Postgraduate research supervisors

Information and advice for postgraduate research supervisors on recruiting and supervising postgraduate research (PGR) students.

Why be a superviser?

Watch our short animation featuring the unsung heroes of doctoral study, the supervisors. Hear voices of experience talking about the satisfying aspects of overseeing doctoral students through their research.

This animation is by David Hutchinson (MA in Animation, UWE Bristol). You can also watch a great range of videos showing the University in action on our UWE Bristol YouTube.

10 reasons to be a doctoral supervisor

Recruiting postgraduate research students

PGR student enquiries

If you receive a direct enquiry from a potential PGR student, please ask the student to email the Graduate School at We will ensure that the candidate receives the correct application documents and we can answer any questions regarding the application process.

Advertising studentships

All studentships are advertised on our website and on Please email the Graduate School if you wish to advertise a studentship. 

Application process

All PGR applicants are required to complete an application form and submit it with supporting documents to the Graduate School. We will forward complete applications to the Faculty PGR Director for quality consideration. Other Faculty colleagues may also be asked to provide specialist review. If the applicant is a strong candidate and the University can support the proposed research project, we will invite the applicant for interview.

Interview process

A member of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee (FRDC) will chair the interview panel. The potential Director of Studies will normally be on the panel, as will others with particular relevance to the project eg potential supervisor, external advisor or collaborator. Graduate School staff will help arrange the interview. 


If an applicant is successful at interview, we will send them a formal offer letter, together with Terms and Conditions of their offer, naming a prospective Director of Studies and specifying a start date.

Supervising PGR students


The supervisory team is responsible for providing academic support and guidance to the PGR student in planning and implementing the research programme. The division of responsibilities between the members of the supervisory team should be agreed and clear to all from the outset, although the balance may change as the research progresses.


The Academic Regulations and Procedures (Section K) govern the conduct of research degrees. Please check the Academic Regulations and Procedures regularly as these are updated annually.

PGR student milestones

At each milestone of a student's PGR journey (project registration, progression, progress review) or if there is a change to a student's registration, the supervisor will need to complete the relevant research degree form, and submit it to the Graduate School for consideration by the FRDC. These milestones support the University in regularly monitoring progress so that doctoral projects are completed successfully in good time.

Progression examination

The Director of Studies is responsible for identifying the examiners for the progression examination, completing the RD2a (Doc) form and submitting it to the Graduate School. The RD2a will then be considered by the appropriate FRDC. The Graduate School will organise the progression viva. A Director of Studies cannot be one of the examiners for the Progression Exam.

Final examination

The Director of Studies is required to submit the EX1 (Doc) form to the FRDC three months prior to the proposed viva, to ensure that all members of the examination team have sufficient time to read the thesis and report on it.

Three months allows time for:

  • the proposed exam arrangements to be approved by the Research Degrees Award Board
  • the student to submit their thesis
  • the appropriate paperwork to be compiled and distributed along with the thesis to examiners
  • examiners to read the thesis (up to six weeks allocated).

Please note: The EX1 form needs to be approved prior to the student submitting their soft bound thesis.

Independent Chairs 

To identify an Independent Chair for the final examination, the Director of Studies should email, who will then provide the names of three Independent Chairs. This process allows the Director of Studies a choice of Independent Chairs while also ensuring that Independent Chairs do no more than four vivas per year.

'Right to work' evidence for external examiners

The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 strengthened the requirement for employers to check documents to establish a person's eligibility to work in the UK. As a result, the University has a legal responsibility to check that all employees are entitled to work in the UK. Because external examiners receive payment through UWE Bristol payroll, they are in effect ‘employed’ by the University for this purpose and are, therefore, required to provide the necessary documentation.

Workload bundles (WLB) for PGR student supervision

The supervisory team receives 30 bundles per year across the whole team for a full-time student (20 for part-time). The default distribution for a full-time student is 20 for the Director of Studies and ten for the second supervisor(s). However, if you wish to change the distribution, it can be adjusted through the usual WLM processes.

Partnership PhDs

Partnership (co-funded) PhD studentships starting in 2020/2021 are open for applications. This is an open, ongoing call for applications.

We are aiming to increase postgraduate research student numbers, in part through working more closely with our partners to deliver a high quality postgraduate research experience. Funds are now available to support partnership (co-funded) PhD studentships, starting during 2020/2021. Further information and requirements can be found in the PGR Partnership Studentship Opportunities (Doc) document.

Application process

Applications should be made by a UWE Bristol academic with the confirmed commitment of an external partner. The following needs to be sent to

Applications can be made at any time although start dates must fit with the existing timetable (Excel) that allows students to start on 1 October, 1 January, 1 April.

Applications will be considered by a panel of the Graduate School Committee, reporting to the University Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. The panel will comprise the four Chairs of Faculty Research Degree Committees, or their nominees, and be chaired by the Graduate School Director. Input or expertise may be accessed from other sources as necessary.

We aim to give you an outcome within three weeks of submitting your application.


Any studentship opportunity should be advertised openly and recruitment must be through the usual PGR recruitment process.

The external sponsor should be represented on the interview panel. 

The recruitment process may be initiated once the application has been approved by the panel but a candidate cannot be appointed until a partnership agreement with the co-sponsor is signed.


Support is there if you need it:

Further information

If you require further information or support, or have any suggestions for information you would like to see on this page, please email