Training and supervision programme

The training programme consists of at least 30 EC (840 hours) and prepares you for the rigorous research standards that apply to your doctoral research agenda and beyond. Its content is determined on an individual basis, depending on your previous education, academic competencies and area of specialization. Topics must pertain to general research skills and in field-specific research skills and subject areas. The programme consists of both mandatory courses and electives.
If you have a Research Master degree, you are exempted from the 30 EC requirements but nevertheless are encouraged to follow parts of the programme. Requests for substitution and/or exemption need to be substantiated by you and your supervisor. Substitutions and exemptions are taken up in your Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) and are to be approved by the Director of the Graduate School, if necessary in consultation with the Dean of Research.

VU 1 


1. PhD Research Design (6 EC, online) - Course coordinators: Dr Leon van den Broeke and Dr Katya Tolstaja

This course is available as an online course and includes the modules on Academic Integrity (2 EC), Methodology (2 EC) and Proposal Writing (2 EC). It lets you reflect on how to conduct research on PhD level and what is necessary to make your particular research project a success. In order to reach this greater goal, by the end of the term, you will be able to find adequate literature for your own research project, recognize the difference between rhetorical and scientific argumentation, evaluate and write at different levels, evaluate literature that discusses your research topic, apply methodological literature, write a coherent, well-defined and methodologically correct research proposal, and integrate feedback from peers, supervisors, and tutors. Normally, this course is taken as a whole, but (depending on the arrangements made in your training and supervision plan and the requirements for your particular project) it will be possible to receive an exemption for part of the course. Please, note, however, that in all events, you will have to produce a research proposal for approval by the Doctorate Board (which this course leads you up to).

Registration is possible twice a year, in September and February. If you want to follow this module (or part of it), please send an email to If you have any queries about this or other online courses of the Graduate School, please contact Dr C (Leon) van den Broeke (coordinator).

2. Two visits to academic conferences (3-4 EC)
The conferences must stretch over several days. One conference visit must include a presentation of your research (2 EC), the other can (but does not have to) include a presentation (without presentation: 1 EC, including presentation 2 EC). (Thus, in total, 3 or 4 EC). Please use the Record of Attendance Form.

3. Transferable skills (2 EC)
Transferable skills are the personal skills you have acquired during your previous education and professional life, such as leadership skills, teaching, project management and organization, research and information management, written and oral communication skills, and so on, with an emphasis on career development and professional development (see some of the courses instanced below). Please note that requests for exemption need to be substantiated from your CV and/or relevant certificates.



The remaining credits of your 30 EC training programme can be chosen from PhD-level courses in the subject area of your specialization, either at our University or at one of our partner institutions. The supervisor decides which courses are required in your specific case in consultation with the director of the Graduate School. The list below is exemplary, not exhaustive. Please note that in some cases a fee (sometimes a considerable fee) is required. Always check in advance the institution's website (!).

4. Residential MA course(s) at the Faculty of Theology (6 EC each)
This entails residential MA courses (esp. Research Master level) relevant to your research field (usually courses of six weeks). For a brief description of the courses available, please consult the faculty’s website (master courses). In due course, some of these courses will be offered in a blended learning/long-distance trajectory.

5. Participation in Research Seminars at the Faculty of Theology (1-3 EC). Presence plus presentation, e.g. the two-weekly Amsterdam New Testament Colloquium (Nieuwtestamentisch Werkgezelschap), activities in the context of ACCORD (Amsterdam Centre for the Study of Cultural and Religious Diversity), the research group Doing Theology in an Ecumenical Way, and other such activities.

6. Course(s) offered by NOSTER (variable)
NOSTER (Nederlandse Onderzoeksschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap / Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion) offers regular seminars and training for PhD students. The current programme can be found at the website of Noster.

7. Course(s) and activities organized by CLUE+ (variable)
Our Faculty participates in CLUE+, the interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. It brings together researchers from a wide variety of academic disciplines to work on joint projects, reflect upon societal challenges and formulate strategies for addressing those challenges. With interdisciplinary teams, working in novel ways and with innovative methodologies, CLUE+ aims to provide an inspiring research climate for talented young academics as well as for senior and top researchers. For more information, click here.

8. Course(s) at the Graduate Schools of partner institutes in the Netherlands (variable)
E.g. PThU (Protestantse Theologische Universiteit) and IBTSC (International Baptist Theological Study Centre in Amsterdam). 

9. Intervision Groups (1-6 EC)
The aim of this seminar is to connect PhD candidates to exchange ideas about academic skills and support each other in developing academic skills. During the course of a semester, candidates work together in supporting each other to finish a publishable piece of writing, by exchanging experiences about research processes and provide and receive adequate feedback. Each seminar (1 EC) consists of 10-12 sessions per semester of one our, to a max of 6 EC. (course description)

10. Course(s) at the Graduate Schools of partner institutes abroad (variable)
E.g. The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham (UK), and partner institutes with which the faculty has a joint or double PhD agreement.

11. Visit of one inaugural lecture and four dissertation defenses at the Vrije Universiteit (3 EC).

12. Biblical Studies and Digital Humanities (online) (6 EC)
Online course offered by the Eep Talstra Centre for Bible and Computer.

13. Advanced Biblical Hebrew (online) (6 EC)
Online course offered by our own Faculty.

14. Contemporary Islamic Theology (online, starts February 2018) (6 EC)
Online course offered by our own Faculty (Nelly van Doorn)

15. Buddhism and Mindfulness (online, in preparation) (6 EC) (starts February 2018)
Online course offered by our own Faculty (H.W.A. Blezer)

16. Training University Teaching
A programme offered by VU-Academic Centre for Human Behaviour and Movement (VU-UCGB in Dutch) in both Dutch and English leading to a Basiskwalificatie Onderwijs (BKO) or a Senior Teaching Qualification (UTQ).

17. Writing Academic English (3 EC)
A Course offered by the Graduate School of Social Sciences (FSW). This course (yearly offered in period 5) gives you a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses concerning written academic English. It shows you what you can do to improve your confidence in the short term, helps you to eradicate those silly mistakes, and gives you new options for expressing complex ideas in well-structured English sentences, so that you can add some variation to your writing. On top of that you will be able to check and revise your own writing in a methodical fashion using a detailed editing checklist. Please register for this course before March 15 by sending an email with your name and details (e.g. department etc.) to FSW Graduate School (

18. Writing a Scientific Article (3 EC)
A course/workshop offered on a regular basis by Taalcentrum-VU. For details and agenda, click here.

19. Presentation and Voice (1 EC)
A course/workshop offered on a regular basis by Taalcentrum-VU focused on training of the ability to present papers and to speak in public. For details and agenda, see the website.

20. Training PhD Success and Personal Efficacy (2 EC)
This training is part of the training programme of the division Human Resources, Health, Safety and Environment for VU University staff. The training is for all first-year PhD candidates at VU University with three months to one year experience. For more information, see Training Programmes.

21. Grant Writing (1-6 EC)
Workshop and courses offered on a regular basis by the VU Subsidiedesk. See the various options under begeleidingstrajecten (Dutch webpage) and esp. ERC workshops (English).

22. Project Management (3 EC)
A course/workshop offered on a regular basis. Training of the ability to manage (academic) projects. See the VU website for more information.

23. Career Orientation (2 EC)
See the VU website for more information.

24. Other individual trajectories

Go directly to: