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Supervising research degrees

Two people leaning down to look at the bottom of a large, orange, black and white painting
Alaa Kassim in the Studio, MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Arts. © Alys Tomlinson 2017.

Supervising Research Degrees is designed for academic staff. It aims to support your development as you begin to supervise PhD students. This unit focuses on supervision within theoretical and practice-based arts disciplines.

The unit is offered by the Exchange as continuing professional development (CPD).  Successful completion leads to an accredited SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) qualification.

How to apply

This unit is for colleagues who are already supervising doctoral students. You must be part of a PhD supervision team at UAL or its partner colleges. Follow the pathway process outlined below to join the unit.

Application deadline

Applications are now closed for the unit starting in March 2024. Further information on the cohort commencing in the Autumn term will be available  from May 2024.

Pathway to Supervising Research Degrees

1. Check you have been officially confirmed as a PhD supervisor

If you work at UAL, check with your College Research administration contact. If you are employed at a partner institution, check locally as appropriate.

2. Attend an Introduction to Supervision workshop

This CPD workshop focuses on supporting students through their PhD journey. You will learn about UAL PhD processes from initial enquiries, applications and recruitment to the viva voce examinations.

Attendance at this workshop is mandatory.

3. Apply to the Supervising Research Degrees unit

Apply to join the unit when:

  • you have attended the Introduction to Supervision workshop
  • you are supervising doctoral (PhD) student(s) in the current academic year.

The next Supervising Research Degrees unit will begin in March 2024. To be eligible to join, new supervisors must have held a first supervisory meeting with PhD student(s) on or before 31 December 2023.

Supervising Research Degrees unit

The unit aims to support your development as a PhD supervisor. You’ll explore the different theoretical approaches to the doctorate degree and consider their implications for your supervisory practice.

You’ll reflect on your role as a supervisor and how to gather the institutional resources and knowledge to support your research students. We’ll consider the challenges that doctoral students face at each stage of the MPhil/PhD process and the strategies that supervisors can develop to help them.

We’ll discuss relevant literature as you consider successful, ethical and inclusive supervisory practices, which aim to enhance students’ capacity to find a place within their own research communities. You’ll be encouraged to both reflect on your current supervision practice and to define strategies for further development.

Mode of study

Supervising Research Degrees is a part-time unit of study.  Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, this unit is Level 7 and credit-rated at 20 credits.

Successful completion of this unit leads to an accredited SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association) qualification.

Learning, teaching and assessment

The teaching and learning methods used on this unit include seminars, peer-led workshops, individual and group tutorials, group work and independent study.

For example, in the Spring term 2023/24 the unit will start in March. From mid-March to end-June you’ll attend workshop sessions, 2 short tutorials of 30 minutes each and a group tutorial. Session dates are:

  • Session 1: 13 March, 2-4pm
  • Session 2: 10 April, 2-4pm
  • Individual tutorials: 17 April or 24 April
  • Session 3: 1 May, 2-4pm
  • Session 4: 22 May, 2-4pm (this session will be in-person)
  • Session 5: 5 June, 2-4pm
  • Individual tutorials: 12  June or 19 June
  • Group tutorials: week commencing 24 June

You’ll be required to complete 3 assignments relating to postgraduate research supervision policy, theory and practice. You'll submit these for final assessment in July.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this unit must:

  • be part of a supervision team at UAL or a UAL partner institution.
  • have attended an Introduction to Supervision CPD workshop.
  • be supervising doctoral students in the current academic year:
    • you must have held a first supervision meeting with PhD student(s) on or before 31 December 2023 to join the unit in March 2024.
    • if you join a supervision team after 31 December you will be eligible to apply for the unit at a later date.

All applications must be supported by your line manager and UAL College Research administration (UAL staff) or your employer (external applicants).

Fees and Funding

There is no charge to UAL colleagues (or College Research Offices) for this unit.

The fee for this unit for external participants in 2023/24 is £1,410 for Home students and £2,890 for Overseas students.


Application deadline

Applications are now closed for the unit starting in March 2024. Further information on the cohort commencing in the Autumn term will be available from May 2024.

Step 1. Complete the authorisation form

Internal (UAL) applicants

External applicants

  • Download the External authorisation form (Word 42KB).
  • Ask your employer to sign to authorise your application and confirm they will pay the fee for the unit.
  • Save an electronic copy of the signed form, ready to apply online.

Step 2. Complete an online application

Internal (UAL) and external applicants

You will need to create an account using an external (non-UAL) email address and upload:

  • A copy of your passport
    • If this is a non-UK passport please also upload a copy of your residence permit.
  • A copy of the certificate for your highest level qualification
  • A copy of your completed authorisation form (saved electronically) in the reference section.

What happens next?

After you apply you will receive an automated email to confirm your application has been submitted.

You will be notified of the decision on your application by email: please check the non-UAL email account that you used to apply online.

We will enrol you onto the unit when we receive confirmation that you have attended the Introduction to Supervision CPD Workshop and that you are supervising PhD students in the current academic year.

Places on this unit are limited. If we are oversubscribed places will be allocated in consultation with your College/Institute/Department.

Opportunities for all

UAL is committed to diversity, individuality and equality. We support all students, including those who have dyslexia, long term health conditions, mental health issues, physical or sensory impairments or autism spectrum disorders.

If you have, or think that you might have, a disability please contact the University Disability Service as soon as possible to discuss your support needs. All enquiries are treated confidentially.

Contacting the Disability Service in good time means that the right support can be put in place for you should you need it.

Disability Service: +44 (0)20 7514 6156/6157 or