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Neill Martin wins Supervisor of the Year

What does it take to be a good supervisor during a pandemic? Neill reflects on reimagining research.

Dr Neill Martin, Senior Lecturer in Scottish Ethnology and Head of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, has been named Supervisor of the Year at the University’s annual Teaching Awards.

Photo of Neill Martin
Neill Martin (pictured right). Photo © Sam Sills.

Organised by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association, and entirely voted for and judged by students, the Teaching Awards recognise staff who’ve made a positive impact on students' learning experiences. Across all categories, staff in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) received 122 nominations, many for more than one Award, with 53 LLC nominations for Teacher of the Year alone.

The Supervisor of the Year category spans undergraduate, masters-level and PhD dissertations and theses, acknowledging the full range of expertise, knowledge, care and support a good supervisor brings to their role.

In winning the Award, Neill topped a shortlist of three candidates, and over 200 nominees from across the University.

Neill has continuously put my research and goals into the wider perspective, pushing me to better myself as a member of the University and research community… I am incredibly grateful for everything that Neill has done for me and the encouragement he provides to the wider community at Edinburgh. This has been an unusual year, full of new worries, stresses or change but Neill has done so much to make this year enjoyable and fun. In that sense he leads by example. The department I study in would not be the same without him.

One of Neill's nominations for Supervisor of the Year

Adapting to a shifting landscape

Graphic saying Supervisor of the Year
Graphic courtesy of the Students' Association

In his acceptance speech, Neill said “I was really touched to be nominated for this Award. I’m proud of all my students. This honour means a lot to me and I wish to pass on my heartfelt thanks to all those who nominated me. It’s wonderful."

Explaining how supervision had changed over the course of the past year, he mentioned the need to balance excellent online access and provision with “the often less whizzy, less technological requirements of our research community, whether [undergraduate] honours students working on their dissertations, or our [postgraduate] masters and doctoral candidates. I mainly gave students my time and listened - this was often all they needed."  

Reflecting that “engaging in a personal research project can be a lonely business at the best of times”, he commented on how students had found themselves in a shifting landscape, adapting projects because they could no longer access certain materials and facilities, and working away from their peers.

Summing up the achievements of our student community, he says “[the fact] that we were able to undertake these reimaginings and workarounds and not just ‘get through’ the year but produce successful work is really down to the students’ resilience, resourcefulness, creativity and determination.”

Watch or listen to the Supervisor of the Year announcement on Facebook

LLC has an excellent track record in the Students’ Association Teaching Awards. In the past five years, we have twice won the Ian Campbell Award for Teaching in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (Jane McKie - 2020; Marwa Mouazen - 2016) and the Best Implementer of Student Feedback (Fumiko Narumi-Munro - 2019; Sakie Chiba-Mooney - 2018). Other winners include Katherine Inglis (Best Practice in Inclusive Learning and Teaching - 2018), Eleoma Bodammer (Best Assessment Feedback - 2018) and Carlos Soler Montes (Best Feedback - 2017). Sarah Dunnigan won Best Research or Dissertation Supervisor in 2017.

Are you interested in studying with us?

Home of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, we are the longest established Celtic department in Scotland. Choose from a wide range of undergraduate degrees in Celtic, Scottish Ethnology, Scottish Studies, and Primary Education with Gaelic, or a range of postgraduate opportunities, including Masters by Research and PhD programmes.

Find out more about Celtic and Scottish Studies