The Supervisor-student relationship

The relationship between a PhD student and his/her supervisor is a central factor in the success of any postgraduate research program.

It is also a unique relationship, negotiated and fostered in different ways by each supervisor and student. Students' needs, interests and styles vary; a supervisor may work differently with each of his/her PhD students.

Ideally, the relationship that you develop with your supervisor will be adapted to suit your respective styles, needs and preferences. It will also be adaptable - able to change over the course of your candidature as your needs change.

In the early months of your PhD, allow time to get to know your supervisor and think about how you can work most effectively together. Being clear about expectations and responsibilities and working to keep communication open and positive will ensure your project - and your candidature - stays on track.

  • Ask what your supervisor expects of you, and what you can expect of your supervisor.
  • Supervisors were once students themselves
  • Ask about your supervisor's experiences as a PhD student
  • This can help develop better understanding and communication