Supervising PhD Research

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.

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): 
11 February 2021, 6 May 2021
Time investment: 
4 meetings of 3 hours and 3 hours of self study for each meeting
Utrecht, Science Park (De Uithof)
Onderwijsadvies & Training
Fee:  This fee is exempt from VAT
€ 875 (intern UU/UMC); € 1.030 (extern), incl. literature
Extra information: 

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

Online, face-to-face, or blended?

Our course offering can be provided in an online, blended, or face-to-face format. The content below is based on face-to-face contact. Should the course be (partially) provided online, the course will be adapted where necessary to ensure it will fit the online format and results in comparable learning outcomes. Naturally, these adaptations will be done in conjunction with the customer.

Course contents

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. 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)


  • Thursday 11 February 2021, 13:30 - 16:30
  • Thursday 11 March 2021, 13:30 - 16:30
  • Thursday 25 March 2021, 13:30 - 16:30
  • Thursday 15 April 2021, 13:30 - 16:30


  • Thursday 6 May 2021, 13:30 - 16:30
  • Thursday 27 May 2021, 13:30 - 16:30
  • Thursday 10 June 2021, 13:30 - 16:30
  • Thursday 1 July 2021, 13:30 - 16:30


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.

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)


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.

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