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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry


Eligibility to act as a supervisor, and supervisor appointment, is determined by the Department Postgraduate Education Committee (or equivalent) in conjunction with the Degree Committee. This page sets out the eligibility criteria to act as a supervisor, the training supervisors are expected to attend, and number of students a Principal Supervisor can be responsible for.


Q. Who can supervise postgraduate students?

The Board of Graduate Studies guidance notes two overarching principles which guide the appointment of supervisors: accountability and student experience. Appointment of supervisors is agreed by local Department Postgraduate Education Committee (or equivalent) in conjunction with the Degree Committee. Supervisors should be recognised as having suitable academic experience at the right level, and that their expected tenure should normally be at least as long as the minimum length of the student's course.

If you wish to supervise postgraduate students at Cambridge for the first time please consult with your Department Director of Postgraduate Education in the first instance. Should you meet the eligibility criteria your Department Postgraduate Office will liaise with the Degree Committee to agree your appointment and set up on the student record system CamSIS. You will be required to undertake appropriate training before supervising your first student.


Q. What training are supervisors required to attend?

University and local rules for supervisors
All supervisors of research students must read and comply with the Code of Practice for Research Students which is updated each academic year. Your Department Director of Postgraduate Education or Postgraduate Office will be able to provide details of any additional Faculty/Departmental policy and local postgraduate student guide/handbook.

University Equality and Diversity online training
It is a Council of the School of Physical Sciences requirement that all supervisors complete the University Equality and Diversity online training course before supervising a student.

Supervising Postgraduate Students Workshop
The University's Personal & Professional Development team provides training and support to supervisors and co-supervisors of postgraduate students in Science and Technology, and Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Attendance is strongly recommended for experienced supervisors who are new to Cambridge as well as being an essential part of induction for first time supervisors, such as post-docs taking on their first research student. The training is usual a single session of about 90 minutes, repeated several times throughout the year.
​For more details and booking:
PPD booking page, type 'supervising graduate' into the search box to find details and reserve a place.

Moodle course
​We strongly recommend you enrol in the University's Moodle course for Supervising Postgraduate Students. The content is based on University Policies and Guidelines, plus a distillation of experience and research on postgraduate supervisions, as well as observations and comments from over a hundred Cambridge Supervisors.


Q. How many postgraduate students can I supervise?

The QAA advise that a Principal Supervisor should normally be responsible for no more than 8 research students at any one time. This advisory limit can be stretched where evidence of good supervisory practice exists. The dominant criteria in approving the number of research students allocated to a specific Supervisor is the balance of support structures, at group and Departmental level, and internal research group balance. The Degree Committee policy on supervisor load can be found here. The Department Postgraduate Office monitors the number of students each supervisor is responsible for. The Degree Committee appoints supervisors and keeps an overview of student numbers.

If you are unsure if you have the capacity to accept any further students please consult with your Postgraduate Office. 


Q. Do supervisors get paid?

The University currently pays a small termly fee to those supervisors of postgraduate students who are not paid as part of their University salary for departmental teaching.

Staff who are University Teaching Officers are therefore not eligible, for example:

  • Professors (except honorary)
  • Readers
  • University Senior Lecturers
  • University Lecturers
  • Assistant Directors of Research
  • Senior Assistants in Research
  • Clinical Lecturer
  • Director/Assistant Director (e.g. of an Institute within the University)

but Associate Lecturers, Research Fellows, College Teaching Officers and some others are. If in doubt about your eligibility, please consult your Department Postgraduate Office.

Payment is conditional on you submitting termly reports for your students in CamSIS.

This payment is not automatic, but has to be applied for; you may do this termly or annually. The claim form can be obtained from your Department and submitted to your Department Postgraduate Office.


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Office closures

The DC 'remote' Office will be closed from 3pm on Friday 28 August 2020 for the August Bank Holiday. We reopen at 9am on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Meetings schedule

Meetings of the Degree Committee and Degree Ceremonies: