Guidance and resources for supervisors on the additional support available to doctoral students, reflecting that a research degree is a very different proposition to that previously experienced when studying for an undergraduate or a masters’ degree.

Expectations and responsibilities

As supervisor, you have a key role in ensuring that you:

  • are familiar with the range of support services available
  • are familiar with registration options including suspension or changing mode of study
  • aware of the differing requirements/pressures at different stages of the student journey
  • monitor for signs of problems with your students e.g. in your regular meetings
  • are approachable and receptive to requests of support from your student, including non-research-related issues
  • assess issues raised: provide advice where applicable and forward to specialist services when more appropriate
  • whilst observing confidentiality, seek guidance from others, for example, Director of Studies, Student Services or the Doctoral College
  • raise the alarm where there is a serious risk to the student

Details of responsibilities can also be found at QA7  Sections 3.2 and 8, Responsibilities of the supervisor and supervisory team and QA7 Appendix 1 Responsibilities of the Supervisory team.


Student comments
Ask me how I am occasionally.”

“Never assume the student understands the structures, processes, systems, acronyms, history, or culture. Equally, ensure doctoral students are treated as adults. Especially when they are more mature.”

“Constructive criticism is invaluable, but it needs to be balanced with positive encouragement so that the student feels s/he has or is able to acquire the skills necessary for achieving success.”

“Life events occur at any time and understanding is needed, and advice and guidance on adjustments is really important so the work is not too adversely affected. Also, I believe it helps when supervisors understand the general stresses, and negative impact on wellbeing, that the PhD work can cause. Even though student services are more equipped to actually support students through difficult times, supervisors can have a hugely positive impact if they acknowledge a student’s struggles and support them to continue through these.”


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Sources of support

Student Services

If you are at all concerned about your student, you can ring the Student Services Staff Advice Line on 01225 384321 or ext. 4321, or email

Student services provides all students with support and guidance, including:

Be Well - Talk Now service - free, confidential service for students, open for advice and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Students can contact a trained adviser by phone, video call or live chat from anywhere in the world.

From within the UK: Call 0808 196 8046

From outside the UK: Call +44 3 307771499


Information on accessing student services whilst off-campus or on fieldwork or placement.


The Student Services staff page provides advice and guidance on supporting students in various circumstances:

Supporting student success through pastoral care

Your Director of Studies (and others in your department)

Your Doctoral DoS plays a key role in providing advice to supervisors, or someone else for the students to seek advice.  It may also be worth consulting with other experienced supervisors in your department.

The Doctoral College

The Doctoral College provides general advice on processes and procedures for dealing with students requiring support. Options may include temporary suspension of studies or transfer from full-time to part-time registration. It is recommended that you get in contact with your Doctoral College Administrator at the earliest point if you have any concerns about your student.

Finance Office Studentships Team

Details of studentship competitions for new students can be found from Find funding for doctoral research.  Tuition Fees (by Faculty/School) can be found on the Fee Schedule.  As tuition fees are also dependant on the registration status of your student (f/t vs p/t, suspensions, Transfer to Writing-Up - Continuation or Administration Fees), contact the Doctoral College if you are unsure of the registrations status of your student.  If your existing student is funded, see the Studentships team webpage and contact the Studentships Finance Office for information relating to the T&Cs of the studentship, sick-pay etc.  For details of funding available for current students (not studentships), see the information collated on the Doctoral College web page.

Students' Union

The Students' Union offers a wide range of support for all students on a range of topics affecting your student’s study and welfare, including academic matters and personal issues. Specifically, it has a Postgraduate Association that represents and helps build community for all postgraduates at the University of Bath.

University Independent Advisor for Postgraduate Research Students

The University Independent Advisor for Postgraduate Research Students provides independent advice for your student, should they feel that an issue cannot be resolved at department/School level. If you are unable to get appropriate advice or help within your department, you may find them a useful sounding board.

Student Immigration Service

The Student Immigration Service provides advice and information on visas and immigration including the visa application process and restriction, guidance on working in the UK, travelling and bringing family.




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