Supervision of Research Degree Students



1. This Policy defines expectations for supervision of research degree students at the University of South Australia. This Policy is to be read in conjunction with Procedure AB-64 P1: Management of Research Degree Supervision and Guideline AB-58 AD10: Key Responsibilities in Research Degrees Management and Supervision.


2. This Policy applies to the supervision of research degree students enrolled in a research degree program offered by the University.


3. This Policy does not apply to supervision of coursework undergraduate and postgraduate students, including honours degree students.


4. Academic Board is the approving authority for this Policy.

5. The Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise is the officer responsible for organisation-wide adherence to this Policy and its Procedure.

6. Supervisors will carry out he duties and responsibilities in accordance with this Policy.

Policy Principles

7. High quality research degree supervision supports excellent outcomes, including:

  1. development of graduates who are well-trained and well-skilled, responsible independent researchers and who demonstrate the knowledge and career capabilities embodied in the Graduate Qualities for Research degree Students;
  2. high quality and satisfying research education and training for research degree students;
  3. timely completions and high completion rates; and
  4. good examination results and research outcomes for the University.

8. Research degree students will receive excellent supervision from people who are qualified to supervise, who are appropriately inducted into supervision, and who demonstrate commitment to ongoing development and training of supervisory practice.

9. Research degree students will be supervised by a panel to ensure appropriate breadth, depth and continuity of supervision (refer to Procedure AB-58 P2: Research Degrees Supervision and Procedure AB-61 P1: PhD Collaboration).

10. The University will maintain a register of current and eligible research degree supervisors.

11. The University will provide induction programs and professional development opportunities for supervisors.

12. Academic Units will provide appropriate resources to support postgraduate research and will give proper recognition of the workload required for Principal Supervisors and Co-Supervisors to carry out their duties.


Co-Supervisor is an academic staff member who provides support to the Principal Supervisor in guiding the postgraduate research undertaken by the research degree student.

Principal Supervisor is a university academic staff member or adjunct who has primary responsibility for guiding the postgraduate research undertaken by a designated research degree student and for overseeing the progress of that student towards completion of their research degree. The Principal Supervisor is normally responsible for decisions and processes as detailed in relevant procedures including convening the Supervisory Panel for reviews of research degree student progress, and consultation on the research project.

The Register of Research Degree Supervisors (the Register) is maintained by Student and Academic Services and identifies academic staff who are currently supervising research degree student and/or who are eligible to supervise at the University of South Australia. It does not include external associate supervisors or advisors.

Research degree student is an individual enrolled in a research degree.

Supervisors are members of the University Community who have oversight and/or direction of the work of staff or students.

University Community refers to all students and staff members of the University including honorary title holders, adjuncts, visiting academics, guest lecturers and volunteers who are contributing to the work of the University but who are not staff members.

Related Documentation

Policy AB-58: Research Degrees

Policy AB-63: Quality Assurance and Improvement in Research Degrees

Procedure AB-58 P2: Research Degrees Supervision

Procedure AB-61 P1: PhD Program Collaboration

Procedure AB-64 P1: Management of Research Degree Supervision

Guideline AB-58 AD10: Key Responsibilities in Research Degrees Management and Supervision

Code of Conduct for Students

Graduate Qualities for Research Degree Students

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, including NHMRC Supervision Guide

University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement 

  • Officer Responsible for Update and Review:  Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise
  • Approved by:  Academic Board, 24 September 2021, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise,
    11 August 2023 (minor amendments)
  • Commencement Date:  1 Oct 2021
  • Review Date:  June 2026
  • History:  This Policy supersedes Policy RES-18.3: Higher Degree by Research Supervision.