Problems with supervisor


I'm currently enrolled on a masters degree, although because it continued straight on from my bachelors I am still getting a student loan. I have worked for the university over the summer, with a postdoc who I would be working with for the rest of the year. He is not my 'real' supervisor although he is the person I spend most time with, and I only occasionally see the professor who is my supervisor. I was getting paid £180 a week to work for the postdoc. However, what he didn't tell me was that I was on a 10 week student bursary. At the beginning of my 11th week, I didn't want to work anymore as I wasn't enjoying it and told him this, and he said that I could not leave him in the lurch and had no choice whilst he was paying me. I have now found out that in fact I have not got paid for this week, and becuase of this and other reasons I don't get on well with him. Even if it is possible to switch postdocs, I would still be working in the same lab and I think the situation would still be very awkward. I am also not entirely sure that I have picked the right area of biology to specialise in: I am currently doing molecular ecology however I am not enjoying the laboratory work although it is difficult to know if this is because I don't get on with my supervisor or if I genuinely don't enjoy it.

Considering that I am getting a student loan for this year, what would people recommend I do? If I drop out I believe that I will still come away with a bachelors degree. If I did drop out, what would happen to the student loan installment I have already recieved this year?



Hmm, a difficult situation - anyone able to offer this person any advice? Sounds like it's quite urgent, as their Masters will probably be staring in the next week or so!


I would suggest speaking to someone who deals with student registration and enrolment at that university, as it's tied up with official uni regulations and finance. You need to know where you stand with regards to the bursary and the status of your bachelor's degree, before you can sort out the problems with the masters and the supervisor. You could also speak to someone at the student union, as they are also aware of the uni regulations but from a different perspective. Best of luck.


My knowledge is from computer science... but from what I know about BSc / MEng degrees is... it depends entirely on what modules you have done.

In our University, an MSc / MEng was literally just another year at Uni with more 3rd year modules... therefore if the Masters students did exactly the same or similar options to the BSc students... and dropped out half way through their 4th year.. they still got awarded the BSc as they had done the same amount of work.

On the other hand, if, in the 3rd year.. the Masters students did other modules which didn't add up to the same amount of points or had to do 'extra' modules which would contribute to their Masters degree but not their BSc, then they had to finish to be awarded a degree.

Either way... I would get your butt to your tutor in your department or contact someone straight away in the examinations office and ask where you stand.

You would have to pay back your student loan installment if you drop out and I *think* you'd have to pay it back more quickly than you would should you have stayed.

If you are that miserable.. obviously you know what to do - however if you think you can cope with the moron in the lab for a few more months, I would suggest you try and stick at it - The graduate market is very competative and a Masters can be a clinching deal, should all other candidates only have a BSc.

Good luck.


Thanks for your replies, I have managed to arrange a meeting with my head of year although it seems unlikely that I will be able to switch supervisors. It is looking like I will be leaving university and I will hopefully be able to start another masters next year!


I saw my supervisor today, he has offered me other projects I could do (nothing certain, he is going to think about them and see what is feasible). Is it a good idea to rush into something and just do it even if I may not enjoy it, or take the time out this year to think about what I really want to do?


Are you currently doing an 'undergraduate Masters' programme i.e. a four year programme? And are you getting student loans / grants etc? If so, you do realise that that funding isn't available for stand-alone masters programmes? You are responsible for paying tuition fees and living costs yourself unless you get a scholarship. You could be about to make a very expensive choice, so I'd get some financial advice before you drop out.