Supervision and Supervisors
Oversight of Higher Degree by Research
The Research Committee has oversight of the MPhil, DMin, PhD and ThD, for such matters as the admission of candidates, the approval of thesis topics, the appointment of supervisors and associate supervisors, the progress of candidates through the program, the provision of research seminars and workshops, the examination of completed theses, the implementation of any recommendations from the examiners, and the recommendation to the Academic Board that a candidate may proceed to graduation.
The management of the programs is the responsibility of the Research Director, who provides initial guidance to candidates in respect of the desired program, qualifications for admission, the DMin coursework if relevant, the intended research topic and supervision of the research, and remains the key contact for candidates in managing their progress.
Research active members of our faculty guide research students and supervise their theses. Our Honorary Research Associates, and invited academic colleagues from other institutions, may also provide occasional thesis supervision, contributions to SCD conferences, faculty professional development, and research advice.
All candidates have two supervisors, a principal supervisor, who must hold a doctoral degree and be research active according to the College’s Research Active in the SCD Policy, and an associate supervisor, who must hold a doctoral degree, carry out research and normally be research active according to the College’s Research Active Policy. These are formally appointed by the Research Committee . Normally, the principal supervisor will be a faculty member of the Sydney College of Divinity. In some cases the College may appoint an external supervisor based in another reputable theological college, university, or comparable institution. The associate supervisor may likewise be internal or external to the College. In the case of the DMin, the associate supervisor may be a relevant recognized expert professional in a relevant field of ministry.
As well as being research active, the principal supervisor should have experience in research supervision.
Each semester the supervisors report to the Research Committee concerning the candidate’s progress and any other related matter, using the Research Degree Progress Report form, which requires also candidate comment on the supervisor’s comments. This enables the Committee to monitor progress, offer advice to supervisors and/or candidates, and make appropriate recommendations to the Academic Board. In the event of continued unsatisfactory progress termination of candidature may be recommended.
Candidates experiencing extended academic or personal difficulties should discuss their situation promptly with their supervisor and the Research Director in order to establish the most effective way for them to proceed to eventual completion. In some situations it may be appropriate to apply for an extension. The normal upper limits for extension are one semester for full-time candidates and two semesters for part-time candidates. In other situations it may be appropriate to apply for leave of absence for a semester. Such applications should be addressed to the Research Director and are considered by the Research Committee.
Code of Supervisory Practice
The research enterprise is one that involves the candidate, the supervisor and the Sydney College of Divinity. Each of the three has responsibilities and obligations to ensure that the enterprise is fruitful. The Code of Practice governs the supervision of research for higher degrees so that the below responsibilities can be met:
- determining the eligibility of the candidate to undertake research at master’s or doctoral level;
- determining that the research project is appropriate for the degree;
- ensuring that proper supervision can be provided and maintained throughout the research period;
- appointing supervisors expert in the areas of research and willing to undertake the obligations of supervision;
- establishing and monitoring mechanisms whereby conflict between the supervisor and the student may be resolved;
- establishing procedures for all stages of the examination process;
- establishing procedures whereby staff inexperienced in supervision are assisted with supervision;
- establishing minimum reporting procedures;
- establishing examination criteria for theses;
- determining ethics clearance for research involving human subjects.