The Supervision System
As a graduate student at Cambridge you will be a member of a world-leading University, with departments internationally renowned for their research and the originality and significance of the work contributed by their academics. You will receive close individual support from an expert in your field – your faculty or department will assign you a personal supervisor whose role is to guide your programme of study or research. The availability of a suitable supervisor is one of the factors a faculty or department takes into account when considering your application.
Most students studying for a research degree also have a second supervisor or adviser who may be from a different faculty or department (if your research topic requires this). You may also be allocated a mentor. This supporting team monitors your progress and may be involved in your assessment during the first year. Some departments and all Colleges also have a graduate tutor available for personal or professional problem-solving, and for feedback.
Your supervisor completes a report on your progress at the end of each term. They will also help you to clarify your ideas; ensure that you recognise and aim to meet the required standard; and point you in the direction of information and resources that should enable you to produce first-rate work. But only you can ensure that you take full advantage of all the educational facilities that are available.
Supervising and Teaching Undergraduate Students
Research students may have the opportunity to gain supervising and demonstrating experience by undertaking teaching on behalf of Colleges and departments. Supervisions involve the teaching of undergraduates in small groups of between one and four students at regular intervals throughout the term. Demonstrating involves helping academic staff in running laboratory classes and various teaching exercises such as drawing or computer-aided process engineering. Such experience can be immensely valuable in developing a wide range of transferrable skills which can be important for future career success, whether in academia or in other fields.
In order to ensure that this teaching does not affect your studies, such work is limited to a few hours a week (generally up to maximum of between 6 and 10 hours), and although the work is paid, it is not sufficient to make any meaningful contribution towards the cost of your studies.