What to do if your Dissertation Supervisor is Unhelpful?

Table of contents

When you’re writing your dissertation, things can get heated. You’re under pressure and might get stressed, bad tempered and irritable. The last thing you need at a time like this is to have a supervisor who doesn’t seem to be doing what they are supposed to. It would be great to have a supervisor who’s on your side and helping you every step of the way, but it’s sadly not unheard of to have a supervisor who’s distant, rude, doesn’t seem to have read your dissertation, and more. This guide will help you work out what to do if you find yourself in this situation…

Things to Avoid, Things to Do

Of course, it’s not always your fault if things go badly with your supervisor. However, you also have responsibilities to remember, and there are some things you need to avoid if you want the relationship to go well:

Be prepared for meetings, particularly the initial one where you are talking about your plans for your dissertation. Come with notes and make sure you’ve done some initial research
Be professional at all times, friendly but polite.
Make sure you turn up for meetings in plenty of times.
Don’t be confrontational or emotional. Discuss things neutrally and professionally.
Address any misunderstandings or problems as soon as they arise, rather than brooding on them for days, weeks or months.

When Things go Wrong

Ask yourself (and be truthful) if it’s entirely your supervisor’s fault. Talk things through with someone who isn’t directly involved. This could be a member of the department or a friend. This will help you see the situation more objectively
Ask for an appointment to talk things over with your supervisor
Make notes of what you feel the problem is, in case your mind goes ‘blank’
Keep the channels of communication open, and try and talk through your difficulties and get through them.
Try and distance yourself from the situation. It will be difficult, as things may have become stressful and emotional, but try and see things from a distance. Avoid understanding issues in terms of what your supervisor’s personality is.
Equally, try and be tactful. Don’t shout, raise your voice, or get emotional.
Don’t criticise your supervisor to anyone who will listen. It’s fine to talk through your concerns, but you can do this without being rude or disrespectful.

When the Relationship Breaks Down

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes things go so badly wrong that the relationship breaks down. It might seem like the end of the world if this happens, but don’t panic, it can be sorted.

If the relationship seems beyond repair, it might be worth trying to find a third person to act as a mediator, for example someone else in your department.
If you really don’t feel you can continue to work with your supervisor, check with your university or college’s administration department to find out the procedure for changing supervisors
If you’ve thought it through and you really believe your supervisor has acted inappropriately, you might decide to make a complaint. Your college or university will have a procedure for making complaints. This will differ from university to university so consult your student handbook or department.
Try and stay positive. You won’t be the first or the last person this has happened to, and there’s likely to be a fairly easy solution to the problematic situation you find yourself in.


University of Reading (2013) ‘Working with Supervisors’ [online] (cited 27th February 2013) available from http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/studyadvice/postgraduates/sta-working.aspx#problems

University of Sydney (2013) “I’m having problems with my Supervisor” [online] (cited 27th February 2013) available from


Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with MyStudyWriters
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
10th grade English
very good
Customer 452773, March 26th, 2023
Customer 452773, March 21st, 2024
Customer 452773, January 25th, 2024
Thank you for your hard work and help.
Customer 452773, February 13th, 2023
Leadership Studies
excellent job
Customer 452773, August 3rd, 2023
excellent job made a 93
Customer 452773, March 22nd, 2023
Thank youuuu
Customer 452729, May 30th, 2021
Great job
Customer 452773, February 13th, 2023
Customer 452591, March 18th, 2021
Business and administrative studies
always perfect work and always completed early
Customer 452773, February 21st, 2023
Human Resources Management (HRM)
excellent job
Customer 452773, June 25th, 2023
Data 564
excellent work
Customer 452773, April 11th, 2024
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes
Live ChatWhatsApp