Each graduate student is allocated a supervisor within the School, or in the case of research students sometimes two (NB: at graduate level ‘tutors’ are generally called ‘supervisors’ in Oxford, whether they are teaching on taught courses or research degrees). Taught course students especially may have tuition from other members of staff than their main supervisor, e.g. for option courses. Departmental supervisors are mainly responsible for guiding their students through their specific courses in regular tutorial or supervision sessions, the type and frequency of which depend on the course being followed (for example, a possible eight tutorials a term for a taught-course student, or two to three supervision sessions a term for a research student, depending on activity). Full details of individual course structures and teaching provision is given in the course descriptions in the departmental Handbook.
Supervisors give students advice on their coursework, theses or preparation for examinations, as well as on what lectures and classes to follow; they are also involved in the administrative side of students’ activities (form-filling etc.). Generally speaking, while supervisors do have to approve many steps administratively in a student’s career, their role is rather one of academic advisors. Nonetheless students are expected to take this advice seriously and to assume a large degree of responsibility themselves for the progress of their own studies. Students have the right to see the termly reports written on their progress by their supervisors and to be consulted on these. They may (but need not) also report on their own progress through the Graduate Supervision System (GSS).
Supervisors and other tutors are not necessarily, even perhaps rarely, members of the student’s own college at graduate level, and most of the teaching and supervision will be done outside the college, in ISCA or a similar building. However, students are also usually assigned an advisor or personal tutor in their colleges, who may be in their own subject or close to it. This is someone the student may approach for advice, a second view, or if problems occur in the relationship with the departmental supervisor (who should be different). Alternatively a student may approach the School’s Director of Graduate Studies or Head of Department for advice.
Depending on the course, tutorial teaching is generally one to one in small groups. Teaching seminars, including those for the option courses, may have rather more students.