Supervision

The University believes that supervision is an essential part of the process that enables students to realise their full potential during their time at York.

In order to assist academics in the delivery of good supervision, the University has created a very useful resource page for the supervision of taught students. Follow the link below to access information, advice, guidance, and support, arranged around six key themes.

Taught Student Supervisor Resource https://www.york.ac.uk/staff/teaching/themes/supervisor/

Because of the value attached to supervision, the University’s governance regulations include a section on it (Regulation 6.3), and the University also has a more detailed policy on supervision. The content of Regulation 6.3 is outlined below, with full details of all the University’s ordinances and regulations being available at: http://www.york.ac.uk/about/organisation/governance/governance-documents/ordinances-and-regulations/

University Regulation 6.3, which covers supervision requirements, states the following:

6.3 Supervision

  • Students on taught programmes are allocated a supervisor who must be a member of University staff. An additional supervisor (who is not necessarily an academic member of staff of the University) may be appointed where desirable.
  • Students must attend supervisory meetings (or participate in alternative arrangements in the case of distance learning programmes) in accordance with their department’s supervision policy. For undergraduate students, supervisory meetings usually take place at least once per term.
  • Boards of Studies have the power to specify alternatives to face-to-face meetings between students and supervisors – for example, in the case of distance learning programmes, or to recommend to Senate programme-level exceptions to supervisory requirements.

The University’s policy on supervision lays out what students can expect from the University, and importantly, what they can expect from their Department.
Full details of the University’s policy on Supervision are not included here, but can be accessed at: https://www.york.ac.uk/staff/supporting-students/sources/supervisors/

In relation to their Department, the University’s supervision policy informs students that they can expect their Department will provide clear and appropriate arrangements for their supervision, and that their Supervisor will:

  • take an active interest in their overall academic and personal development; 
  • provide advice on academic progress and guidance on module choices; 
  • offer support for the development of academic and employability skills; 
  • provide general pastoral guidance and information concerning specialist services should the need arise.

This page provides information for staff on how the Department manages the allocation of supervisees to supervisors, and what is acceptable practice in the Department in relation to supervision meetings.

1. The Department manages supervision along the following lines.

  • Supervisees are allocated where possible to a supervisor who specialises in the programme area they are studying. If a staff member has a specialism that is sought after by students on a particular MSc programme, s/he will be assigned these postgraduate supervisees as a matter of priority. Staff members with more generally applicable research interests are assigned a varying cohort of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  • Staff members who have no reductions to their teaching load are allocated a set of students on the basis of an overall par (total number of students divided by total number of staff members). If a supervisor is taking a term of research leave they will be offered a reduced load, either on the basis of a 1/3 reduction throughout the year, or to have their supervisees allocated elsewhere for the duration of the research term and returned to them thereafter. Staff members who have other reductions in their overall teaching load (to accommodate Departmental admin roles or other concessions) also receive a commensurate reduction in the number of supervisees they are assigned.
  • Staff members who are new to the department are assigned first year undergraduate students only for the duration of their first year. They receive a one third reduction in their total load during their first year to allow them to settle into the role of supervisor. They will meet with the Supervision Co-ordinator for a discussion about Department practice as part of their induction process before term begins.
  • Supervisors will be notified of their supervisees at the start of the Autumn Term. In the case of undergraduates, they will ideally remain with that supervisor over the full three years of their degree.
  • Where students are removed during their supervisor’s research leave, they will, where possible, be placed for that time with a supervisor who specialises in their degree route. The lists of supervisees provided to supervisors at the beginning of term will include the date at which supervision is to end in order to allow supervisors to identify temporary supervisees. At the end of the research leave temporary supervisees will return to their original supervisor, unless they elect to do otherwise.

