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The supervisory team for a research student consists of a minimum of two persons, the principal supervisor and the advisor.

In the sciences and technology, group research may be the norm, and a supervisor, his or her students and postdoctoral researchers work alongside each other on a daily basis; in some cases, students may be supervised on a day-to-day basis by postdoctoral members of the team while the head of the team takes the formal role of the principal supervisor.

Detailed information on the responsibilities and mutual expectations of supervisors and advisors is provided in section 2.3 of the Code of Practice. Supervisors and advisors should also be aware of the responsibilities and mutual expectations of students' departments and faculties, the Director of Graduate Education, and degree committees and examiners, outlined Section 2 of the Code of Practice.


The advisor is appointed by the department or faculty. He or she need not be in exactly the same research area as the student and supervisor, nor necessarily in the same department or faculty, but should be able to bring sufficient expertise to the team in order to carry out the following:

  • Act as a second point of contact for academic advice for the student;
  • Make him/herself available to read work and discuss progress as reasonably agreed with the student;
  • Provide supervisory cover in the absence of the principal supervisor.

The advisor may participate in the formal assessment of progress and registration exercises but, in the case of a PhD student, would not normally be appointed the internal examiner for the student's thesis.

The advisor is not normally expected to:

  • Provide regular, formal supervision;
  • Write supervision reports in CGSRS;
  • Provide pastoral support for the student or Supervisor, or act as go-between for them, although he or she may offer advice to either party if asked to do so.