All postgraduate students are assigned a supervisor (or in some cases two co-supervisors). The supervisor’s primary responsibility is to advise the student on the programme of work necessary to complete a dissertation or thesis. To this end, the supervisor should maintain a general overview over the student’s studies and academic development. Supervisors should help their students to identify and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to complete the dissertation or thesis, and to further their aims for study or employment, insofar as these build upon the programme of graduate study.
Oxford students have the additional advantage that they are also members of the academic community of their respective colleges. Colleges will usually appoint one of their History fellows or lecturers to provide pastoral oversight and general academic advice to their junior members in History. There is no presumption, however, that graduate students should be at the same college as their expert supervisors; in fact, it often enhances the opportunities for academic contact if the supervisor can provide a link into a different academic community.
All graduates are encouraged to identify and prioritise their own training needs, and to consider how and on what timetable these might best be met. The checklist below has been devised to assist students in this process. You should aim to discuss your training plan with your supervisors regularly, especially at the start of the academic year (with an emphasis on work to be done or classes to attend during the year) and during Trinity Term (with an emphasis on work to be done over the summer). Copies of this form will be sent out to new students before their arrival, so that the Graduate Office and supervisors have advance notice of students’ training needs.
If you have training needs not covered by the checklist, or not well provided by the means indicated, please discuss with your supervisor and alert the Graduate Office. The checklist may help students not only to identify and find ways of addressing training needs, but also to report on both needs and achievements.
Research students are also asked to summarise training needs and training taken in their transfer and confirmation applications (relevant questions are set out on the standard university forms). Increasingly British funding bodies also ask for such reports.
Research students completing their probationary period who wish to be inducted into teaching on the faculty plan will need to discuss this with their supervisors and return the appropriate form early in the summer vacation.
The university's online Graduate Supervision System (GSS) gives all students enrolled on graduate programmes each term the opportunity to report on their learning experience and training needs. Using the system is easy and intuitive, and we hope students will find that stopping for a few minutes and taking stock of what they have achieved in a termly cycle will help them to stay focused. The Humanities Division has published a short online guide with suggestions how the system could be most fruitfully use
Each year the Faculty provides, in conjunction with the University's Language Centre, a range of language classes in major European languages. In addition, students, with the support of their supervisor(s) may apply for funds to support language teaching outside these provisions, e.g., for tuition in an unusual language. But we ask supervisors and students to communicate with the Graduate Office before making any such arrangements, since it may be possible to organize provisions for several students who, unknown to each other, have common needs.
Further teaching and collaborative academic activity takes place chiefly in:
- classes – small groups of students meeting on a regular basis to present and discuss assigned work under the guidance of a class convenor;
- tutorials (at graduate level only applicable in very specialist contexts) – one or more students meeting on a regular basis to present and discuss assigned work with a tutor;
- lectures – presentations by a lecturer. Graduates may attend undergraduate lectures; lectures specifically for graduates play some part in introductory teaching;
- seminars – groups of students and academics meeting on a regular basis to hear and discuss research presentations by members of the group or visitors. These allow graduates to develop links with the university’s larger research community.
Students' work which is submitted and formally assessed for a master's degree programme, or for research student progression, will be reviewed under the Faculty's approved and published marking criteria.