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PhD candidates

Leiden University strives to accommodate young talent, which is why it does its best to create an inspiring environment for PhD candidates. With the University Training Programme for PhDs, we offer a degree programme that is both complete and challenging.

A PhD path is a combination of research and personal development. The University Training Programme for PhDs helps doctoral students further hone the skills and abilities they need. The programme is aimed at developing both personal skills and research skills. It also provides the option of taking career courses.

This programme is offered by the faculty graduate schools and HRM Learning and Development. Part of the programme is compulsory, while you can choose how to complete the remaining portion based on your individual needs. You can get an idea about what the programme at your institute is like by looking at your own graduate school.

Introduction PhD candidates

A good starting point if you are looking for more information is the "Introduction Leiden University PhD's". In this online module we have summarised the most important information for your PhD track.

PhD Introduction Module

Courses PhD candidates

Look at our courses for PhD candidates

View courses

Training and Supervision

As a part of the Graduate School of Humanities, the Institute for Philosophy bears the responsibility for supervising PhD candidates in philosophy. In this context, the Leiden University PhD Regulations form the basis of the PhD training programme. The training and supervision track consists of a number of components, which are described below. 

The training and supervision plan was written with Dutch PhD candidates in mind who begin a full-time PhD track at the start of an academic year. Alternative programmes must be devised for PhD candidates from abroad, for whom language requirements and study periods abroad may be organised differently, as well as for external PhD candidates and PhD candidates who, due to other reasons, are not affiliated to the institute full-time. In these cases we provide a tailor-made programme. 

It is possible for a second master’s (or research master’s) year to count as a first PhD year. The candidate’s choice of this option must be indicated and clarified in the PhD proposal.

Supervisor / supervision group

At the start of the PhD track, each candidate is assigned at least two supervisors. Usually, the daily supervisor is the head of the research programme within which the PhD candidate has been appointed. If this person is not a professor, it is usually the case that the other supervisor is the professor who has agreed to be responsible for the formal acceptance of the PhD dissertation (here called PhD supervisor). 

In some cases there is a supervision group, namely when another member of the programme is responsible for the daily supervision of a PhD track, for instance a senior university lecturer who has completed a PhD himself. Should the PhD track so require, the supervision group can be expanded, for instance to include a researcher in whose field the PhD candidate is also carrying out research. The members of the supervision group can come from outside the Institute for Philosophy or the relevant research programme. 

If a PhD candidate is affiliated with an interfaculty or national research school, clear agreements must be made concerning supervision.

Training and Supervision Plan

The Training and Supervision Plan (OBP) refers to the individual plan for each PhD candidate, which includes the research project to be carried out, the educational programme elements to be followed and the supervision received. This plan includes information regarding what the researcher, the PhD supervisor and the daily supervisor, as well as the other members of the supervision group, expect from one another, and the time frame within which certain agreements must be met. The PhD supervisor has the decisive vote in formulating the supervision plan. The formation of the supervision group and the supervision plan must be approved by the Academic Director of the Institute for Philosophy. Before it is implemented, it must be sent to the national research school with which the PhD supervisor has registered the PhD candidate. 

The agreements regarding supervision formulated by the PhD supervisor or supervision group and the PhD candidate in the OBP relate to the concrete aspects of the progress of the PhD research. In principle, the PhD supervisor or supervision group and the PhD candidate himself determine the frequency and agenda of their meetings, and record this in the plan. In the course of these contact hours, the PhD candidate can discuss the progress of his project with his direct supervisor. If important additional agreements are made in the course of these talks, they are added to the plan. The PhD supervisor commits to discuss with the PhD candidate the parts of the dissertation which are submitted within one month of the date of submission. 

The OBP specifies the tasks of the PhD candidate, such as teaching classes, taking classes and the development of partuclar research skills. These courses for PhD candidates are offered by the Institute of Philosophy and by one or more other University institutions, generally speaking a national research school, or the faculty. 

If problems arise, or threaten to arise, between the PhD supervisor or supervision group and the PhD candidate about training and supervision, the two parties confer on the matter. In such a case, the text of the training and supervision plan is directive. The initiative for such a consultation may be taken by the PhD candidate, the PhD supervisor or the members of the supervision group, or the Academic Director. 

The Training and Supervision Plan must be completed three month after the start of the PhD track at the latest. For the registration of the Training and Supervision Plan a special form is available: 
Form Training and Supervision Plan

Annual report and Performance & Development Interview

Annual report

Every year the PhD candidate writes a progress report under the responsibility of the two supervisors. This report indicates whether the PhD candidate's progress is in line with the agreed timetable, what results have been achieved and whether he has managed to adhere to the original working plan. In addition, the report provides the opportunity to look back on the teaching activities and organisational tasks of the PhD candidate and look forward to the plans for the coming year. The two supervisors send the report, signed by them and the PhD candidate, to the Academic Director of the Institute and to the relevant national research school. 

