Skip to main content
PhD students with supervisor

How to make a supervisor enquiry

Contacting a potential supervisor is usually the first step you’ll take after you decide on your PhD project or topic area.

If you know the subject area you want to work in but do not have a particular supervisor in mind, you can explore our PhD topic areas.

Contact the supervisor you want to work with by searching for their profile. Each profile indicates if the person is currently accepting PhD applications. 

What to look for in a potential supervisor

Once you've decided on your research area and have considered your proposal, draw up a shortlist 2 to 3 supervisors that match your research interests.  

Your PhD supervisor could be someone: 

  • you’ve interacted with during undergraduate or postgraduate study 
  • from your previous or current university who you don’t personally know but whose work aligns with your research interests 
  • from a university you haven’t studied at before

You can learn about their research by reading their publications, books, reports and work in the community. You'll usually find this information on: 

  • university staff profiles
  • scientific databases
  • academic blogs
  • project listings

Some potential supervisors will list their current and previous PhD students, with links to their profiles. Their experience may be useful in helping you to make your decision.   

Your supervisor will be someone you regularly work and interact with. It's important to feel you could build a relationship with them. You both need to feel you make a good match. 

How to contact a potential supervisor

Email is usually the best way to contact a potential supervisor. You will find a supervisor’s contact email on their staff profile. 

What to say when you email a potential supervisor 

When sending your first email, it’s a good idea to: 

  • briefly tell them about your research interest and how you feel it aligns to their expertise  
  • express why you want to do this research or your interest in the topic 
  • keep it short and to the point – supervisors may not have a great amount of time to carefully read all initial emails they receive
  • check the person’s title (for example, Dr, Professor, Mr, Mrs) 

Typical response time 

Allow 2 to 3 weeks for an initial response. If you haven't received a response in that time, you can contact the faculty graduate school office.

Further support

Please contact our faculty graduate schools by email if you need further guidance. 

For more general advice on contacting a potential supervisor, visit FindaPhD.