Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS)


This section contains information on:

Skills Seminar
Library training
LeidenGlobal courses
PhD and postdoc research presentations
Network events
University-wide courses
Auditing specialist courses
National research schools
Teacher training
Academic events

Most PhD candidates will have completed their specialist coursework prior to applying to the Graduate School. If their project still requires specialist coursework such as the auditing of specific BA, MA, or Research MA courses (see below), this should be signalled in their application. Notably, it is common in certain fields to plan specialist training components during the PhD trajectory, such as the study of languages or language varieties associated with particular source material.

The PhD program offers various coursework and training modules. Some are available to the candidates at no charge; but registration is usually required, and cancellation may lead to a fine. Candidates should survey what is on offer early on, in consultation with their supervisors and make sure to register well ahead of time.

Skills Seminar

The LIAS Skills Seminar is convened by the Director of Doctoral Studies, and meets regularly throughout the academic year, in two-hour sessions. These Skills Seminars are open to all LIAS PhD candidates and are free of charge. PhD candidates receive announcements from the Secretariat. Topics include

  • writing abstracts
  • research presentations
  • fieldwork
  • course design
  • grant applications
  • job applications
  • the PhD defense and job interviews
  • from dissertation to book.

Needless to say, none of these topics can be treated exhaustively in a single session. The Seminar is meant to offer basic guidelines and provide pointers for follow-up, with an important role for the candidate’s supervisors.

Library training

Leiden University has a world-class library, which offers various types of training to PhD candidates and other library users.

In addition, the subject librarians of Asian studies, Middle-Eastern studies, and the study of religion jointly convene training sessions for PhD candidates in LIAS. PhD candidates receive announcements from the Secretariat. Topics include

  • How to find your material: catalog, databases, etc
  • Managing your research: collection and citation tools
  • Data management: back-ups, organization, storage, preservation, accessibility
  • Publishing and Open Access: your dissertation and beyond
  • Special collections
  • Social media and social impact: blogging, online communities, etc.

LeidenGlobal courses

LeidenGlobal is a consortium of Leiden University with locally based research institutes and museums. It offers three annual graduate training modules that LIAS PhD candidates are encouraged to attend. These modules will benefit the candidate’s professional development at large as well as their project, with special attention to the role(s), the choices, and the agency of the researcher:

  • ‘Discipline and Place’ (fall term). This is a lecture series that helps candidates position their work with reference to the various traditions that make up the scholarly landscape of the social sciences and the humanities. It encourages multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary thinking and reflection on issues that are relevant to all research, such as comparison and inclusion & exclusion in the Academy, and it highlights the situatedness of scholarship. Preferred timing: year 1.
  • ‘Methodologies in the Humanities and Social Sciences’ (spring term). This is a seminar series that helps candidates make their research topics, questions, and theoretical problems materialize in tangible activities, by familiarizing them with the spectrum of methodologies in the social sciences and the humanities on which their projects are located. Preferred timing: year 2.
  • An annual half-day spring term workshop featuring plenary sessions and feedback-intensive small-group sessions, on a concept that is theoretically and methodologically relevant across the social sciences and the humanities: e.g. ‘comparison,’ ‘translation,’ ‘the rules in my field,’ and so on. Announcements are normally circulated at some point in the spring term. Candidates are encouraged to attend these workshops annually, since they address generic issues that stimulate cross-disciplinary debate and feedback from outside one’s comfort zone.

PhD research presentations

PhD candidates have the opportunity to present their research in dedicated sessions of the Skills Seminar. Also, various local seminar series welcome presentations by PhD candidates and postdocs: e.g. the Modern South Asia series, the Middle-Eastern Studies series, religious studies and so on.

Network events

For nationally coordinated research reviews under the aegis of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), PhD research in LIAS is reviewed for the categories of Asian studies, Middle-Eastern studies, and the study of religion. In light of the internal diversity of Asian studies and Middle-Eastern studies, the LIAS management encourages the formation of networks along disciplinary and thematic lines that are conducive to a stimulating research environment. Network events are announced on the LIAS website, and PhD candidates are encouraged to keep an eye out for those they might like to attend.

University-wide courses

A range of generic, university-wide courses are offered to PhD candidates. Some of these are free, others charge a participation fee. As many kick off early in the fall term, you are advised to apply well ahead of time, at the latest when you draw up your training and supervision plan.

Auditing specialist courses

PhD candidates may attend BA or MA or Research MA courses in the Faculty of Humanities, if their supervisors deem this necessary for the successful completion of their project, and if the instructor in question gives them permission to attend. Normally, the candidate will audit the course, to avoid adding to the instructor’s workload in terms of feedback on written work and so on.

For auditing courses in other Faculties or, exceptionally, at other Universities, the supervisors should liaise with the instructors in question.

National research schools

For several fields in the humanities, the national research schools administered by LOGOS offer training modules for PhD candidates affiliated with universities in the Netherlands. With the support of their supervisors, PhD candidates may ask the Academic Director to nominate them for membership or to support their registration for individual modules. Such requests will be assessed in light of the fit between the project and the offerings of the school in question, the training and supervision plan in its entirety, progress reviews, and the availability of funding.

Teacher training

Under Dutch law, only PhD candidates with employee positions are allowed to teach, meaning: contribute substantially to the teaching of BA courses, or teach such courses in their entirety. These typically consist of twelve to fourteen sessions of 2 x 45 minutes each. They must first complete an introductory course on basic teaching skills at the Leiden Learning & Innovation Centre (LLInC). This will be funded by LIAS. Candidates are not automatically entitled to support for building a University Teaching Qualification (BKO) portfolio, but requests will be considered by the management team.

Teaching opportunities for scholarship candidates and self-funded candidates are limited to special lectures in courses taught by their supervisors or colleagues.

Supervisors are responsible for guiding, monitoring, and coaching all teaching activities of their candidates, including formal matters such as managing course material and copyright issues (see the library’s Services for teaching staff). They are encouraged to discuss teaching practice with their candidates and invite them to sit in on their classes and give them feedback.

Planning teaching duties and teaching opportunities for PhD candidates takes place with due regard to the interests of the BA programme in question: programme coherence, quality control, etc. Their contribution must fit with the programme, and they must be equal to the task. The latter point is assessed by their supervisors, in consultation with the chairperson of the programme in question and with the LIAS management team.

Academic events

PhD candidates are encouraged to keep an eye on the various event calendars, register for mailing lists and so on, to make the most of the wealth of academic events that happen on a daily basis. This can contribute a great deal to professional development. Venturing outside the confines of specialization will benefit one’s research. See the "Links" chapter in the left sidebar at the PhD-research page.

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