Authored by experts who have spent many years researching the doctoral process, this programme will provide a valuable resource for all supervisors seeking to support candidates as they develop into independent researchers.

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Introduction: The doctoral context

This unit will introduce participants to the content of the programme and explain some of the programme’s key features. The unit will also set the context of doctoral education and supervision. A diagnostic quiz will enable participants to identify the units and screens in the programme that will be most appropriate for their needs. This unit will take around 60 minutes to complete.

Attracting and selecting doctoral applicants

This unit explores the issue of candidate recruitment and selection. It will encourage participants to consider their own motives and circumstances when thinking about recruiting doctoral candidates. Participants will receive practical advice on how to attract the best candidates and evaluate their research potential (including tips on interviewing potential candidates), and guidance on the key information needed by potential candidates to help meet their expectations and needs. This unit will take around 75 minutes to complete.

Approaching supervision

This unit encourages supervisors to examine their personal experience of supervision and their own supervisory practices with a view to informing their working relationship with their doctoral candidate. The unit will explore the concept of research supervision as pedagogy; different supervisory styles and aligning them with a candidate’s needs; the importance of establishing supervisor/candidate expectations, roles and responsibilities as early as possible and how to do it; and how to promote an inclusive approach to the diverse doctoral student population. This unit will take around 75 minutes to complete.

Setting your candidate on the right course

The aim of this unit is to encourage supervisors to address key aspects of doctoral education early in candidature in order to scaffold the candidate’s learning and provide them with a clear sense of direction and confidence. The unit will help supervisors to identify strategies to ensure a positive research culture for their candidate; use frameworks to support their candidate’s skills and career development; address academic integrity issues with candidates; advise candidates on discipline and research-specific details; understand the importance of formal and informal monitoring of a candidate’s progress; and understand the foundations of giving good feedback. This unit will take around 90 minutes to complete.

Managing progress

This unit aims to help supervisors support their candidates across six key areas by providing practical advice on: giving assistance with academic problems; supporting the development of academic writing skills, supporting candidates in the production of the thesis; giving effective feedback; understanding the pastoral role of the supervisor (and its limitations); helping candidates to develop professional research skills such as networking, publishing and teaching; and helping candidates to prepare for either an academic or non-academic career. This unit will take around 150 minutes to complete.

Expectations and preparing for examination

This unit provides support and guidance on the (often challenging) submission and examination stages of candidature. Participants will be encouraged to think about the purpose of doctoral examination and identify their own institutional policies and procedures. The unit will provide advice on helping candidates to understand explicit and implicit thesis assessment criteria; evaluating and selecting appropriate examiners; supporting candidates practically during the submission process; preparing candidates for the oral examination (if applicable); and providing guidance to candidates on the steps following examination. This unit will take around 90 minutes to complete.

Issues in supervision

This unit identifies a number of key issues that both candidates and supervisors can expect to experience during a doctoral candidature, and looks at ways in which supervisors might respond to them. Issues covered include aligning supervisor-candidate expectations; motivating candidates who are procrastinating; responding to the needs of candidates with disabilities; dealing with plagiarism; managing relationships with co-supervisors; and friction between supervisors and their candidates. This unit will take around 90 minutes to complete.

Continuing your supervisory development

The aim of this unit is to encourage participants to reflect on the programme as a whole and to establish an action plan for the ongoing development of their supervisory skills. Participants will be encouraged to: think about how to elicit feedback on their supervisory practice; explore the benefits of working within a supervisory team and developing a community of practice; and consider the benefits and responsibilities involved in becoming a doctoral examiner. This unit will take around 60 minutes to complete.

Conclusion: Practice scenarios and full programme resources

This concluding unit contains practical scenarios designed to encourage participants to apply their learning from the main programme, and a resource bank containing all the resources from each unit, combined for participants’ convenience. This unit will take around 25 minutes to complete.


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