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PhD Program Structure


Year 1: Getting off to a good start with your project

The focus of the first year is to get settled in the lab and to identify a suitable project for your PhD. 
Mandatory Components
PhD Introductory Course
In the 14-day PhD Introductory Course, first year students are introduced to the program faculty, other senior scientists at the institute and the research facilities available on campus. The course consists of a series of lectures and lab practicals to provide the students with a broader research overview and focusses on special techniques used in each department. Also included is an introduction to Responsible Conduct in Research.
PhD Symposium
First year students are required to attend the annual PhD Symosium.
Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)
PhD students assemble a Thesis Advisory Committee, which guides through their PhD career. TAC members may serve as mentors or provide references after graduation. The committee consists of the student's advisor and 2-3 other scientists and meets with the student once a year. In the first year, the TAC provides independent evaluation of the PhD project.
Optional Components
Basic Skills Workshops
Several short workshops provide students with hands-on training in basic skills essential for a good start in research. 
  • Working with Images 
  • Scientific Writing 1: The Basics
  • Presenting Skills
  • Introduction to Scientific Databases

Years 2/3: Intense research and a broader look at biology

While work on the PhD project becomes more intense, students acquire scientific skills and are encouraged to broaden their expertise in the biological sciences.
Mandatory Components
PhD Symposium
Second year students present their research project in the poster sessions.
TAC meeting
Optional components
Advanced Scientific Courses
These short hands-on workshops, all offered on campus, introduce students to a variety of scientific techniques. The schedule is updated every year.
Advanced Skills Workshops
These courses provide training in skills that are of benefit to young scientists. They include 
  • Scientific Writing 2: Paper Writing
  • Scientific Writing 4: Grant Writing
  • Introduction to Teaching at College/University Level
Career Development Workshops
Developing a vision for a career and putting it into practice can be challenging. The following workshops provide input: 
  • Career Planning Workshop

Final year: Finishing up and getting ready to move on

The final year is a multi-tasking challenge. There are papers to finish, conferences to attend, job interviews to be organized and a thesis to be written. The PhD Program offers the following assistance:
Mandatory Components
PhD Symposium
Final year students prepare for their thesis defense by giving an oral presentation.
Your final Year Workshop
In this workshop, advanced year students examine the plethora of tasks to be accomplished in the final year. Detailed information on the formalities of graduating is presented and tips on managing time and effort are provided. 
TAC meeting
Optional Components
Career Development workshops
Developing a vision for a career and putting it into practice can be challenging. The following workshops provide input: 
  • Application Skills workshop
Scientific Writing 3: Thesis Writing
The aim of this course is to strengthen the scientific writing skills of the students while helping them prepare their doctoral thesis.