faculty of environmental studies

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Advising and supervision

Advising and supervision is a key part of any PhD program. FES PhD Advisors and Dissertation Supervisors act as mentors, substantive advisors on PhD research areas, and process advisors who can help you understand the nature of the doctoral program. They introduce you to literature and contacts in the field of study, assist you in finding and applying for funding, and support you in presenting and publishing research results. Most of all, they provide feedback and opportunities for exploration and discussion of both substantive and professional aspects of your PhD experience.

Interim Advisor

As an incoming PhD student, you will be appointed an Interim Advisor who is familiar with your substantive area of research interest. This Interim Advisor will guide you through the beginning of your Program Plan stage and, if needed, assist you in identifying potential Advisory Committee members.

Advisory Committee

This Committee will approve your Program Plan and guide you through the Comprehensive Examination stage of the program by providing expertise, recommending consultations with other faculty members, and helping promoting the exchange of ideas.

The Advisory Committee normally consists of three members:

  • the Advisor (a full-time FES faculty member)
  • two FES faculty members OR one FES faculty member and one faculty member from outside FES (usually another professor at York or from another university, or someone from the wider community with clear relevance to your Program Plan who may or may not be an academic)

You will identify the members of your Advisory Committee as part of your Program Plan Stage (at the latest by the end of your term 2). Your Interim Advisor may be one of your Advisory Committee members, if appropriate, but this is not required.

The Advisory Committee’s approval of your Program Plan marks your transition from the Program Plan Stage into the Comprehensive Examination Stage. The Committee then also oversees and evaluates your
Comprehensive Examination process.

Supervisor and Supervisory Committee

After your Comprehensive Exams are passed, your next step is to write your Dissertation Proposal. Your Supervisor and Supervisory Committee will guide you through the creation of your Dissertation proposal, and provide advice and support as you complete your research and write your Dissertation. You will likely keep working with some of your Advisory Committee members and invite others to join your Supervisory Committee.

The Supervisory Committee must consist of three members:

  • the Supervisor (a full-time FES faculty member)
  • two Committee members, at least one of which must be from outside FES.

NOTE: All members of your Supervisory Committee must also be members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (or deemed qualified by the Faculty of Graduate Studies to become a Committee member if not from York).

Your Supervisory Committee should be in place by the end of term 5 (winter of year 2). This means you should be determining the composition of your Supervisory Committee while you are finishing your Comprehensive Examination stage. You will officially identify and nominate your Supervisory Committee in your Dissertation Proposal.

Once your Supervisory Committee gives their approval of your Proposal, the Proposal, along with an official nomination of the Supervisory Committee, is sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) for final approval. FGS approval of your Dissertation Proposal and Supervisory Committee marks your transition from the Comprehensive Examination stage to the Dissertation stage.

Setting up Advisory/Supervisory Committee meetings

Since these meetings involve several busy faculty members, arranging meetings can be challenging. If you want to schedule a Committee meeting, please contact your Advisor’s/Supervisor’s secretary with some proposed dates and the names of all your Committee members. The Advisor’s/Supervisor’s secretary will schedule the meeting. Your Advisor/Supervisor will let you know who their secretary is, and contact details can be found in the staff directory in the About us section of our website.