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PhD programme

PhD programme Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science at the VU has a broad range of research. One of the binding factors between the 12 departments of the Faculty is the combination of fundamental and applied research. Approximately 700 PhD students are working and studying at the Faculty and contribute at the high quality research of the Faculty. There are 10 graduate schools in the Faculty who often work closely together with national graduate schools.

More information on our PhD programme

  • PhD Education programme

    For every PhD candidate it is important to deepen the knowledge and skills, enabling them to become fully qualified scientists with an excellent perspective for a career of their choice. The educational program for PhD candidates of the Faculty of Science provides for a variety of activities enhancing the academic, professional and general skills of PhD candidates. During the PhD period each PhD candidate is required to obtain 30 EC's. The details of the requirements that are made concerning the educational program for PhD candidates can be found in the PhD Education Guidelines.

    Doctorate Regulations VU Amsterdam 
    PhD programs at VU Amsterdam typically take three to four years, depending on the scientific discipline and the type of appointment and funding in question. The VU Doctorate Regulations and admission procedure apply to all PhD candidates regardless of their type of appointment. The Doctorate Regulations covers issues such as admission to the PhD program and the responsibilities and authorities of those involved in the program.

  • Training and Supervision Plan (TSP)

    The admission process starts when an employee has been hired as an internal PhD candidate, or in the case of external PhD candidates, when the supervisor agrees to supervise the PhD candidate. Overall, the graduate schools are responsible for the admission process. The admission process starts after the application to the PhD has been successful. 

    Each PhD candidate develops an individual Training and Supervision Plan (TSP). This plan is tailor-made for your personal development with the aim of becoming a well-qualified independent researcher and professional in your field. When you have fulfilled all the requirements for the TSP at the end of your PhD you will obtain your doctorate diploma. 

    In the Supervision Plan you state the agreements you have made with your supervisors regarding the supervision. It is important to have the same expectations of the supervision as your supervisors. Such as: amount of time spent by supervisors on your PhD project, who is involved in which chapter or with which publication, number of meetings to evaluate the progress of the PhD project. The Supervision Plan is an agreement between the PhD candidate and the supervisors, therefore, both parties must agree with the content and with the specified arrangements. 

    In the Training Plan describes how you are going to meet the requirements of the PhD Education Program, which are stated in the PhD Education Guidelines. The Training Plan is split in four parts:

    1. Mandatory (minimum 4 EC)
      1. For the course on Scientific Integrity: Faculty Board (FB) will only admit students to this course after being fully registered in Hora Finita.
      2. A visit to at least one international conference is mandatory. 
    2. General skills (together with C: minimum 8, maximum 20 EC) 
    3. Scientific specialization (together with B: minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)
    4. Research-related activities (minimum 8, maximum 20 EC)

    The first version of the Training and Supervision Plan will be submitted, together with Form I, to the department (is PhD coordinator and the Vice Dean) within the first month of the admission of the PhD candidate. The Training and Supervision Plan is reviewed during the annual review (jaargesprek) of the PhD candidate with his/her supervisor(s). 

    For more specific information see the website of your graduate school or ask your PhD coordinator.

    DepartmentNameEmail address
    Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIMMS)Sarai
    Computer Science

    Mojca Lovrencak / Caroline Waij /

    Hellen Drooger
    Earth Sciences

    Fenny Bosse /

    Lesley Wuite

    Ecological SciencesTanja
    Environment & Health (AIMMS)Caroline de Graaf / Renate
    Health SciencesJozien
    Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)Marjolijn
    MathematicsMariëlle van der
    Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)Jeannet Wijker / Jacqueline

    Anna du Pree /

    Brigitte Borgman / Eline van Zon
    Physics & Astronomy

    Marja Herronen /

    Chandra Westmaas-Doest

    Justine Hazenkamp-Browne /

    Lotte Snellenburg


  • PhD courses

    Below, you will find an overview of the PhD programme for each department of the faculty of Science. Please visit the pages of the specific department for more information about the education offered. Some departments have joint a national research school. Therefore the website links in some cases to a web address not part of the VU. For general questions PhD students can contact the PhD coordinator of the department (see schedule under Training and Supervision Plan). 

