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 consists of a number of courses in 'transferable skills'. Please see the table below. These courses are mandatory, except for those indicated with a *.

Registration for all these courses, except for the Introduction and the Teaching skills courses, is handled by the ILLC office.

The periods mentioned in the table below are fixed and the same each year.
Please take these periods into account when planning conference or research visits and make sure to be available in Amsterdam. (except for the course on academic writing, which can also be taken from abroad)

In your personal tracking page you can see in which year you are supposed to take which course/workshop.

ILLC Office

Personal tracking page


Aimed atCourseOffered bySchedule
First-year candidatesIntroduction
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Science
  • twice a year
  • TBA
  • First-year candidatesProject ManagementTim Theeboom
    (Reflect Academy)
  • November-December
  • one 2,5-hour session
  • one 2-hour session
  • Second-year candidatesScientific IntegrityFloor Sietsma
    (Amethist)
  • November-December
  • one 3-hour discussion session
  • All PhDs who teach at the FNWITeaching SkillsFaculty of ScienceTBA
    Second-year candidatesPresentation SkillsMarieke Hohnen
    Tony Maples
    (Speaking Science)
  • February-March
  • one 2-hour session
  • three 1-hour sessions
  • Second or third-year candidatesAcademic Writing
  • COURSERA
  • Stanford Online LAGUNITA
  • November-January
  • 8 units, first 5 are required
  • Third or fourth-year candidatesCareer DevelopmentChiat Chong
    (UvA)
  • February-March
  • one 3-hour session
  • Third or fourth-year candidatesGrant Applications*Karin van de Sande
    (IXA, UvA)
    ILLC staff member
  • February-March
  • one 3-hour session
  • Third or fourth-year candidatesCareer Lunches*Chiat Chong
    (UvA)
  • three times per year
  • 1,5-hour lunch sessions

  • Introduction

    Both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities provide introductory sessions for all their new PhD candidates shortly after they start.

    Introduction at Faculty of Humanities

    A link to information about these sessions at the Faculty of Science 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 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 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.

    The course will present a number of (evidence-based and practice based) strategies that are helpful in dealing with issues such as prioritizing, goal setting, attention problems, dealing with distractors, procrastination, project planning, combining different projects or different roles (such as teaching and research), communication with your supervisor, etc. You will also receive help with personal feedback and guidance to incorporate the ideas in your behavior to ensure transfer into new and more effective routines.

    The course consists of 1 sessions of 2,5 hours, a second session of 2 hours, a preparation exercise and an personalized exercise between the sessions. The exact content of the course will be determined with the input from the participants, to ensure the course will be beneficial for all of you and covering your needs and questions.

    Scientific 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.

    The course consists of 1 session of 3 hours.

    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 to speak in public.
    Maybe you're a natural, maybe not. Speaking in public can be a daunting experience. And a very physical one. Your mouth goes dry, your throat gets tight, you loose 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 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.

    The first class is a 2,5 plenary session. It will cover essential presenting skills, like vocal clarity and articulation, body language, use of gesture and storyline.
    The next two 1-hour sessions are individual, where you will be working towards developing two very different kinds of presentations; a 5-minute pitch for a general public and a 10-minute scientific talk.
    During the final 1-hour session you will be working in pairs on either the pitch or the scientific talk.

    Academic Writing

    This course is offered via Stanford online Lagunita and via Coursera.
    The course teaches scientists to become more effective writers, using practical examples and exercises. Topics include: principles of good writing, tricks for writing faster and with less anxiety, the format of a scientific manuscript, and issues in publication and peer review.

    The full course is organized into 8 learning units. Each unit takes about 2 to 6 hours to complete. ILLC PhD candidates are required to audit at least the first 5 units. The remaining units are optional but they are also strongly recommended, in particular the discussion in Unit 6 on plagiarism and on writing a peer review.

