The Graduate School EPS requires an Individual Training and Supervision PLAN (iTSP) - in Dutch Opleidings- en Begeleidingsplan (OBP) - for every PhD student* (all categories)

The Graduate School EPS requires an Individual Training and Supervision PLAN (iTSP) - in Dutch Opleidings- en Begeleidingsplan (OBP) - for every PhD student* (all categories). In order to obtain funds for a teaching programme and an EPS Certificate your iTSP must be approved by the Educational Committee. The iTSP is a PROPOSAL for an education programme and may be adjusted when desired.

The outline of the iTSP should be prepared in consultation between the PhD student and the PhD supervision committee, which consists of the (co)promotor(s) and/or the supervisor(s). The iTSP describes how the educational part of the project is scheduled within the framework of two fixed provisions: the time spent by a PhD student on education is between 10% and 15% of the appointment (= minimum of 30 ects credits) and the maximum spent on teaching duties is 10% (= 84 days).

In short the procedure is as follows:

At the start of the project the iTSP form is presented to the PhD student. An electronic version of the iTSP is available at this website under 'EPS DOCUMENTS'. If needed, appendices may be added.

In agreement between the PhD student, co-promotor(s) and/or supervisor(s), the iTSP form must be completed, within three months after the appointment. The iTSP needs to be signed by the PhD student, (co-)promotor(s), the head of the laboratory/institute/section and the chairman of the Educational Committee of EPS.
An electronic, signed copy of the iTSP forms together with the whole iTSP in excel format should be sent to the PhD programme coordinator, Dr. Susan Urbanus (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

* with 'PhD students' are meant all categories of PhD candidates: i.e. AIOs / OIOs, sandwich PhDs etc.

Specific terms of the individual Training and Supervision PLAN (iTSP)

Specific Training Activities come in four categories:

  1. Start-up phase
  2. Scientific exposure
  3. In-depth studies
  4. Personal development

A minimum of 30 ECTS credits including at least 14.5 credits from categories 1-4.

EPS requires a minimum of 30 ECTS credits to be spent on educational activities of which a minimum of 14.5 ECTS credits for the categories 1, 2, 3 and 4. Some kinds of educational activities are highly recommended, while other activities can be selected as suitable; these notices will be given with the description of the educational activities. Highly recommended educational activities are next to compulsory; EPS expects PhD students to participate in these educational activities. When there are strong arguments why the PhD student could not participate, and sufficient compensations in participation in other educational activities exist, the Educational Committee may waive a highly recommended activity.

1. Start-up phase

Minimum:1.5 ECTS credits

These educational activities will provide the PhD student with the essential knowledge, theoretical background and skills to carry out the research.

First presentation of the project (Highly recommended)

Preparing for a presentation, for instance for the staff, postdocs and colleagues of the laboratory will provide the student with insight in both the main scientific question of the project and the way(s) to address this question. The presentation should be given within six months after appointment.

1.5 ECTS credits

Writing or rewriting a project proposal

Occasionally a project is written by a PhD student. This may occur, for instance, for Sandwich PhD students or when a student is privately funded, the student has to compete for a grant from a specific fund, or the student is allowed to create a project within the framework of a bigger programme. Substantially rewriting of the original project proposal occurs mostly when urged by new scientific insights, obtained after the original project proposal was submitted and granted. Albeit both very instructive and time-consuming to write one's own project, the maximum creditation is limited to 6 credits to avoid unbalanced Individual Supervision and Education Documents.

dependig on time spend to write; 6 ECTS credits maximum

Writing a review or book chapter

Next to the first oral presentation of the project, the written presentation of the project in a review or a book chapter will be very instructive. Such written presentation of the project will be credited to a maximum of 6 credits, provided that it is submitted to a journal or book editor at the moment of graduation.

depending on time spend to write; 6 ECTS credits maximum

MSc courses

Some students will be appointed on a project in spite of a deficiency in their MSc education regarding the specific requirements of the project. These deficiencies need to be supplemented in order to allow the student to properly carry out the research. Therefore, attendance at lectures, practical classes and/or courses from the MSc teaching programme, for specific subjects and on a restricted scale, is necessary. This should, however, be restricted to courses that are indispensable to fill a specific knowledge gap. The study credit is the same as set in the Study Guide of the university involved, to a maximum of 6 credits.

6 ECTS credits, maximum

Laboratory use of isotopes

In some projects radio isotopes are used. Law requires a certificate to be allowed to work with radio isotopes. This course will be credited for 1.5 points.

1.5 ECTS credits

2. Scientific exposure

Minimum: 7 ECTS credits

These educational activities aim to introduce the student in the national and international network of scientists involved in related research. Knowing the network and developing a good reputation in the network is considered to be a key factor for the student's scientific future.

