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Successful PhD Supervision: A Shared Journey

Discover some essential supervision skills and strategies to help you support your PhD candidates on their journey to success.

381 enrolled on this course

Graphic showing two PhD candidates and their supervisor with a mountain representing their shared journey in the background.

Successful PhD Supervision: A Shared Journey

381 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Understand your role in the shared journey of PhD supervision

The outcome of a PhD is not only a thesis defence, but the formation of a researcher, scientist, and leader. PhD supervisors play a crucial role in the academic and professional development of their candidates.

During this three-week course from the University of Groningen, you will reflect on your role and responsibilities in the shared journey of PhD supervision. With the mentoring skills and strategies you develop over the course, you’ll be equipped to support, inspire, and guide your candidate towards success.

Take a person-centred approach to PhD supervision

Honing a candidate’s research skills is only one aspect of PhD supervision. Supervisors also need to help their students set goals, communicate their ideas, and grow as a researcher and professional.

You’ll explore what it means to take a person-centred approach to PhD supervision. You’ll learn how to establish a good working relationship with your candidate and make their academic and professional growth a focus of your supervision.

Understand how you can be a role model for your PhD candidate

With years of study and research behind them, PhD supervisors are ideal role models for their candidates.

In the final week of the course, you’ll reflect on your own personal and professional identity, and learn how you can harness it to become a role model for your candidate.

You’ll finish the course with a clearer sense of your supervisory style, and an understanding of how to use that for the benefit of your PhD candidates.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds Worldwide each year, thousands of PhD students start a research and learning trajectory that takes several years. The PhD students are supervised by academics like yourself, who support them to the best of their abilities. As PhD supervisors you have a crucial role in the academic and professional development of PhD candidates. Yet often you do so without support or formal training. By following this course, you’ll be better prepared for the gratifying, yet challenging task of being a guide and a coach of PhD candidates. By learning to identify the needs of your PhD students at the various moments in time, you’ll be able to switch between motivation styles and feel more at ease in your role.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds This will result in an improved quality of the doctoral thesis, its timely completion and an optimal education of the next generation of scholars for all types of future careers.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds At the University of Groningen, we have ample experience supporting supervisors in providing excellent academic coaching for PhD candidates. During this course, active academic supervisors, trainers and PhD candidates will share their insights with you. This course stimulates you to develop your own learning experience. You will consider your role during several important phases of the PhD trajectory while investigating what it means to develop and maintain a mutually beneficial working relationship with your doctoral candidate. This involves creating a safe, inclusive and stimulating work environment. This course will provide you with the tips and tools to have inspiring coaching conversations, to set clear expectations, and to provide effective feedback.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds Throughout this course, you will reflect on yourself on how your context influences your supervision style and on what kind of role model you would like to be for your PhD student.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 seconds If you want to develop as a PhD supervisor, join us!


  • Week 1

    The PhD journey

    • Welcome

      This activity will introduce the course as a whole and introduce the goals of this week.

    • The supervision alliance in context

      In these steps we discuss roles and responsibilities in the PhD supervisor – PhD student alliance.

    • Selecting the right PhD candidate

      Choosing the right candidate for the PhD position is a very important first step in ensuring a successful trajectory.

    • The PhD journey starts

      In these steps we discuss important steps the PhD student and you as supervisor take during the PhD journey.

    • Maintaining the rhythm

      We continue on the PhD journey.

    • Reflecting on a post-PhD career

      Discover how career perspectives may influence the PhD trajectory and the supervisor can play in this process.

    • Wrapping up the week

      Concluding remarks about Week 1.

  • Week 2

    A person-centered and growth-oriented approach

    • Expert or coach

      Create an environment of trust and support conducive to the personal and professional development and learning of the PhD student.

    • Professional communication

      Professional communication, active listening and providing structure from the PhD supervisor can help the PhD student immensely.

    • Managing expectations

      Managing expectations at the start and during the PhD trajectory will help you and your PhD student in many ways.

    • Setting goals with your PhD candidate

      In your coaching role, you can help the PhD candidate identify and set goals that are motivating and give the right focus to their activities.

    • Feedback for growth and guidance

      In this activity we focus on the importance of feedback in the development of the PhD student and we give suggestions on how feedback can be given in an effective way.

    • Responsibilities and boundaries

      You will explore in which situations you are able to provide support to your PhD student yourself and when it would be better to find support elsewhere.

    • Wrapping up Week 2

      We wrap up the second week of the course and look ahead at the final week.

  • Week 3

    Supervision in context: developing a reflective attitude

    • Professional identity formation and socialisation

      In this first activity, we will explain the concepts of professional identity formation and socialisation. We aim to show the relevance of reflecting on yourself in your role as PhD supervisor.

    • Getting to know your personal and professional identity

      In this step you will dive further into the concepts from the first activity by applying them in short exercises to get to know yourself better, both personally and professionally.

    • Your (social) context as a PhD supervisor

      In this activity, you will focus on the (social) context that you are in as PhD supervisor. You will experience why this (social) context matters and how it affects you and your style of supervision.

    • You as a role model for your PhD students

      In this activity you will reflect on what you (unconsciously) convey to your PhD students and if that is what you want to radiate. You will then reflect on how you want your PhD students to remember you.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the most important moments and phases in the PhD trajectory
  • Assess your own role and shared responsibility as a supervisor
  • Experiment with tools and methods to improve the effectiveness of PhD supervision
  • Apply effective interaction techniques in conversations with the PhD student
  • Improve the process of dealing with expectations and formulating goals
  • Reflect on your professional development as PhD supervisor in the academic context
  • Demonstrate awareness of your own values, qualities and pitfalls; as well as awareness about being a role model to your PhD students

Who is the course for?

This course aims primarily at supporting both aspiring and more experienced PhD supervisors in their important and challenging role. The course may also be relevant for policy makers and trainers within scientific institutions.

Who will you learn with?

Petra Rudolf is the Dean of Graduate Studies of the University of Groningen, who strives to create an optimal training environment for PhD students and to offer prime support for their supervisors.

Trainer and a coach at the University of Groningen. I provide courses, workshops, and coaching sessions for supervisors and PhD students.

I am a PhD Psychologist/Trainer at the University of Groningen. I give courses and workshops to PhD students and supervisors.

Academic teacher at University Medical Center Groningen; working at SCOPE, the expertise center for personal development.

Who developed the course?

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

UMCG is building the future of health through its focus on complex patient care, research, education and training.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$44/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 7 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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