Finding a Supervisor
It is very important that you identify an academic who you feel comfortable working with. You need a supervisor who can give you the support you need throughout your studies. There are indicators as to the standard of supervision an academic is likely to provide.
- Potential supervisors are often your first point of contact when enquiring about potential postgraduate study at an institution and they will be able to help guide you through the application process. It is a good idea to meet with your potential supervisor before you begin your course and, if possible, before you even apply. As a minimum you should be in regular e-mail correspondence or having telephone conversations during the application process.
- Many departments will list postgraduate students previously supervised by their staff. It is worth investigating how those students careers have developed after their postgraduate study under the supervision of the academic. Occasionally an academic will state on their personal page if they are willing to supervise postgraduates and at what level (taught or research).
- Do not be surprised if a potential supervisor asks you about your research proposal or to provide an academic CV (a document outlining you academic achievements such as qualifications, grants awarded, publications and conference or training sessions attended, this is perfectly normal and is usually an indication that the academic takes postgraduate supervision very seriously. It is understandable that they might want to know a little about you if they are to invest the time in supervising you.
- You should have a good idea of some of the leading academics in your field. Try looking on the back cover of their latest book to find which institute they belong to or Google their name. If you have no idea about potential supervisors then visit university department websites with a strong reputation in your field and browse their staff pages. Don’t worry about contacting the wrong individuals, most will simply point you in the direction of a colleague who will be able to help.
Working with Supervisors
Each supervisor-student relationship is different depending on the personalities involved. However, as a postgraduate remember that you should be treated as an adult and that your study/research is yours. Your supervisor should trust you to manage your work and other commitments, meet deadlines, organise your work schedule, develop timelines and to ask for help when needed.
Sit down with your supervisor early on and develop a clear plan of work to be completed and when it is to be completed by. If your circumstances change and you won't be able follow this plan, speak to your supervisor about your problems and do not wait for issues to build up. The relationship with your supervisor should be open and honest - you should be able to trust one another’s judgement and be comfortable enough to express how you are feeling.
After meeting with your supervisor, write brief notes of what you discussed and agreed, and ideally you should both sign and date the notes once you are agreed they are an accurate reflection of your meeting. This will help avoid any misunderstandings or conflict if there are any problems later on in your study.
Problems with Your Supervisor
You can make a request for a different supervisor to the PGR Director. Normally, any change of supervisor will be by mutual agreement between the student and the University.
Separate to this, if you are unhappy with any aspect of your time at Keele you have the right to submit a complaint. You should try to resolve issue informally first by contacting your lead supervisor or another member of staff. If you then want to follow the formal complaints process, you can visit our Complaints page for guidance.