Doctoral Supervision Policy and Procedures (2016 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 Postgraduate Supervision Guidelines


  1. All doctoral candidates must have either a main supervisor and co­-supervisor/s or two joint supervisors
  2. All supervisors must hold a doctoral degree or be appropriately qualified
  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 and an accredited main supervisor
  5. At least one of the joint supervisors must be a staff member at the University and an accredited joint supervisor
  6. The main supervisor must take overall responsibility for the supervision of the candidate and for assistance in the provision of research resources. In the case of joint supervision, both supervisors are responsible
  7. Potential supervisors who are themselves doctoral candidates may only be appointed as advisers


Beginning of study

8.    Candidates and supervisors must meet to discuss:

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

9.    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

10.   It is the candidate and supervisor/s joint responsibility to ensure that formal ethics approval is obtained

11.   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

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

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

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



15.    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 member to take up temporary supervisory duties, or provide contact details so that supervisory contact may be maintained with the candidate

16.    Candidates must:

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


Dispute resolution

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


The following definitions apply to these guidelines:

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

Document management and control

Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies

Content manager: School of Graduate Studies

Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies

Date approved: November 2015

Review date: November 2018