Doctoral Office
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RIDS  |  Tygerberg Doctoral Office

PhD Supervision

A productive and positive supervision relationship is the bedrock of a successful doctoral journey. Supervisors and students are encouraged to enter into conversation at the outset. The respective responsibilities of supervisors and students are outlined in detail in the FMHS Doctoral Guidelines as well as the co-signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Every doctoral candidate must have one internal, SU supervisor. An external main supervisor is allowed as long as there is formally an internal SU co-supervisor who participates actively in the doctoral journey and assures that the candidate works to SU and FMHS deadlines. As a rule of thumb, two supervisors per student are ideal for lone-standing studies, whereas the allocation of up to four supervisors per student can be ideal where a cohort approach is taken.

Prerequisites for PhD Supervision

1. A PhD supervisor should usually hold a doctoral degree. Detailed information about eligibility for PhD supervision is available in this document.

2. Along with clinical PhD students, every supervisor of clinical research towards a PhD, is expected to have active Good Clinical Practice (GCP) certification.

3. Finally, all new doctoral supervisors in the FMHS are required to attend formal supervision training. The available options include the following:

Supervision reporting
Academic environments report the proportional involvement of supervisors of a PhD project on SU databases and to the FMHS Committee for Postgraduate Research (CPR). The percentage contribution of both internal and external supervisors should be indicated at these junctures. The following mechanism should be used to capture the % division of supervision accurately, both for internal and external supervisors: An identity for the external supervisor should be created on SUN-id and in the process, the individual should be connected to the correct department where they are delivering supervision. The person is linked to the relevant student as usual, but the person is identified as “external” and found using their US number (as created in SUN-id). This allows for both an accurate depiction of supervision workload and the correct flow of funds to the environment. (There is no detrimental impact on the subsidy portion allocated to departments.)

Progress reporting and risk management
An annual progress report is requested from the supervisors of returning doctoral students in October or early November every year.

Supervisor motivations for a student to exceed the maximum duration of a PhD are required six months before the maximum registration period is reached. These motivation letters are scrutinised by the CPR, Faculty Board and Senate. They are requested together with the annual progress report by October each year, for every PhD student in year 5 or later who has not submitted a dissertation for examination in time for March/April graduation. These motivations are submitted to by 15 November, annually.