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The University of Southampton
Doctoral CollegePGR Handbook

Welfare Support

The Students' Union

The Students’ Union (SUSU) is a large organisation which is independent from the University. It is there to represent your voice at every level and ultimately make your University experience the best and most enjoyable it can be. The Union and its societies run loads of activities and events specifically for postgraduate students, and postgrads can also get involved in any part of the Union.

The Union is here to unlock the potential and enrich the life of every student (including PhD students). All students registered at the University of Southampton are automatically members of the Union. Full details of what the Union offers can be found on the SUSU website. You can also visit the SUSU Facebook page and the Postgraduate Community Facebook page.

Student’s Union Advice Centre

The Advice Centre exists to provide free, independent and confidential advice to all students at the University of Southampton, including postgraduates. The experienced staff in the Advice Centre can offer guidance on various matters that affect postgraduate students including dealing with financial problems, housing issues and academic matters; including supervisory complaints. The Advice Centre can also direct you towards other appropriate support services if you need them.

Student Societies

Southampton hosts many active students’ societies, both academic, social and campaigning. Membership of such societies may help with both professional and social needs, or just a welcome distraction from your studies. A list of SUSU societies may be found here.


Student Services

The Student Services Centre is located in Building 37 on the Highfield campus and is the first point of contact for students with queries about financial support, fees, accommodation, or if they are just not sure where to ask a question. Please see their website or pop into the Centre for details of their services.


Student Disability and Inclusion Team

The Student Disability and Inclusion Team provides a wide variety of support for all students who have disabilities, mental health problems or specific learning difficulties. Its expert team can provide advice and support relating to your studies throughout your time here. Please see their website for further information and contact details.

Students with disabilities

The Student Disability and Inclusion Team recognises that disabled students may have additional needs and require assistance to reach their full potential.

The Student Disability and Inclusion Team is experienced in supporting a wide range of disability and health conditions including:

  • Sensory (visual/hearing) impairment
  • Mental health conditions
  • Mobility impairment
  • Physical disability
  • Asperger’s syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders
  • Health conditions (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy, asthma)
  • Chronic pain/chronic fatigue
  • Any other condition which has a long-term and adverse effect on studying/research

Our support, information and advice are tailored to meet individual needs. To access support from our service, students need to provide evidence of their Disability and attend a student support appointment with one of our specialist practitioners.

Students are encouraged to discuss with their supervisor any additional needs or assistance that they might require to help with their project, reports, research and thesis.

If a research student develops a disability during their studies, we would encourage them to disclose this to their supervisor and contact the Student Disability and Inclusion Team for advice. Where appropriate the supervisor will inform the Faculty Health and Safety Officer.

Dyslexia/Dyspraxia Support

Support, including viva and milestone meeting recommendations, reasonable adjustments, study skills support and assistive technology software is available for students with a specific learning disability (SpLD) such as dyslexia. Send your evidence to to arrange a meeting with a specialist practitioner to discuss your support recommendations.

If you believe you may have an SpLD but you do not have a diagnosis, please refer to the Student Disability and Wellbeing Team's how to access support webpage.

The Student Disability and Inclusion Team offer study skills support sessions which are an opportunity to meet 1:1 with a specialist practitioner for practical study advice and support. No appointment necessary.

A range of study workshops designed for students with a SpLD are also available throughout the year and can be booked here.

A variety of assistive technology software is available to access across the University of Southampton. The largest facility is the AT Suite (room 2047) on level 2 in Hartley Library. The AT Suite is a learning space provided for students with disability or specific learning difficulty. The suite features computers with dual screens, height adjustable desks, quiet working pods as well as the latest assistive technology software. Please refer to the Student Disability and Inclusion Team for further details about the type of software available and the locations at which it is available. 

Advice and support can also be provided to staff supporting students with specific learning difficulties, including guidance on inclusive strategies to ensure teaching and learning are accessible to all students. For more information, please refer to the information for staff page on the Student Disability and Inclusion Team’s website.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Student Disability and Inclusion Team also offer a Live Chat facility for students who may be unable to attend a drop-in session. This takes place Monday-Friday 14:00-16:00 and can be accessed via the Student Disability and Inclusion Team website during these times.

The Student Disability and Inclusion Team website has advice on managing anxiety, stress and other mental health problems as well as links to useful self-help materials. Throughout the academic year, Enabling Services also offer face-to-face and online workshops. Our news and events page is regularly updated to advertise any workshops or events that are available at that time. If you have an existing mental health condition or experience difficulties during your studies, you should contact The Student Disability and Inclusion Team as soon as possible to find out how they can support you.

Other sources of advice and help are available, including your GP and Steps 2 Wellbeing for NHS psychological care in Southampton, as well as Solent Mind.

Crisis Support

The University First Support team can be contacted during office hours to arrange support for students who may be facing difficulties in their life or dealing with a crisis. To contact the team email

Student Wellbeing Team

The Student Wellbeing Team team are also available 24 hours a day, seven days per week to offer wellbeing support to students outside of office hours. The Student Wellbeing Team are contactable via email at or calling +44(0)23 80599599.

Health Services

All students are required to register with a doctor. This can be one of the local GPs either at the University Health Service or Highfield Health or with another local GP.


Harassment Contacts

The University has a network of trained Harassment contacts. They provide a confidential service to students and staff who feel bullied or harassed. They also support those who have been accused of harassment.

If you feel that you are being bullied or harassed and you need to share your experience in confidence, the Harassment Contacts are available to talk to. They can offer a sympathetic ear and try to understand how you feel, and can help you in assessing your options to address the problem. This equally applies to those accused of harassment, who may feel isolated or confused by the accusation and need assistance in understanding the processes that may be undertaken.


PhD Student/Supervisor Mediation

The partnership between student and supervisor is an important one and one that we take seriously.  The foundations of the relationship are built on mutual trust and respect and the ability to communicate effectively.  Most of the student/supervisor partnerships work very well but occasionally some difficulties occur that may benefit from the services of those with experience in resolving conflict and diffusing tension.  Of course, ideally it’s best to raise any issues as and when they occur to avoid things escalating. A well timed face to face conversation is usually the most effective way of resolving potential problems and therefore we always encourage you to speak to your supervisor as soon as possible about any issue that concern you.

However, when things aren’t going well, it’s not unusual to feel unable to tackle them yourself or to be reluctant to raise the issue for fear of making things worse.  The University recognises this and acknowledges that conflict may have an adverse effect on your wellbeing. The mediation service was set up in 2006 for all our staff and students with the aim to seek sensible and workable solutions and to minimise the stress that situations like this can cause.

The mediation service offers accredited mediators who understand the university and student life who have experience in helping to resolve potentially stressful conflict and dysfunctional relationships.  This is a confidential service wherein all conversations are protected and are not shared with a third party without the express permission of those involved in the mediation.

Without committing yourself or others to mediation you may, if you prefer, contact the Mediation Services Manager, an accredited advanced mediator, for an initial chat to talk through the situation. Please contact

Contact the Mediation Service using the referral form on the website or telephone Kate Grant on 02380 597098 or email

For further information on the mediation process, please see our mediation page on the Doctoral College website.




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