    Courses offered by the VU 
    Scientific Integrity 

    For more information contact Simone Zindel and Maaike Croes: 
    All PhD candidates that started after 1 April 2015 are required to take a course on scientific integrity. 

    The aims of the course are to:

    1. introduce you to the topic research integrity;
    2. help you identifying any potential grey areas in your research field;
    3. stimulate an open discussion of research integrity matters on the work floor.

    Courses 2021

    Part I 2021
    09 March 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)
    19 April 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)
    28 June 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)
    05 October 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)
    02 November 2021 (09.00 – 13.15)
    07 December 2021 (13.00 – 17.15)

    Part II 2021 (09.00 – 13.00):
    19 January 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)
    17 May 2021 (09.00 – 13.00)
    21 June 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)
    14 September 2021 (09.00 – 13.00)
    23 November 2021 (09.00 – 13.00)
    13 December 2021 (13.00 – 17.00)

    You can subscribe for the first part of the course when you have 1) a registration of your PhD Admission in Hora Finita (please contact your department secretary for more information) 2) and you have completed the online course Research Integrity. Please send your certificate of the results of the online course Research Integrity to Simone Zindel/Maaike Croes at .

    Herewith more information about the course:

    Course ‘Writing a Data Management Plan’ for PhDs from FGB and Faculty of Science 
    Sign up through the Library Event Calendar  

    The course will be taught in two different versions: one for research with personal data (in the sense of the GDPR) and one for research without personal data. When registering for the course, please make sure that you sign up for the right version.

    Course dates: 

    • With GDPR: 15-12-2020, 12-1-2021, 19-1-2021 – registration closes 24-11-2020
    • Without GDPR: 26-1-2021, 16-2-2021, 23-2-2021 – registration closes 5-1-2021
    • With GDPR: 2-3-2021, 23-3-2021, 30-3-2021 – registration closes 9-2-2021
    • With GDPR: 14-4-2021, 12-5-2021, 26-5-2021 – registration closes 24-3-2021
    • Without GDPR: 20-5-2021, 10-6-2021, 17-6-2021 – registration closes 29-4-2021

    RegistrationLibrary Event Calendar (please select the course of your choice) 
    Workload: 1 EC 
    Target group: PhD students at FGB/Beta at the beginning of their research project (± 1st year) 
    Maximum number of participants: 30 
    Language: the default language for this course is English, but we can switch to Dutch in case all participants speak Dutch. If desired, assignments may be submitted in Dutch as well. 
    Costs: free of charge for VU PhD students 


    The University Library provides training on Research Data Management (RDM) for PhD students. We kindly invite PhD students from the Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences (FGB) and the Faculty of Science to this course on writing a Data Management Plan.  

    Good RDM (e.g. storing, sharing, archiving, describing your research data) contributes to research transparency and integrity. Due to the advance of new technologies, data volumes and numbers of files are constantly increasing. For that reason good data management is an essential part of data-driven research as well. In this course, we will introduce and discuss the different aspects of RDM which typically need to be covered in a data management plan (DMP), such as data description, data storage during research, sharing data with colleagues, data archiving after research and data citation. The various components of research data management will be related to the FAIR principles (that is, principles to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). We will also address the ethical and legal framework, including the General Data Protection Regulation (the European law on privacy), if applicable.  

    In this course, you’ll learn why good RDM is necessary and how it can be beneficial to your research. In two interactive workshops, we will provide you with practical guidelines and instruments to manage your data properly. You will be working on a DMP for your own research, so that you can apply the things you learn to your own project. Your DMP will be peer reviewed by another participant of the course and you will peer review someone else’s DMP. At the end of the course you will also receive feedback from an RDM expert. Due to COVID-19 the workshops currently take place online. 

