Your relationship with your supervisor is central to the success of your research degree - it should be characterised by trust, honesty and mutual respect. Your supervisor will be able to guide you on the nature of your research and the standard expected, and more generally should help you to develop your abilities and to achieve the best possible outcomes.

They will also advise you of any further training opportunities in the form of taught courses, and research techniques that may be available. You should have regular meetings or calls with your supervisor - about one hour per week is a good level of contact. This will depend on the nature of your project and what stage you're at - your supervisor may want to see you more often at the start of your research degree, for example.

What you can expect from your supervisor:

  • Support of you both intellectually and personally.
  • A viable project with clear aims and objectives and an initial work plan.
  • An appropriate work space for the type of research you will be carrying out.
  • Make themselves (or an identified alternative) available at relatively short notice to discuss research problems. Do bear in mind that there are different times of year where you might need to give a few days' notice.
  • Extensive help and guidance during your first year, help in your second year and support in the third year. The help supplied by your supervisor should reduce as you develop confidence in your own ability and become more independent.
  • Help in developing your skills in technical writing, oral presentations, problem definition, statistical data analysis, technical skills and critical literature reviews. Alternatively, they will identify someone who will be able to help you improve in these areas (you could start with the courses offered by the Graduate School).
  • Provide support to allow you to present your data at relevant conferences.
  • Provide adequate funds and/or facilities for your research project.
  • Read your thesis thoroughly and make constructive comments on both style and intellectual content.

Further information and a summary of what can be expected from students and their supervisors can be found here: www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/graduate-school/quality-assurance/phd-students-and-supervisors.

For more guidance on how to maintain good working relationships with your supervisor and peers see Student Space.