Accessibility statement

Thesis Advisory Panels: Masters by Research

TAPs must be recorded via Skills Forge 

Each research student will have a Thesis Advisory Panel (TAP). The principal purposes of the panel are to review the progress of the student’s research programme and Professional Development Plan (PDP), and to supplement, where appropriate, the advice and guidance given to the student by the supervisor(s). TAPs meet with students in the first 3 months of their PhD and every 6 months thereafter. Within the TAP meeting students give a short presentation updating the panel of their progress. Ahead of each meeting the student circulates a report describing progress on the project. Further infomation is included in the tabs at the bottom of this page and within the university policy on research degrees and in the Biology TAP meetings guidance for PGR students and TAP members.

Key actions for students:

  • Complete the proposed TAP membership form (in consultation with supervisory team) before the end of the first month. TAP membership requires formal approval by the departmental Graduate School Board.
  • Organise TAP meetings well in advance and preferably near the start of the academic year (academics have very busy diaries and TAP meetings must keep to schedule). Doodle is a useful tool. 
  • Discuss the content of your TAP report with your supervisor/s and allow time for them to comment on drafts;
  • Students must complete, with their supervisor, the TAP preparation form on Skills Forge at least in one week in advance of the meeting date
  • Students must circulate their PDP and report to their TAP at least one week in advance of the meeting date.
  • Enter all TAP meeting notes directly into Skills Forge and take a copy of the review of supervision form to EVERY meeting

2022/2023 TAP Meeting Deadlines

TAP 1 (within first 3 months of academic year): 23rd December 2022

TAP 2 (within first 9 months of academic year): 30th June 2023

Skills Forge: Completing a TAP preparation form (Students) (PDF , 143kb)

Skills Forge: Completing a TAP meeting record form (TAP Panel) (PDF , 193kb)


TAP membership

The TAP consists of the supervisor(s) and at least one additional member of Biology academic staff to act as an independent panel member. A second independent panel member can be included where necessary, for example when a project is multidisciplinary in nature and the panel would benefit from a broader skill set. The second independent member may also be from the TF or an independently-funded research fellow. Industrial supervisors of a CASE jointly-supervised project should also be on the TAP. Post-doctoral research staff who are involved in project supervision can attend TAP meetings. 

The composition of the TAP should be carefully considered (in terms of the number of people, their expertise and their experience) to ensure that it can properly fulfil its purpose.

Who should attend the meetings?

The full TAP (the full supervisory team and TAP member) is required to attend the 3 month meeting.

Full attendance is preferable at the 9 month meeting, but if this proves impractical, it is sufficient that the meeting should include the student, the main supervisor and TAP member who is a member of the academic staff in the Biology Department. All meetings should be take place face to face where possible.

TAP Meeting Structure

A 1 hour meeting focused on the student’s progress and plans, with:

A 10 min presentation by the student covering work completed since the last TAP meeting. With questions and discussion this is expected to extend beyond 10 minutes, but it provides an indication of length and number of slides to be used (10-15).

Discussion on the student’s plans for the next few months working towards the next TAP meeting. 

A 5 - 10 minute discussion about the student's professional development using their Professional Development Plan.

Review of Supervision discussion between the student and independent TAP member(s) with the supervisors out of the room.

Information regarding TAP report content

The descriptions below are guidelines. TAP reports should follow the structure of a scientific report but no specific style is required. In combination with the TAP preparation form, reports should provide detail in order to reflect on and summarise progress on the work since the previous TAP meeting. The exact content will vary between students and you should discuss this with your supervisor. In addition to the TAP report, an updated version of your Professional Development Plan (PDP) should be completed for each TAP meeting.

Example TAP reports can be viewed on the VLE.

Three month TAP: A copy of your PDP and a 2,000 word (maximum) report outlining plans and first experiments.  The student's report is due at least one week before the TAP meeting, and the meeting should take place within the first three months of the project.

Nine month TAP: An updated version of your PDP and a 1,000 word (maximum) report on recent achievements, a first draft of some part of the thesis, and a timetable for completion of the thesis.  To ensure that the experimental programme is on course for completion within 12 months.

Review of supervision

Feeding back information on supervision

TAP members are asked to discuss supervision with the student once the supervisor/s has left the room (video call). This should include a discussion on a student wellbeing and whether annual leave is being taken. The completed review of supervision form is confidential. The complted form should be sent to the BiolGrad Office (


Research Student engagement


The following points indicate the minimum level of engagement expected of our students, if you are not achieving these levels then you are advised to seek help at the earliest opportunity: 

  • Working the equivalent of full-time in the lab/office (unless officially half-time), ie 5 days per week 09.00 to 17.00 (plus evenings and weekends when experiments require)
  • Working from home requires prior permission from supervisor/s
  • Regular attendance at lab meetings and seminars

Student responsibilities include: 

  • Ensuring that TAP meetings are taking place on schedule
  • Ensure all Skills Forge milestones are met
  • Ensuring that supervisory reports are up to date 
  • Any periods of sick leave need to be documented by completion of the self-certification process any periods in addition/not covered by the self-certification process need to be covered by medical certificates

What can students expect from their Academic Supervisor/s and the Department

Please see guidance on Departmental policy regarding supervision

What help is available should things go wrong?

In the Department, talk to one or some of the following people:

Outside of the Department:

Contact the Student Hub

Other sources of assistance for students

Contact the GSA (Graduate Students’ Assoc.)

The Researcher Development Framework

The Researcher Development Framework guidelines