Thesis Advisory Panels

TAPs must be recorded via Skills Forge 

The Supervisor and the Thesis Advisory Panel (TAP) monitor student progress.


  • Send the proposed TAP membership via Google form by the end of October (for October start students) or after the student has completed the first month of the studentship for students commencing at other times of the year. TAP membership requires formal approval by the departmental Graduate School Board.


  • For Masters by Research Students the first TAP meeting takes place within 3 months and the second within 9 months. 
  • Organise your 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;
  • Enter all TAP meeting notes directly into Skills Forge and take a copy of the review of supervision form to EVERY meeting.

2019/2020 TAP Meeting Deadlines

TAP 1 (within first 3 months of academic year): 21st December 2019

TAP 2 (within first 9 months of academic year): 3rd July 2020

Skills Forge: Completing a TAP preparation form (Students)

Skills Forge: Completing a TAP meeting record form (TAP Panel)


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.)

TAP membership

Normally, we expect a TAP to have two members of the University academic staff, at least one of these being from Biology. The industrial supervisor of a CASE or other jointly-supervised project should also be on the TAP.

The recommended number of TAP members is 3, with a maximum of 4; a case for exceptions to this limit can be made, for example, in the case of CASE/industrial supervisors, or highly multidisciplinary projects.

TAP membership allows for inclusion of independently-funded research fellows, as long as the second TAP member is a member of the academic staff with successful PhD supervisory experience.  

Who should attend the meetings?

The full TAP is required to attend the 3 month meeting. TAP meetings that coincide with Formal Reviews of Progress must include two TAP members or substitutes approved from the Director/Associate Director of BGSB.

Full attendance is preferable at the other meetings, but if this proves impractical, it is sufficient that the meeting should include the student, the main supervisor and one TAP member who is a member of the academic staff in the Biology Department. Virtual meetings are aceptable with prior approval from the Director/Associate Director of BGSB.

Information regarding TAP report content

Three month TAP: 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: 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. This form is completed and returned by the student to Biology Student Services, B/T008.


The Researcher Development Framework

The Researcher Development Framework guidelines

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 be expected to extend beyond 10 minutes, but it provides an indication of length and number of slides to be used (10-15).

Review of Supervision Meeting between the student and independent TAP members and with the supervisors out of the room.

Complete a hard copy of the Review of Supervision Form (this should be handed in to BGSO in the Student Services Office, B/T008). Skillsforge TAP form completed and submitted at the end of the meeting. Understandably, if there are particular issues or student needs, the meeting would extended.