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Primary Supervisor

The primary supervisor is there to provide academic advice and practical support. They are the main point of contact for the student and the administration. The primary supervisor will take responsibility for meeting all the responsibilities listed below and will convene meetings with co-supervisors and advisers. The primary supervisor should also ensure that the Head of Department is informed where disagreements between supervisors and/or advisers may be compromising the progress of the project.

Note: Even in cases where two departments are involved, one should take the primary role. Funding splits and other details should be arranged by the Heads of Department with the involvement of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor(s).


A co-supervisor provides academic advice and practical support, as well as taking part in review meetings and providing input for reports and recommendations. The role of co-supervisors will vary from project to project. The precise responsibilities of co-supervisors should be determined in each case in consultation with the candidate and the primary supervisor. These should also be formalised in the written student-supervisor agreement.


An adviser is not a supervisor as such. They are someone who may provide specialist help, either regularly or irregularly. Typical of the advice offered by advisers are the following: professional expertise; linguistic information and laboratory techniques. Advisers should be named only where they are providing substantial support.

Departmental Advisory Committee

Some departments have a policy of appointing a small committee to oversee the candidate's research project. This committee may or may not include the supervisors. The main purpose of such a committee is to provide additional support for the candidate and supervisor(s), and to assist with any problems that may arise during candidature.

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