2. Organising and recording meetings

  • Meetings with supervisees will be held once per term, preferably in the first two weeks of term. Each member of staff will be provided with a list of supervisees the week before the term starts on which they are to record attendance. This list must be returned to the Student Services Manager at the end of week 3 so that students who have not attended can be followed up. Supervisors will also be provided with an information sheet for each student on which to make notes. These will remain in the possession of the supervisor throughout the academic year, to be returned to the Student Services Manager at the end of the Summer Term. They will be re-issued with a new sheet in the Autumn term and placed in the student’s file at the end of their degree. Supervisors on research leave should return their sheets to the Student Services Manager before they leave, so that they are available to view by temporary supervisors. Each supervisee also has a file in the undergraduate or postgraduate office where all information is recorded; this can include exam marks, disciplinary notes, health letters, etc. Please ensure that you utilise these files and document any relevant conversations for the files.
  • Supervisors are to set aside blocks of time for supervision appointments, preferably using Google Calendar or Doodle poll. Staff wishing to use a sign–up door sheet will find a blank form on the J drive in the Academic and Admin folder under Supervision. Supervisors will contact their supervisees at the beginning of week 1 to advise them how to make an appointment, and notify them that they need to arrange an appointment in the first two weeks of term.  Students will be reminded about supervision by the Student Services Manager at the end of week 2 and asked to contact their supervisor for an appointment in week 3 if they have not yet done so. After week 3 supervisors will not be required to block out specific supervision time. Some leeway must be given regarding Tier 4 students, however, since they have to see their supervisors halfway through the term.
  • At the first meeting, supervisees should be directed to read the student webpages on supervision, and made aware of the best way to contact their supervisor outside of supervision appointments. This may be in during office hours, which are to be displayed clearly on office doors at the beginning of term, or via an email appointment.
  • Supervision is compulsory and supervisors must monitor the attendance of their supervisees. Supervisors are to advise the Supervision Co-ordinator, Student Services Manager and the Chair of the Board of Studies about supervisees who fail to attend two consecutive termly supervision meetings. The Supervision Co-ordinator will follow this up. 

The content of supervision in the Department

The primary focus of supervisors is on the academic progress of the student, and the resolution of any issues that are affecting that progress. The following simple five-point plan provides a basic template for supervision meetings.

As supervisors we will:

  • Remind and enable you to make an appointment to see us at the beginning of each term
  • Discuss your academic progress and any issues relevant to it, including seminar absences and non-submission of work, and keep a record of this 
  • Give you the opportunity to ask us questions about issues you are unsure about and tell us about any problems you are having, so that we can direct you to the people who can help 
  • Help to advise you, where possible, about module choice, employment or postgraduate study, as appropriate
  • Provide you with a reference, wherever possible, within four weeks of your request

As supervisees you will:

  • Make an appointment to see your supervisor in the first two weeks of term
  • Advise your supervisor if you are unable to make that appointment and re-arrange
  • Be candid about your academic progress and your aims and objectives
  • Let us know if there are any issues that you feel are affecting your academic progress
  • Read University emails sent from the Department and respond accordingly

Supervisor’s Calendar
Supervisors will be provided with a supervision calendar that outlines key aspects of information that students should be aware of, by term and year. Discussions about attendance, the non-submission of work, and any welfare problems should be part of every meeting.

Discussions about attendance
Supervisors are to inform their supervisees about the importance of attendance. Attendance at lectures is strongly recommended and attendance at small group seminars/classes is mandatory. Students should inform their class or seminar tutor if they are unable to attend and try to attend an alternative. Students who are ill must self-certify. See www.york.ac.uk/students/support/health/selfcert/
Failure to attend is often the first indicator of academic and/or welfare difficulties. Consequently attendance is closely monitored by class/seminar tutors, and students are required to sign in. When a student has missed two seminars without appropriate notification or self-certification, the Department Secretary will send out a Failure to Attend (FA) notice, and invite the student to contact the Student Services Manager for assistance. Three FA notices will result in a ULA, or Unacceptable Level of Attendance notice, which will be placed on the student’s file and can be used when writing references. Supervisors will be advised when these notices are issued and provided with a summary of them at the beginning of each term.

Discussions about the non-submission of formative work
Supervisors are also to inform their supervisees about the importance of formative work. Class/seminar tutors will advise the Department Secretary about the non-submission of any formative work required by class/seminar tutors during the term. This information will also be collated by the Department Secretary and given to supervisors at the beginning of the following term.

