Supervising PhD Candidates at the GSLS (2024-I)

Target group

This course is for (co-)supervisors and daily supervisors of PhD candidates registered at the GSLS. It is especially suitable for relatively new (co-)supervisors and daily supervisors, although more experienced supervisors are also more than welcome to develop themselves further during the course. Supervising PhD candidate(s) during the course is required, as well as some experience with supervising PhD candidates during the past, in order to be able to reflect on your own supervising behaviour and bring your insights into practice during the assignments of the course. This course will be given in English.

Course description

Supervising scientific research is a complicated process. The nature and possibilities of the researcher, the supervisor(s), and the type of research determine the best (intervention) strategy. The course aims to expand the repertoire of PhD supervisors, enabling them to offer supervision more efficiently and effectively. As a daily supervisor or (co)promoter you are a content expert, but also a (co)researcher, coach and assessor. In this course, supervisors learn to handle these roles more efficiently and effectively. Topical questions are raised as: "How do you help the PhD candidate to become an independent researcher?", "How do you signal problem behavior of your PhD candidate in time and how do you deal with it?", "How do you take different personal, work and learning styles into account?” and “How do you communicate about mutual expectations?”

Learning objectives

After this course:

  • You have reflected on your own supervision practice.
  • You have gained insights in your own strength and development points, but also in those of your PhD candidate.
  • You will be able to apply didactical insights (theories) to your own supervision practice.
  • You have broadened your supervision skills (e.g. coaching & conversation skills, feedback skills).
  • You have practiced how to use more effective ways to handle intercultural work situations.
  • You will be able to signal problem behavior in time, and deal with difficult situations in your supervision practice from a broader perspective.
  • You have formulated, implemented, and evaluated plans how to optimize your supervision practice to meet PhD candidates’ needs.
  • You have developed a personal supervision plan.

Instructional method

The programme covers a range of basic subjects. The level of detail will partly depend on the needs of participants (based on the analysis of strengths and weaknesses conducted in advance). The definitive programme (for each session) will be compiled before the start of the course.

Basic subjects:

  • Organisation & Regulations of the Graduate School of Life Sciences
  • Selection of PhD candidates
  • Clarifying the mutual expectations of PhD candidates and supervisors, partly in relation to the implicit standards and guidelines for obtaining a doctorate and the associated supervision.
  • Goal oriented supervision: giving balanced feedback, adjusted to learning needs, type of PhD candidate and research phase. 
  • (Intercultural) communication skills 
  • Progress assessments: content and procedure 
  • Recognizing risks and warning signals

The course will focus on placing supervisors' experience from their own day-to-day practice in the context of theory and exploring its implications. The following assignments provide some idea of how this will work:

  • Developing a supervision plan (how to work towards specific learning objectives in a targeted way)
  • Developing scenarios for difficult situations that regularly occur
  • Formulating concrete plans (SMART) and implementing and evaluating these.

Supervisors' own day-to-day practice will be used as the basis. This will be achieved in part by means of the following:

  • At the intake: conducting an analysis of strengths/weaknesses in terms of quality of the PhD candidate and the supervisor
  • Engaging in discussion with PhD candidates (about mutual expectations)
  • Discussions and role-plays
  • Analysing a recording of one of the participants' supervisory meetings
  • Peer-feedback (based on a problem put forward by one of the supervisors)

After finishing the course, each participant can opt for individual coaching sessions with an experienced coach.

This course counts as didactic training for your University Teaching Qualification (BKO). 
Learn more about achieving a University Teaching Qualification (BKO).


Ivana Brasileiro Reis Pereira, Educational Consultancy & Teacher Development (O&T), Utrecht University. Course meeting 'intercultural communication': Janneke Dubbelboer (Janneke Dubbelboer Communicatie). Paula Meesters, PhD Psychologist, Utrecht University.

Group size

10 to 12 participants

Course schedule


Study load

In addition to the scheduled sessions, you should take into account an extra study load of approximately 3 hours per session (18 hours in total). This study load generally consists of homework assignments in preparation for the next session.

Cancellation and No-show policy

This course is free for (co-)supervisors of GSLS PhD candidates. However: free of charge does not mean free of responsibility. Once you have signed up for a course, we expect you to attend. For every late cancellation or no-show we have had to disappoint others who would have liked to attend. This is our policy:

  • You may cancel free of charge up to 4 weeks before the start of the course. After this date you can only cancel if you have a (co-)supervisor of a GSLS PhD candidate to replace you in the course. Send the name and contact information of your replacement to, at least 2 working days before the start of the course;
  • We expect that you actively attend the full course, but at least 80%. It is mandatory to attend the first session. If you are absent the first session you cannot follow the remaining of the course;
  • Not meeting the above requirements means you will be charged a no-show fee (€ 373). We will send the invoice after the course has ended. We are unable to make any exceptions, unless you have a valid reason (i.e., illness or death in the family 1st/2nd degree or partner). Please send an e-mail to indicating the reason.

Unfortunately we don’t offer this course for participants not supervising a PhD candidate part of the GSLS.

I got introduced into a huge body of knowledge on supervision that will help me improve my supervision style for the rest of my career.

Making a supervision plan really forced me to think about who I want to be as a supervisor.

Interactive course where you learn from fellow supervisors.

Start date and time
End date and time
Utrecht Science Park
Entrance fee
Free of charge for (co-)supervisors of the Graduate School of Life Sciences.

You can register via our course portal. The portal shows how many spots are still available.

More information
PhD Course Centre