Supervision and Advisory Committees

Information on the supervisory relationship and the role of the advisory committee

Whenyou are writing a research thesis, your most significant contact in the facultyis your primary supervisor and it is important to develop a good workingrelationship with this person. The burden is on both you and your supervisor tocome to an understanding of how best to accommodate specific needs. These canvary enormously, so please don't assume your supervisor has the direction of yourresearch already mapped out for you.

Frequency of Supervision

Depending on the nature of the project, most students meetwith one of their supervisors several times a week, particularly those workingin labs. If your project is not lab-based, you may only meet with yoursupervisor fortnightly. You and your supervisor should discuss how frequentlyyou wish to meet to discuss your work, and make appropriate appointments to dothis.

One of the most common problems in research for a higherdegree results from the student and the supervisor having differentexpectations of the relationship. Again, it is crucial that you talk to yoursupervisor about what you each expect and what you would find most helpful.

Ask your supervisor for assistance with the literaturereview for your topic, for advice on obtaining inter-libraryloan material, and about any aspect of the faculty's or the University'soperations, conferences, possible work opportunities, and so forth. Mostimportantly, don't hesitate to raise any doubts or anxieties about your workand its progress. If you run into difficulties at any stage, it is veryimportant to keep in touch with your supervisor. Even if such difficulties arepersonal or financial, your supervisor will sometimes be able to advise howbest to manage your candidature and the progress of your research in thesecircumstances.

Problems with Supervision

If you experience any persistent difficulties with your supervision, or have questions or concerns that cannot be dealt with by one of your supervisors, you should in the first instance consult another of your supervisors or the Director of Research Training for your School or Department. Any concerns you bring to them will be dealt with professionally and with due confidentiality. If you are unsure who your Director of Research Training is, please don’t hesitate to contact the Research Office ( and we’ll put you in touch.

Advisory Committees

An advisory committee must be established from commencementto completion of candidature for the benefit of you, your supervisors, thefaculty and the University. The advisory committee provides you with a sourceof support and communication beyond that provided by your supervisor/s. Theadvisory committee must be comprised of at least three people including thesupervisor/s. The committee chair will be a person other than one of yoursupervisors, will be an experienced supervisor themselves, will not be part ofyour research team, and will be a member of the Faculty of Veterinary andAgricultural Sciences. The faculty would also recommend that the committeechair should not report directly to the principal supervisor. Your supervisorwill nominate an appropriate advisory chair for you.

You will meet with the advisory committee on at least anannual basis, with the first meeting being in the first three months ofcandidature. At the annual meetings, you will make a formal presentation onyour research work and discuss your progress with your advisory committee. Thisdiscussion will centre on your next progress report or milestone. This meetingis a formal opportunity to check in with your supervisors and raise any issuesof concern.For more detailed information on advisorycommittees, please refer to the Graduate Research Hub.