Please access the new Skills for Learning website at Please note this site is no longer being updated and will be removed by 2021.

Workshops / Get Help | A-Z Index | Publications | Printable Guides | Media Library | Staff



Managing your research project


The supervisor

A supervisor is a member of staff who has responsibility for overseeing your progress during the research project. They are likely to have knowledge of your particular topic area as well as being skilled in the research process itself, and they will probably have carried out several large-scale pieces of research themselves. The supervisor should be familiar with good practice techniques as well as the general rules and regulations you must follow.

The supervisor will have a certain allotted amount of time to see you. Find out exactly how much time you have with them and arrange your meetings over the research process based on this.

Appropriate meeting times should be negotiated with your supervisor. Do not turn up on the off-chance of seeing them but arrange times for meetings well in advance. If you want your supervisor to read a draft, give them your work well before the arranged meeting.

You should arrive at each meeting with a list of questions that need answering and issues to discuss alongside an agenda for the meeting - have this in front of you to make sure you do not leave anything out. Always keep notes of what you have discussed during your meetings with your supervisor.

Dissertation supervisors are there to provide advice on:

  • Structure and content.
  • Appropriate reading.
  • Research methods.
  • Analysis and interpretation of results.

They are also there to provide critical judgement on draft chapters.

The supervisor's role is one of a facilitator: to offer advice and encourage you to think - not to make decisions for you. It is important that you use both your time and your supervisor's effectively.

You will also find relevant information on tutorials in Types of teaching sessions in the 'Learning and Study' theme.