First tutors graduate from trailblazing PhD supervisors course

March 7, 2003

A group of Staffordshire University academics has graduated from a pioneering course to formally qualify them to supervise PhD students.

The one-year course involved a series of half-day events and had the tutors shadowing a supervisory team. This had to be written up in a 5,000-word document. One academic had a paper published in the Journal of Research in Post-Compulsory Education .

David Douglas, a novice supervisor of 18 months, with three students in Staffordshire's business school, is to publish a paper reflecting on the difference in supervision techniques between experienced and less experienced supervisors.

For him, the Staffordshire course also offered a fast track to picking up supervising skills that would have taken much longer if he had learnt on the job like most supervisors.

"I learnt a lot being next to a more experienced supervisor," Dr Douglas said.

Seven tutors passed the university's research degree supervision module, which is part of the Certificate in Higher and Professional Education. They came from across the university departments, and had varying amounts of supervising experience. The course aims to make PhDs throughout the university more consistent and, in the long term, of a national and even international level.

Issues addressed by the course included:

  • The legal framework of PhDs from the supervisor and candidate viewpoint
  • Sources of best practice - discussing some of the ethical issues bearing down on supervisors such as the need for results/outcomes versus the needs of the individual candidates
  • How to continue to progress/ shape one's own research via supervision.

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