Doctoral Supervision Policy and Procedures (2011 PhD Statute)


Doctoral candidates and their supervisors at the University.


This document outlines the policy and procedures for the supervision of doctoral candidates. It is supported by Doctoral Supervision Guidelines.


1. All doctoral candidates must have an accredited main supervisor and either a co-supervisor or an adviser/advisory committee.

2. All supervisors must hold a doctoral degree or be appropriately qualified and experienced.

3. All supervisors must be actively involved in research in the candidate’s general field.

4. The main supervisor must be a staff member at the University.

5. The main supervisor must take overall responsibility for the supervision of the candidate and for assistance in the provision of research resources.

6. Potential supervisors who are themselves doctoral candidates may only be appointed as advisers.


Beginning of study

7. Candidates and supervisors must meet to discuss:

  • student/supervisor roles
  • the frequency, duration and purpose of supervisory meetings
  • ethical practice in the research

8. If the thesis research requires ethics approval before the research can be initiated, the thesis supervisor(s) must give guidance on the ethics approval process.

9. It is the candidate and main supervisor’s joint responsibility to ensure that formal ethics approval is obtained.

10. In the case of applications to the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee, all applications from candidates must be submitted by the appropriate supervisor.

Progress reviews

11. Within six months of enrolment, candidates and their supervisor must undertake a substantial review of research activities and achievements and discuss progress towards achieving identified goals, including provisional year goals.

12. Towards the end of the candidate’s first year of enrolment, the Provisional Year Review should be completed by the candidate and main supervisor.

13. A Doctoral Annual Report must be completed every 12 months following the candidate’s confirmation of registration.


14. Supervisors must:

  • inform the candidate in advance of any proposed periods of absence either on research and study leave, or any extended leave of more than 4 weeks
  • in the event of an absence of 4 weeks or more, either arrange for another staff to take up temporary supervisory duties, or provide contact details so that supervisory contact may be maintained with the candidate

15. Candidates must:

  • negotiate the timing of periods of holiday leave with their supervisor
  • advise their supervisor if they are unavoidably absent (e.g. due to illness or family obligations)

Dispute resolution

16. In the event of a breakdown in relations between the candidate and the thesis supervisor, recourse is usually to the head of the academic unit in the first instance. See also Resolution of Student Academic Complaints and Disputes Statute.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Accredited supervisors are those who have met the criteria outlined in Postgraduate Supervisor Accreditation Policy and Procedures.

Doctoral candidates are students enrolled in a doctoral degree at the University.

Main supervisor is the lead supervisor who takes overall responsibility for the supervision of a candidate and for assistance in the provision of research resources.

Staff member refers to an individual employed on a full or part-time basis at the University.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies, Senate and Council
Date approved: 19 September 2022
Review date: 19 September 2027