Graduate Supervision

The Teaching Support Centre (TSC) and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) have developed workshops, courses and resources to assist faculty supervisors and graduate chairs who mentor and support graduate students and to enhance graduate supervision and raise its profile and importance across campus.

Supervision Conversations Series

Join us to discuss the challenges of supervising graduate students and explore opportunities for mentoring young scholars of your discipline.  "Supervision Conversations" is an informal monthly brown-bag lunch series: participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and share supervision strategies during each session and will receive resources related to the theme of the month.

More information

Western Publications

Western Guide to Graduate Supervision

Western Guide to Graduate Supervision
Elizabeth Skarakis-Doyle
Gayle McIntyre

Based on the experiences of Western's graduate supervisors, this 30 page guide (PDF) addresses the supervision of graduate students and focuses on best practices in mentoring, promoting student progress and clarifying expectations in the supervisor-student relationship.



Western Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students Across Cultures

Western Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students Across Cultures
Nanda Dimitrov

The Western Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students Across Cultures is a handbook for graduate supervisors who work with students from cultures around the world. The guide addresses the most frequently occurring challenges in supervision across cultures and includes concrete mentoring strategies and case studies to help supervisors promote independence and initiative in their mentees, bridge power differences in the relationship, set boundaries, communicate effectively and support their students in the transition to Canadian academia.


See also:

Online Resources for Faculty

Guiding Principles for Graduate Student Supervision (PDF) - Canadian Association for Graduate Studies

  • A list of 12 guiding principles which can apply to all graduate students, supervisors, and administrators of graduate programs across Canada

Mentoring: How to Mentor Graduate Students - A Guide for Faculty - University of Washington

  • Includes practical strategies for nurturing rewarding relationships, assessing expectations, getting initial meetings started, and planning for professional development

Nature's guide for mentors

How to Mentor Graduate Students (PDF) - Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan

  • A guide for faculty seeking to improve their effectiveness as mentors.

Handbook of Graduate Supervision – University of British Columbia

  • Provides “in-depth advice on roles and responsibilities, communications, learning styles, time management, and many other issues” and is useful for both supervisors and students

Eleven Practices of Effective Postgraduate Supervisors (PDF) - University of Melbourne

  • Covers the role of the supervisor and the quality of supervision, and focuses on approaches, strategies, and trouble-spots

Supervising Graduate Students - McMaster University

  • Answers frequently asked questions from new faculty about supervision
  • See also the 2006 version

Supervisor Development Workbook (PDF) - RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

  • A series of worksheets designed for supervisors who wish to enhance supervisory skills and facilitate timely completions
  • Supervisors develop knowledge and techniques for effective supervision, engage in critical reflection and improve practice

Supervising a Doctorate - vitae (formerly The UK GRAD Programme)

  • Offers tools for the supervisory process, and a newsletter for supervisors

Educational Resources for Postgraduate Research – Pat Cryer

  • Advice for supervisors and advisors on promptly and effectively solving dilemmas related to supervision from the author of The Research Student's Guide to Success.

Quality in Postgraduate Research conferences website (Australian Universities)

  • Contains conference papers and abstracts on several issues in graduate education including research on good practices for supervisors.

Print Resources

Supervising the Doctorate: A guide to success. 2nd edition. (2005) by Sara Delamont, Paul Atkinson, and Odette Parry. Society for Research into Higher Education. Available in the Teaching Support Centre.

  • Provides advice for the novice supervisor and ideas on improving practice for experienced supervisors

The Good Supervisor: Supervising Postgraduate and Undergraduate Research for Doctoral Theses and Dissertations (2005) by Gina Wisker.  Available in the Teaching Support Centre

  • Covers: supervision differences, supervisor development programmes, establishing and maintaining good supervisory practices, how to assist students in research practice and writing, working with and supporting students, non-traditional supervision, completing the research process and beyond

A Handbook for Doctoral Supervisors (2005). By Stan Taylor and Nigel Beasley.  Available in the Teaching Support centre.

  • Examines changing contexts of supervision, recruitment and selection of students, how to support the research project and examinations, working with diverse candidates, and the evaluation of good practice

How to get a PhD: a handbook for students and their supervisors, Third Edition (2000), by Estelle M.Phillips and Derek S. Pugh. Available in library: EDU LB2386.P47 2000  

  • British (Open University), but generally applicable.
  • Particularly addresses how to overcome communication difficulties between supervisors and students, and “how to survive in a predominantly British, white, male, full-time academic environment” for students of different backgrounds

Supervising Postgraduates from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (1999), edited by Yoni Ryan, Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt. Available in library:  DBW LB2343.S86

  • Provides insight, guidance, and suggests strategies for universities and individual supervisors in effectively supervising non-English speaking students

Postgraduate Research Supervision: Transforming (R)elations.(2001), edited by Alison Bartlett and Gina Mercer.

  • Focuses on one-to-one British model, 26 chapters by different contributors
  • Theoretical perspectives: feminism, poststructuralism, deconstruction, Foucault, Jung, discourse analysis, psychoanalysis, but mostly draws on practice and critical reflection
  • Attempts to go beyond “Best Practices”, get at the “dirtiness” of the power relations of supervisor-student

Resources for Graduate Students

Relations with Supervisors - A Guide for Graduate Students (Western, Office of the Ombudsperson)

Mentoring: How to Obtain the Mentoring You Need - A Graduate Student Guide
(University of Washington)

Mentoring and Networking: how to make it work (Nature Immunology)

How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students (PDF) - Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan