Swansea University

Guide to Eligibility Criteria for Supervisors

Guide to Eligibility Criteria for Supervisors

Eligibility Criteria for Supervisors of Research Degree Students

The University policy is that each student must have a supervisory team, consisting, at minimum, of a first supervisor and a second supervisor. This system is very effective for inducting new supervisors (on the mentoring model) but is useful even with experienced supervisors as a means to reduce the load upon a single supervisor, to reduce the possibility of unresolved personality clashes between student and supervisor and to allow for continuity of supervision where the first supervisor becomes unavailable.

First supervisor

The first supervisor should:

  • Demonstrate clear evidence of research competence and have relevant and recent research expertise in the proposed topic area of the thesis [Note: Examples of evidence include, but are not limited to: peer reviewed publications, research grants];
  • Hold a contract of employment as a member of staff of Swansea University which outlives the normal maximum candidature period for the student to be supervised;
  • Hold an academic award at the same level (or higher) as he/she is supervising or have equivalent professional experience;
  • Not be a candidate for a research degree either at Swansea University or any other institution;
  • Have successfully supervised at least one student to completion at the same level (or higher) as he/she is supervising [Note: Acting as either first supervisor or second supervisor];
  • Have a good supervisory record [Note: A good supervisory record is evidenced by a history of timely submission by supervised students with positive outcomes at examination and evidence of positive engagement with the progress monitoring system];
  • Have undertaken relevant training regarding supervision and institution-specific policies and supervision procedures.

Second supervisor

The second supervisor should:

  • Demonstrate clear evidence of research competence and have relevant and recent research expertise in the proposed topic area of the thesis [Note: Examples of evidence include, but are not limited to: peer reviewed publications, research grants] ;
  • Hold a contract of employment as a member of staff of Swansea University which outlives the normal maximum candidature period for the student to be supervised;
  • Hold an academic award at the same level (or higher) as he/she is supervising or have equivalent professional experience;
  • Not be a candidate for a research degree either at Swansea University or any other institution;
  • If appropriate, have a good supervisory record [Note: A good supervisory record is evidenced by a history of timely submission by supervised students with positive outcomes at examination and evidence of positive engagement with the progress monitoring system];
  • Have undertaken relevant training regarding supervision and institution-specific policies and supervision procedures.

For all students admitted under Method B it is necessary to appoint an External or Industrial Supervisor in addition to the main supervisor and the second supervisor (see External / Industrial Supervisors below).  

In exceptional circumstances, a probationary staff member may act as a supervisor (either first or second) provided that he/she satisfies all the other eligibility criteria for first or second supervisor and is approved by the Academic Board (Postgraduate Research).

Supervisors must not be involved in a close personal relationship with any other supervisor on the supervisory team. If a relationship develops after the appointment has been made, alternative arrangements should be put in place for the student’s supervision.

Supervisors must not be involved in a close personal relationship with a student they are appointed to supervise. If a relationship develops after the appointment has been made, alternative arrangements should be put in place for the student’s supervision.

Where a student is also a member of staff of the University, the supervisors should not have a direct involvement in the student’s teaching/administrative work.

External / Industrial Supervisors

There may be occasions where it is appropriate to appoint as a supervisor a person who is not an academic member of staff within the University or is external to it.

The External / Industrial Supervisor should:

  • Be of sufficient seniority and experience to be able to command authority;
  • Be aware of the nature and purpose of the degree for which the student is enrolled;
  • Possess specialist knowledge and expertise in the subject of research.

The College Research Committee/Postgraduate Committee should review qualifications and make a recommendation to appoint the External Supervisor. The recommendation is forwarded to the Academic Office for Postgraduate Research, using the Nomination of External Research Supervisor form. The recommendation will be considered by the Chair of the Postgraduate Research Quality Committee, or designate. If the nomination is approved, the nominee will be granted honorary status through the Human Resources Department and will appear on the University’s staff list.

An external supervisor may not take the place of the first supervisor or second supervisor. Full responsibility for supervising the student remains with the College concerned and the University. The College must make clear to the external supervisor what is expected of them.

Supervisory Load

Individual members of staff may be involved in the supervision of up to twelve research students (six as first supervisor), irrespective of whether they are full-time or part-time. Students will be counted against an individual’s supervisory load until such time as the student has fully completed the degree. This maximum load is set to ensure that supervisors have the time necessary to offer properly scheduled meetings with the students in their charge, along with their teaching, research and administrative duties.

Where more than the maximum number stated above are supervised, the College must be able to demonstrate how the supervisor is capable of overseeing these students, for example by working within a larger research group on the project, or perhaps having a reduced teaching load.  The College must also be able to demonstrate that the arrangements are not putting an undue load on the supervisor.

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