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Coaching scheme for doctoral students

Find out if the Doctoral College's Coaching Service is right for you to support you with your own learning or address a specific research-related challenge.

Opportunity to access coaching

Doctoral students have the opportunity to access up to 6 free coaching sessions, facilitated by trained Coaches from a wide range of academic and professional services roles across the University. Whilst the scheme is open to all, we would particularly encourage self-funded doctoral students to apply who may not already have access to coaching.

The coaching scheme intends to compliment your formal supervision, and is an opportunity for you to discuss a particular topic of interest in a confidential and safe space with someone outside of your research area.

Coaches undertake these sessions in addition to their main job role. All Coaches have undertaken a rigorous training programme leading to Level 5 ‘Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring’ from the Institute of Leadership and Management or equivalent.

The scheme is open to all doctoral students, at any stage of study (you need to have at least 6 months of registration left), and sessions can take place either online or in-person at mutually convenient times between yourself and your coach.

What is coaching?

Coaching provides focused guidance and support to help with a particular challenge or area of development. Coaches work with their coachees on a 1-1, confidential and voluntary basis, to help stimulate learning, action and change. Coaching can help you discover how to address your own challenges; develop greater self-awareness; identify goals and potential barriers; develop appropriate skills and strategies and feel empowered to take action.

Coaching is usually short-term and you will normally contract to no more than 6 sessions over a 6 month period.

Coaching isn't...

Coaching is not a mentoring relationship. Mentors usually have subject expertise and knowledge to help an individual by suggestions solutions. Coaches may not have expertise in your area of work but are highly skilled in using tools to help you find your own solutions.

Coaches are not counsellors or wellbeing advisors. Coaches have some knowledge of University support provision and will be able to signpost you to other sources of support.

Coaching should not replace any formal supervision with your supervisor(s).

Why might you request coaching?

There are many different reasons why doctoral students might benefit from coaching and your coach will help you to clarify your goal(s). Here are some common reasons why doctoral students may request a coach:

  • to discuss time management skills
  • to improve work-life balance
  • to reflect on leadership qualities and capabilities
  • to improve self-confidence and decrease self-doubt
  • to explore working relationships with colleagues, peers and your supervisor(s)
  • to reflect on your own professional and career development needs
  • to improve communication skills
  • to reflect on your expectations of your research progress

How to sign up for coaching

The coaching scheme is open to all doctoral students, at any stage of study, and sessions can take place either online or in-person at mutually convenient times between yourself and your coach.

The pilot scheme is now full but there is a waiting list for people interested in signing up for coaching.

If you would like to request coaching, please email You will be informed of the approximate waiting time and then you will then be sent further information regarding your potential coach and subsequent meetings.


If you have any questions about the doctoral coaching scheme please contact Oli Schofield, the Doctoral Coaching Network Lead