    You will get three full months (November, December, January) to complete those course parts that are necessary for the ILLC. By the end of January, you are then required to email a short summary (between 250 and 400 words).

    Career Development

    Your PhD is a career stage where you as a young researcher carry out a number of years of research to deliver a high quality thesis. Whereas daily work is mostly content focused and leads to specialisation, your future may not necessarily be in the same role or field as your PhD project.

    This workshop challenges you to put your PhD in perspective in order to learn how you can make the most of your PhD for the future.

    • What do you (want to) gain from your PhD?
    • The professional value of a PhD
    • How can you increase your professional attractiveness?
    • How to deal with career development as a PhD student?
    There will be ample opportunity to discuss questions.

    This training session will take 3 hours.

    Grant Applications

    This course is a non-mandatory workshop aimed at PhD candidates and postdocs who are planning a career in academia.

    It consists of a presentation on grant opportunities and a workshop on the writing of grant proposals. The presentation on grant opportunities will be organised by IXA which provides support for applications, training and advice to several research institutes of the Faculty of Science. The grant proposal writing workshop will be taught by an ILLC staff member, experienced and successful in applying for grants.

    The whole workshop is one 3-hour session.

    Career Lunches

    These lunches are non-mandatory and aimed at PhD candidates and postdocs who are interested in a career outside of academia.

    These career lunches are organized to support you in exploring the wide spectrum of possibilities. During each of these events two professionals are invited, who, after obtaining their PhD in a similar field, went on to pursuit a career outside of academic research.
    The setup is that of small group conversations during a lunch, so it is very informal and you can directly talk with the PhD alumni about their experiences on the topics you're interested in.

    These lunches are organised three times per year.

    Teaching Skills

    As a PhD candidate at the ILLC, irrespective of the faculty you are employed by, you are required to follow the course "Teaching Skills for PhD candidates" organised by the Faculty of Science before you start your first task as a teaching assistant at that Faculty.
    You can be exempted from taking this course if you have taken a course before or already have experience.

    In case you are going to supervise a research project or assist in the supervision of a master thesis, the Faculty of Science also offers the course "How to effectively supervise individual student projects?"
    This course is not mandatory.

    Both courses are organised several times a year and consist of two 4-hour sessions.

    Skills development Faculty of Science

    PhD Agenda Faculty of Science

    At the moment it is not clear what courses the Faculty of Humanities offers her PhD candidates with teaching duties.

    Further Skills Courses

    Optional additional skills courses can also be followed via the Faculty of employment.

    Skills development Faculty of Humanities

    Skills development Faculty of Science

    Career orientation support

    Are you entering the last year of your PhD? If so, on top of the workshops and lunches offered as part of the Transferable Skills Programme, consider getting in touch with the Postdoc Career Development Initiative (PCDI). The PCDI offers support with career orientation and development, organising 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.

    Postdoc Career Development Initiative (PCDI)

    ProActief of the University of Amsterdam also organises coaching and guidance programmes, courses and workshops focused on the future career of PhD candidates, postdocs and other employees at the UvA.

    ProActief (UvA)

    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.

    Course Catalogue

    UvA Talen, the language centre of the University of Amsterdam, organises 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.

    UvA Talen

    Learning Dutch

    If you wish to learn Dutch, you may start by following the free online introduction to Dutch organised by the University of Groningen.

    Introduction to Dutch

    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, email them through the link below. 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 Debbie Klaassen.

    The ILLC pays for the first two Dutch courses followed by foreign PhD candidates. PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities should first ask their Faculty contact for reimbursement.
    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 Debbie know and she will arrange that the fee is paid directly through UvA channels.

    website INTT

    contact INTT

    contact Debbie Klaassen

    contact FGw PhD

    Other Courses

    In case you and your supervisor agree you ought to follow a skill course that can't be found in any of the skills development programmes (ILLC, FoH and FoS) or you need a more tailored skills course, please contact Tanja Kassenaar.

    contact Tanja Kassenaar