Milestones in the PhD Programme

The ISS PhD programme lasts on average four years and usually follows four distinct phases with several milestones within each phase.

Phase 1: Laying the groundwork

The programme begins with the preparation of a Training and Supervisory Plan (TSP) with clear agreements on:

  • course work of the PhD researcher (minimum 32 ECTS);
    - Skills courses: minimal 8 EC – maximum of 12 EC
    - Research methods courses: minimal 16 EC – maximum of 24 EC
    - Content courses: minimal 8 EC – maximum of 16 EC

The full list of courses will be available on the internet and in an Academic calendar.

  • deadlines for the monitoring seminars, the fieldwork, and the Public Defence
  • the supervision and the division of labour of the supervisory team

ISS participates with other academic institutes in the Netherlands, including the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities and in the Centre for Resource Studies for Development Research School (CERES).

All ISS PhD research is part of these schools and PhD researchers participate in the schools' activities. These activities include special courses and workshops, which provide an opportunity to also interact with PhD candidates from other universities in the Netherlands.

The second milestone is a Scientific Integrity workshop, including the signing of the Declaration of Integrity.

During the first year, PhD researchers attend a one-day workshop on scientific integrity, which is concluded with a signed scientific integrity pledge. By signing the declaration, researchers endorse the principles of Scrupulousness, Trustworthiness, Verifiability, Impartiality and Independence as formulated in the code of conduct of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).

The third and very important milestone is the Dissertation Design Seminar, which is normally held within nine to twelve months after registration.

Based on the coursework and the Dissertation Design Seminar the researcher's capabilities are assessed and a go/no-go-decision is taken about continuing the programme. PhD researchers who have completed the Dissertation Design Seminar successfully may start with the next phase.

During all four phases, PhD researchers are required to act as discussant on at least three monitoring seminars for fellow PhD researchers.

Phase 2: Collecting data

Research data are collected during a fieldwork period that takes between nine months and one year. This phase is finalized with a Post Fieldwork Seminar.

Phase 3: Producing results

After completing the fieldwork, the PhD researcher returns to ISS and continues work with intensive thinking and writing in consultation with the supervisors.

This phase normally takes one and a half years, and results in a Full Draft Dissertation Seminar. If this seminar is completed successfully, the Research Degree Committee approves the final manuscript and the PhD researcher can proceed to the next phase, the Public Defence.

Phase 4: Getting the PhD

The PhD Dissertation is assessed by, first, the Doctoral Subcommittee and next, the Full Doctoral Committee during the final four to six months of the programme. On approval by the Doctoral Subcommittee, the candidate is given permission to defend the thesis during a public ceremony in front of the Full Doctoral Committee. After a successful public defence, the EUR-ISS PhD Degree is awarded.

In common practice the phasing of the ISS PhD programme is more or less according to the following schedule. This is, however, an indication and not a rule.

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
  • Teaching and Supervisory Plan
  • Coursework (ISS, CERES Research School and/or EGSH Graduate School)
  • Dissertation Design Seminar
     
  Fieldwork    
   
  • Analysing results
  • Post-fieldwork Seminar
 
     
  • Writing the Dissertation
  • Full Draft Dissertation Seminar
  • Public Defence