    The course consists of the elements described below. Part of the materials need to be studied prior to the first workshop. 

    Preparation (reading materials and watching videos) 9 hours
    2 online workshops of 2 hours 4 hours
    Assignment 1 | RDM Framework4 hours
    Assignment 2 | First draft DMP 6 hours
    Peer review DMP 1 hour
    Assignment 3 | Final DMP 4 hours 
    Total 28 hours (= 1 EC)

    You can receive 1 EC for this course. In order to obtain this credit, you need to meet the following requirements:

    • Participate in both workshops
    • Submit all assignments
    • Do a peer review of someone else’s DMP
    • Assignment 3 should be of sufficient quality

    Links to graduate school pages 

    Athena Institute
    Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences (AIMMS)
    Computer Science
    Earth Sciences
    Ecological Sciences
    Environment & Health (AIMMS)
    Health Sciences
    Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)
    Molecular Cell Biology (AIMMS)
    Physics & Astronomy
  • Hora finita

    Registration of the promotion trajectory 
    The promotion trajectory has to be registered in the tracking system Hora Finita. This trajectory has to be started by the secretary of your department (see schedule below). When this has started you will receive an email with the request fill in all information needed and upload the required documents. The whole process of the beginning to your defence will be registered in Hora Finita. When you have any questions, please contact the secretary of your department. 

    Hora Finita Login 
    Go to and then click the button 'login with VUnetID'. 

  • PhD Support

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers its employees a varied range of training programmes, courses and workshops. You will find the complete range in the Learning Management System (LMS). The Quick Reference Card (QRC) ‘Search and register for courses and update your learning plan’ explains how the LMS works. You can find this QRC via the link to the LMS.

    VU courses, especially for PhD’s, are:

  • PhD Council

    The PhD council
    Welcome to the information page of the PhD Council of the Beta Faculty. If you have questions on requirements and education you are in exactly the right place. We can also help if you want to get to know your fellow PhD-students. And we will also try to reach you, in order to be able to represent our needs as PhD-students within the Beta faculty.

    Goals of the council
    The PhD council was established with two overarching goals in mind: 1) to improve communication from the Beta faculty board to PhD students in all graduate schools of the Beta Faculty, and 2) to represent the needs of PhD students in the faculty of Beta sciences. As such, the PhD council aims to provide information on ‘doing’ your PhD, communicate on new regulations and education requirements for PhD students, gain insights into problems and solutions experienced and offered by PhD students and facilitate a network of PhD students at the Beta faculty.

    Who are in the council?
    PhD representatives of all graduate schools of the Beta faculty are involved in the PhD council. You can find a profile of us here below.

    Agata Malinowska
    Room: WN-U030  

    Who am I?
    My name is Agata Malinowska and I am working on my PhD at the department of Physics. I’m part of the group of the Physics of Living Systems, where we research biological systems at the single-molecule level.

    What is my research about?
    My main project is focused on understanding the processes driven by the ice-binding proteins: inhibition of the recrystallization of ice (causing ice to stay in form of small grains) and introduction of thermal hysteresis (lowering of the freezing point of water). Such proteins appear in cells and blood of various organisms that live in the Antarctic area and can be very helpful for preserving crops or protecting organs during transportation on ice.

    Why am I a member of the PhD council?
    I believe the PhD council can be a bridge between the PhD students and the Faculty Board and it has already greatly improved the communication between the two. We want to strengthen the community within the PhDs of the faculty, provide help with PhD related issues and lower the amount of stress all PhD students are being subjected to.

    Tessa Roedema
    Room: WN-S505

    Who am I?
    My name is Tessa Roedema, a PhD-student working at the Athena Institute – the department for inter- and transdisciplinary research in the health and life sciences at the VU. I love to step outside of my comfort zone and I am eager to take on new challenges, as I feel these are ideal situations to learn. In my student and working life I have put this to practice by switching from biomedical sciences; to studying complex societal problems; to taking on my current PhD-position in the field of Science Communication.

