PhD training framework

LUCL wishes to create a stimulating intellectual environment in which PhD students can develop into mature researchers. A training framework for PhD students is part of this effort.

0. Statement of purpose

LUCL wishes to create a stimulating intellectual environment in which PhD students can develop into mature researchers. The emphasis of the training programme is on communal learning in a highly interactive context. The final purpose of the PhD programme is to educate linguists who not only are specialists in their chosen field, but also have a grasp of the larger issues in linguistics, including interdisciplinary research.

This purpose is achieved by the following means. Besides the formal courses in the first year and those provided by LOT (§ 2), PhD students broaden their linguistic education through weekly reading groups and lecture series (§ 3). These are usually organized by the PhD students themselves, and attended by both staff and students. The goal is that PhD students learn as much from each other as from their supervisors. The preparation of the PhD dissertation is often likewise the result of a group effort: a supervision team works closely with the PhD student, meeting on a regular basis, and shaping the dissertation through lively discussion (§ 4). PhD students are encouraged to (team)teach with LUCL staff, and to develop other relevant experience with the organization of conferences, editing of papers and other practical matters of the institute.

LUCL normally appoints PhD students for a period of four years. Students with a Research Master's degree equivalent to the Leiden Research Master may be appointed for three years. The length of appointment depends on a number of factors, such as type of project (it will not be possible to complete projects with a large descriptive component in three years), previous work, etc. This should be determined on a case-by-case basis.


1. Initial phase

At the start of the project, the PhD student meets with his or her supervisor(s) and the LUCL director, in order to draw up a plan for the first year (the Opleidings- en begeleidingsplan).[1] LUCL also organises a yearly meeting at the beginning of the first semester at which new PhD students (and possibly others, e.g. new postdocs) present their upcoming projects, so that they may receive immediate feedback on their goals and that all members are optimally informed about new initiatives. At the end of the first year, and at the end of every subsequent year, the same group meets in order to evaluate if plans are on schedule, or if anything can be done to make (academic) life more productive. These meetings are carefully prepared by all parties, in particular the PhD student is asked to prepare a detailed report on progress and results of the past year. It is also possible, of course, for the student, the supervisor or director to schedule a meeting at any other point in time.
 
For some projects (cf. § 0), the second year of the Research Master's Programme will serve as the first year of the PhD Training Programme. This is a course-intensive programme in which research skills are initiated, developed and strengthened. Besides, short seminars are held, e.g. on the topic of fieldwork. The course load is determined in consultation with the supervisor(s). Reporting on research (both in writing and orally) is greatly encouraged. The groundwork for the dissertation is laid during this first year.
 
At the start of the first year, new PhD students are also required to take a one-day Introduction to Leiden University. Other courses that are offered, such as Research Management, Academic Writing, Writing Grant Proposals, Presentation of Academic Work and a number of Orientation courses are also available and can be attended in later years. See the general website of the PhD courses for more information.  
 
During the first year, the ICLON also offers a short course (typically, four mornings during one month) that teaches didactic skills. Such skills will be welcome in the 2nd and 3rd years, when PhD students can do some undergraduate teaching of their own. This course is also obligatory for new PhD students.

2. National embedding: LOT Summer and Winter Schools

LUCL students are automatically members of the national research school for linguistics, LOT (Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap), and are entitled to participate in the LOT course programme, which involves highly intensive two-week summer and winter schools. There are two kinds of courses:
  • general state-of-the-art courses in which the current state of a particular field is presented;
  • advanced courses in which a lecturer presents a particular topic in great depth.
 
LUCL strongly recommends that PhD students take part in as many LOT courses as possible, in consultation with their supervisor(s). LUCL is represented on the programme committee for LOT schools, so that requests and suggestions for lecturers can be made.

3. Local interaction: seminars and discussion groups

LUCL has (or participates in) a number of discussion groups and special-interest assemblies, going by names as 'PhD discussion group', 'Friday Afternoon Lectures', and 'Leiden-Utrecht Semantics Happenings'. All of these provide forums to attend high-level presentations by guests or members of the institute, or present one's own research. Programmes are listed on the institute's website and announcements are distributed by email.
 
See the list of reading and discussion groups for more information.

4. Supervision: intensive and constructive

LUCL PhD students are always supervised by a group of supervisors which is in principle presided over by the promotor, a Leiden Full Professor. Often, however, other persons are also involved, such as a co-promotor who may be the daily supervisor, and who may arrange 'tutorials' for a PhD student or group of PhD students. Final responsibility however lies with the Full Professor. LUCL deems it important that solid agreements are made with respect to the scope and frequency of supervision meetings. The effectiveness of supervision is evaluated at the yearly evaluation meetings.
 
Supervision also extends to possible teaching obligations that the student takes on. Any teaching on the part of the student is carefully prepared, coached and evaluated by the supervisor(s): all of these aspects are also discussed at the yearly evaluation meetings (cf. above). Preparation for teaching also involves courses offered by ICLON, either in the form of general courses or tailor-made for linguists.

5. Conference participation

LUCL students are encouraged to present in local workshops, conferences in Holland and international conferences. LUCL students have a budget for travel which covers costs of travel in Holland and a (limited) number of trips abroad. LUCL assists with applications for other sources of funding for travel, such as Leiden University Fund (LUF). LUCL regularly organises a one-day workshop on the topic of successful abstract writing.

6. International experience: stay abroad

LUCL students are permitted and – within reason – encouraged to spend a longer period of time abroad, e.g. three or six months, at institutes with staff that are relevant for the project and after making solid arrangements for continued guidance and supervision by the Leiden supervisors and the host staff. (Note: this 'stay abroad' is additional to fieldwork or any other data collection trips.)

7. Schematic overview

  First semester Second semester 
First year
  • Introduction course
  • Local courses[2],
    course work
  • Reading and discussion 
    groups
  • LOT Winter School
  • Local courses, course work
  • Reading and discussion groups
  • First fieldwork or data collection
  • Didactic course
  • LOT Summer School
Second year
  • Reading and discussion groups
  • First fieldwork or data collection
  • Developing hypotheses
  • First overview of chapters
  • Supplementary courses
  • LOT Winter School
  • Reading and discussion groups
  • Undergraduate teaching
  • Help in the organisation of the Institute
  • Supplementary courses
  • LOT Summer School
Third year
  • Conferences and presentations
  • Further development and verification of hypotheses
  • Work out the various
    chapters[3]
  • Supplementary courses
  • LOT Winter School
  • Conferences and presentations
  • Undergraduate teaching
  • Second fieldwork (if necessary)
  • Supplementary courses
  • LOT Summer School
Fourth year[4]
  • Final writing
  • Supplementary courses
  • Final writing
  • Supplementary courses 

[1] There is also a booklet with practical information for PhD students
[2] Some of the courses may be part of the Research Master's Programme.
[3] PhD students are encouraged to publish the preliminary results of their research in the electronic journal Leiden Working Papers in Linguistics.
[4] On the LUCL website you will find The Fourth Year, a page with information for PhD students who are in, or approaching, their final year: info on the procedures, getting the dissertation published, and the PhD defence. The Post PhD page contains some leads to possibilities for a post-PhD career.

Last Modified: 28-10-2015