How to survive your PhDCourses for beginning PhD candidates

ECTS: 2.5 
Number of sessions: 4
Hours per session: 3
Entry level: Introduction
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €440,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607 (Graduate School)

You can only enrol for one edition of this course.

Semester 1

Session 1
September 15 (Friday) 2017
Mandeville building (directions) room T17-01

Session 2
September 22 (Friday) 2017
Mandeville building (directions) room T17-01

Session 3
October 6 (Friday) 2017
Mandeville building (directions) room T17-01

Session 4
October 27 (Friday) 2017
Mandeville building (directions) room T17-01

Semester 2

Session 1
March 9 (Friday) 2018
Mandeville building (directions) T13-67

Session 2
March 23 (Friday) 2018
Mandeville building (directions) T17-01

Session 3
April 6 (Friday) 2018
Theil building (directions) CT-2

Session 4
April 20 (Friday) 2018
Theil building (directions) CT-2


This course provides starting PhD candidates with an informative framework and techniques to make an effective start to their PhD project. The course will help you to get your project well underway and prevent problems and delays later on.

Aims and working method

Course topics include connecting with your peers, setting up the project management and planning of your PhD project, making the best use of your time and energy, staying motivated, and interacting effectively with supervisors, other key faculty members and support staff.

This intensive course consists of four half-day sessions with practical training directly applied to your work complemented with online self-study modules and Q&A webinars. Participants will be informed well in advance by email on how to prepare.

Learning objectives

  • Finding your way around the university and the Dutch PhD system:
    -    discuss your expectations;
    -    rights and obligations of PhD candidates;
    -    evaluation and supervision of PhD candidates, i.e. go/no-go decisions, and;
    -    presenting your proposal and get to know your peers and the projects they are involved in.
  • Project management:
    -    have an overview of the stages of a PhD project work plan & planning;
    -    evaluate and adjust the progress of the project, applied to your own project.
  • Time management and work-life balance:
    -    motivation and professional development: know your own goals, and inspiration in your project (strengths and weaknesses);
    -    communicating successfully with your supervisor and other faculty and support staff;
    -    effectively receive and provide feedback.

Target group

This course is specifically designed for PhD candidates who have just started their PhD and have yet to specify their research proposal with their supervisors.

The first part of the course is less helpful for candidates who have already developed a detailed Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) and research time schedule with their supervisor. Candidates who already have this in place will benefit mostly from the time- and self-management techniques discussed in the second half of the course.

Session descriptions

  • Session 1:
    A good start: getting to know the way
    (dr. Claartje van Sijl & Jan-Willem van der Mijde, MA)

    • finding your place at the university, know your peers and the projects you are involved with.
    • expectations of the PhD candidate, rights and obligations, different types of PhD trajectories in the Dutch system, monitoring, evaluations & supervision PhD candidates, go/no-go decisions.

  • Session 2:
    Project management
    (dr. Claartje van Sijl)
    have an overview of the stages of a PhD project & work plan & planning + your own project in relation to this;

    • develop your research proposal;
    • prepare training and education plan

    Note: Bring your laptop to class or some other way to check your project and research materials.

  • Session 3:
    Working effectively: time and project management
    (dr. Claartje van Sijl)

    • evaluate, refine and adjust work plan according to progress of the project.
    • time management / work - life balance.

  • Session 4:
    Motivation and professional development
    (dr. Claartje van Sijl)

    • motivation and professional development: know your own goals, & inspiration in your project; strengths and weaknesses.
    • communicating effectively with your supervisor and other faculty and support staff.

About the instructors

Claartje van Sijl is a professional trainer and coach who focuses on early career academics and other creative thinkers who want to redefine their life and work trajectory.

She personally knows the academic working environment from a variety of perspectives, as a researcher (PhD in Philosophy, Utrecht University) as well as from the perspective of supporting staff.

Jan-Willem van der Mijde

Jan-Willem van der Mijde is the Graduate School's marketing and communications officer. He is well informed on the doctoral regulations of Erasmus University, and the doctoral education programme and additional services provided by the Graduate School.