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University of Helsinki Faculty of Law

Graduate School Law in a Changing World

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Contact information:

Director of the Graduate School:
Professor Kimmo Nuotio
tel +358 9 191 22013
mobile +358 50 4156569

Dr Ida Koivisto
tel +358 9 191 23538

Yliopistonkatu 3 (P.O. Box 4)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki
fax +358 9 191 23090

Supervisory principles


The director of the graduate school has approved the following principles of postgraduate supervision. The principles are intended to support the postgraduate students and their supervisors in finding good supervision practices. The principles are also available in pdf-format.


1. The supervisor will take care of the various dimensions of supervision in a
professional manner throughout the research project
. In order to provide extensive and professional supervision, the supervisor should:

  • recognize the students’ individual needs
  • motivate and support the student, and be truly interested in the student’s progress
  • be loyal to the student and vice versa
  • avoid delaying the research project by her own acts or omissions
  • develop himself as a supervisor.

2. The supervisor will genuinely commit herself to the student’s research project. The commitment will manifest itself in that the supervisor will:

  • acquaint himself with the student and her tentative research plan before agreeing to act as a supervisor
  • evaluate what kind of supervision the project requires, and how to best arrange the supervision
  • assess her possibilities and resources to act as a supervisor, taking into account her expertise, prior supervisory commitments and other responsibilities
  • not agree to act as a supervisor unless he can fully commit himself to the project
  • assist the student in getting research financing
  • belong to the same graduate school as the student, take appropriately part in the graduate school’s programme and co-operate even in other respects with the graduate school’s management
  • be conscious of her responsibility for recruiting talented and adequately skilled PhD students.

3. The supervisor will further the systematic and planned realization of the PhD studies and the supervision. He will, inter alia:

  • assist the intending postgraduate student in developing a good, feasible plan for her research and PhD studies
  • guide and support the student in dividing the research into appropriate stages
  • help the student tailor a suitable study programme, bearing in mind the possibility of alternative examination practices
  • use the student’s personal study plan as a tool of supervision; for example, the supervisor’s and the student’s agreement on their communication practices will be documented in the plan
  • update the student’s personal study plan with the student at least once a year
  • commit himself to follow the plan presented to the graduate school throughout the duration of the graduate school.

4. The supervisor will support the student’s growth into a full-blown autonomous member of the academic community, her development as a researcher and en expert. The supervisor may for example:

  • encourage the student to publish during the PhD studies
  • provide the student teaching tasks which are connected to the theme of his research
  • support the student in creating national and international networks
  • help the student get enough peer feedback and support
  • help the student create adequate contacts with the professions
  • help the student prepare for the public examination.

5. The supervisor will have sufficiently close interaction with the student. The supervisor will:

  • meet the student at least four times a year, and even more frequently if necessary
  • familiarise herself carefully and timely with the texts and other materials which the student has sent to her
  • give fair and honest feedback, and written advice when needed.

6. The supervision will be in line with the principles of research ethics. In order to sustain ethical supervision practice, the supervisor:

  • should draw the student’s attention to research ethics and the guidelines of scientific writing
  • should not take inappropriate use of the student’s research
  • may do research together with the student unless this contradicts the student’s interests
  • should remember that the author of the PhD dissertation is the student instead of himself.

7. The supervisor will seek solutions to supervisory problems. He:

  • will contact both the student and the graduate school if the supervision relation is unsatisfactory
  • tries to guarantee that the student does not receive conflicting advice
  • will discuss the supervision problems with the student’s co-supervisor
  • may propose a joint supervision arrangement if this would be useful because of the nature of the student’s research or for some other reason
  • will not prevent the student from changing the supervisory arrangements if the student considers a change necessary
  • may ask to be relieved of her supervision duties if the supervision relation remains unsatisfactory even after attempts on resolution
  • may help the student to find a mentor; mentor is an experienced non-academic expert whose support can advance the student’s career.


8. The student will genuinely commit herself to her research project. She has to:

  • seek the highest scientific quality
  • develop himself as a researcher and an expert
  • be loyal to her supervisor and other members of the graduate school
  • follow the principles of research ethics in all respects.

9. The student furthers the systematic and planned progress of his research project. The student has to:

  • carry out her research and PhD studies according to the agreed schedule
  • document the progress of supervision by, for example, making summaries of the supervision sessions and sending them to the supervisor
  • inform the supervisor and the graduate school’s director about essential changes of his research plan and theme
  • contact the supervisor if she wishes the supervision to be more efficient, and seek a resolution primarily with the supervisor; the student and the supervisor may contact the graduate school in case they are unable to find a satisfactory resolution.


10. The graduate school will support the supervision. The graduate school will, among others:

  • assure the effectiveness and well-defined nature of supervisory arrangements
  • develop supervisory practices
  • give recommendations on making the supervision more effective, if necessary
  • organize training for the supervisors in order to improve the supervision
  • further a conciliatory resolution of supervisory problems.

11. The graduate school will co-operate with the supervisors and faculties. The graduate school will, inter alia:

  • encourage the supervisors to participate and co-organize the graduate school’s events together with the supervisor
  • help the student create national and international research networks.

12. The graduate school will follow the progress of the student’s research in co-operation with the supervisor. The graduate school may:

  • ask the student and/or the supervisor to give an account of the progress of the research and the supervision’s workability
  • consider the interruption of financing if the student neglects his duties.