Finding a supervisor

Your choice of supervisor is one of the most important decisions you'll make as a research candidate.


For the best chance of being accepted into our postgraduate research program, we recommend you speak with a potential supervisor before you apply. This will help you confirm that we have a qualified staff member available to supervise your research project, and they will be able to help you develop your research topic into a research proposal.

Search for a supervisor

There are generally three ways to find a supervisor at Murdoch.

Contact your potential supervisor

Once you have found the name of a potential supervisor, you can work out if they would be a good fit for your research project. It's a good idea to:

  • Do your homework: Develop an idea about their approach to your field of research by reading some of their previous academic work.
  • Invite your prospective supervisor to meet in person: This can help you work out how well you might work together. If this is not possible you should at least talk to them over the phone and exchange emails about your topic.
  • Develop both of your expectations from the very beginning: Ask them about their communication and work styles. How often would you expect to meet - and what would those meetings cover? Will they be active in helping you set academic goals or take a more hands-off approach?

Please note, changes can be made to your supervisory panel at any time throughout your research journey if required.

What to expect from your supervisor

Your supervisor's role is not to tell you what to do, or monitor every aspect of your research project. They will act as a guide to discuss your ideas with and seek advice from. They can help you with:

  • Intellectual support: Your supervisor can help you find your way through the literature, help you formulate a topic and design your methodology. In later stages of your project they might discuss your ideas and critique your arguments and writing style.
  • Emotional support: Your supervisor should take a critical approach to your work, but also give you understanding and encouragement.
  • Quality assurance: Your supervisor knows what standard your thesis should meet and can assess the feasibility of your plans.

The aim of a PhD is to prepare you to run major research projects, so eventually you and your supervisor may become academic colleagues.

What your supervisor will expect from you

You will be expected to show your supervisor that you have:

  • Good communication skills: You need to keep them informed about the progress of your work and whether you're facing any problems.
  • A strong work ethic: Treat your research project like a job, work hard, take your role seriously and meet agreed deadlines.
  • The ability to take initiative: You need to take responsibility for your research project and direct your own learning.

Many of our research students have said their supervisor had a lifelong influence on their future career, so it's worth taking the time to find the right person.

Learn more about life as a research student

Working with your supervisor is an important element of your research journey. Find out more about what to expect as you complete your research degree at Murdoch.

Life as a research student

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