Performance & Development Interview

In the initial Performance & Development (P&D) interview (first P&D interview) the performance areas will be established. The second P&D interview, to be held after one year, results in an evaluation of the PhD candidate by the supervisors on the basis of the performance areas established in the first interview. All agreements which the supervisors and the PhD candidate make in the context of a P&D interview are recorded on these forms. The completed forms are signed by the PhD supervisor, the PhD candidate and the Academic Director of the research institute, and handed in to the department secretary. The original copy is sent by the secretary to the Personnel Department and a copy is filed in the personal file of the PhD candidate. 

Research presentations

PhD candidates affiliated to the Institute for Philosophy are expected to give regular presentation of their results. These results may be published results (for instance articles in journals) or reports of research in progress. 

Trial period

The first year of the PhD candidate’s appointment is considered to be a trial period.


Academic Director

If problems occur and a PhD candidate considers it expedient, he or she can always contact the Institute’s Academic Director. The Academic Director is responsible, among other things, for the quality of the PhD programmes (Regulations of the Institute of Philosophy, art. 4, second paragraph). The discussion may be a reason for the Director to bring certain matters to the attention of the supervisors. However, this requires the PhD candidate's permission. 

In the exceptional case that problems occur that are beyond the competence of the PhD supervisor or supervision group and the Director, the latter should contact the Personnel Department of the Faculty. 

Confidential counsellor

If necessary, the PhD candidate can consult the faculty’s confidential counsellor. The Faculty of Humanities has a confidential counsellor especially for PhD candidates, which is prof.dr. W.H. van Soldt.

Teaching, courses and conferences


PhD candidates spend a maximum of 10% of their time teaching. The main focus in this context lies on the second and third years of the appointment. In principle, no teaching activities are planned for the first and the fourth years, unless there are good reasons and other arrangements have been agreed by mutual consent in the training and supervision plan. 

Didactic practical training 

The research institute considers it of the utmost importance for PhD candidates to give lectures and supervise seminars, with a view to increasing their potential on the labour market. If the PhD candidate has sufficient prior experience, it is advisable for PhD candidates to follow the Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO) track. PhD candidates first attend a number of general sessions and then accompany an experienced lecturer in teaching a lecture/tutorial, in the course of the relevant semester, in order learn the skills of teaching from the lecturer in a classroom environment. In the context of this lecture or seminar, the participants also conduct a limited number of lectures or seminars themselves, with the lecturer as a mentor. 

The Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO) comprises the minimum package of didactic skills which all members of the academic staff must possess. The BKO is therefore a quality test, but it also helps new lecturers who have little or no teaching experience to bring their teaching skills up to the required level during their initial training period. More infomation about the BKO track for international PhD candidates will be available shortly. 

Training of academic skills 

Leiden University offers PhD candidates a number of courses focusing on the development of specific, academic skills. The Faculty of Humanities enables PhD candidates to participate in these courses. These courses are on such topics  research management and writing applications for subsidies. For more information on these University-wide PhD courses, see the website Generic skills courses

The Academic Language Centre of the Faculty of Humanities offers various courses in English for Academic Purposes, focusing on academic writing and presentation. 

Language training 

We advise PhD candidates, in the course of their PhD track, to obtain a certificate in one of the languages of the scientific community at level C. The choice of language is related to the subject of the PhD track. 

Research seminar

Each research cluster of the Institute for Philosophy regularly organises a research seminar, where staff members and  PhD candidates can present their research, act as commentator or join debates. PhD candidates are expected to give at least one presentation in the course of their project, and to act as commentator at least once, in order to train their research, debating and presentation skills. The interactive set-up and the coaching of the PhD candidates by more senior researchers mean that the seminar can also be viewed as a continuous series of  ‘intervision’ or peer supervision meetings. 

The factual organisation of the research seminar is in the hands of the supervisor or supervision group. They are responsible for formulating the contents of the programme and approaching the speakers. The seminars are clustered around the research programmes of the Institute. 

Conferences and symposia

The activities of the research clusters in terms of conferences and symposia are an extension of the research seminar. PhD candidates are also expected to participate on these occasions. The acquisition of organisational skills and the building and maintaining of relevant networks form important aspects of this type of work. In addition, PhD students gain editing experience if such conferences and symposia result in publications. 

During their appointment, PhD candidates must endeavour to present at least one paper at an important international conference. They can also attend other relevant conferences, both national and international.  

Study period abroad 

It is advisable for PhD candidates, whatever their place of origin, to spend some time in a different research institute abroad, if relevant to the research, and in an institute other than the institute the candidate originally came from.

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