EPS PhD students days (Highly recommended)

Every year EPS PhD students will organize a one to two-day meeting for all EPS PhD students at the six universities involved. The programme may include both scientific lectures and lectures/workshops on subjects related to science, such as patenting, publishing or career orientation. In recent years a strong social component has been added to the programme. The EPS PhD students days are a perfect place for networking and, therefore yearly attendance is highly recommended and the minimum attendance of two EPS PhD students days is required. This means when 'a PhD student day' is a two-day event, it is obliquatory to attend twice this 2-day event.

0.6 ECTS credits per event (2-days); minimal 2x attendance of recurring event 

EPS theme symposia (Highly recommended)

Every year the co-ordinators (EPS professors or senior staff members) of all four themes of the EPS research programme will organize a theme symposium for each theme. Scientific lectures, PhD student's presentations, poster sessions and networking are frequent elements of the programme, but it may also be focused on a specific issue related to the theme. These four theme symposia are each programmed in a different season. Since the projects of all PhD students are related to one of the four themes, there will always be one's 'own' theme symposium and three 'other' theme symposia each year. Attendance of the 'own' theme symposia is highly recommended and the minimum attendance of two 'own' theme symposia is required. Each EPS PhD student is encouraged to also visit the 'other' theme symposia.

0.3 ECTS credits per day; minimal 2x attendance

Annual meeting 'Experimental Plant Sciences' (Lunteren) and other national platforms (Highly recommended)

Every year plant scientists in the Netherlands will organize a two-day meeting in Lunteren for the plant scientific community. These days are subsidized by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The first day is devoted to lectures, while the programme of the second day, with PhD student and postdoc presentations in parallel sessions, looks very much like the EPS theme symposia. Attendance of this meeting is highly recommended and the attendance of two meetings is required. Next to this meeting, other scientific platforms related to plant science will organize their (annual) meetings. Examples are the Royal Netherlands Botanical Society (KNBV), the Arabidopsis Network (Aranet) the Netherlands Genetic Society (NGV), the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society, The Netherlands Entomological Society et-cetera. What is pointed out for the EPS meeting also applies to the meetings organized by these platforms.

0.3 ECTS credits per day

Seminar series (Highly recommended)

Every year EPS scientists will organize seminar series on various subjects. These series are also organized at different locations. Leading scientists in the field, mostly from abroad, are invited to the seminar series. The seminar series offer a wider perspective to the broad field of experimental plant sciences and the PhD student's research project. Next to seminars in series are separate seminars by lecturers who happen to visit one of the research groups. These separate seminars and related seminar series organized by other Graduate Schools may count to fulfil the requirements of the EPS training. The attendance of at least two seminar series, or 15 lectures is highly recommended.

0.1 ECTS credits per lecture; 1.5 credits minimum

Flying seminars

The European Flying Seminars in Plant Science is a cooperation between four European Centres for Plant Science

  • Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (Köln, Germany)
  • Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (Wageningen, The Netherlands)
  • Institut des Sciences du Végétal (Gif-sur-Yvette, France)
  • Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium)

These four European centres invite world leading scientists from abroad to Europe for a roundtrip of several days to the four centres. Four to six flying seminars are programmed each year.

0.1 ECTS credits per lecture

Seminar plus

In addition to the flying seminars and some of the seminars in the seminar series and separate seminars a limited number of registrated EPS PhD students are invited to discuss with the lecturer in person about the lecture and other research topics.

0.1 ECTS credits per attendance

International symposia and congresses (Highly recommended)

The PhD student is given the opportunity to visit at least two international symposia or congresses, with the minimal requirements of presenting a poster or lecture, and reporting afterwards on the proceedings of the congress at a meeting of the research group. The creditation for each symposium or congress depends on the length of the meeting; preparation of a presentation or writing a contribution for the proceedings of the symposium or congress may also be counted to a maximum of 0.7 credits per symposium or congress.

0.3 ECTS credits per conference day; 8 credits maximum

Presentations (Highly recommended)

The PhD student should give at least two presentations about the progress of his/her research, preferably in the second or third year and in the fourth year. Poster presentations at the PhD students day and oral and poster presentations at the theme symposia, the NWO Lunteren days and at (inter)national workshops, symposia and congresses are good opportunities for the PhD students to learn to present their research and their accomplishments and to become known by other plant scientists. Each new presentation is credited with 1.0 point.

1.0 ECTS credits per presentation; 2.0 credits minimum

IAB interview (Highly recommended)

EPS has an International Advisory Board (IAB), consisting of four to five renown plant scientists from other European countries and one from Dutch plant-related industry. Every year the IAB pays a two-day visit to EPS. At each visit the IAB members individually interview all PhD students in their third year of appointment about their project, progress, education, planning, supervision and career ideas. The interviews provide the IAB-members with detailed information about the performance of EPS as a Graduate School, thus contributing to the suitability and value of the IAB's advises. On the other hand most PhD students gain from the fresh view of an expert and more than one PhD student derived valuable contacts for his or her future career from the interview.

