Your supervisions will be arranged by your Director of Studies, who will see you individually at the beginning of each term to discuss these arrangements, at the end of each term to read reports from your supervisors and discuss with you how things have gone, and at any other times by arrangement as necessary.
The organisation of your supervisions will depend on your choice of papers. A reasonable expectation is that you should have eight supervisions in each of your ASNC papers over the course of the two-year Part I. In practice this might work out in your first year as between four and six supervisions on each paper for which you are taking a Preliminary examination. The remaining supervisions on those papers will occur in your second year. During your second year you will also have eight supervisions on any ASNC papers in which you did not take a Preliminary examination and/or supervisions in up to two borrowed papers, if you choose to take them.
Your Director of Studies is responsible for appointing your Supervisor, and for making arrangements for your first meeting. Your Supervisor might be a senior member of the Department, or a Research Fellow working in Cambridge, or a current PhD student. All supervisors, whatever the nature of their connection with the Department, will provide essentially the same service.
The supervision is the cornerstone of college teaching. You will probably have at least one a week, either alone or as one of a pair. Each supervision lasts an hour, and the discussion will normally be focused on an essay or other piece of written work that you have been asked to produce. The length of the essay will vary depending on the nature of the topic, and you should ask for your supervisor’s advice about this. Your supervisor will suggest a topic for your essay and provide a reading list. You will be asked to hand the essay in for your supervisor to read beforehand; this leaves more time for discussion and allows more detailed attention to the quality of your writing.
Your work should be the focus of the supervision. The supervisor will probably take you through your essay, discuss its content (whether orally, or in written comments, or by combination of both), and ask you to enlarge on certain matters. You can use the supervision to follow up things said in lectures, or to raise questions that interest or perplex you. Your supervisor will also help you to improve your essay-writing skills.
For further information about writing essays, see: