PhD Programme / ILLC

Info for Supervisors

Code of Practice


Supervisory team

Each PhD candidate should be overseen by a supervisory team, consisting of at least two people: the main supervisor and a second supervisor. The main supervisor has the primary responsibility for supervision and will also deal with the administrative aspects of supervision.

The second supervisor can have different degrees of involvement, from being an informal advisor to acting as co-supervisor side by side with the main supervisor. The second supervisor may be an external researcher from a different university.

In order to graduate, PhD candidates also need a promotor. However, in the Netherlands, not all professors have the right to be a PhD promotor (ius promovendi). All full professors have this right. Associate professors can be granted ius promovendi on an individual basis, depending on their experience as co-promotor and supervisor. Assistant professors can be granted ius promovendi on an ad hoc basis for a specific PhD candidate, depending on various criteria. If none of the supervisors has been granted ius promovendi, a different individual at the ILLC who has been granted this right will need to be appointed as promotor and the main supervisor and second supervisor(s) will officially be called co-promotors. There may be a maximum of two promotors and two co-promotors for a PhD candidate. The role of the promotor can range from fully involved supervisor to purely administrative.

In those rare cases when it is not clear at the start of the PhD track who can act as promotor, the institute director can be designated promotor: this is a temporary and purely pro-forma role, to comply with the administrative regulations for admission. In this case, the actual promotor should be appointed by the start of the third year, at the latest.

The roles of each supervisory team member should be clearly defined at the outset and redefined as appropriate as the PhD candidate's research progresses. The main supervisor must ensure that all advice and guidance is coordinated among the supervisory team members, and that their respective responsibilities are clearly defined and made known to the PhD candidate.


Main supervisor

The role and responsibilities of the main supervisor are:

  • Advise, guide and support the PhD candidate in all aspects of their research, providing clear intellectual leadership.
  • Agree with the PhD candidate a clear plan of research and identify milestones, making clear expectations and timetable.
  • Establish the frequency and dates for:
    • regular meetings to discuss in detail the PhD candidate's research and progress;
    • the submission of written work, for which the supervisor should provide feedback and constructive criticism within a reasonable time.
  • Appoint a second supervisor before the end of the first year.
  • Ensure that all advice and guidance is coordinated among the supervisory team members, and that their respective responsibilities are clearly defined and made known to the PhD candidate.
  • Complete and submit on time all procedural documents required over the course of a PhD track. An overview and timeline for these procedures can be found here and is also available on the ILLC PhD Programme portal for PhD candidates and supervisors.
  • Monitor a PhD candidate's training needs as they develop over time and draw the candidate's attention to relevant training opportunities.
  • Assist the PhD candidate to become part of the academic community, by encouraging them to engage in research activities at the ILLC, and to meet other students and members of staff working in the same or adjacent fields.
  • Assist and encourage the PhD candidate to participate in the wider academic community, at national and international level, through presentation and publication of their research output.
  • Provide pastoral support and be alert to problems that might affect the PhD candidate's ability to work effectively, so that problems can be identified early on and appropriate steps taken to obtain concessions where needed, such as interruptions of contract, leaves of absence, or extensions.
  • Lead the PhD candidate through the process of producing the thesis and its examination, giving advice on the final form of the thesis and checking that the thesis conforms to the UvA requirements.


Second supervisor

The minimum responsibilities of the second supervisor are:

  • Provide support and assistance if the main supervisor is absent.
  • Be involved in the First Year Assessment of the PhD candidate.
  • Be aware of the PhD candidate's research progress by reading the annual progress reports prepared by the main supervisor and, if appropriate, providing comments and feedback.
  • Take a more active role in the supervision if problems with the main supervisor arise.


What to do if there is a problem?

If you encounter a problem (e.g., regarding progress of the PhD candidate or the functioning of the supervisory team), please promptly contact the PhD Programme director and coordinator at phd-illc@uva.nl