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Choosing a supervisor

Productive thesis research depends on developing a successful collaboration between student and supervisor. The supervisor, or the principal supervisor in the case of co-supervision, must be an academic staff member in the Department of Psychology.

Finding a supervisor for thesis research is a critical task, and before making a commitment to a particular project, students should find out as much as they can.

Feel free to approach potential supervisors, in person or by email asking about possible projects, the supervisor's expectations of students, and the supervisor's availability over the course of the research. An important source of information is other research students. It is important at the outset to establish that the financial or laboratory resources are available to complete the planned research. Generally, the greater the shared interest in the topic of the thesis project, the more likely it is that both the student and the supervisor will be stimulated to work together productively.

Psychology research interests at Otago

The Department of Psychology has strengths in experimental and applied psychology, including:

  • Behavioural neuroscience
  • Cognition
  • Clinical psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Language
  • Operant behaviour
  • Perception
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Human factors
  • Memory

Find out more about the research interests of the academic staff.

Process of supervision

Once a student and supervisor(s) have decided to proceed, there should be agreement about the process of supervision. This includes such matters as the frequency of meetings, financial support for the project, target dates for completion of stages of the research, and the involvement of other collaborators in the research work.

PhD Thesis Committee

For all PhD students, the Thesis Committee consists of the supervisor and one or more other staff members. One of the members, other than the supervisor, may be from another Department, as long as the principal supervisor and at least one Committee member come from the Department of Psychology.

The Thesis Committee is minimally called upon to read the research proposal (and application for ethical clearance) before the student begins the research for the thesis and to approve, advise revision of, or reject the proposal. The Committee also meets at the time of each annual progress report.

The Thesis Committee may also be requested to meet by the supervisor, the student, or the PhD Coordinator, to deal with a problem, discuss reasons for falling behind schedule, revise the research plan, discuss data analysis, and so on.

Progress reports

Six months and 12 months following admission, University regulations require progress reports on PhD students. Annual reports are required thereafter. Students prepare a short statement of progress during the year, which is submitted to the supervisor, who will add a comment on the report form which is forwarded to the PhD Coordinator.

An unsatisfactory progress report may prompt the Senate to deregister the student, or set whatever conditions it wishes on continuation.

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