Fundamentals of PhD Supervision

Fundamentals of PhD Supervision is an online course that has been developed by the Institute for Academic Development in consultation with the Doctoral College and relevant staff in Colleges and Support Services.

Fundamentals of PhD supervision logo

This course aims to help new supervisors develop their understanding of the role and responsibilities of PhD supervisors at the University of Edinburgh, and to encourage experienced supervisors to reflect on and develop their practice with an increasingly diverse PhD student population.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for? 

This course is for anyone who is currently supervising University of Edinburgh PhD students, or who will be supervising University of Edinburgh PhD students in the near future.  This applies whether you are a Principal, Co- or Assistant Supervisor.  It is suitable both for University of Edinburgh staff and supervisors who are external to the University. 

When should I do this course? 

It is a University expectation that all new PhD supervisors complete this course and that it is repeated every 5 years.  If you are new to PhD supervision, or new to PhD supervision at the University of Edinburgh, you will ideally complete this course before you begin supervising a PhD student.  

If you are an experienced supervisor you are required to complete the training every 5 years. The course is always available so you can dip back into it at any time to refresh your knowledge of specific areas.  

How do I access the course? 

University of Edinburgh staff should enrol on the course through People and Money Learning.  Enrol here:   Booking Link

External supervisors should contact to gain access.  

How long will it take to complete?  

We estimate that it would take 3-4 hours to complete the course without watching the additional videos. The course is self-paced, you can leave and return to where you left off at any time. 

To complete the course, and in order for your completion to be recorded, you must work through all modules and complete the required activities.  

Does this course fulfil the compulsory training requirements for PhD Supervisors? 

Yes, but your College or School may also run a supervisor briefing to complement this course.  

What does the course cover? 

Fundamentals of PhD Supervision is made up of 7 modules. These are aligned to the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) Good Supervisory Practice Framework.  

  1. Introduction to PhD supervision at Edinburgh  

  1. Recruitment and selection  

  1. Supervisory roles, responsibilities and approaches 

  1. Setting expectations and monitoring progress 

  1. Completion and final examination 

  1. Supporting wellbeing 

  1. Supporting professional and career development 

Each of these modules summarises key information for supervisors. This includes signposting relevant policies, codes and regulations, and support and training available for you and your student. In each, there is a strong emphasis on encouraging self-reflection and further reading. The next steps section offers some pointers to further professional development.  

The video content for each module is an additional part to the course. The videos are to provide further advice and information from the perspective of lived experience as a PhD supervisor.  

Does doing this course cover compulsory training requirements set by other research student funders (e.g. Research Councils)?   

This course may help supervisors to meet funder requirements as there is usually an expectation that you will meet your institutional training requirements for PhD supervisors. 

However, your student's funder may require additional training beyond what is expected by the University of Edinburgh. You should check with the funder directly to ensure you are complying with any specific requirements for supervisors.  

Will my attendance be recorded? 

To complete the course successfully, and in order for your completion to be recorded, you must work through all sections. People and Money will automatically track completion of the training modules.  

IAD will keep a record of attendance and completion of this course. Attendance updates will be provided to your school/deanery.  

You will not be issued a certificate of attendance on completion but please email if you require one.

Who do I contact if I have comments or problems accessing the course? 

If you have problems accessing the course please email  

We welcome comments on the course so please contact us if you have any feedback.  There is also a feedback form in the final module of the course.  

Who do I contact if I have other questions about my role as a PhD supervisor? 

Your first point of contact should be the relevant postgraduate staff in your School or Centre.  This may be the PG administrative staff or the PG(R) Director or Head of the Graduate School. You can find contacts on the relevant School website: 

If you have problems identifying the relevant contact please email us, letting us know which School or Centre your PhD student is part of, and we will put you in touch with the relevant staff. Please email