Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module EDUC40620: Supervising and examining postgraduate research students

Department: Education

EDUC40620: Supervising and examining postgraduate research students

Type Open Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The purpose or aim of this module is to support academic staff to develop the knowledge and skills to enable them to effectively supervise research students and to examine research degrees.


  • One of the University’s key priorities is to increase the number of research students, and the core content of the module will cover five key aspects of the roles of supervisor and examiner.
  • The first will be concerned with the establishment and maintenance of professional relationships with research students. In particular, it will look at student and supervisor expectations of their roles, supervisory styles and their relationship to student needs, and the dynamics of supervisory relationships over the course of the research project. It will also consider issues in the co-supervision of research students.
  • The second will look at the roles of supervisors in supporting the research project, including topic selection, ethical guidance, training needs analysis, initial support, writing, continuing support, and monitoring progression. It will also consider the research evidence on the causes of non- and delayed completion, and strategies for encouraging timely completion.
  • The third will look at the roles of supervisors in supporting research students themselves. It will look at the issues involved in supervising an increasingly diverse range of students, and look the research evidence relating to gender, maturity, modes of study (part-time and full-time) and culture (international students).
  • The fourth will look at the roles of supervisors in supporting completion, including producing the thesis itself, and preparation for examination.
  • The final one will look at the examination of research degrees, including examining the thesis and conducting the viva voce. The intention is that this should enable candidates to act as internal examiners for research degrees and prepare them for roles as external examiners.
  • Generic matters will be covered in the seminars; discipline-specific ones will be covered by work-based learning and in learning sets.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module students will be able to demonstrate:
  • The intended learning outcomes are that participants will be aware of good practice in:
  • establishing and maintaining a professional relationship with research students and co-supervisors;
  • supporting the research project;
  • supporting research students;
  • supporting completion and preparation for examination;
  • examining research degrees.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • the skills to establish and maintain a good relationship with research students and co-supervisors, including listening, questioning, responding, and constructive criticism;
  • skills to support the research project, including conducting a training needs analysis and monitoring student progress;
  • skills to support research students, including mentoring;
Key Skills:

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The primary mode of teaching will be workshops. These will incorporate presentations designed to enable participants to meet knowledge-based outcomes; group discussions and exercises, including role plays, designed to enable them to meet skills-based outcomes; work-based learning designed to enable individual participants to meet both sets of outcomes in a disciplinary context; and professional groups designed to enable individuals in cognate disciplines to link work-based learning with generic knowledge and skills outcomes.
  • As the majority of learning will be work-based, assessment will be via a portfolio demonstrating achievement in the workplace of the relevant outcomes
  • Summative Assessment:
  • Assessment will be via a portfolio containing a commentary relating to the key areas of content. They will be expected to combine knowledge of the scholarly literature with work-based learning in their departments to highlight good practice relating to their discipline in:
  • establishing and maintaining a professional relationship;
  • supporting the research project;
  • supporting research students;
  • supporting completion and preparation for examination;
  • examining research degrees.
  • Each section will have a limit of 1000 words and participants will be expected to cover all of these areas to an appropriate standard.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Learning Sets 3 2 hours 6
Seminars 5 3 hours 15
Work-based learning 119
Private study 60
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio Maximum 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Participants will be encouraged to give presentations of their work at each stage and receive formative feedback from colleagues and the course facilitator.>

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University