Skills development

PhD candidates are able to attend a range of activities designed to go beyond academic and scientific training and to build skills that improve employability, from a compulsory programme of transferable skills courses, to learning Dutch or getting support on their next career move.

Transferable Skills Programme

ILLC PhD Programme organizes 6 courses in 'transferable skills', namely: 1) project management, 2) scientific integrity, 3) presentation, 4) academic writing, 5) career development, and 6) teaching skills. In addition, the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science organize 7) an introductory meeting for their PhD candidates near the start of their track. This introductory meeting as well courses (1-5) are mandatory for all ILLC PhD candidates. For candidates who are assigned teaching duties in the Faculty of Science, course 6) teaching skills, is also obligatory. The goal of these courses is to teach skills that will be useful to you, independent of your specific field of research or future career choices.

Registration for all these courses is handled via the ILLC office.

Aimed atCourseOffered bySchedule
First-year candidatesIntroductionFaculty of Science or
Faculty of Humanities
First-year candidatesProject ManagementFloor Sietsma
  • November-December
  • two training sessions
  • First-year candidatesResearch IntegrityFloor Sietsma
  • November-December
  • one 3-hour discussion session
  • All PhDs who teach at the FNWITeaching SkillsFaculty of ScienceTBA
    Second-year candidatesPresentation SkillsLea Witmondt
    Tony Maples
  • February-March
  • four 2-hour sessions
  • Second-year candidatesAcademic WritingMartin Stokhof
    Ulle Endriss
  • November-December
  • two 3-hour sessions
  • Third-year candidatesCareer DevelopmentMark Holthuis
    Sonja Smets
  • February-March
  • two 3-hour training sessions
    and one grant writing workshop
  • Introduction

    Both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities provide introductory sessions for all their new PhD candidates shortly after they start. A link to information about these sessions will be provided later.

    Project Management

    At the beginning of your PhD, you have four years ahead of you and one big goal: writing your thesis. Such a long-term goal requires planning and setting subgoals and milestones. It is no secret that working in an academic situation as a PhD candidate can get very stressful if your time is not managed very well, this is especially the case when you are near the moment of a deadline or when your PhD thesis has to be handed in. Experience learns that a lot of students feel like there is plenty of time in the beginning of their project, and then get in trouble later on when the end of the four years comes faster than expected. This course teaches you how to take responsibility for your project and planning from the start. You will find out how you can set goals and make a planning based on these goals, and you will learn how to deal with situations in which you did not manage to reach a goal or need to adjust your planning. You will also find out which goals motivate you, and what makes you feel like you get the full potential out of your time as a PhD student.

    Research Integrity

    Against a background of ILLC's "Academic Practice Code of Conduct", this training encourages PhD candidates to reflect on a number of dilemmas and problems that deal with research integrity. We focus on dilemmas that are directly related to a PhD candidate's research situation. Such dilemmas do trigger different possible choices and answers. The participants will reflect upon these choices and their possible consequences. In case of disagreement, the participants will debate upon the best course of action. In this training we play the "dilemma game", designed by Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    Presentation Skills

    At a seminar for colleagues, in a lecture hall for students, at a major congress in front of an audience of peers, in front of a small committee to support your grant application, for a radio, tv or printed press interview or even at an open day or to a family audience; As a scientist, you will have speak in public.

    Maybe you're a natural talent, maybe not. Speaking in public can be a daunting experience. And a very physical one. Your mouth goes dry, your throat gets tight, you lose the track, you feel like a fool, you gabble your words or you mumble incoherently, you pace back and forth or you're rooted to the spot.

    Yet public speaking is a skill. You can learn it, and learn to enjoy it. There are hundreds of books and blogs with plenty of useable tips and sound advice. But there's one thing a book can't give you: the experience of getting up and doing it.

