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Graduate School FRT VU Education Programme

The Graduate School FRT VU requires each PhD candidate to complete at least 30 ECTS (840 hours, 28 hours per ECTS) of training or other relevant activities during their PhD trajectory. The plan to meet this requirement is laid down in the Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) and is determined on an individual basis, depending on a PhD candidate’s previous education, academic competencies and area of specialisation.

PhD candidates make a preliminary TSP when applying to the Graduate School FRT VU. At this point, the TSP does not have to be signed by the supervisor yet. At a later stage, they complete this preliminary TSP together with their assigned supervisor(s) and submit a final version to the Graduate School FRT VU. The final decision of the Graduate School FRT VU to accept PhD candidates is largely based on the TSP. At the end of the PhD trajectory, the Graduate School FRT VU checks whether the planned courses of the training programme as laid down in the TSP have been met.

The TSP consists of three training components that together make up 30 ECTS:

A. Mandatory course

B. Electives

C. Waivers

Components of the education programme

  • Component A: Mandatory courses (11-12 ECs)

    1. Research Design (6 ECTS)

    PhD candidates who enter the PhD programme in cohorts are expected to take the Research Design course as an introduction to the PhD programme. The course is entirely online and includes: 

    Module 1. Academic integrity (2 ECTS)
    Module 2. Methodology (2 ECTS)
    Module 3. Proposal writing (2 ECTS)

    Research Design leads up to the finalisation of the research proposal. Normally, the course is taken as a whole, but it is possible to receive a waiver for Module 2 or Module 3. It is not possible to receive a waiver for Module 1. Academic Integrity. The course is offered twice a year; registration deadlines are 1st August and 1st February. To register, PhD candidates can fill in this application form.

    2. Visits to academic conferences (max. 2 ECTS)

    The conferences must stretch over several days and must include a presentation of the PhD candidate’s research (max. 1 EC per conference). PhD candidates must fill in a record of attendance form when they have completed this component and upload it in their portfolio in Hora Finita. Please note that these academic conferences do not include the annual VU FRT PhD conferences.

    3. Participation in research team (2 ECTS)

    The PhD candidate actively participates for at least one year or at least in six meetings in the work of a research team and has given at least one presentation. In the portfolio in Hora Finita, the PhD candidate must upload a form which is signed by the supervisor and the chair of the research team.

    4. Transferable Skills (2 ECTS)

    Transferable skills concern the transmission or communication of scientific research, preferably of the own research topic, to a broader audience. Activities that are used for transferable skills must thus always be related to academics. Activities can be put in your TSP/portfolio for transferable skills if they meet the following criteria:

    • The activity requires you to use knowledge from scientific research
    • The activity transfers knowledge or skills from scientific research to a broader audience
    • Not obligatory, but recommended: the activity relates to your research focus

    Examples of activities that can be used for transferable skills are:

    • Teaching/giving lectures on academic level, for example about your research
    • Giving a workshop to professionals in the field of your research
    • Organizing an academic conference
    • Writing an article for a blog, newspaper, social media account about scientific research
    • Using other types of media to communicate scientific research (podcasts, video’s etc.)
    • Participating in a societal oriented research project at FRT, for example Emoena or ‘Mapping Religious Heritage in Amsterdam’. We will provide a list of research projects at VU soon.
    • PhD candidates employed by VU (AiO’s) can also follow the University Teaching Qualification course (UTQ, or BKO in Dutch) as part of transferable skills.

    For waiver requests, the same description and criteria apply.

  • Component B: Electives

    Available courses

    The remaining credits for the 30 ECTS training programme can be chosen from research Master’s level and PhD-level courses in the subject area of the PhD candidate’s specialisation. Electives that are chosen must always contribute to the PhD research, and are to be approved both by the supervisor(s) and Graduate School FRT VU. In exceptional cases, it is possible to include courses from a regular Master’s (or Bachelor’s) programme in the TSP, on condition that they are essential for the intended research (for example languages). The courses can be completed either at VU, at one of the partner institutions, or at another university that offers courses on Research Master’s- or PhD-level. The Graduate School FRT VU must always first approve a course before a PhD candidate can follow it.

    All VU courses available for PhD candidates that are on PhD-, or research Master’s-level can be found on the VU-PhD Courses website or the research master study guide. Most courses offered in the VU-PhD portal can be followed for free, though in some cases a fee (sometimes even a considerable fee) is required. Courses offered by FRT are always free of charge. Furthermore, not all courses are offered online. Therefore, the Graduate School FRT VU advises PhD candidates to always check in advance.

    Registering for and uploading courses

    Instructions on how to register for a course can be found in the syllabus of the course on the VU-PhD portal. In most cases, PhD candidates can register by contacting the coordinator of the course. The coordinator then adds the PhD candidate to the Canvas page of the course. When a PhD candidate has completed a course or activity, they can upload this in their portfolio in Hora Finita.

  • Component C: Waivers

    Sometimes, PhD candidates already have some relevant experience and can request a waiver for a certain number of ECTS. To request a waiver, a waiver request form must accompany the TSP and sent together with evidence for the waiver. The graduate school checks the TSP, including the waiver requests. When everything is in order, the Graduate School signs the TSP, which automatically means that the waivers are granted.

    Waiver request for training component A

    Module 1. Academic Integrity of the course Research Design is mandatory for all new PhD candidates. Exemptions for the other mandatory courses and activities are only granted for PhD candidates who:

    • have successfully completed a VU research Master’s degree. PhD candidates who have completed a research Master at another institution can also apply for a waiver.
    • or have successfully completed research design courses at Master’s- or PhD-level covering the same study objectives.
    • or are affiliated to a partner institution that provides courses with the same study objectives and with which the Graduate School FRT VU made special arrangements.

    An exemption is made for the mandatory activity transferable skills. Waiver requests for transferable skills are accepted when the PhD candidate has professional experience that is directly related to scientific education or research. Examples are having experience in the organisation of academic conferences or having taught courses on academic level.

    Waiver requests for component B

    PhD candidates who have a VU research Master’s degree are exempted from the entire 30 ECTS training programme. PhD candidates who have completed a research Master at another institution can also apply for a full waiver. The Graduate School FRT VU decides whether to grant this waiver.

    PhD candidates with other Master’s degrees can apply for a waiver for the electives. Only extracurricular activities/training or courses from a second Master’s may be used as substitution for the electives, insofar as they are essential to the intended research. In all cases, the PhD candidate must justify why they should be granted a waiver by submitting a Waiver Request form and include evidence of already completed courses/activities. Waiver requests must be put in the TSP and are to be approved by the director of the Graduate School FRT VU, if necessary, in consultation with the Dean of Research.