04 September 2019 - 04 September 2019
Location: Curzon Building, Birmingham City University

With growing numbers of doctoral candidates, more and more academics are becoming involved in research degree supervision. Supervision is a specialist academic practice that tends to be learnt through the experience of the practice, through supervising. 

Professional practice literature acknowledges the value for practitioners inquiring into and critically reflecting on their professional practice. This is often referred to as practitioner research, and in action inquiry circles is known as first-person action research or practice-led inquiry.  Inquiry into and describing one’s practice has its challenges. How can a professional creatively interrogate their practice to generate new knowledge and theory that creates value for the inquiring practitioner and for others?

This workshop discusses the different forms that practitioner inquiry might take for research degree supervisors, and how supervisors can be supported in reflecting on and enhancing their practice through drawing on their pre-existing research skills and disciplinary knowledge. It also outlines a Community of Practice model devised at Birmingham City University to scaffold practitioner inquiries for research degree supervisors and which has accreditation through SEDA’s Professional Development Framework (SEDA PDF).

The workshop price also includes a copy of SEDA Special 43 (10 ways to Investigate Research Supervision Practice).

Dr Geof Hill SFHEA is the Principal Director of the Investigative Practitioner. Dr Hill has been a Management Consultant for thirty-five years. Following training as a Work Study analyst in 1980s, he developed consultancies in Business, Health, Education and Mining, supporting and advocating professional practice change. He has concurrently held academic positions, notably for thirteen years as the Coordinator of research supervision professional development at Queensland University of Technology (Australia) and then a three-year Readership at Birmingham City University (UK). Geof is the principal author and instigator of the blog ‘The research supervisor’s friend’ (https://supervisorsfriend.wordpress.com).


Dr Sian Vaughan, SFHEA is a Senior Lecturer in Birmingham School of Art at Birmingham City (U.K) University (UK). She is a Site Director for Midlands 4 Cities, an Arts & Humanities Research Council funded Doctoral Training Partnership. Originally an art historian by training, more recently her work has questioned creative research practices and prompted a wider consideration of the doctoral student and supervisor experience.



The workshop will take place in the Board Rooms (C502 and C503) of the Curzon Building on Birmingham City University’s City Centre campus. You will find campus maps, floor plans and directions here:


The Curzon Building is about a 15-20 minute walk from each of Birmingham’s main train stations, Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham Snow Hill.


The fee will be £95 (to include a copy of SEDA Special 43).Refreshments and a sandwich lunch will be provided. Joining instructions will be sent nearer to the date.

10.00 – 10.15 Registration and Refreshments – Room C502 

10.15 – 10.20 ‘Something’s Coming’ (C502)

Introduction to the day by Dr Geof Hill. 

10.20 – 11.00 Practice-led Research (Inquiry) & Research Supervision led by Dr Sian Vaughan (C502)

This workshop session explores the drivers for the recognition of research degree supervision as a professional academic practice and for supervisors to undertake professional development in this practice. In this context, we explore what are practice-led research and reflective practice, and how can the notion of ‘troubling’ help us to think through our supervisory practice? 

11.00 – 11.40 A Supervisor’s Provenance led by Dr Geof Hill (C502)

This session considers supervision as a practice as having a history and each practitioner of that practice having a history. We will examine how the concept of provenance can help supervisors to identify and reflect on the prior experiences and skills that inform their approach to supervision. 

11.40 – 12.30 Examples of Practitioner Inquiries by Supervisors (C502)

Some of the contributors to ‘Ten Ways to Investigate will present examples of the creative and individual methods they devised to investigate their own practice as research degree supervisors. 

12.30 – 1.15 Lunch (C503) 

1.15 – 2.00 Communities of Practice Around Research Supervision, Dr Geof Hill and Dr Sian Vaughan (C502)

This presentation introduces the professional development program that we devised for Birmingham City University and which has accreditation through SEDA’s Professional Development Framework (SEDA PDF). Through a series of Community of Practice conversations, supervisors are scaffolded to design, undertake and share their own practitioner inquiry. Followed by Q&A. 

2.00 – 3.00 Doing a practitioner inquiry: the logistics, led by Dr Geof Hill and Dr Sian Vaughan (C502)

This workshop session focuses on the practicalities of supporting supervisors to design and undertake a practitioner inquiry into their research degree supervision. We will work through examples of how initial ideas can be nurtured and supported through the discussion of methodological paths and signposting to resources. Research degree supervisors are themselves researchers. Thus, their practitioner inquiries not only support and enhance their own practice, but can often also have the potential to add the growing body of knowledge and literature around research degree supervision. We will explore how this can be encouraged alongside developing an individual habit of mind developing the habit of mind of reflection and professional dialogue around research supervision.

3.00 – 3.15 Closing comments and a song – ‘Open a new window’ Dr Geof Hill  (C502)