Course on supervision of Master/PhD students and collegial supervision

Main purpose of the course

The main purpose of the course is to ensure systematic exchange of experiences between senior supervisors at Aarhus BSS as well as to increase the individual participant’s skills and flexibility in the role as supervisor.  


The course focuses on supervision of Master/PhD students and collegial supervision. Taking research results, practical experience, and feedback from participants as its starting point, the course intends to boost participants’ supervision skills in the form of:

  1. text-related skills: the ability to assess the students’ texts and provide feedback that is forward-looking, accurate, clear, specific, and criteria-based
  2. relationship and process management skills: the ability to establish and maintain constructive collaboration relationships with students and co-supervisors if any, to match expectations early and regularly, and to evaluate the collaboration, the quality of the project, and the student's progression
  3. communication skills: the ability to ask questions that promote students' independent thinking, to listen actively and attentively, and to meta-communicate the content and process of the supervision.

The course offered in English includes issues on multicultural supervision – not addressed on the Danish course.

Learning outcome

At the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • describe and give grounds for their own supervision practice as part of an oral/written balancing of expectations with the students
  • encourage the students' writing processes and provide constructive feedback through supervision conversation and supervision mail correspondence
  • apply communication methods that ensure progression in supervision conversations and promote independent thinking among the students
  • identify and manage typical conflicts in supervision, such as balancing between support and structure, between product and process supervision, between private and professional elements in supervision relationships
  • analyze and assess specific dilemmas in their own supervision practice
  • receive and provide collegial feedback as part of the development of one's own and others’ supervision. 

Fundamental concepts and working methods

The course is founded on the fundamental concepts that:

  1. the best way to learn the skill of supervision is not simply talking about it, but to give, receive, and observe supervision. Consequently, the main focus is on testing specific supervision principles and methods
  2. even though master supervision, research supervision, and collegial supervision are three different activities, they still have many shared features, and there are clear benefits to be gained from including all three types of supervision in the same course. Consequently, the course addresses supervision at MA and PhD level as well as supervision of colleagues.


Detailed instructions will follow on the Blackboard site of the course, but preparation will include:

  • Reading literature
  • Formulation of supervisor letters
  • Selection and circulation of different types of texts for supervision from own students
  • Reading other course participants’ material
  • Preparation of an individual case related to one's own supervision practice
  • Observation of two participants' supervision practice ‘in situ’ followed by peer feedback
  • Writing a final short scholarly essay about learning outcomes from the course.

Special information about this course

It is the faculty's policy that all associate and full professors at Aarhus BSS must complete the course within a few years. All newly appointed associated and full professors must complete the course within five years after joining the department.

Furthermore, participation and completion of the course is a prerequisite for being PhD supervisor at the Graduate School of Aarhus BSS.

Course seats are allocated between departments according to size and VIP-staffing. It is up to each department to prioritize and allocate participants during the semester prior to the start of the course.

The background for the course is a decision taken by the Dean and the department heads to reinforce supervision within the department. The reasons for this decision include:

  1. Master and PhD supervision is a very broad, important, and resource demanding method of teaching at BSS.
  2. BSS is committed to double the number of PhD students within a few years, which leads to a rise in the volume of supervision and increases the importance of good supervision.
  3. To date, supervision has largely taken place in a closed environment, with a very limited number of overarching provisions and without systematic qualification, exchange of experience, and evaluation.
  4. Teaching at the highest level and ambitious talent development constitute two of the four fundamental pillars in the department’s strategy plan. 

Read more about practice of the development of teaching and teaching competences at Aarhus BSS