During their first year, all CIDCATS students have the same supervisor: the Programme Director. During this first year, students are exposed to the various interdisciplinary strands of the programme (e.g. via the terms 2 & 3 rotations), which will enable them to develop and explore their research interests. During the Easter vacation, the students are issued with a list of potential projects (each developed by a team of two supervisors from different departments). Shortly after the end of term 3, students express preferences for projects from this list. The ratio of supervisors to students is large, and thus ample choice of projects will be available. The Programme Executive Committee (PEC) will approve the students’ preferences (during July). If required by unusual circumstances, the PEC reserves the right to assign a student to a project that is not their first choice. In the (extremely unlikely) event that the supervisors of a particular project refuse to supervise the student assigned to them, then the PEC will choose two of its membership (as directed by the Programme Director, if necessary) to supervise the student.
Note that each project has two supervisors, one of which will be the student’s primary supervisor; these two supervisors are always from different departments.
In addition to these supervisory arrangements, each student is also assigned a “mentor” from the supervisor pool as soon as they arrive at York. This mentor plays two key roles: (i) during the first year, the mentor performs the role usually played by the supervisor (including assisting choice on which taught courses to attend, advising on teaching opportunities and providing pastoral advice), with the exception of providing research direction (since the PhD research project proper does not start until year 2) (ii) during years 2-4, the mentor can, when appropriate, act as the third non-supervisory member of the thesis advisory panel (TAP). If the mentor becomes a student’s supervisor, then a replacement mentor will be appointed by the PEC.
Students will meet with their mentor formally at least five times during year 1; and continue to meet less frequently throughout the first year as they become increasingly independent. The mentor is likely to play an important role in guiding the student to a suitable thesis project. After year 1, meetings will take place in the context of scheduled TAP meetings. The mentor will be also be available for additional meetings with the student as required. This is a laboratory-based programme and so students will usually have contact with their supervisors at least once a week if not more frequently.