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PhD candidates are the prime stakeholders of the graduate school. Therefore, the central task of the graduate school is to enhance, support, and monitor the progress and quality of the programme that the PhDs of the graduate school are following. This is effectuated via:

  1. Quality control and progress evaluation of the PhD project;
  2. The development, coordination and facilitation of PhD training and education activities (courses, workshops, discussion groups, seminars and conferences. see the "Courses & Activities" menu);
  3. Offering PhD candidates a Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) in which training / education activities and supervision are formalised (see the relevant section in the "PhD" dropdown menu above);
  4. Support in career planning and development;
  5. Setting clear guidelines and procedures for the PhD programme;
  6. Counselling, mediating, and providing support when PhD candidates experience issues related to their PhD programme.
The PE&RC PhD Programme

The PE&RC PhD programme is rooted in two principles:

  • The candidate is in the driver’s seat: When doing a PhD, the candidate must acquire the knowledge, skills and competences to demonstrate that (s)he can function as an independent scientist (in and outside academia). Hence, the prime responsibility of the PhD track lies with the PhD candidate, guided by supervisors and facilitated by the graduate school;
  • Development of T-shaped skills: Given the previous, PhD candidates are stimulated to acquire in-depth knowledge of issues relevant to the PhD project, combined with a broad scientific overview that can be placed in a societal context. Moreover, (s)he needs to obtain the required competences and skills to function as a versatile academic in diverse professional settings (the so-called T-shaped skills, see figure below). Besides guaranteeing a high scientific level, these T-shaped skills allow for scientific flexibility in the post-PhD career since post-PhD occupation requirements generally extend those of specific PhD work.

Final attainment aims of the programme
Upon completion of the PhD programme, the PhD candidate must have met the following attainment aims which identify that (s)he is able to:

  1. Function as an independent scientist, as shown by:
    1. Formulating scientific questions, based on social issues or scientific progress;
    2. Conducting original scientific research;
    3. Competence in communicating and discussing the objectives, results, and implications of the research in (peer reviewed) scientific journals, scientific meetings and to the general public;
  2. Integrate his/her work in a theoretical framework of the discipline as well as a broader area of research;
  3. Identify priority areas of research and to formulate questions and experimental hypotheses pertinent to this research;
  4. Relate and communicate the research objectives and results to societal needs and issues;
  5. Postulate concise propositions in scientific and societal areas.

Whether the attainment aims are met is demonstrated by the PhD thesis. The usual size of the thesis is equivalent to four papers published or publishable in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, plus a general introduction, and a synthesis (e.g. in the form of a general discussion). The supervisor(s) is responsible for discussing the specified requirements of the PhD study with the prospective PhD candidate at the start of the PhD trajectory. This primarily focuses on what is expected in order to get to the final thesis. The formal regulations and protocol concerning thesis format and public defence are usually described in the Doctoral Degree Regulations of the university at which the PhD candidate will defend his/her thesis. After the thesis has been approved by the supervisor(s), an (inter)national thesis committee appointed by the Academic Board of the University evaluates the thesis. Only in the case of a positive evaluation, a public defence of the dissertation takes place. The graduate school is not formally involved in this final examination.

Regardless of the University at which a PE&RC PhD candidate will defend his/her thesis, the graduate school is responsible for issuing a Training and Education Certificate which can be obtained when the graduate school’s training and education criteria, as formulated in the Training and Supervision Plan (TSP), have been met. This certificate, which is awarded to the PhD candidate together with the doctoral degree, specifies the training and education activities performed. Moreover, the list of activities is published in the thesis itself.

Further reading

For more information about the different elements of the PE&RC PhD Programme (e.g., applying for a PhD position, the procedure of admission to the PE&RC PhD Programme, The Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) and the Training and Supervision Statement Form (TESF)), please visit the subpages in the "PhD" dropdown above. If you want to delve further into the courses and other activities (e.g., seminars, workshops, symposia, discussion groups) that we (co-)organise or support for our members, please go to the "Courses & Activities" menu.