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Information for supervisors

The Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) provides essential information and guidance to support supervisors at Birkbeck. 

New starter checklist for supervisors 

BGRS SharePoint site

  • MPhil/PhD students and supervisors can access the BGRS SharePoint site (please contact the BGRS if you can't), which includes: 
    • highlighted information for new research students 
    • a detailed overview of training and professional development available to research students 
    • lecture capture, slides and handouts from BGRS training sessions 
    • details of Birkbeck Postgraduate Research Student (PGR) Reps 
    • a summary of careers and employability resources for research students
    • information about potential funding sources for current PhD students
    • information about internships, teaching and demonstrating opportunities 
    • video resources and other useful information.  

Research track

  • Research Track is a centrally accessible system supporting postgraduate research student activities at Birkbeck. Further information about Research Track is available on the BGRS Moodle site.
  • As a supervisor, you can view details of your current Birkbeck PhD students on Research Track. To do this you should log in to My Birkbeck for Staff, look for the blue container titled ‘Research Track’ and select ‘My Research Students’.

training for supervisors 

  • The Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) Training Programme includes training/ refresher sessions for new and more experienced PhD supervisors which takes place twice per year.
  • If you are an Arts and Humanities PhD supervisor you will be able to access supervisor training via the AHRC CHASE DTP
  • The BGRS SharePoint site contains video resources, including a useful video on 'Outstanding Supervision'.
  • The Learning and Organisational Development team in HR offer training for MPhil/PhD supervisors. All supervisors are asked to complete the following human resources training in order to be prepared for recruitment of PhD students or taking part in studentship selection processes:
    • Equality & Diversity Essentials
    • Unconscious Bias
    • Recruitment & Selection for Academics
    • HR also provide a more general ‘Recruitment and Selection Refresher Briefing’ and ‘Recruitment and Selection and Interview Skills training’. 
  • You can view these HR training opportunities by logging in to Business World.


  • If you have information that is of interest to the wider research student community at Birkbeck, please contact the BGRS who can distribute messages to all PhD students or add a piece to the BGRS blog.
  • An archive of BGRS updates sent to Birkbeck PhD students is available on the BGRS SharePoint site.



  • Read the Birkbeck Code of Practice for Postgraduate Training and Research for MPhil and PhD degrees, which describes the responsibilities of supervisors and research students at Birkbeck and outlines the expectations for supervision arrangements and supervisory roles (including the roles of Principal Supervisor, Joint Principal Supervisor and Second Supervisor). 
  • Read about MPhil/PhD supervision and the supervisory relationship from the student's perspective.
  • Read our guidance notes on appointing an external supervisor. 
  • If you need to arrange a period of parental leave or absence you should follow the appropriate human resources policies/ procedures but you must also consider whether any arrangements are required to provide supervision for PhD students while you are absent. If you will be away for more than one term and your student does not have a second supervisor you should arrange for a colleague to join the supervisory team. If your absence is planned this should be done in advance so that there is an opportunity to facilitate a handover period with the supervisor who is covering your period of absence.
  •  You may find the following resources useful:


  • Vitae is a non-profit organisation that has been enhancing the skills and supporting the professional development of researchers for over 45 years. They provide research, training, events, consultancy and resources. 
  • Birkbeck is an institutional member of Vitae, so you can access their online materials to support MPhil/PhD supervisors (note: you will need to log in). 
  • Vitae also provides extensive information on part-time researchers
  • Birkbeck is a member of UKCGE which has a list of resources for supervisors.
  • There is a helpful report on perceptions of trust within supervisory relationships, with suggestions for more effective supervisory practice available on the Advance HE website.
  • The following blogs provide useful insight from the point of view of both supervisors and research students:

Field trips 

  • If your student is planning a field trip please read guidance available on the BGRS SharePoint site to ensure that planning, risk assessment, and insurance arrangements are made in advance.

training and training needs analysis




  • The examination and awarding process for all MPhil/PhD researchers is overseen by the Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS). If you have queries, please contact the BGRS.
  • Once a student has submitted their exam entry, you can check the progress of their examination (e.g. dates of submission, whether the RSSC have approved examiners, deadline for corrections) on Research Track by clicking the orange ‘Examinations and Awards’ button at the bottom of the student’s page.
  • You can record the date of a candidate's viva by clicking the blue button ‘Enter or Update Viva Date for this Student’. Please note that this is for record-keeping purposes only and you should notify the BGRS via email as soon as a viva date has been agreed.
  • Regulations and guidelines 
  • Nomination of examiners
  • Guidance and forms for external examiners 
  • Independent Chair
    • In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the viva to be chaired by an independent member of academic staff. The role of an Independent Chair is to attend the oral examination and ensure that it is conducted fairly and in accordance with the University Regulations. View the procedure and guidance for independent chairs.

change log 

  • If you have a suggestion for changes or additions to this page, please contact the BGRS. 
  • The following changes have been made to the page:
    • 11 May 2022: Additional external resources for supervisors added.
    • 1 October 2021: Changes to reflect updated guidance and requirements for online vivas and online thesis submission.
    • 1 October 2020: Highlighted information about research degree examination and COVID-19.
    • 9 December 2019: Page updated and re-ordered and supervisor checklist added.