Making Use of Your Wider Support Network

It is recognised that research students may be hesitant to approach their supervisors with a problem or to discuss with them something that is causing difficulties. However, it is vital that they are kept informed and, in the long run, they are the ones who can do most to help you avoid a situation which jeopardises your ability to successfully complete your PhD/MPhil.

If you want to speak with someone other than your supervisors, you should make use of the wider support network available to you as a research student.

Your Postgraduate Tutor

Although your supervisors should be your first point of contact should any issues or concerns arise over the course of your degree, there may be times when you want to speak with someone who is not one of your supervisors.

Your departmental Postgraduate Tutor is available to provide support, advice, and guidance on matters relating to your academic progress or any personal circumstances that may be affecting your progress. Common subjects of discussion include options available when medical or personal circumstances are affecting your work, maintaining a good working relationship with your supervisor, and balancing a research degree with other commitments.

Research students are encouraged to take the initiative in contacting or making an appointment with their Postgraduate Tutor. Your Postgraduate Tutor will normally be introduced at the start of your research degree; if you are unsure who your Postgraduate Tutor is, please ask your departmental administrator.

College Directors of Postgraduate Research and the Graduate Dean

If you are experiencing severe problems or there are good reasons why you might want to discuss your situation with someone outside of your department, you are welcome to arrange an appointment to speak with your College Director of Postgraduate Research or the Graduate Dean.

You can find details of who your College Director of Postgraduate Research is and how to contact them on the Graduate School Website.

To contact the Graduate Dean, please email

When arranging to speak with the College Director of Postgraduate Research or the Graduate Dean, it is helpful if you can provide some indication as to what you would like to discuss. This will help them answer the questions you wish to ask.

Discussions with the College Director of Postgraduate Research or the Graduate Dean will be handled sensitively and the content of the discussion will not be shared further without your knowledge. However, in order to resolve issues it is normally necessary to involve others at some point.

The Education Unit

There may be occasions when you want to speak with someone outside of the University - for example, if you should wish to make a complaint or to appeal against an academic decision. In such cases research students are invited to contact The Education Unit.

The Education Unit is part of the Students' Union - its staff are employees of the Students' Union, not the University. They provide a friendly, confidential service and can offer expert advice on matters relating to your academic progress and student status. They can provide advice if you are unhappy with any aspect of the academic support that you are receiving.

The Education Unit is based in the Percy Gee Building (the Students' Union Building) and is open 10:00-16:00 Monday - Friday during term time.

To arrange an appointment, please call +44 (0)116 223 1132 or email

Appointments by Skype are available for research students based away from Leicester.

Student Welfare Centre

The Student Welfare Centre offers wide ranging practical support, advice, and information for students and postgraduates:

  • financial advice
  • immigration advice
  • housing advice
  • legal advice

To learn more, visit the Student Welfare Centre Website.

Student Psychological and Healthy Living Service

The Student Psychological and Healthy Living Service offers a range of expertise and support for both the physical and psychological aspects of health and wellbeing in the context of your academic journey.

Student Counselling Support

Time-limited, free and confidential counselling on a one-to-one or group basis addressing both academic-related and personal issues - visit the Student Counselling Support Website.

Student Mental Wellbeing Support

Practical and emotional one-to-one and group support for students and postgraduates managing mental health issues at the University - visit the Student Mental Wellbeing Support Website.

Student Healthy Living Service

The Student Healthy Living Service strives to help students and postgraduates improve their health and wellbeing. The Student Healthy Living Service also works closely with local NHS services and provides advice on access to health care facilities - visit the Student Healthy Living Service Website. 

Other Sources of Help

For more specialist advice, there are a number of places to which research students can turn for help:

for help with ...                                   ... speak to the
registration, administration, your student record Graduate School Office
accessing and using your University IT account and University email IT Services Help Desk
planning and managing your skills and career development Leicester Learning Institute
finding and using academic literature University Library
improving your speaking and writing skills if English is not your first language English Language Teaching Unit
services and support for students with a disability or long-term medical condition AccessAbility Centre
finding accommodation for rent SULets
finding part-time employment Unitemps
healthcare advice, finding local medical services NHS Choices
pastoral advice, finding local religious groups University Chaplaincy
Friends and Family

Finally, do not forget your friends, fellow research students, and family.

If there are times when things go wrong, talking about your problems with friends and family often helps to get things in perspective and allow you to identify ways to get back on track. And when things are going well, being able to share your sense of progress can help you stay motivated.

Do make a point of keeping friends and family informed of your progress as you go and do use the support they will be keen to provide to help you meet the challenge of completing your research degree.

Final Words

We hope that your research degree experience will be a positive and successful one and that this guide will help you build and maintain an effective working relationship with your suoervisors.

Research students are welcome to contact us with any suggestions as to how this guide might be improved - please email your comments to The Graduate School.

You and Your Supervisors - Making Supervision Work for You

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