Supervising postgraduate research students

Information and advice for postgraduate research supervisors on supervising postgraduate research (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 UWE 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 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 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.

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


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