Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links

Supervisory Issues

My postgraduate experience is not what I expected, is this normal?

All postgraduate experiences are different, mainly because the dynamic between each student and their supervisor will not be the same. Many students take a little time to adjust to the independent learning demanded by postgraduate research. Postgraduate students also tend to be a little unsure of their role, and that of their supervisor. Clarification on such matters can be found in the Board approved literature regarding Graduate Supervision.

These documents, Best Practice Guidleines on Research Supervision (PDF, 40K) and Good Research Practice (PDF, 116K) deal with issue of Graduate Supervision under a number of different headings such as Regulations, Academic Standards, and the General Relationship of Supervisor to Student.

I have read the Best Practice Guidelines on Research Supervision and feel that I am not getting proper supervision. Is there anything I can do?

Yes. If you feel that you can, then you should first discuss any issue directly with your supervisor. Don’t raise the issue with your supervisor as s/he is hurrying past in the corridor: make an appointment to see your supervisor so that you have an allocated time to talk privately. Try to stay cool and calm and raise the issue in a professional manner. You will get a lot further by being firm rather than aggressive. Assume that s/he will respond in a professional and sensitive manner. Give your supervisor the opportunity to work with you to find a solution. You may be surprised to discover that what seems to be an enormous and obvious problem for you is something of which your supervisor is not even aware. The solution may be as simple as telling your supervisor what’s bothering you. If, for whatever reason, you feel this option is not open to you, the University of Dublin Calendar Part III outlines in detail the procedures in place for making a complaint about the adequacy of supervision. It is advised however that you discuss the nature of your particular difficulty with the Postgraduate Student Support Officer(Email) prior to making any formal complaint. The Postgraduate Support Officer can provide you with an objective opinion, useful advice and strategies, and guaranteed confidentiality. Remember that the University, along with you, want you to complete your degree successfully; although the reasons for wanting that success may differ, the goal is the same.


Last updated 3 September 2015 (Email).