University of St Andrews


School of Medicine handbook for staff & students
School of Medicine > Handbook > Document Search

PGR information for supervisors, reviewers and conveners

This page is still under development

Information for Supervisors and Reviewers


The University policy for supervising postgraduate research students can be found in the Education section of the University website.

Post-docs (at the discretion of the DoPGR) can be appointed as secondary supervisors in a limited capacity if the arrangement is in the interest of the post-doc (broaden and strengthen professional record) and of the PGR student (who will benefit from an additional supervisory resource), full details can be found in the Guidance on Post-Docs as Secondary Supervisors.  The PGR student must have confirmed their agreement to having a post-doc serve on their supervisory team, and been advised that the post-doc may not be available for the duration of the PhD.  The post-doc’s PI must have confirmed their agreement to the post-doc taking on the supervisory role.

Responsibilities of supervisor

  • Complete the online courses on Diversity in the Workplace and Unconcscious Bias
  • Training for new PGR supervisors can be found on the OSDS webpages. You will also find further links to documentation around PGR studies on this page.
  • Refresher training for supervisors is arranged by OSDS. Supervisors would be expected to review the video vignettes in the University Training Resources section on  Moodle, and complete the associated quiz which is included in that section.  This course is not regularly advertised by OSDS and as such supervisors should contact them directly to request to be enrolled on the module.
  • The University requires that all supervisors complete refresher training at least once every five years, although funding councils might require this at shorter intervals.  Supervisors must review the video vignettes on Moodle, and are encouraged to complete the quiz and re-do the online diversity courses.
  • PhD students are covered by PGR student policies.  Note that PGR students are not considered ‘staff’ unless also specifically employed on a staff contract and so are not usually covered by HR policies.
  • All PhD students have 4 years of full-time study in which to complete their studies and submit their thesis (including a continuation year). A fifth year of “extensions” is only for exceptional circumstances and may not be granted and penalty fees will apply.  The earliest a student can submit is after paying the third year of fees upon re-registration at the start of the third year.
  • PhD students have at least 2 Supervisors, a principal supervisor and a secondary supervisor, the second supervisor(s) may be a supporting/ mentor role.
  • PGR Supervisors should discuss skills training with their PhD students and follow this policy:


Review Committees

The University’s Progress reviews and termination of studies for postgraduate research students policy advises that each PGR student, including part time students, should undergo a formal progress review at least once in each year of registration, normally by month nine.  A thesis review committee comprises of 2 members of academic staff that conduct annual reviews of PhD students in line with University policy; if the student is jointly supervised between two academic schools, each school must be represented on the review panel.  The review meeting is expected to take place in person unless it occurs at a time point in the student’s studies when they are based overseas.

For Masters by Research students (MSc (Res) the first review should be completed by month five.

Students are to be assessed on both the quality and quantity of their work. They should not be judged based on the review panel’s own preferences in regard to topic, method or findings, so long as the work produced is of an appropriate level.

Each student’s work will be classified according to one of four categories (see Appendix A for outcome descriptions):

  • Green – Satisfactory
  • Yellow – Minor concerns
  • Amber – Major concerns
  • Red – Unsatisfactory.

Red and amber outcomes require a re-review.


MSc (Res) examination

The process is governed by the Assessment of postgraduate research students policy.  Guidance and further information (including examination forms) can be found in the PGR resources for staff in Academic Schools in Moodle.

Each thesis will be examined by at least two internal examiners as assigned by the School. The examination of a thesis will normally be completed within three months of the date of submission. In most cases an oral examination will not be required, although the examiners may request that an oral examination takes place if they deem it necessary. The examiners will discuss and agree an outcome from the options set out in the Postgraduate Senate Regulations.

Following approval by the PGT co-ordinator, the School will upload the Examination Report as feedback in the Coursework tool in MMS. Registry will notify you when you are able to view the Examination Report in MMS, along with any other feedback that may be available, and next steps. Please note that, at this point, the recommendation of the examiners is still provisional, until it has been approved by the Associate Provost.

All theses are also moderated by an external examiner.


External Examiners (PhD)

External examiners will be sent an expense claim form from Registry for their expenses in relation to a viva.  This should be completed in the first instance by the External Examiner with their details and signature before submitting (along with any necessary receipts) to the Convener of the viva for their approval and signature, it should then be submitted to pgmed@ to be coded and have authorised signatory added and then submitted to Salaries for payment.