SHW mentorship schemes

ECR-PhD mentorship scheme

This mentorship scheme is open to all PhD students within School of Health and Wellbeing, new and established.

Photo of desk with diary, coffee cup and plant

What mentorship is for

The mentoring role is not the same as the supervisory role, with the main difference being that while the supervisory role centres around academic input, the mentoring role is around support in bolstering the student in the process of completing a doctoral thesis. Students and mentors should be clear that the relationship differs from the student-supervisor relationship. The need for the scheme has arisen from students desiring someone who is not the formal supervisor to talk to, perhaps to discuss uncertainties, insecurities or worries that they do not feel comfortable exposing to the supervisory team.

In addition, although the supervisory team will be able to provide advice on the processes of completing a thesis, their primary role is to ensure that the scope of the student’s work is appropriate and that it is scientifically defensible and the academic content is sound. Although the mentor is likely to have knowledge and skills in this area also, it is not his/her role or responsibility to pass these on in any detail, but rather to provide support and advice with regard to the (often emotional) process of getting through the various stages necessary to write one’s thesis. The relationship should be one of buddying and nurturance, not of academic guidance.

Whilst the role of a mentor is not a direct feeder into becoming a supervisor, mentors will gain better understanding of the students’ experiences, as they progress through the doctorate, which should serve as valuable background in any future supervisory role. ECRs should approach their line managers if they wish to pursue a supervisory role, in order that this can be pursued if appropriate.

The mentor’s role should not be a role which takes a lot of time. Whilst the mentor may be willing to be available if the student has any particular immediate issues s/he wants to discuss over the year, as a general rule it is suggested that they have once or twice a term get togethers, perhaps over lunch or a coffee break.

The scheme is open to all students, new and established. The ECRs can judge how many students they are willing and able to mentor during any given period, though we advise mentoring one or two students rather than a greater number.

If you feel your matched mentee/mentor is not an appropriate match for you, please email Ewelina Rydzewska (

Please, note that the MRC MRC/CSO SPHSU Unit operates a separate ECR-PhD mentorship scheme. If you’re an ECR/PhD student from MRC/CSO SPHSU and would like to join as a mentor/mentee, please get in touch with the PhD representative Simon Barrett (

Key mentorship guidelines: mentee responsibilities

Agree with your mentor on a “mentorship contract” at the first meeting

  • How often you will meet/communicate
  • What you want to get out of the mentorship relationship
  • What you will do if the mentorship relationship is not working or not helpful to you
  • That all communications will be kept confidential unless otherwise agreed

Meetings should be initiated by the mentee

  • We recommend that you have at least two meetings per year
  • Ideally give your mentor a few weeks notice of when you’d like to have a meeting and agree on a time/place that is convenient for both of you
  • You don’t have to wait for an important decision to have a meeting, rather regular meetings are likely to be more helpful

Meeting content should be mentee driven

  • Mentors are there to provide advice, not tell you what to do
  • Before the meeting, spend some quality time thinking about what you want to get out of your meeting – make a list of objectives and goals for each meeting
  • After the meeting, take some time to reflect on what you discussed, write down any plans you made with a time scale for achieving them and any new questions raised in the meeting

Key mentorship guidelines: mentor responsibilities

  • Your goal is to help the mentee explore their own options and hurdles rather than solve any problems for them
  • Encourage the mentee to keep a log of mentorship meetings and follow up on any agreed actions in the agreed timescale