Framework for Graduate Learning: Structures and Expectations

Supervision, training and other forms of teaching

(a) All postgraduate students are assigned a supervisor (or in some cases two co-supervisors). The supervisor’s primary responsibility is to advise the student on the programme of work necessary to complete a dissertation or thesis. To this end, the supervisor should maintain a general overview over the student’s studies and academic development. Supervisors should help their students to identify and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to complete the dissertation or thesis, and to further their aims for further study or employment, insofar as these build upon the programme of graduate study.

(b) All graduates are encouraged to identify and prioritise their own training needs, and to consider how and on what timetable these might best be met. The checklist below has been devised to assist students in this process. You should aim to discuss your training plan with your supervisors regularly, especially at the start of the academic year (with an emphasis on work to be done or classes to be attended during the year) and during Trinity Term (with an emphasis on work to be done over the summer). Research students completing their probationary period who wish to be inducted into teaching on the faculty plan will need to discuss this with their supervisors and return the appropriate form early in the summer vacation (see the teaching induction scheme).

The checklist may help students not only to identify and find ways of addressing training needs, but also to report on both needs and achievements. In Michaelmas Term 2008 the University introduced an on-line Graduate Supervision System (GSS) which gives all students enroled on graduate programmes each term the opportunity to report on their learning experience and training needs. Using the system is easy and intuitive, and we hope students will find that stopping for a few minutes and taking stock of what they have achieved in a termly cycle will help them to stay focused. The Humanities Division has published a short on-line guide with suggestions how the system could be most fruitfully used. – Research students are also asked to summarize training needs and training taken in their transfer and confirmation applications (relevant questions are set out on the standard university forms). Increasingly British funding bodies also ask for such reports. – If you have training needs not covered by the checklist, or not well provided by the means indicated, please discuss with your supervisor and alert the Graduate Office. 

Training self-assessment checklist for new graduate students

Copies of this form will be sent out to new students before their arrival, so that the Graduate Office and supervisors have advance notice of students’ training needs.

Training self-assessment checklist for continuing research students

Continuing students are encouraged to complete this form at least once a year, and to send a copy to their supervisors, as a basis for discussion.

Sign up to training sessions and language classes

This booking form gives students an opportunity to advise the Graduate Office of their intention to participate in scheduled training sessions, or to ensure that they are included in mailing lists when classes (particularly language classes) are organized in response to identified needs.

Supervisors may apply for funds to support language teaching for a student who has special needs, e.g., for tuition in an unusual language. But we ask supervisors and students to communicate with the Graduate Office before making any such arrangements, since it may be possible to organize provisions for several students who, unknown to each other, have common needs.


(c) Other teaching and collaborative academic activity takes place chiefly in: 


General academic expectations and requirements

Pattern of work

All graduate students are expected to apply themselves to academic work on a full-time basis throughout the duration of their course, both during university terms and vacations, except during public holidays and when they take time off for personal holidays (perhaps to a total of six weeks during the year).

Unless they have completed their residence requirements, students are expected to be resident in Oxford during term time. Tutorials, classes and seminars, and formal assessment interviews (for transfer or confirmation of status) will normally be scheduled only during full term or in weeks 0 and 9. During university vacations students are expected to pursue independent study and research. Neither supervisors nor students will necessarily be in Oxford during vacations, but supervision meetings may be arranged if it is mutually convenient.

Required forms of participation

Students on taught master’s courses are required to follow the programme of study specified for their course, and any additional requirements agreed with their supervisor. This usually entails some mix of the following: 

Research students are required, in addition to working on their dissertations or theses, to attend the ‘core seminar’ in their research area; all research students are also strongly encouraged regularly to attend one or more additional research seminars, and to make occasional presentations based on their research.

Other opportunities

There are many opportunities for students to benefit from classes or seminars other than those they are required to attend: