Doctoral School


A healthy relationship with your supervisor is vital for the successful completion of a PhD. We all hope that our supervisor is as excited about our research as we are, but they are often busy with other supervisees, teaching, admin, and their own research. Supervisory styles also vary.

This section guides you through supervisory expectationsscheduling and planning meetingscommunicating with your supervisor, and dealing with any problems. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Current supervision guidelines

When anyone is starting a PhD, the first step is to agree with your supervisor how you will work together. This will vary according to your area of research and your personal preferences, as well as those of your supervisor. Coronavirus adds a further complication.

Fortunately, PhD supervision meetings normally involve small numbers of people, so while the university's distancing guidelines must be adhered to, it will be possible to conduct supervision face-to-face on campus if you and your supervisor agree. Similarly, you may be away from campus or for any reason prefer to have your supervisions via teleconferencing (e.g. Zoom). Both approaches - or a mix - are supported by Sussex, and we’d encourage you to start this conversation with your supervisor as soon as you can.

For the latest information from the University see the Autumn 2020: advice for doctoral researchers and supervisors webpage. If you feel at all uncomfortable with anything relating to Covid-19 please get in touch with the Doctoral School (

Responsibilities of Supervisors and Researchers

The responsibilities of supervisors and responsibilities of supervisees are explained on the Research Student Admin Office website. This includes information previously contained in the handbook for doctoral researchers, which has been integrated into the RSAO website and will be updated annually.

You can also watch this recording of our Working with Your Supervisor webinar, held in March 2017:

Doctoral School