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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Earth Sciences & Geography


Eligibility to act as a supervisor, and supervisor appointment, is determined by the Department Postgraduate Education Committee (or equivalent) in conjunction with the Degree Committee. This page sets out the eligibility criteria to act as a supervisor, the training supervisors are expected to attend, and number of students a Principal Supervisor can be responsible for.


Q. Who can supervise postgraduate students?

University guidance notes two overarching principles which guide the appointment of supervisors: accountability and student experience. Appointment of supervisors is agreed by local Department Postgraduate Education Committee (or equivalent) in conjunction with the Degree Committee. Supervisors should be recognised as having suitable academic experience at the right level, and that their expected tenure should normally be at least as long as the minimum length of the student's course.

If you wish to supervise postgraduate students at Cambridge for the first time please consult with your Department Director of Postgraduate Education in the first instance. Should you meet the eligibility criteria your Department Postgraduate Office will liaise with the Degree Committee to agree your appointment and set up on the student record system CamSIS. You will be required to undertake appropriate training before supervising your first student.


Q. What training are supervisors required to complete?

Supervising Postgraduate Students Training
New supervisors are required to complete mandatory supervisor training provided by the University through CCTL: 'Supervising Postgraduate Research Students'. For more details and booking: PPD booking page, type 'supervising' into the search box to find details and reserve a place.

The training must be completed by individuals supervising postgraduate students in Cambridge for the first time in either a Principal Supervisor or Co-Supervisor capacity. Individuals who have experience of supervising at institutions other than Cambridge, and individuals who have previously been Advisors or supported Cambridge students in an unofficial capacity, are still required to complete the training.

University and local rules for supervisors
All supervisors must read and comply with the Code of Practice for Research Students which is updated each academic year. Your Department Director of Postgraduate Education or Postgraduate Office will be able to provide details of any additional Faculty/Departmental policy and local postgraduate student guide/handbook.

University Equality and Diversity online training
It is a Council of the School of Physical Sciences requirement that all supervisors complete the University Equality and Diversity online training course before supervising a student.

Moodle course
​We strongly recommend you enrol in the University's Moodle course for Supervising Postgraduate Students. The content is based on University Policies and Guidelines, plus a distillation of experience and research on postgraduate supervisions, as well as observations and comments from over a hundred Cambridge Supervisors.


Q. How many postgraduate students can I supervise?

The QAA advise that a Principal Supervisor should normally be responsible for no more than 8 PhD students at any one time. This advisory limit can be stretched where evidence of good supervisory practice exists. The Department Postgraduate Office monitors the number of students each supervisor is responsible for. The Degree Committee appoints supervisors and keeps an overview of student numbers.

If you are unsure if you have the capacity to accept any further students please consult with your Department Postgraduate Office. 


Q. Do supervisors get paid?

The University currently pays a small termly fee to those supervisors of postgraduate students who are not paid as part of their University salary for departmental teaching.

Staff who are University Teaching Officers are therefore not eligible, for example:

  • Professors / Readers (except honorary) 
  • University Associate Professors / University Senior Lecturers
  • University Assistant Professors / University Lecturers
  • Assistant Directors of Research
  • Senior Assistants in Research
  • Clinical Lecturer
  • Director/Assistant Director (e.g. of an Institute within the University)

but Associate Lecturers, Research Fellows, College Teaching Officers and some others are. If in doubt about your eligibility, please consult your Department Postgraduate Office.

Payment is conditional on you submitting termly reports for your students in CamSIS.

This payment is not automatic, but has to be applied for; you may do this termly or annually. The claim form can be obtained from your Department and submitted to your Department Postgraduate Office.


If you can't find the page you are looking for or find a broken link do let us know (please use the email link in the 'Contact us' section below).

Office closures

The Degree Committee for the Faculty of Earth Sciences and Geography will be closed from 5pm on Thursday 28 March 2024 and will reopen again on Tuesday 2 April 2024.
Research degree theses should still be submitted by your submission deadline even if that falls over the holiday period.