School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences



The University monitors attendance and engagement in order to ensure postgraduate research students are successfully progressing, and to be supportive and anticipatory in its approach to carrying out its duty of care to all students. The University aims to ensure that students receive information, advice and guidance at the earliest opportunity to support their efforts in overcoming barriers to their research and reduce the chance of issues escalating. You can find the University's full policy guidance here: Attendance, Engagement and Absence for Postgraduate Research Students.

Attendance monitoring

The principal mode of monitoring your attendance is through records of the regular meetings you have with your supervisors, whether these be face-to-face or via other methods. You will record these meetings using the method below

How do I record my supervision and engagement?

How to record your engagement - a student's guide:

  • Go to Sussex Direct and log in with your Sussex username and password.
  • In the main menu headings, click on Study > Timetable > Contact Record
  • Record the contact with your supervisor(s). You can click which of your supervisors have been present during the meeting, as well as date and time. 
  • Note that if you do not happen to see your supervisor for a month, either because you or they are away, you can still record contact that has happened over email, whatsapp, zoom etc. Choose the type from the drop-down menu.  
  • Describe the purpose and outcome of the meeting. Over time you will develop a method for this which works for both you and your supervisor. It is a great way to keep track of what was said and discussed in meetings, and if you do it well, you will often find yourself referring back to this record.
  • Click ‘Save’. Now your Contact Record will be send to the relevant supervisor for approval. They will be able to add notes to your record in case you forgot anything, and then they will approve the meeting. You will receive an email when they have. If they do not approve the meeting, feel free to chase them up.  
  • Now you have just completed your first official Contact Record. Get in the habit of doing this every month – you could even set a monthly reminder.  

You can also use the Sussex Mobile app to record contacts. In the app, click on Sussex Direct > Study > Timetable > Contact Records and follow the process as above.

If you have problems downloading the app, get in touch with IT Services

How often should I record my supervision and engagement?

Your required level of engagement will depend on your registration status. 

Registration statusMinimum engagement per monthMinimum supervision per monthWorking permission (student visas only)
Standard registration 1 1 20h
Authorised absences* (student visas only, 60 days maximum) 1 0 20h
Intermission n/a n/a n/a
Fieldwork 1 1 20h
Holiday* 1 0 more than 20h
Pre-submission / post-submission / corrections 1 Recommended frequency of at least 2 every 3 months (pro-rata)** 20h

* Although supervision may not occur, students with student visas are required to maintain one monthly contact with their supervisor during any period of authorised absence or holiday.

** Unless otherwise explicitly agreed, documents to reflect specific circumstances.

What counts as engagement?

PGR students may also engage with the university in a way that supplements supervisory meetings. These engagements could include activities such as: 

  • A meeting with the Director of Doctoral Studies or PGR coordinator (either face-to-face or via video conferencing).
  • A tutorial, laboratory session, workshop or seminar.
  •  A research-method or research-panel meeting, writing-up seminars or doctoral workshops. 
  • An oral examination (viva). 
  • Submission of the thesis. 
  • Draft chapters, coursework as requested by supervisors and/or the Director of Doctoral Studies or a paper/report. 
  • Registration (for enrollment or  matriculation).
Expected attendance

Being a doctoral research student is very different from that of an undergraduate or Masters student. You are expected to conform to the norms of the laboratory/research environment in which you work. Typically, you will be expected to work on your thesis every weekday. Whether you are performing experiments or using computational/analytical approaches, you would be expected to be in your office/laboratory every weekday. Your hours each day will depend upon your specific laboratory. For any departure from your research group norms on a regular basis you must seek approval from the group leader.

Your supervisors

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. Your main supervisor is responsible for communication with the Research Student Administration Office and will take the lead in the administration of your research progress.

To find out the specific responsibilities of both Supervisors and Doctoral Researchers in the Supervisory Relationship please see the guidance outlined by RSAO about supervision.

In some cases it may be necessary for the School to change your supervisor(s) during the course of your studies. This could be temporary, due to research leave or illness, or it could be on a permanent basis, for example as a result of a change in the focus of your project or if your supervisor leaves the University. In all cases please contact the PGR support co-ordinator to discuss.

Annual leave and illness

Annual leave

All students are entitled to 40 days of annual leave.

Home Students

If you are a 'Home' student you need to inform your supervisors in writing. This process is monitored by the school. If the student is requesting more than their allowance then the supervisor needs to intervene.

Overseas Student visas

If you are an OS student with a student visa, you will need to apply for annual leave using the Holiday/Annual Leave Request form (Student visas only) form from RSAO. This is essential as we need to be in compliance with UKVI regulations

For further information on annual leave, please see the RSAO.


If you are ill and unable to work, you should inform your supervisor as soon as possible. If illness persists for a prolonged period (typically more than a few days), you are expected to explain your absence. In cases involving extended illness, you may be required to produce evidence of medical conditions. You do not necessarily have to provide this proof to your supervisor. Instead, this can be dealt with by the Student Life Centre or by the Director of Doctoral Studies to ensure confidentiality.