“The dream supervisor has the following attributes: the wisdom of Solomon; a positively delphic prescience in their pronouncements of what will matter; the communicative skills of Martin Luther King; the analytical clarity of Ada Lovelace; the patience of a saint; a pastoral touch that would make Florence Nightingale weep with envy; a breadth and depth of knowledge that could only come from omniscience; creative gifts that combine the brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Michelangelo and Mozart with the inspiring iconoclasm of Pablo Picasso, Einstein and the Beatles; and to cap it all, an empathic sense that must have been stolen from Mahatma Ghandi.”


Doctoral supervision should be regular and meaningful and in line with each institution’s own procedures for supervision.  For regulations, codes, policies and procedures, please visit the relevant pages:

In addition to adhering to good supervisory practice and keeping their own supervisory skills up to date, there are some additional expectations of WRoCAH supervisors to support doctoral researchers’ participation in the enhanced training programme available.

Expectations of WRoCAH supervisors

  • Support the development of transferrable skills as an important part of a doctoral researcher’s studies and thesis writing. Students who address their wider skills are more likely to complete their theses within agreed timescales.
  • Work with doctoral researchers to create a training plan (by the second WRoCAH Induction event) in line with the first year theme of The Effective Researcher.
  • Support doctoral researchers to identify additional training needs and review developing skills and knowledge throughout, using the relevant institution’s researcher development framework, keeping the training plan current.
  • Allow doctoral researchers time to attend all induction and training, in line with their Training Plan.
  • Encourage doctoral researchers to take direct responsibility for identifying their own learning needs, to reflect on learning and update their training plan accordingly.

Have high expectations

  • Offer appropriate support to help the doctoral researcher to be confirmed successfully as a doctoral candidate.
  • Provide timely and constructive feedback with specific action plans while encouraging a gradual progression towards confident independence.
  • Provide opportunities for the doctoral researcher to extend themselves.
  • Discuss the doctoral researcher’s future, being upfront about options and prospects.

Support the WRoCAH training programme

New WRoCAH supervisors are strongly encouraged to attend the induction event held in October where parallel sessions for students and supervisors are available.

  • Provide support to doctoral researchers applying for additional WRoCAH and other funding schemes.
  • Help eligible doctoral researcher to develop clear and meaningful Researcher Employability Projects
  • Review doctoral researcher learning and development in the context of the WRoCAH training programme:

What supervisors are not

The relationship between doctoral researcher and supervisor is unique and will depend in large part on the personalities and styles of both individuals.  Supervisors are not expected to be a boss, best friend, editor, search engine, employer, colleague, surrogate parent, always available or God.

Additional pastoral support

While supervisors have a pastoral role, others sources of pastoral support are available for doctoral researchers, and for supervisors who may have questions about supervision of a particular doctoral researcher. Arrangements differ across institutions.

Co-supervision in WRoCAH

Co-supervision between institutions is encouraged to grow consortium collaborations and to offer an extended opportunity to doctoral researchers to benefit from the experience of two supervisors in related but different research groups.  Arrangements vary with different types of studentships.

WRoCAH White Rose Networks Studentships

White Rose Networks are formally constructed to ensure balanced supervision across institutions.  Each institution has a main and co-supervisor in the network.

Doctoral researchers and supervisors may claim for travel costs to supervision meetings and for costs to support whole network meetings, directly from WRoCAH using the claim form here.

Other types of WRoCAH Studentship

Cross-institutional co-supervision within the White Rose Consortium is encouraged where the doctoral researcher will benefit from a wider breadth of supervisory experience than is available at their home institution.

Doctoral researchers and supervisors may claim for travel costs to supervision meetings at York, Leeds and Sheffield, directly from WRoCAH using the claim form here.

Co-supervision in WRoCAH will be monitored but no funds will be exchanged at institutional level.  Academic staff should be supported to undertake the co-supervision (via the use of workload models etc) by their departments and schools.

Practical arrangements for co-supervision

It is important that the responsibilities and expectations for both supervisors and doctoral researcher are clarified at the outset. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings later on.

  • Who will be the lead supervisor?
  • What expectations does the doctoral researcher hold of each member of the supervisory team?
  • Are those expectations realistic?
  • Where will supervisory meetings be held?
  • What expectations does each supervisor have of the other supervisor and the doctoral researcher?
  • What can be expected of a secondary supervisor compared with a primary supervisor?
  • How often will the supervisory team meet as a whole as opposed to having individual meetings with the student?
  • Whose responsibility is it to initiate and organise meetings? Is it the doctoral researcher’s? Or the primary supervisor’s?
  • How and by whom will the outcomes of joint and individual meetings be recorded and disseminated?
  • How will differences in advice to the doctoral researcher be handled? Will the doctoral researcher decide, the primary supervisor, or will different members of the team have the final say regarding their own area of expertise?
  • Who will read drafts of material and when?

For any guidance regarding co-supervision of WRoCAH doctoral researchers, please contact the WRoCAH Director or WRoCAH Manager.