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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


In HPS the MPhil and Part III Course Managers act as the principal supervisors for all that year's cohort of students and are responsible for ensuring that students attend all relevant meetings and training sessions, and that they find appropriate supervisors for each piece of coursework.

The Course Managers see students at regular intervals during the year to discuss progress and offer help and advice. The Course Managers are also responsible for submitting termly CGSRS reports and will give feedback to students after work has been marked.

Supervisors are responsible for helping students to do the research and writing needed for their individual essays and dissertations. Supervisions are designed to provide students with the opportunity to set their own agenda for their studies. Students will expect to see their supervisors on a regular basis and as a rule of thumb, MPhil students will expect 3–4 hours of supervision on an essay and 4–6 hours for a dissertation. Part III students will expect three supervisions during Michaelmas Term for Research Paper 1. For the Set Essays they will receive four supervisions (in groups of two or three) on Advanced Seminar topics in the latter half of Michaelmas Term and first two weeks of Lent Term. They will expect three supervisions in Lent Term for Research Paper 2 and four supervisions in Easter Term for the Dissertation.

Students are not permitted to work with the same supervisor for more than two pieces of coursework, except for supervisions relating to the Part III seminar.

The supervisor's job is to support research, not to grade work; the course work and dissertation will be examined by others. However, they may be asked to recommend examiners for work they have supervised. If supervisors are uncertain about the advice they should give to questions about word limits, subject areas, deadlines or any other matter, they should refer first to the guidance in the links provided in this page, and then to the relevant Course Manager, Director of Graduate Studies or Secretary of the Degree Committee. For pastoral matters, the College Graduate Tutor is usually the correct person to approach.

Students wishing to conduct interviews should be made aware that the timeframe for the essays is not long enough to allow for this type of research and they should look at alternative ways of achieving their goals. Interviews should only be conducted for the dissertation, and students need to plan well in advance for this in order to ensure they have the skills required and that they have time to obtain any ethical approval that may be necessary. Supervisors should advise students planning these projects to review the guidance on working with human participants.

Supervisors should familiarise themselves with the programme specifications, course guides and examination guides relevant to the courses they are supervising.