Beginning to end
This page contains information for each stage in a standard PhD track. If you want to know more about the rights and obligations of all parties involved, please consult the GSG quality assurance plan "Towards a successful PhD journey".
When starting a PhD, you must register in MyPhD and submit a Training and Supervision Agreement (TSA). This should be done in collaboration with your supervisory team. Your supervisory team consists of two to four supervisors: one or two promotors and zero to two co-promotors.
Registration in MyPhD must be done within 14 days after the start of your project. This should be at least three years before the intended graduation. More information on MyPhD and the registration can be found on the UU pages. Note that, before submission, the registration must be approved by your supervisors and other involved parties.
The Training and Supervision Agreement (TSA) sets out the rights and obligations of you and your supervisors in your PhD programme. This includes courses to follow (see education and development for more information) and a plan for daily supervision and regular progress meetings. Discuss these topics with your supervisors and make sure to ask for approval if costs are involved in activities such as courses. You should make the TSA and upload it in MyPhD within three months after the start of your programme. Your supervisors will then formally approve the TSA in MyPhD, where it will be stored.
During your PhD programme there are several activities and responsibilities to keep in mind.
As a PhD candidate, you have a Progress Review at least once a year: a meeting with your manager (usually your supervisor) to discuss your progress and the supervision. For UU employees, this is the Assessment and Development Interview (A&D). Your manager is responsible for the planning and conduct of the meeting, but you can also take the initiative for this meeting yourself. Both you and your manager may each bring someone else along, if desired, in consultation with each other (for example, a daily supervisor).
Use this meeting to formalise agreements, for example, expected output, supervision, working/research internship abroad, planned attendance of conferences (see tips and tricks) and discipline-specific or general courses (see education and development). Hence, training is an important topic during the interview, other than the assessment. Discuss with your supervisor beforehand which topics will be addressed.
Before the meeting, you write a progress report. Use the A&D form if you are a UU-employee, and the Progress review form GSG for non-employees otherwise. Send it to your supervisor(s) at least one week prior to the meeting. Your manager records the assessment and the agreements made in the meeting in a report. You confirm this written, confidential report. If you are a UU employee or if you are registered as a guest with GEO HR, your manager sends the report to GEO HR (email@example.com), who file the report in your digital personnel file and register it in the administration. Otherwise, you and your manager keep a digital copy yourselves.
Six months after you start, you will have your first Progress Review, during which your progress and performance so far are reviewed. You will also get a review in the ninth month, the so-called “go-/no go” interview. A negative review in both progress reviews may lead to dismissal from the PhD programme.
PhD candidates employed by the Faculty of Geosciences usually are involved in teaching. Teaching tasks may take at most 10% of your total employment time. Specific tasks may differ per department. The objective of these teaching activities is to gain teaching experience and improve qualifications for a future academic position. You cannot be asked to spend time on teaching tasks in the final year of your track. Teaching in the final year is allowed only on a voluntary basis.
All PhD candidates whose PhD tracks start from 1 September 2020 onwards at Utrecht University and that have education tasks, should enroll in education training. Exceptions are possible in special cases. You should enroll in education training (preferably) before you start with your education tasks. You can read more about this topic on the Education and Development site, under “Mandatory courses”.
Everyone involved in academic teaching and research at Utrecht University shares in the responsibility to maintain research integrity. Promising that you will always perform your duties according to the principles of research integrity will be part of the doctoral thesis defence ceremony.
In addition to the quality of research and education, the potential impact that research outcomes have on society has become more and more important. Impact activities may be targeted at the societal domain, for instance, contributing to the public debate through public engagement. Economic impact, on the other hand, is aimed at the creation of economic value from knowledge, for example, through initiating a start-up. Societal impact may be relevant in your research as well, so discuss this topic with your supervisor. Geosciences’ Societal Impact Guide may help you. Also, courses are available if you want to learn more about this (see education and development).
Good supervision is crucial for a successful PhD trajectory. You, as a PhD candidate, and your supervisors each have a role and responsibility in the supervision process. It is good to make these explicit and to express expectations to each other. To support this, the UU has developed a vision on PhD supervision - an overview of "guiding principles" for PhD candidates and supervisors. The GSG has adopted the UU vision without modifications (GSG vision).
You can use this guide to help formulate your own expectations for supervision.
At the end of your programme, your PhD thesis will have to be approved and you will have to defend it in order to obtain your degree.
To be allowed to defend your PhD thesis and obtain your PhD, you will have to follow/arrange many official procedures, starting with the formal approval of your thesis by your supervisor(s) at least four months before your intended date of defence, and, upon the supervisors’ approval, asking the Beadle’s Office to assign a provisional date for the doctoral thesis defence ceremony. The UU pages on practical matters provide more information on the PhD thesis approval and the necessary regulations and forms to complete your PhD programme (including information about the ceremony and a time schedule).
MyPhD plays an important role in this phase. For example, you upload the pdf of your manuscript in MyPhD, for formal approval of your supervisors. Also a number of subsequent formal steps are facilitated through MyPhD. The UU pages on the required actions to complete a PhD programme provides you with a detailed description.
There are some things you need to know as a PhD candidate of Utrecht University.
The faculty and university provide information for all employees through:
- general information for new UU employees, with pointers to many topics, for example, IT, health and illness, expense declaration, annual assessment and development interviews.
- the university Intranet, where you can find university related information such as procedures, news, facilities, expense claims, IT.
See support and counsellors for more information on how to get help if you need it.
- The Collective Labour Agreement (cao) for Dutch Universities applies to the employees of Utrecht University, see the UNL website. It lists the terms of employment of various kinds.
- Utrecht University also has a number of additional terms of employment that specifically apply to the organisation.
If you have any questions about the terms of employment, you can contact the Faculty Human Resources department. See support and counsellors for the contact details.
Utrecht University has extended and expanded her fund for PhD candidates and postdocs whose research has been delayed due to the coronavirus. More details, such as target group, conditions and application procedure can be found at the faculty’s site on this topic. Please note that you discuss and complete the application form together with your supervisor. Submission of the application is done by your supervisor.