Supervising PhD Research

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. This course aims to expand the repertoire of PhD supervisors, enabling them to offer supervision more efficiently and effectively.

Suitable for: 
Primarily for daily supervisors and (co)promoters of PhD students at Utrecht University (beginners and experts), but also for supervisors of other universities and research institutions
Entry requirements: 

Some experience with supervising PhD students is required

Start date(s): 
13 September 2023, 14 September 2023
Time investment: 
4 meetings of 3 hours and 3 hours of self study for each meeting
Utrecht, Science Park (De Uithof)
Onderwijsadvies & Training
€ 1.030,- (UU-employees can use O&T units - if available and in consultation with your faculty) incl. literature
Extra information: 

This course also has a Dutch variant.
A customized course is possible.


Course contents

As a daily supervisor or (co)promoter you are a content expert, but also a (co)researcher, coach and assessor. Supervisors learn to handle these roles more efficiently and effectively in this course. Topical questions are raised as: "How do you help the PhD student to become an independent researcher?," "How do you signal problem behavior 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?”

This course is primarily intended for daily supervisors and (co)promoters of PhD students at Utrecht University, but is also intended for supervisors of other universities and research institutions.

This training made me more aware of my persona as a supervisor, and gave me useful tools to stimulate and guide my students through any circumstance. Discussing with and learning from peers is a big plus.

Eljo van Battum
Graduate School of Life Sciences (UU)


The approach of the course is focused on mutual exchange of experiences and sharing of good practices. In this course you will build upon your current supervising practice by evaluating what already works and how you can elaborate on that. The challenging situations that you encounter in daily practice will be analyzed together to search for suitable (intervention) strategies. You will practice with effective communication with your PhD candidate and formulate a supervision plan with goals that are clear for you as well as the candidate, taking into account the limited time available for supervision. You will exchange tips and tricks with your colleagues and reflect on your own supervising practice. In addition, (semi-)scientific literature in the field of supervision of PhD candidates will be used to explore the implication of the theory on your day-to-day practice.

The course was very useful and hands-on. It helped me to structure the supervisory style I have, resulting in a supervisory roadmap that I can adjust to each individual PhD student. It was also great to be able to exchange experiences with other supervisors, particularly about the potential challenges of supervision during the pandemic.

Associate professor
Faculty of Social Science (UU)


The course consists of four meetings of approximately 3 hours, spread over two months. Apart from meetings, the participants work on assignments linked to their own practice. The program covers a range of basic subjects. The level of detail will partly depend on the needs of participants; the precise program is based on the inventory of the strengths and weaknesses the participants introduce. The definitive program will be compiled before the start of the first session.

The following components are the building blocks for the program.

  • Exchanging "tricks of the trade" by peer supervisors and reflecting on the implications for your own supervision practice.
  • Developing a supervision plan including: the planning of the PhD program and how to guide your students towards specific learning objectives
  • Assessing the progress of your PhD candidate: discussing content and procedure, but also recognizing risks and warning signals.
  • Creating clarity about the mutual expectations of PhD students and supervisors
  • Performing a strength / weakness analysis of your own PhD candidate(s), linked to: developing scenarios for challenging situations that regularly occur.
  • Analyzing concrete challenging situations form your own supervision practice, and discussing suitable intervention strategies with your peers (peer consultation).
  • Applying insights from practice-oriented core literature in the field of PhD supervision.
  • Practicing with new supervising strategies (for example effective conversational skills) that can be used directly to improve your own supervision practice.
  • Formulating, implementing and evaluating concrete action points (SMART) for the improvement of your own supervision practice.


The course will refer to international scientific publications in the field of PhD supervision, and use the book (costs included): Kearns, H. & Finn, J. (2017). Supervising PhD Students. A practical guide and toolkit. Adelaide: ThinkWell.

Number of participants

6 - 14 participants


In 2023 two course series are offered:

  • Wednesday 13 September (13.30 - 16.30)
  • Wednesday 27 September (13.30 - 16.30)
  • Wednesday 4 October (13.30 - 16.30)
  • Wednesday 11 October (13.30 - 16.30)


  • Thursday 14 September (13.30 - 16.30)
  • Thursday 28 September (13.30 - 16.30)
  • Thursday 5 October (13.30 - 16.30)
  • Thursday 12 October (13.30 - 16.30)


The application form is not available yet. Do you want to receive a message when registration is possible? Please fill in the form below.

Put me on the waiting list

This course provided me with interesting insights to improve the alignment of expectations between me as a supervisor and my PhD students.

Ewoudt van de Garde
Graduate School of Life Sciences (UU)

Incompany and customisation options

Are you curious about incompany and customisation options? We would be happy to explore the possibilities with you. Feel free to reach out, or share your contact details via the button below so one of our advisors can contact you.

Please contact me


Do you have any questions? Please contact us via:
+31 30 253 2261

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