UWA statue of Socrates

Supervisor Responsibilties

The main responsibility of a research higher degree supervisor is to be an accessible advisor. You are required to be familiar with, and to abide by, the University's policies and rules relating to supervision and higher degrees by research.


You encourage and assist your students to develop standards of achievement that will result in a thesis of merit that is:

  • a substantial and original contribution to scholarship (PhD)
  • a substantial work generally based on independent research which shows a sound knowledge of the subject of the research (MPhil)


Taylor and Beasley (2005) in their Handbook for Doctoral Supervisors describe an effective supervisor as someone who enables their candidate to: initiate and plan their research project; acquire the research skills to undertake their project with adequate access to resources; complete their project on time; produce a high-quality thesis; be successful in examination, disseminate their results; and lay the basis for their future career.

Issues to consider before agreeing to supervise a research student

  • Is the student eligible to apply? Check the criteria governing course eligibility
  • Are adequate resources and facilities available? You should ensure that appropriate supervision and adequate resources and facilities are available to support an enrolment for at least two years for master's and four years for PhD. Consider whether the intended study is likely to involve extensive and expensive field or laboratory work and/or technical and statistical requirements can be met. Establish a common expectation of the costs and facilities involved in a proposed project before giving approval to an application.
  • Will the project involve any IP and/or confidentiality issues? Intellectual property and confidentiality should be considered and discussed, particularly if the project will be undertaken in collaboration with an outside body.

Further information