    In this 8 week course, in a relaxed and stimulating learning environment you'll be doing just that, standing up and speaking. Live, in front of colleagues. Again and again. With powerpoint, and without. You'll learn to use voice and gesture, how to structure a story, and how to present with clarity and confidence. You'll learn by doing, but also by observing others, and giving feedback. You'll get tools and tips, but most of all, you'll get experience.

    Lea Witmondt and Tony Maples are the founders of Pandemonia Science Theatre and have been coaching groups of students, AiOs as well as individual scientists and consortiums for more than 15 years.

    Academic Writing

    During this course, the PhD candidates are offered a set of skills which will help them during the writing process of scientific papers. Special attention goes to structuring a scientific paper and to the scientific style of writing. Different writing samples in the areas of the ILLC will be analyzed and their structural elements are highlighted.

    This course includes an active writing task for each PhD candidate. Depending on the research area of the candidate, each candidate receives a writing assignment at the start of the course. During this course, the candidates receive feedback on the result of their assignment.

    At the end of this course, each PhD candidate's Academic English skills are assessed and if deemed necessary, a PhD candidate will be obliged to enroll in an Academic English Writing course offered by UvA.

    Career Development

    The PhD candidates are offered an overview of possible future career tracks (inside and outside academia). PhD candidates receive further advice on how they can put together a successful job application package (for applications inside and outside academia) as well as advice on how to write a successful post-doctoral grant proposal.

    In the context of career development, the PhD candidates are encouraged to attend the Life after ILLC-event which the PhD council organizes on an annual basis. The purpose of this event is to bring ILLC's current students (both MSc and PhD) into contact with alumni that either remained in or left academia after having completed a PhD or a Master in Logic at the ILLC. During this event, several ILLC alumni speak about their current occupation and about the experience they had when looking for a job after their time at the institute.

    Teaching Skills

    All PhD candidates appointed at the Faculty of Science who are assigned a teaching task will be required to follow a short teaching skills training, which is currently being developed at the Faculty of Science. We are investigating whether similar training can also be made available to our PhDs at the Faculty of Humanities. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

    Further Skills Courses

    Optional additional skills courses can also be followed via the Graduate School of Humanities.

    Registration for all skills courses takes place via the ILLC Office.

    Career orientation support

    Are you entering the last year of your PhD? If so, on top of the compulsory course on Career Development offered as part of the Transferable Skills Programme, consider getting in touch with the Postdoc Career Development Initiative (PCDI), which offers support with career orientation and development. PCDI organises activities open to last-year PhD candidates and postdocs, such as short workshops on career development, a course on Employability Outside Academia, a three-day intensive conference on broad professional development, and individual coaching. On their website, you can sign up for their newsletter and receive announcements for all upcoming activities.

    English language training

    The UvA usually has on offer a few courses designed to help improve English language skills. Consult the Course Catalogue and search for "English" in the "Course" search.

    UvA Talen, the language centre of the University of Amsterdam, organizes English language courses, such as Academic English and English Fluency. Take a look at their website for more information about their courses and programme. UvA Talen also organizes tailor-made courses for specific groups of people, designed for the needs of that group, using exercises the people in this group deal with in their work.

    Learning Dutch

    If you wish to learn Dutch, you may start by following this Introductory Free Online Course organised by the University of Groningen.

    You can also take one or several courses at the Institute for Dutch as a second language (INTT). For the programme and the application form, please send an e-mail to INTT. It will be sent to you by regular mail. PhD candidates are eligible for a reduced tuition fee. To make sure you get this reduced fee, please have the form signed by Tanja Kassenaar.

    The ILLC pays for the first two Dutch courses followed by foreign PhD candidates. If you want to take further courses you either pay yourself or you can ask your supervisor if they can provide funding from a project budget. If they agree, please let Tanja know and she will arrange that the fee is paid directly through UvA channels.

    Other Courses

    If you and your supervisor agree you ought to follow a non-academic course not mentioned on the resources provided above, please contact Tanja Kassenaar.