Academic Manual

Supervisory Arrangements for the Research Thesis

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6.13 Supervisory Arrangements for the Research Thesis

6.13.1

Supervisors: General

1. Each UCL student registered for a professional doctorate shall have appointed a Principal Supervisor who shall be a member of the academic staff of UCL or an appropriately qualified member of staff of an institution with an approved agreement with UCL.
  i) Principal Supervisors shall be appointed by the departmental/divisional postgraduate committee specific to the doctoral programme, and their appointment approved by the Faculty Graduate Tutor on behalf of the Faculty Postgraduate Teaching Committee.
  ii) Individual programmes will appoint a Subsidiary Supervisor to each student whose role will be to keep acquainted with the progress of the student’s work, to be present at, at least, annual supervisory meetings, to provide for continuity of supervision in the event of the absence or departure of the Principal Supervisor and (where the Principal Supervisor considers it desirable) to contribute a second opinion or additional areas of expertise. Their appointment will be approved by the departmental/divisional Graduate Tutor.
  iii) The oversight associated with the role of Subsidiary Supervisor can be carried out by a named individual acting on behalf of the programme, whose function will be to monitor the quality of supervision and the consistency and continuity of supervision offered by the Principal Supervisor, and to take action to remedy any concerns in these areas. This person should satisfy the eligibility requirements for the Principal Supervisor, but will not be subject to any limits in the number of students to whom they are allocated. This arrangement will be approved by the departmental/divisional Graduate Tutor.
  iv) Students should refer to individual programme documentation for details of supervisory arrangements.
  v) Honorary members of academic staff may be appointed as Principal or Subsidiary Supervisors. However, approval must be obtained from the appropriate departmental/divisional postgraduate committee. The appointment of an honorary member of staff as a Principal or Subsidiary Supervisor will be subject to consideration of adequate research expertise (e.g. publications, grant income and professional experience). Honorary members of staff appointed as Principal or Subsidiary Supervisors are also governed by eligibility requirements set out in section 6.13.2 below.
  vi)  Retired members of staff shall not be appointed as supervisors except by the specific agreement of the Faculty Graduate Tutor. Supervisors who retire from UCL after appointment shall be permitted to act as supervisors to their current research students until such students submit their theses for examination.
  vii)  Supervisors can be appointed from institutions with an approved agreement with UCL, e.g. Cancer Research UK (CRUK). Principal and Subsidiary Supervisors must have the status of honorary members of UCL academic staff. In all circumstances UCL has an expectation that these supervisors will undertake their role in accordance with the Doctoral School’s Code of Practice for Graduate Research Degrees and within the framework of UCL’s regulations for Research Degrees.

6.13.2

Supervisors: Eligibility

1. The list of UCL staff categories eligible to act as Principal and/or Subsidiary Supervisors can be found on the Human Resources website.
2. UCL determines the eligibility of staff in these categories to supervise research degree students using the following criteria:
3. A Principal Supervisor should normally:
  i) Have satisfactorily completed any probationary period attached to his/her appointment;
  ii) Have expertise in the area of the proposed research;
  iii) Have had previous experience of at least one successful doctoral supervision, as appropriate, within a supervisory team (defined as having taken a student all the way through to a research degree award);
4. A Subsidiary Supervisor should normally:
  i) Have expertise relevant to the area of proposed research;
  ii) Be familiar with the standards required for doctoral research.
5. A probationary member of academic staff may be appointed as Principal Supervisor if supervision is undertaken within the context of an experienced supervisory team comprising at least one demonstrably active researcher with experience of at least two successful supervisions.
6. A Research Associate may be invited to act as a Subsidiary Supervisor but must, in addition to the requirements specified for Subsidiary Supervisors:
  i) Have a research contract lasting at least three years from the time the supervised student commences his/her programme of study;
  ii) Be able to provide evidence of good quality publications for which they have had a substantial degree of responsibility.
  Further guidance
1. Principal Supervisors who are probationary members of staff must also have participated in an appropriate UCL supervisor’s workshop.
2. Supervisors who have completed a probationary period but have not previously supervised a research student should also meet the requirements outlined above. New senior members of academic staff with experience of doctoral supervision at other institutions are expected to attend an appropriate UCL supervisor’s workshop.

6.13.3

Number of Students per Supervisor

1. A supervisor, whether Principal or Subsidiary, may supervise up to the equivalent of six full-time doctoral students at any one time.
2. Calculating the number of full-time supervisees is based on the formula that each professional doctorate student is equivalent to 0.75 of an MPhil/PhD student.
  i) The maximum number of supervisees, whether full- or part-time, that may be supervised by an individual as either Principal or Subsidiary Supervisor will be six, using the following formula:
      For Principal Supervisors:  
      1 full-time professional doctorate student 0.75
      1 part-time professional doctorate student 0.4
      1 full-time MPhil/PhD student 1.0
      1 part-time MPhil/PhD student 0.5
      For Subsidiary Supervisors:  
      1 full-time professional doctorate student 0.4
      1 part-time professional doctorate student 0.2
      1 full-time MPhil/PhD student 0.5
      1 part-time MPhil/PhD student 0.25
2. For example, an individual may act as Principal Supervisor to four full-time professional doctorate students (equivalent to three full-time MPhil/PhD students) and one full-time MPhil/PhD student, while also acting as Subsidiary Supervisor for two full-time MPhil/PhD students (equivalent to 1.0 full-time MPhil/PhD student). This is the equivalent of supervising five full-time MPhil/PhD students and is within the overall limit of six doctoral students at any one time.
3. Departments/divisions may wish to recommend an upper limit on the number of students supervised by a single member of staff that is lower than that set out above.

6.13.4

Declaration of Personal Interest

1. All members of staff are required to declare any personal relationships with any student they are asked to supervise, or are already supervising.
  i) A supervisor who declares such a personal relationship prior to appointment as supervisor for the student in question shall not be permitted to undertake supervision of that student, whether as Principal or Subsidiary Supervisor.
  ii) A supervisor who declares such a relationship after having been appointed as Principal Supervisor for the student in question (unless the declaration is made within six months of appointment, in which case the supervisor shall not be permitted to continue in any supervisory capacity) shall no longer continue as Principal Supervisor but may continue to advise the student in an informal capacity. 
  iii) The role of Principal Supervisor (including responsibility for all decisions affecting the student’s progress and assessment) shall in such instances pass to the Subsidiary Supervisor or the other supervisor nominated by the department/division.
  iv) A supervisor who declares such a relationship after having been appointed as Subsidiary Supervisor for the student in question, subject to the permission of the departmental/divisional Graduate Teaching Committee, may continue as Subsidiary Supervisor, but shall not be responsible for, or be involved in, any decisions affecting the student’s progress and/or assessment.

6.13.5

Transfer of Supervisor to another Institution

1. Where a Principal Supervisor transfers to another institution, students assigned to that supervisor shall be assigned to another Principal Supervisor.