Cross-HEI PhD Supervision Agreement

1. The Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH) aims to provide world-leading provision for doctoral researchers. Part of the mechanism for achieving this aim is supporting cross-institutional supervision across the AHRC DTP Scotland, where this is of clear and demonstrable benefit to the doctoral researcher.

Supervision Practice

2. The consortium is guided by the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B11. PhD research projects will be embedded within an environment demonstrably capable of providing support for doing and learning & where excellent research, recognised by the relevant subject community, is delivered.

3. All PhD students must have a supervisory team comprised of at least two supervisors. These may be Principal plus Co-Supervisor or Principal plus Assistant or Secondary Supervisor. Irrespective of the weighting of supervision, each doctoral student must have a clear point of contact, identified as the Principal Supervisor (PS). The PS must be located in the HEI at which the student is registered (the ‘home HEI’), and from which the student will graduate. The PS will normally be a full-time member of academic staff and be on a Research & Teaching contract. At least one member of the supervisory team should have experience of successfully supporting doctoral student(s) to completion. At least one member of the supervisory team will be currently engaged in research in the relevant discipline(s), although to provide the best possible supervisory experience, the entire supervisory team should ideally be so engaged.

4. Supervisors for doctoral research students are appointed by the relevant authority within the student’s home HEI. Appointment of supervisors should take into account the experience of nominated supervisors, the fit between proposed project & supervisory expertise & resources, supervisors’ completion of training, and overall workload. Supervisors will not normally supervise more than six FTE doctoral candidates concurrently.  

Cross-HEI Supervision Agreements

5. Whilst all doctoral students must register at a home institution, in order to provide them with the best supervisory experience they may also be supervised by an academic from another HEI within the consortium. A supervisor from another consortium HEI may act as either a Co-supervisor or a Secondary Supervisor. Tuition fees will be dispersed as follows:

  • Co-supervision: a joint supervisory – 50%/50% - arrangement between two supervisors located in different HEIs within the SGSAH – 33.3% of the annual fee accrues to the non-home HEI.  The supervisor at the home-HEI is nominated as Principal Supervisor.
  • Secondary supervision: 75%/25% between two supervisors located in different HEIs within the SGSAH; 75% is allocated to the Principal Supervisor; 25% of the annual fee accrues to the non-home-HEI.

6. The fee for co-supervision will be paid directly to the home HEI. Both supervisors should complete the Supervisors’ Agreement, which must then be approved by both HEIs before supervision commences. Changes in supervision arrangements must be communicated to the SGSAH by the lead HEI, to ensure the appropriate payment of fees. Any such changes should be reflected in a revised Supervisors’ Agreement. Performance management of supervisors remains the responsibility of his or her employer.

7. Both doctoral students and supervisors may claim travel expenses from SGSAH for co-supervision meetings. Supervisors may submit a maximum of two claims per academic year. There is no limit on the amount of expense claims for doctoral students. All expense claims should follow our existing policies which can be found at

Responsibilities of Supervisors


  • In co-supervision arrangements, the supervisors will have equal and shared responsibilities in terms of the management and supervision of the student’s work, but the Principal Supervisor (located at the home HEI) will be responsible for the administrative aspects attached to the degree programme.
  • Formal supervision meetings are expected to be scheduled at least ten times per year (or six if part-time). Co-supervisors are expected to meet with students at least five times per year (or three if part-time). However, we recognise and welcome approaches that respond to the specific needs of the PhD project. For example, in Year 1, the co-supervisor might meet the student only three times – once with the other supervisor(s) also in attendance – and in Year 2 would meet the student seven times (twice with the other supervisor’s in attendance).
  • An agreed record of every formal meeting should be kept by the student and supervisors and should be shared with the full supervisory team to facilitate good communication.
  • Constructive feedback on work submitted should be provided usually within three weeks.
  • Written feedback should alert the student to any potential problems with their progress and the appropriate actions required to attend these.
  • Supervisors should attend the student’s Annual Progress Review meeting.
  • Supervisors must have completed supervisory training before acting as a supervisor.
  • Experienced supervisors should attend Update Briefings at least once every five years.

Second Supervisors

  • The above points relate also to second supervisors. However, second supervisors are expected to meet with students two to three times a year (once or twice if part-time).


8. The doctoral researcher will be registered at one HEI (the ‘home HEI’) & will be bound by the terms and conditions/codes of practice of the home HEI. All supervisors should familiarise themselves with the relevant terms & conditions/codes of practice of the home HEI. Should a student wish to raise a complaint related to their programme of study, they should follow the guidance provided by their home HEI. 

Status of this document

9. This agreement was approved by the SGSAH Executive on 26th June 2014.