0.7 ECTS credits


Occasionally PhD students will take the initiative to organize an excursion to departments of universities, research institutes or companies performing research in their specialization. Such excursions contribute to broadening the PhD student's view on research and its organization and to the network of the participating students. The participation in such excursions is credited for 0.3 points per excursion day with a maximum of 1.5 credits. Next, the organization of the excursion is credited for 0.3 points per day with a maximum of 1.5 credits.

Depending on length; 3 ECTS credits maximum

3. In-depth studies

Minimum 3 ECTS credits

These educational activities aim to provide the PhD students with a sound scientific base for their research and their future career in science or related to science. The in-depth studies can consist of courses, placements at other laboratories and journal clubs.

Graduate courses (Highly recommended)

EPS will organize a balanced variety of courses every year. The programmes and lecturers for each course are freshly chosen in each course to guarantee the inclusion of the most recent scientific insights. Quite often, these courses are organized in collaboration with Graduate Schools that focus on fields adjacent to experimental plant sciences. These collaborations are beneficial because:

  • it allows for the organization of courses only of interest for minorities of the PhD students from both schools,
  • it broadens the PhD student's view,
  • it adds new dimensions to the PhD students network.

Next to the courses organized by EPS, be it in collaboration with other Graduate Schools or not, there are many courses of good scientific standard organized by other Graduate Schools and research institutions, both in the Netherlands and abroad. These courses, organized by other Graduate Schools in, or adjacent to the experimental plant sciences may count to fulfil the requirements of the EPS training. The attendance of, and active participation in at least two courses is highly recommended. For some courses the EPS Educational Committee may declare a higher creditation, based on required preparation for the course or essential processing of the information obtained.

0.3 ECTS credits per day; 2 courses minimum

Short trainings

During the PhD project, the PhD student may have to spend some time on a short training at a laboratory outside EPS. These placements are intended particularly for the individual study of and training in techniques and biosystems that are not (yet) readily available within the EPS laboratories. The placements are credited for 0.3 points per day with a maximum of 3 credit points.

Depending on length; 3 ECTS credits maximum

Journal clubs

At some laboratories Journal clubs are being organized. In a Journal club, PhD students discuss on the design of a scientific article under the guidance of an experienced scientist. At first examples of well- and poorly designed articles may be discussed; later on discussion will focus on the first attempts of the PhD students themselves.

Depending on frequency; 3 ECTS credits maximum

4. Personal development

Minimum 3 ECTS credits

These educational activities aim to strengthen the PhD student's abilities and skills of performance in their project and their future career in science or related to science. Personal development courses and trainings are organized at all universities by specialized branches of the own organization. EPS participates in a platform of Wageningen University based Graduate Schools that will organize such courses for all PhD students of these Graduate Schools, including those from other universities. EPS also recognizes the potentials of personal development through co-organizing of major meetings and courses or the membership of EPS boards and committees.

Personal development courses and trainings (Highly recommended)

These courses and trainings aim to improve (with examples):

  • Societal awareness and scientific responsibility:
    • Ethics in science
    • Ethics in life sciences
  • Performance in the research project at hand:
    • English for PhD students
    • Written English
    • Scientific writing
    • Time planning
    • Project management
    • Presentation skills
    • Communication skills
    • Digital art and data processing
  • Performance as a supervisor:
    • Didactics for teachers at secondary education level
    • Supervision of MSc students
  • Performance in a future scientific career:
    • Project management
    • Writing of project proposals
  • Performance in a future career related to science:
    • Career orientation
    • Didactics for teachers at secondary education level
    • Scientific journalism

0.3 ECTS credits per day; 3 credits minimum

Organizing meetings, courses or the PhD students day

Co-organizing a course, seminar series, workshop et cetera under the guidance of an experienced EPS staff member will substantially contribute to the PhD student's organizational skills. This counts all the more for the organizational committee of the EPS PhD students days that consist of PhD students only.

1.5 ECTS credits per activity; 3 credits maximum

Membership of the EPS Educational Committee

The EPS Educational Committee consists of staff members and PhD students. The active participation in the planning and evaluation of all educational elements organized by EPS and the involvement in regulating the EPS PhD education will contribute to the student's performance in any future career.

0.7 ECTS credits per year of membership; 1.4 credits maximum

Presidency and membership of the EPS PhD students council

The president of the PhD students council not only chairs the council but also attends all meetings of the board, the international advisory board, the research committee and the educational committee. The impact of the presidency on the president's management skills thus becomes very high.

1.4 ECTS credits per year of presidency; 2.8 credits maximum

0.7 ECTS credits per year of membership; 1.4 credits maximum

Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences