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Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

PhD support

Who can you contact for support and advice?

The Graduate School Office is responsible for you if your first supervisor is part of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The Coordinator of the Graduate School Office carries out the admission and registration procedures, and supports you from the beginning of your PhD traject until completion.

If you have any questions, please contact the Coordinator of the Graduate School Office.

CA/DS  Marja Spierenburg
CWTS  Inge van der Weijden
Education and Child Studies  Doreen Arnoldus
Political Science  Tom Louwerse
Psychology  Thaddeus Bergé


If you feel stressed or at risk of a burn-out, please contact the University doctor. More information about what you can do in the case of difficulties and how to contact the University doctor can be found on the mental fitness website.

Caring Universities
Leiden University takes part in an initiative called Caring Universities. Caring Universities offers free online programmes to improve your mental well-being.

Dissatisfaction with the work environment and the occurrence of conflicts with supervisors and management in general happen in all kinds of organisations irrespective of whatever safety measures have been taken to ensure optimal functioning on the work floor. Many of such conflicts are often the result of miscommunication, misunderstanding, prejudice, etc. and can adequately be resolved if raised in time.

For dealing with such problems the Leiden Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences as an organisation has its own independent confidential counsellor in Dr. Henk Tromp.  He is available to all staff members and PhD candidates.

When to appeal?

The counsellor is the right person to consult on, or to report to, all kinds of sensitive work-related issues, which staff members cannot openly discuss with their direct supervisor or institute’s board. Or in case the actions already taken for resolving the problems have failed to achieve the desired results.

Which kind of complaints can the counsellor deal with?

The complaints and points of dissatisfaction should primarily be work-related. For example, conflicts with a supervisor about work load or future perspective, suspicions of discrimination, plagiarism, sexual harassment, feelings of intimidation, hostility, neglect and disrespect. In addition, issues which apply to PhD candidates such as excessive pressure on publishing or lecturing, dissatisfaction with the quality of the supervision, meeting’s frequency with (daily) supervisor, feedback’s quality and delay and work conditions in general.

What does confidentiality mean?

It is important to emphasize that due to the sensitive character of the consultations the counsellor is obliged to act with the utmost prudence. Confidentiality means that the identity of the staff members and their specific complaints will not be revealed to anyone and that no action will be undertaken without their direct request and full consent as well.


You can make an appointment by sending an e-mail to Dr. Henk Tromp.

A substantial part of PhD candidates have an increased risk for mental health problems, stress complaints or burnout. Leiden University has appointed a psychologist especially for PhD candidates: Agnes van Rossum. The PhD psychologist offers psychological support for all PhD’s at Leiden University, no matter what kind of contract. So for employed PhD’s (a paid PhD position), contract PhD’s (subsidised by a grant) or external PhD’s (supported by own funds). The support of the PhD psychologist is free for all PhD’s and is strictly confidential. 

What kind of problems? 

The help is meant for PhD candidates who struggle with psychological issues caused by the promotion process or that have a direct effect on it. You can think of: 

  • physical stress, (work) pressure, exhaustion, disbalance in work and private life, burnout 
  • demotivation, concentration problems, procrastination 
  • anxiety, fear of failure, future uncertainties, perfectionism, assertiveness, imposter syndrome 
  • mood issues, low self-esteem, negative self-image 
  • mismatch in needs and supervision, problematic work environment 
  • social isolation, loneliness, adjustment problems, culture shock, corona crisis. 

The aim is to increase the well-being of PhD candidates so that they can design and complete their PhD trajectory in a healthy way. On the one hand by offering individual help to solve problems and to prevent worse, on the other also taking a preventive approach with information and education.  

Who is the PhD psychologist? 

Agnes van Rossum has worked for many years as a scientist in the position of technician, PhD candidate (doctorated in 2006) and post-doc. In 2010 she decided to quit science and started studying clinical and health psychology at Utrecht University and started her own practice. In the role of PhD psychologist, she brings her two worlds together. She is well aware of the unique position of the PhD candidate. This allows her to provide adequate help that meets the specific needs of the PhD candidate. 

Agnes: “I would like to make the threshold to be as low as possible, so that PhD candidates come as early to ask for help when needed.” 


The Staff Ombuds Officer gives independent advice to the University on how the staff’s work environment can be made safer. The Ombuds Officer is , therefore, a crucial aspect of social safety in our organisation.

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LEO aims to provide a platform for PhD candidates at Leiden University. They organise social events, represent PhD-specific interests, and maintain contact with other PhD organisations.

This platform is a network for all PhD candidates of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. They organise meetings to discuss common issues and share knowledge about life as a PhD candidate. The platform is run by a board consisting of PhD candidates. You can reach them by sending an e-mail.

Note: The PhD platform website is ONLY accessible to PhD candidates of the Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

PhD candidates and postdocs can visit the University's PhD Career Platform (login required). On that website you can explore your future employment possibilities.

As a PhD candidate you can declare costs that are related to the graduation formalities. 

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Leiden University appreciates it if you as a researcher take the time every now and then to explain your work to a wider audience. And journalists from newspapers, the TV and news sites are regularly on the lookout for experts who can shed light on current developments. To help you with this, Leiden University offers a Media Guide for Researchers.

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