    What is my research about?
    My research is part of the EU-funded RETHINK project, that aims to improve the quality of interactions between science and society. We specifically focus on the fast-changing science communication landscape. This landscape is characterised by science opening-up to society and digitalisation, thereby inviting a wide variety of new actors now engaged in online scicomm, social media and fake news. A guiding principle in our effort to bring science and society closer together is that the local knowledge of citizens and scicomm practitioners across the EU should play a vital role in shaping future scientific developments.

    Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
    My interest in bringing people together and sharing our knowledge is what drove me to apply for the PhD council. As a member of this council I hope to connect people with different perspectives and backgrounds, because I belief that 1+1=3!

    Liselotte Hagedoorn
    Room: WN-F503

    Who am I?
    My name is Liselotte Hagedoorn and I am currently working as a PhD student at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM). Within this institute we have four departments. I work at the department of Environmental Economics. I am passionate about solving complex environmental problems related to ecosystem management, climate change, renewable energy and food chains.

    What is my research about?
    I work on two different projects. The first is ‘ResilNam’, which focuses on improving flood resilience using ecosystem-based adaptation measures in Central Vietnam. The second project is ‘Sustainable Ports in Africa’, that uses the port of Tema in Ghana as case study. In both sites I focus on valuing the ecosystem services that will be affected by, for instance, replanting of mangroves or a port design that takes local fisheries into account. More specifically I look into the differences when using a monetary or time payment vehicle in discrete choice experiments that aim to value ecosystem services in a developing country context.

    Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
    I think this council provides great opportunities to represent the faculty’s PhDs and create a sense of community among ourselves. I hope that it will stimulate us to share knowledge and experiences and improve the information flow on PhD related matters.

    Maria Pons Vizcarra
    Room: WN-B444

    Who am I?
    My name is Maria Pons Vizcarra and I am a PhD student working at the Neuroscience department (ANW). There are four departments within the CNCR (Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive research) and I work at the Functional Genomics (FGA) department. In my PhD I am doing fundamental research to understand the mechanisms of vesicle release.

    What is my research about?
    My research is about investigating the mechanisms of dense core vesicle release. For this, I am working on four different projects. In 2 projects I am studying the role of proteins (project 1) or lipids (project 2) in vesicle docking using chromaffin cells as a model. The 3rd project is based on isolating dense core vesicles from mouse neurons in order to identify key proteins for transport and secretion of these vesicles. In the last project I am optimizing a new technique to combine, in the same sample, electron microscopy and light microscopy in order to precisely localize proteins with high resolution. 

    Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
    The PhD council is a great opportunity to get to know other students and to work together for a better communication about PhD related matters. It is also great to share experiences between PhD in different fields and understand better the similarities among us.  

    Tom Eames
    Room: WN-E327

    Who am I?
    I am Tom Eames, doing my PhD in the ‘Earth and Climate’ group within the department of Earth Sciences. I am passionate about climate change issues in our society and hope to be able to assist in addressing the problem by adding to our understanding of it!

    What is my research about?
    In a word, fire. Wildfires are featuring more and more in the news, and our group is focussed on quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from fires worldwide. My own research is more remote sensing based – I use drones to map areas before and after fires in Savanna ecosystems with multispectral cameras. These can be then used to estimate things like fuel load (i.e. total vegetation) area burned, combustion completeness, and also to compare and validate satellite observations over the same area. Additionally, part of the work I do goes towards validating carbon credit schemes using fire management techniques, so making sure that the offset programs available actually work!

    Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
    (Probably) everybody doing a PhD is fascinated by their research and loves what they do! But it’s not always the easiest job in the world. Seeing as I can’t make anybody’s research any easier, I’d like to try and help make the rest of their work lives a little smoother and less stressful so that all the important research happening at the VU can be as good as possible!