Discussions about employment
Careers Adviser appointments can be booked through the Careers Gateway athttps://york.targetconnect.net/home.html, and advice is available at www.york.ac.uk/students/work-volunteering-careers/.  Supervisors should encourage students to take control of their career planning from Year 1, and consider the benefits of using the Employability Tutorial (ET), accessed from the vle at https://vle.york.ac.uk. The Careers Office has produced a guide for supervisors that explains the ET and gives advice on how to encourage students to use it. ET crib sheet for supervisors (PDF , 262kb).

For more specific information about careers in Accounting, Banking and Consultancy, a number of named contacts are available to give help and advice. Post York Career Awareness Final (PDF , 77kb).

Welfare problems
The ‘Common Problems’ webpage is a good resource to recommend to students as it provides advice on a range of issues around health and wellbeing. See https://www.york.ac.uk/students/support/health/problems/. Supervisors should also encourage students with welfare difficulties to take full advantage of appropriate organizations on campus.  Student Support Services provides advisers and practitioners to support students with a range of problems from money matters to disability, housing, immigration, academic progress, childcare etc. Located in the upper tier in Market Square, they are also the first point of contact for the Open Door Team, a multi-professional team giving support to any registered student experiencing psychological or mental health difficulties. Supervisees should visit Student Support Services Hub, Market Square, telephone 01904 324140 or email student-support@york.ac.uk YUSU also provide a wide range of services for students experiencing difficulties. Supervisees should contact the Advice and Support Centre either by email at asc@yusu.org or drop in and see them in James College.

Queries about Mitigating Circumstances, Leave of Absence and Assessments
Some problems make it difficult for students to undertake their academic studies effectively. If supervisors think this might be the case, they are to refer the supervisee to the Student Services Manager who can advise them about the routes that are available. While for some supervisees an application for Mitigating Circumstances may be sufficient, other problems may require supervisees to postpone their University studies for a period of time, that is, to take a leave of absence.
Supervisors are also asked to refer specific questions about assessment to the staff in the Examinations Office, who are best placed to give current and accurate advice. Please remember to ring or email the relevant members of the administrative staff to advise them that you are refering a student to them.

Special Cases and Disciplinary Meetings
If a supervisee has to appear at a disciplinary meeting, or before the University’s Special Cases Committee, the supervisor will be asked to provide appropriate written evidence, and may be called upon by the student to accompany her/him to that meeting. See Regulation 7.2.3 in the University’s Ordinances & Regulations. The following link to the Academic Misconduct webpage may also be useful.
http://www.york.ac.uk/about/departments/support-and-admin/registry-services/academic-misconduct/

Supervisors have a duty to ensure that a supervisee knows of this right. In relation to the process of appeal, supervisors are allowed to attend Standing Academic Misconduct Panel (StAMP) meetings to provide emotional support and help a student understand the process, but cannot advocate on their behalf. Supervisors may wish to inform their supervisees that the Students’ Union can and do provide advocates in such situations, although they cannot attend in place of the student, only with them present.

Supervision Mentor
Dr Paola Zerilli is available to provide support for any member of staff who would like to discuss issues relating to supervision. Contact her at paola.zerilli@york.ac.uk

Supervision Co-ordinator

As Supervision Co-ordinator, Maria Garcia Reyes talks to new students about supervision in the Department, and provides a forum for students who, for whatever reason, are, or feel, unable to contact their supervisor during term time. Students should email Maria (mariaelena.garciareyes@york.ac.uk) for an appointment to discuss any issues around supervision. 

Changing Supervisor
There is an informal procedure for changing supervisors. Supervisees should contact the Student Services Manager, the Supervision Co-ordinator, or the Chair of the Board of Studies to request a change.

Note: This page is intended to provide information that relates specifically to Department practice on supervision. Resources provided by the University for the support of supervision are available through the Supervisors’ Resources pages, a link to which is provided above. However, if there is anything you feel it would be helpful to include please inform Maria Garcia Reyes, Supervision Co-ordinator, at mariaelena.garciareyes@york.ac.uk