Research Supervisor Support and Development programme

Research Supervisor Support & Development Programme (RSSDp)

The information below is indicative of the 2023/2024 offering which will commence in January 2024

UCD Graduate Studies - Research Supervisor Support & Development Programme (RSSDp) This hybrid programme of workshops is targeted at new, inexperienced research supervisors and more experienced staff who would like to refresh their knowledge on aspects of research supervisory practice. In 2023, the successful collaboration between UCD, TCD and RCSI continues, with each university offering specific workshops that are open to partner institutions. We are also delighted to be joined by the University of Connecticut, a Universitas 21 partner with UCD. These collaborative workshops address key research supervisor challenges and contemporary practices and are not institute specific. Panel discussions with experienced research supervisors and those new to supervision will take place across the programme. The 2023 RSSDp will commence on Friday January 27th with a session given by our visiting expert, Hugh Kearns. The schedule is outlined below and the venue for three in person UCD Workshops (WF) will be the UCD Sutherland School of Law, William Fry Theatre (L143). Online workshops are delineated by (OL).Research Supervisor Support &Development Programme 2023

Workshop Title Description Facilitator(s) Date & Mode of Delivery

The Fundamentals of Research Supervision

One of the favourite workshops for participants is delivered by Hugh Kearns, who has enormous experience in identifying the key issues for research students and supervisors alike. Hugh has brought this experience to a number of universities worldwide and his engaging, straightforward approach has guided many researchers from all disciplinary areas. The nuts and bolts of the RSSDp will be touched on in this Fundamentals workshop, which traditionally opens the supervisor programme each year.

Hugh Kearns, iTHINKWELL, Flinders University, Adelaide


Friday  January 27th (1-3pm)



 Mental Health & Wellbeing for Research Students & Supervisors

Trinity College Dublin

Thursday February 9th (1-2pm)


Attracting the ‘Right’ Candidate 

Without exception, all experienced supervisors highlight the importance of giving time and due consideration to the selection and recruitment of research candidates that are a good ‘fit’. This workshop examines how supervisors can determine the elusive ‘doctorateness’ traits, which although can’t guarantee success, can increase the chances of a positive outcome.  


Prof Tadhg O’Keeffe, Prof Cormac Taylor, Assoc Prof Lucy Collins, Prof Paul McCabe, Dr Janet Carton


Friday February 17th (1-3pm)

 In Person – William Fry Theatre (L143) Sutherland School of Law



Developing Clinical-Scientist Relationships to Progress Clinical Research


Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Thursday Feb 23rd (1-2.30pm)


Navigating Supervisory Styles, Roles & Responsibilities

The number one challenge highlighted by research students, is related to misunderstandings about expectations. This workshop guides supervisors in how to start those clarifying conversations, what tools can be used and how updating the understanding of all parties expectations is needed, as the doctorate progresses.  It also helps supervisors to identify their supervisory style and addresses the key factors which influence everyone’s style.

Prof Padraig Dunne, Prof Paul McCabe, Dr Janet Carton, UCONN  


Friday March 10th (2-4pm) 



Online & Distance Learning in Research Supervision: Benefits & Challenges        

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Thursday March 23rd (1-2.30pm)


Enhancing the Research Student’s Skills Base The vast majority of doctoral graduates don’t join the academy, but their inherent and acquired skill sets, are highly relevant to many areas of employment. European and national directives (Salzburg Principles II, National Framework for Doctoral Education) and funding agencies (Marie Curie Skladowska, IRC etc.) require universities to support the development, articulation and capturing of these skills. This workshop helps supervisors identify key university supports and also navigate their role in the doctoral skills agenda. 

Dr Emer Cunningham, Tara Hughes, Assoc Prof Lucy Collins, Prof Paul McCabe, Dr Janet Carton.



Friday March 31st  (1-3pm)

In Person – William Fry Theatre (L143) Sutherland School of Law 


Strategies for Managing Conflict in Supervisor-Student Relationships

Trinity College Dublin

Thursday April 13th (1-2pm)


The Student Voice

In 2022, UCD hosted the IUA Webinar Series, a collaborative initiative with 7 other Irish universities providing webinars for the supervisor community nationally on key contemporary practices and challenges. One of these webinars, the Student Voice, reflected the thoughts, advice and challenges that doctoral students faced from four of the partners involved. They give advice to new supervisors on what works in supervision and sometimes, what doesn’t work so well, from their perspectives.  A rare opportunity to get frank feedback from our research students.

To be reviewed by participants between March and April 


ONLINE - Recording 

MAEV- Monitoring, Assessment, Examination, Viva

This workshop looks at the touchstone stages of the doctorate with respect to monitoring and assessment, guiding the supervisor on how to assess if your student and their research is on track, what procedures are key, common challenges faced by the examination committee (ACCE) and the importance of considered and timely external examiner appointments.  All facilitators on the RSSDp 2023 will be present to share their experience and advice on monitoring progression through a doctoral porgramme.


Prof Barbara Dooley- Acting Registrar, Prof Cormac Taylor, Prof Tadhg O’Keeffe, Prof Padraig Dunne, Assoc Prof Lucy Collins, Assoc Prof Elaine Wilson, Assoc Prof Ben Cowan, David Kissane, Dr Janet Carton.



Thursday May 11th (1-3pm)

In Person – William Fry Theatre (L143) Sutherland School of Law 

Navigating Challenging Conversations

Many supervisors have difficulty with hard or challenging conversations, as everyone does in life. In research, these conversations are often associated with situations where students are not progressing on the doctoral programme or indeed when they are not suited to doctoral studies. Sometimes there may be a clash of personalities or approaches or styles of supervision and learning. Sometimes the professional relationship between the supervisor and the student, simply does not work or perhaps the supervisor lacks the skills in the direction where the research is going.  The most important role for supervisor or student, is to take action when a problem arises. Have the conversation and ensure that excessive time, effort, aspirations or finances are not wasted. This workshop, hosted by the University of Connecticut, will look at approaches to managing challenging conversations in research.

University of Connecticut, Prof Paul McCabe, Dr Janet Carton 

Friday May 12th (2-4pm) 



Read testimonials about the programme from previous participants

Booking Information

  • UCD staff can book as usual via the Booking Centre, details below
  • The location or dial-in link will be confirmed to participants in advance of each workshop

Note: UCD staff can view full details & materials from previous workshops via the Staff Intranet

Key Learning Aims* of the RSSD Programme

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Approach student recruitment in a manner which maximizes the likelihood of best candidate selection
  • Navigate institutional policies and procedures
  • Identify their own role as supervisor and frame the doctoral supervision process
  • Advise and assist students on structuring and managing their work
  • Be capable of carrying out a training needs analysis
  • Appreciate the challenges, problems and pitfalls of supervision and identify approaches to overcome these
  • Provide guidance to students on thesis and viva preparation
  • Handle conflict and understand mechanisms through which to seek resolution
  • Gain an understanding of the international norms associated with being an external examiner of research theses
  • Approach research supervision from a pedagogical perspective and examine reflective practice as a tool for practice development

*It is recommended that UCD participants attend all workshops to meet these learning aims. For certification, participants must attend 5 of the UCD workshops and one other.