Supervising PhD research / Onderzoek van promovendi begeleiden (in English)

There is also a Dutch version of this course. This course is scheduled for the fall of 2018.

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?”


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 consists of four meetings of approximately 3 hours. 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 in a targeted way, linked to: planning of the PhD program and how to work 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 (intervision).
  • Applying insights from practice-oriented core literature in the field of PhD supervision.
  • Practicing with new strategies that can be used directly to improve your own supervision practice (e.g. role-play), including the use of effective conversational skills
  • Formulating, implementing and evaluating concrete action points (SMART) for the improvement of your own supervision practice.


The program offers both support for professional development for beginners and experienced supervisors. Some experience with supervising PhD students is required.

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.


There are four half-day meetings. In total, you have to take into account a time-commitment of about 28 hours. 


The course will refer to international scientific publications in the field of PhD supervision, and use the book ‘The Good Supervisor: Supervision Postgraduate and Undergraduate Research for Doctoral Theses and Dissertations (Gina Wisker, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, 2012)’.
You will receive a copy of the book during the first meeting. The costs are included.


There are four meetings, all from 13.30-16.30 hrs:

  • 9 May 2019
  • 23 May 2019
  • 6 June 2019
  • 4 July 2019


€875,- per person for staff at Utrecht University / UMC. For external participants: €1030,-


There also is a Dutch variant of this course. 


You can apply by sending in the application form before 18 april 2019.


Please contact Jessica Hegeman: / 030 253 3744 / 06 24651947