absence or departure of the Principal Supervisor.

4. Enhance the effective supervision of your work by contributing a second opinion or additional areas of expertise, and review and approve the Research Student Log records in a timely fashion.

5. Arrange (in consultation with the Principal Supervisor and the Departmental Graduate Tutor) for a replacement in the event of his/her absence for a period exceeding 8 weeks.

In the event of a breakdown of relations between the supervisor and the student, the Departmental Graduate Tutor (or if necessary the Faculty Graduate Tutor) will assist in resolving any difficulties, and where necessary arrange the appointment or a replacement Supervisor.