    Joey van Langen
    Room: NU-09A94

    Who am I?
    My name is Joey van Langen. I’m a PhD-student in the mathematics department, specifically working on problems in number theory. I enjoy solving complex puzzles in a creative way, which is precisely what mathematics provides for me, especially in my PhD project.

    What is my research about?
    My research focuses on solving Diophantine equations. Specifically I try to solve equations that can be solved using the modular method, a method that originated from the famous proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Working with this method combines abstract mathematics with very explicit calculations. My day to day work therefore involves both thinking about difficult mathematical concepts, as well as some programming in different computer algebra packages.

    Why am I a member of this PhD council?
    I think it is important that the interests of PhD students are represented within the faculty. Especially for math PhD students these interests might differ from other employees and perhaps also other PhD students. Therefore I want to make sure these interests are properly represented.

    Alejandra Guevara Morel
    Room: WN-U445

    Who am I?
    My name is Alejandra Guevara Morel. As medical doctor and epidemiologist with a passion for healthcare, I believe in changes of the health systems at a bigger scale that have an impact for the whole population through research. I’m currently in the 2nd year of my PhD project in the Department of Health Sciences.

    What is my research about?
    The overall aim of my research is to develop and/or evaluate statistical methods to assess real word data-based cost effectiveness analysis of healthcare interventions. Currently, I focus on methods to deal with missing data.

    Why am I a member of this PhD council?
    I want to have a voice and represent my fellow PhD colleagues in the Faculty of Science to be able to make positive changes in the overall experience individuals have in their PhD trajectories.

    Juami van Gils
    Room: NU-12A47

    Who am I?
    My name is Juami van Gils, and I am doing my PhD in the Computer Science department at the VU. As part of the bioinformatics group, we apply computational techniques such as machine learning and simulations of 3D molecular systems to answer complex biological questions. Until the end of 2020, I am also the chair of the PhD council.

    What is my research about?
    The aim of my project is to gain a deeper understanding of the thermodynamic properties of protein structure, more specifically beta-sheet formation. This work has applications in biotechnology, but can also help us understand amyloid-related diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson, where these structures play a major role.
    Why am I a member of this PhD council?
    In the PhD council of the Science faculty, I hope to help students feel at home at the VU. We can do this by addressing important issues that PhD students encounter directly with the faculty, but also by organising social events where students can get to know each other, and by being a point of contact in case something is not going so well.

  • Post PhD

    As a PhD trajectory enters its final phase, the question of what to do next becomes more pressing. The PhD programmes at Vrije Universiteit are an excellent stepping stone for careers both inside and outside of the academic world. Doctoral candidates at VU Amsterdam have the opportunity to discuss different career prospects through the duration of the PhD programme. 

    We offer PhD candidates career orientation courses in the early stages of their trajectory and encourage them to strategically work towards their professional goals over the course of their stay at VU Amsterdam. 

    A career in science 
    Most academic positions at Dutch universities are financed by external research funds. The ability to acquire research grants is crucial for a career in science. Our Grants Desk offers professional advice and dedicated support to all of our researchers in the acquisition of external funding. 

    It also offers a special support programme for PhD's seeking to apply for a Veni grant, the most commonly-awarded grant for carrying out independent research after completing a PhD. Many researchers also apply for the NWO Rubicon grant, which enables them to gain experience at leading research institutes abroad. 

    You can also check the academic vacancies at to see what places are available. Academic vacancies are also posted at 

    A career elsewhere 
    The vast majority of PhD candidates will have to continue their career outside academia. It is therefore essential that early career researchers timely orientate to appropriate positions in the industry, or a societal context, before their contract ends. 

    Whatever career path you choose after completing your doctorate at Vrije Universiteit, we offer all of our candidates a life-long relationship of mutual benefit by inviting them to join our Alumni network and to remain part of the VU community.