It is a College requirement for Departments to ensure that cohort building takes place and to create provision which allows research students to interact with their peers and should facilitate the existence of a collegial/scholarly community (Precept 9 of the Research Degree Precepts).  Additionally, cohort building is specifically mentioned in indicators 4 and 14 of Chapter B11 (Research degrees) of the Quality Assurance Agency’s UK Quality Code.  The Graduate School’s cohort programme can assist Departments to comply with these requirements. 

The College is not prescriptive in how cohorts of students are formed or how many students should make up a cohort. However, departmental established cohorts would normally have a “cohort leader” who is an academic member of staff who will be well placed to signpost students to support services and other resources.   It should also be noted that students may, in addition, form their own cohorts.

Cohort Leaders can enhance existing pastoral care and welfare systems in departments, and can assist in both signposting and the delivery of courses for the personal and professional development of st udents. The Cohort Leader can improve the postgraduate experience by promoting cohort cohesion, establishing and maintaining the ethos of the cohort, and ensuring the general wellbeing of those students.

The roles of “mentor”, “PG tutor” and “cohort leader” should not be in conflict. The role of “mentors” in departments varies considerably. The PG tutor role can involve providing confidential advice on pastoral care and welfare, this should be maintained and the cohort leader can refer students to the PG tutor as necessary.