Doctoral School

New doctoral researchers


A warm welcome to Sussex and to life as a doctoral researcher.
You are joining a thriving doctoral community and we hope you will become involved in the many opportunities on offer.

On this page we have pulled together some information to help you as you are starting out. It will also be useful to visit the Research Student Administration Office website which contains essential information, guidance, and forms for your research studies.

You should also access the Handbook and Regulations for Doctoral Researchers and the Handbook for Research Supervisors and Directors of Doctoral Studies.

International doctoral researchers are also invited to explore our guidance on settling in, and English language and academic development support.

Welcome and induction events

We are invited to your School induction events in October, and look forward to meeting you and telling you more about how the Doctoral School can help you during your time here.  We also organise welcome events for all new doctoral researchers in October, February and May each year - look out for an invitation in your Sussex e-mail account.

The larger October event will give you the chance to meet doctoral researchers from across campus and visit a series of stalls to meet our colleagues, and discover the range of opportunities and support available to the doctoral community; representatives from these areas will also greet you at our smaller February and May welcome events. Those participating in these events include:

Research Student Administration Office
Careers & Employability Centre
Research Governance & Integrity Support
Student Life Centre
IT Research Support
Excursions-  online journal run by Sussex doctoral researchers
Library Research Support Team
International Student Support
USSU Postgraduate Association (PGA)
Sussex Research Hive
Academic Development Support-  for international doctoral researchers
Student Support Unit

Research contacts in your School

Your Research & Enterprise Co-ordinator (REC) is part of your School administrative team and is responsible for local induction arrangements, maintaining records of research students and supervisory arrangements, assisting with the planning of the annual review and viva, assisting with the administration of studentships, and processing expenses for doctoral students. RECs work closely with the Directors of Doctoral Studies. Find out who your REC is.

Director of Doctoral Studies - Your Director of Doctoral Studies plays an essential role in ensuring that the standards set for doctoral students and supervision are maintained, and to provide leadership in developing new initiatives and formulating policy on matters relevant to research students. Some departments have a Research Convenor who assists the Director of Doctoral Studies.

Research Student Reps - The Student Rep scheme is co-run by the University of Sussex and the University of Sussex Students’ Union. Student Reps provide an essential link between Students, the Union and the University. Research Student Reps are doctoral students elected to represent the views and interests of students in their subject. Find out who your Rep is.


You should have your first meeting with your supervisory team within your first two weeks after registration. This meeting should include a discussion of the schedule of supervisory meetings. In most cases you will have a main supervisor and then one or more secondary supervisors, all of whom will provide you with advice and guidance throughout your time at Sussex.

See the Handbook and Regulations for Doctoral Researchers for further details on the responsibilities of your supervisor and yourself, and Research Student Administration Office pages for other frequently asked questions about supervision.

Recording supervision meetings

You are required to submit a record of each meeting with your supervisor(s) via Sussex Direct – a mutually agreed summary of the key issues discussed and agreed deadlines – for both submission of work and feedback.
  • Click on the ‘study’ tab at the top of the screen, select ‘timetable’, and go to ‘contact records’.  
Once you've created the record an automatic e-mail will be sent to your supervisor who will confirm the record and add any details they wish to be logged.
For further instructions on how to use this tool, please click on the 'help' icon in Sussex Direct.

Your training & development 

An important first step in your doctoral journey is to discuss your training and development needs with your supervisor- we recommend that you arrange a meeting for this purpose within the first 3 months of starting your doctorate. For further guidance see your development needs and explore our Researcher Development Programme.

If you're planning on teaching you might also want to explore the starting to teach programme organised by the Academic Development and Quality Enhancement offfice.

Your School is likely to organise a seminar programme, or series of events which you will wish to be involved in. You are likely to receive details via your Sussex e-mail address, but can also check the news and event pages of your School website. 

Online induction module: Starting your doctorate at Sussex

Complimenting the induction provided by your School, and the University Handbook and Regulations for Doctoral Researchers, our online module provides guidance on the doctoral process and practicalities of doctoral research. Essential reading for those embarking on life as a doctoral researcher!

The module provides essential information on:

  • The doctoral process (writing your research plan, literature review, making progress, managing the supervisory relationship)

  • Practicalities of doctoral research (keeping up to date, note taking, bibliographic referencing, writing, time-management, technology)

  • Professional Development activities (networking, teaching, conferences, getting published)

We hope you’ll find this to be a really useful resource which you can return to as and when you need to throughout the early stages of your doctoral research.  This module is part of a series: Researcher Development Online

Research Integrity

Sussex seeks to foster a culture of professional integrity, engaging in research activity that is properly conducted to the highest standard. The University Research Integrity policy can be found on the research standards webpage.

You may need to apply for ethical approval for your research, see does your research require ethical review for more guidance. Doctoral researchers can also access on online programme on Research Integrity

The programme aims to provide practical advice on dealing with the complex issues that can arise while designing, planning, conducting and reporting or publishing research. There are five modules to choose from, available for Arts and Humanities; Biomedical Sciences; Engineering; Natural Sciences; Social Sciences.

Researcher wellbeing

Doctoral research can be challenging and sometimes result in stress affecting academic performance - see our page on sources of help and support to find out about the support services available to you.

The University Counselling Service can help to reduce the sense of feeling overwhelmed and isolated by providing a range of free and confidential services that postgraduates have found helpful in keeping them on track. Find out more about counselling services for postgraduates.  

Health and safety

You are responsible for acting sensibly towards your own and your peers' safety, which includes co-operating with instructions in labs and emergency procedures. You are entitled to:
  • Health & Safety induction at a School level, and also for any specialised activities you undertake as part of your studies.
  • Assistance and guidance on how to safeguard your health and safety while at the University.
If you have concerns or questions regarding anything related to Health & Safety on campus, please speak to your supervisor, or your School Health & Safety Coordinator.

University of Sussex Students' Union (USSU) Buddy Scheme

The Buddy Scheme, run by the Students' Union, can put you in contact with a doctoral researcher already at Sussex who can help to answer your questions as you're starting out on your doctorate, share their experiences and tips for success, and be a friendly face to welcome you.

Find out more on the Buddy Scheme website or sign up now.

Sussex Online Profile & ORCiD 

Our online profile facility allows you to develop a webpage to present yourself and your research on your department webpages, alike to other staff and research students. This can help raise your profile, and promote your research. Find out how to develop your online profile.

The Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCiD) is an international standard to help researchers to establish and maintain their scholarly identity. It is a unique and persistent identifier which establishes your identity as a researcher and connects you, unambiguously, to your publications, data, citations, projects and other research activities. It is managed by you and it stays with throughout your career, even if you change institution.  All research students are encouraged to register for your ORCiD.

Staying in touch

You can keep in touch with us via twitter and facebook, and will also receive our monthly newsletter Doctoral Connections which is sent to your Sussex email address.

Doctoral School

T: 00 44 (0)1273 87 7767