Universiteit Leiden

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Graduate School of Science

Being a PhD candidate

Being a PhD candidate is not only about working on a manuscript. You also need to draw up an education and supervision plan and take part in courses. Want to know how this works? Read this page to find out more.

Education and Supervision Plan

Every PhD candidate draws up an Education and Supervision Plan (ESP/OBP) with the supervisor that outlines research and education targets, supervision and training. You can find a template for the ESP in the menu on the right. Some insitutes, however, use a modified version of this template, so please make sure you use the template relevant for your institute. The PhD candidate meets with the supervisor on a regular basis, discussing research, training and teaching. Your development is officially evaluated annually during a ‘Result and Development assessment’.

PhD Training Programme

PhD candidates follow courses to develop academic skills as well as transferable skills. The courses are organised and offered by HRM Learning & Development of Leiden University. Advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research institutes.

Preparing for the defence ceremony

When after four years or more, you have finished your dissertation, it is time to prepare for the defence procedure. You and your supervisor need to take several steps in LUCRIS GSM before the ceremony. Information about practical matters concerning the defence ceremony can be found here. For more information and questions about the preparation for the PhD defence, please contact the Graduate School Office.

After your PhD

PhD Candidates are encouraged to start thinking about job prospects well before the defence of their thesis. Many PhD graduates find employment in an academic or semi-academic environment. The majority of them successfully ventures on a career in education, administration, heritage, journalism, or business. A considerable number of them manages to gain a temporary postdoctoral position. 

The post-PhD phase is discussed during the many formal and informal meetings PhD candidates have with their supervisor. For PhD candidates in their third or last year, a special one-day course 'Job Orientation' is available at Leiden University, offering you insight into the various options that you have for the next step in your career.

Another such course is Job interview skills for PhDs. This course aims to help PhD candidates present themselves properly in a CV,  a letter of application or an interview. For more courses on career development for PhD candidates, please visit the HRM courses website.

The career coaches at the University Career Service can also help you orient yourself towards the job market. You can contact the career advisors directly to set up a first, advisory, meeting.

Finally, some institutes organise meetings with alumni and other events relating to career guidance. These include work visits to companies and institutions that employ PhD graduates.

Postdoctoral research

If you wish to continue in academic research, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) offers several types of postdoctoral funding:

  • Rubicon (to gain experience at a top research institution outside the Netherlands)
  • VENI (to independently carry out an innovative postdoctoral project)

Writing an NWO proposal is a time consuming and demanding occupation which can only be completed successfully with the input and feedback of colleagues and peers. It is therefore strongly recommended to make use of the expertise offered both within the Institute (notify the director of research) and at Luris.

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