Chapter 5: Supervision of doctoral and research master’s students

Chapter 5: Supervision of doctoral and research master's students

This chapter is comprised of three parts:

  • Supervision of students
  • Supervisor accreditation
  • Governance.

Supervision of students

5.1 Responsibility of supervisors

The University's Code of practice for supervision of doctoral and research master's students outlines the responsibility of supervisors in providing ongoing research supervision and support to students throughout the period of the student's enrolment.

5.1.1 Number of supervisors

All doctoral students at the University require a minimum of two supervisors.

From July 2013, all students in the Faculty of Business and Economics must have a minimum of two supervisors employed at Monash University.

5.1.2 Change of supervisor

The Monash Graduate Research Office will not approve backdated variation requests. Any amendment to the student's supervision record can be made using the Change of Supervision/Transfer Academic Unit form.

5.1.3 Absence of supervisor

A permanent replacement supervisor must be appointed where any supervisor is unable to discharge his/her duties as a supervisor for a period longer than six weeks.

5.1.4 Supervision of external students

Supervision of external students should be conducted according to the Guidelines for Remote Supervision. Communication between an external student and their supervisors should take place every two weeks for full-time students or at least once every calendar month for part-time students.

In the case of a student enrolled externally in a laboratory-based discipline, an on-site supervisor must be appointed. Any such appointments must be made in accordance with Supervisor Accreditation requirements, as outlined here.

Supervisor Accreditation (formerly MIGR Membership)

Supervisors of graduate research students enrolled at Monash are required to be accredited to act as a main supervisor.

Provisional supervisor accreditation is valid for 2 years. Level 1, 2, 3 or Emeritus supervisor accreditation is valid for 5 years.

Accreditation is based on the assessment of the following criteria:

  • qualifications or equivalent experience (e.g. student completions, expertise);
  • professional development; and
  • meeting Faculty benchmarks for research active status.

The different categories of accreditation are outlined here. Monash Graduate Education will assess applications for accreditation upon completion of the relevant supervisor development programs (Monash only).

Supervisors who apply to upgrade their accreditation from Level 1 to Level 2, or from Level 2 to Level 3, will be re-assessed against the relevant criteria and, if eligible, be granted accreditation for five years.

5.1.5 Criteria for Supervisor Accreditation

Accreditation categories and requirements are outlined here.

5.1.6 Staff categories and accreditation

Supervision roles (such as main supervisor or associate supervisor) along with the required accreditation categories,are outlined here.

5.1.7 Main supervisor

The University will only appoint a Monash academic staff member as main supervisor where that supervisor has the requisite accreditation where they are taking on primary responsibility for the following as outlined in the Code of practice for supervision of doctoral and research master's students:

  • Guidance about the nature of research and the standard expected, refining the research topic, planning the research program, presenting a research proposal, literature and sources, attendance at taught classes where appropriate, requisite techniques and research methods, and other relevant skills
  • Guidance to the student regarding the requirements and timelines for progress reviews including confirmation of candidature
  • Guidance to the student regarding the selection of any optional coursework and/or training activities that form part of PhD programs
  • Providing constructive feedback on the quality of English expression and editing skills is given along with appropriate referral to support services if required
  • Providing help to the student to interpret and understand examiners' reports and how to meet their requirements.

In addition, the main supervisor takes on primary administrative responsibility in relation to supporting the student's enrolment, including providing advice on, and endorsing, changes to enrolment (including leave, study away etc.) as well as supporting the student through the examination process.

The main supervisor of any student should be a member of the academic unit or program through which the student is enrolled. Any request for the appointment of a supervisor outside the student's academic unit or program requires the approval of the Graduate Research Committee.

Adjunct appointees may be appointed as main supervisors where they:

  • are undertaking teaching and research responsibilities expected of a member of the University's academic staff;
  • have achieved Monash supervisor accreditation and are locally based (within commuting distance to the student's campus of enrolment). If residing interstate or overseas, the adjunct appointee cannot be the main supervisor, but can be an associate supervisor.

Occasionally joint supervision is required. Joint supervision is defined as having two supervisors each with 50% responsibility. However, one of the supervisors must have primary responsibility for deciding on a course of action in the event that the two supervisors disagree. This supervisor will also assume responsibility for the authorisation of all matters relating to the student's enrolment, for example, milestone reviews, variations to candidature/scholarship and/or thesis submission (Monash only).

It is expected that a supervisor will be available for the duration of the student's enrolment. Where this is not the case, such as an academic staff member being on contract or eligible to retire, another supervisor should be appointed.

5.1.8 Associate supervisor

At least one associate supervisor must be appointed to the student's supervisory team. An associate supervisor may be an academic staff member of Monash, an adjunct or affiliate, or a person external to Monash, but should be of recognised standing in the relevant field of research.

The supervisory team and the student must all be aware of each supervisor's clearly defined responsibilities.

Supervision limits and Monash requirements for associate supervisors are outlined here.

5.1.9 External supervisors

External supervisors are non-accredited. Supervision limits and Monash requirements are outlined here.

Most arrangements for external supervision are made on the basis of mutual cooperation between individuals across institutions and organisations. Where payment to an external supervisor is deemed necessary, it must be made in accordance with the University's Vendor Payments Policy.

5.1.10 Students as supervisors

Staff members who are themselves graduate research students (either at Monash or at another institution) are not permitted to supervise other students.

5.1.11 Supervision load

It is recognised that different supervision loads are appropriate at different stages of a staff member's academic career. While the University requires each student to have a minimum of two supervisors, the following should be considered when determining the supervisory team's commitment to the student:

  • supervisory roles should be determined in consultation with the student;
  • appropriate expertise relevant to the research project should be available;
  • capacity to supervise must be determined according to current accreditation level.

Supervision limits are outlined here.


Authority to appoint supervisors resides with the GRC, as per regulation 44 of the Monash University (Academic Board) Regulations.

5.1.12 Supervisor performance

Where concerns are raised in relation to the quality of supervision, these are to be referred to the relevant faculty dean and action taken if required, in accordance with the Code of practice for supervision of doctoral and research master's students and/or the Monash University Enterprise Agreement.