The Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS)

TSP (Training & Supervision Plan)

TSP (Training & Supervision Plan)2023-09-17T10:54:34+01:00

The Graduate School EPS requires an individual Training and Supervision Plan (TSP) for every PhD candidate (all categories). In order to be eligible for reduced fees for the training, your local or EPS TSP must be approved. The EPS TSP form can be obtained under EPS Documents.

The outline of the EPS TSP should be prepared in consultation between the PhD candidate and the PhD supervision committee, which consists of the (co)promotor(s) and the daily supervisor(s). The TSP describes how the training part of the project is scheduled within the framework of two fixed provisions: the time spent by a PhD candidate on education is 15% of the appointment (= minimum of 30 ECTS credits) and the maximum time spent on teaching duties is 10% (= 84 days or 672 hours). This outline can be adjusted later on, if needed.

Specific terms for the training part in the EPS TSP

EPS requires a minimum of 30 ECTS credits to be spent on educational activities (different rules might apply to non-WUR PhD candidates, please check here). In the TSP file itself you can find comments with information about the minimum and maximum requirements for each category, if you hover over an item with your pointer. Below you can find more detailed information about the requirements for the five different training categories.  One ECTS credit point equals a study load of 28 hours. A full day programme is usually credited with 0.3 ECTS, while a half day programme is credited with 0.2 ECTS.

1. Start-up phase

Minimum:1.5 ECTS credits

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

Preparing for a presentation, for instance for the staff, postdocs and colleagues of the laboratory will provide the PhD candidate 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

Occasionally a project is written by a PhD candidate. This may occur, for instance, when a candidate is privately funded, when the candidate has to compete for a grant from a specific fund, or the candidate is allowed to create a project within the framework of a bigger programme. Substantial rewriting of the original project proposal occurs mostly when new scientific insights, obtained after the original project proposal was submitted and granted, give cause for this. Writing or rewriting a proposal is a very instructive, but also time-consuming activity. The maximum credits for this activity are set to 6 ECTS credits, to avoid an unbalanced training.

Depending on time spent to write; 6 ECTS credits maximum

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 ECTS credits (only possible in old TSP version), provided that it is submitted to a journal or book editor at the moment of graduation and accepted for publication. The PhD candidate should be the first author of the review or book chapter, or in very rare cases the second author with a very substantial contribution.

Depending on time spent to write; 6 ECTS credits maximum

Some PhD candidates will be appointed on a project in spite of a deficiency in their previous education regarding the specific requirements of the project. These deficiencies need to be addressed in order to enable the candidate 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, can be necessary. This should, however, be restricted to courses that are necessary 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 ECTS credits.

6 ECTS credits maximum

2. Scientific exposure

Minimum: 7 ECTS credits

These educational activities aim to introduce the PhD candidate 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 PhD candidate’s scientific future.

Every year the EPS PhD Council organizes a two-day meeting for all EPS PhD candidates. The programme may include both scientific lectures and lectures on subjects related to science, such as patenting, publishing or career orientation. The EPS PhD days are a perfect place for networking and, therefore yearly attendance is highly recommended and the minimum attendance of two EPS PhD days is required.

0.3 ECTS credits per day; minimal 2x attendance

Every year the research theme coordinators (EPS professors or senior staff members) will organize a theme symposium for each of the four research themes. Scientific lectures, presentations from PhD candidates and postdocs, poster sessions and networking are frequent elements of the programme, but it may also be focused on a specific issue related to the theme. Since the projects of all PhD candidates are related to at least one of the four themes, there will always be one theme symposium that is most in line with the PhD candidate’s research, but all four theme symposia can be attended.  The minimum attendance of two theme symposia is required.

0.3 ECTS credits per day; minimal 2x attendance

Every year EPS organizes the annual Experimental Plant Sciences meeting, a two-day meeting for the plant scientific community in the Netherlands. Other scientific platforms related to plant science also organize (annual) meetings. Examples are the Netherlands Bioinformatics and Systems Biology research school, the Royal Netherlands Botanical Society (KNBV), the Netherlands Genetic Society (NGV), the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society, the Netherlands Entomological Society etc. Attendance of national platform days is highly recommended and the attendance of two is required.

0.3 ECTS credits per day; minimal 2x attendance


Every year EPS scientists will organize seminars, workshops and symposia on various subjects. These activities offer a wider perspective to the broad field of experimental plant sciences and the PhD candidate’s research project. A minimum of 1.5 ECTS credits is required in this subcategory.

Leading scientists in the field, often from abroad, are invited to hold seminars. Sometimes these seminars are organized as seminar series. Each seminar can be credited with 0.1 ECTS credits.

In the case of workshops and symposia, a full day programme is credited with 0.3 ECTS, while a half-day programme is credited with 0.2 ECTS credits.

0.1 ECTS credits per seminar; 0.3 ECTS credits per day; 1.5 ECTS credits minimum

With some seminars there is an opportunity for a limited number of PhD candidates to have a meeting with the speaker before or after the seminar to discuss the seminar topic, the latest paper from the speaker or other research topics, or to particpate in a special workshop. These seminar plus meetings are credited with an additional 0.1 ECTS credits.

0.1 ECTS credits per attendance

The PhD candidate is given the opportunity to visit one or more international symposia or congresses, preferably combined with an oral or poster presentation at these meetings. Reporting afterwards on the proceedings of the conference to the own group can be an integral part of the process of going to an international meeting.

0.3 ECTS credits per full conference day; 1.5 ECTS credits minimum; 8 ECTS credits maximum

The PhD candidate should give at least two presentations, for instance a poster and an oral presentation, about the progress of his/her research outside his or her own group, preferably in the second or third year and in the fourth year. Poster and oral presentations at the EPS PhD days, at the theme symposia, the annual EPS meeting and at (inter)national workshops, symposia and congresses are good opportunities for the PhD candidates to learn to present their research and their accomplishments, and to become known to other plant scientists. If the PhD candidate belongs to a specific consortium and gives regular presentations (on the progress of the project) at these consortium meetings, only the first and the final presentation is awarded with credits.

1.0 ECTS credits per presentation; 2.0 ECTS credits minimum

Each PhD candidate should have at least a yearly meeting with their mentor (previously called external advisor) to reflect on the progress of their PhD project, their personal development and well-being. These mandatory yearly meetings with the mentor can be credited with 0.1 ECTS credits.

0.1 ECTS credits per yearly meeting; 0.4 ECTS credits maximum

Every 3rd year PhD candidate will receive an invitation for an interview with one of the EPS Research Theme Coordinators or a member of the International Advisory Board of EPS.  This interview will focus on the progress of the project and the final steps to take towards the PhD defense. Any workshops accompanying the 3rd year interview day can be credited separately, usually under the section Personal Development.

0.7 ECTS credits for the 3rd year interview

Occasionally PhD candidates, the EPS PhD Council or the chair group 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 candidate’s view on research and its organization and to the network of the participating candidates. The participation in such excursions is credited for 0.3 points per full day scientific programme.

0.3 ECTS credits per full day; 3 ECTS credits maximum

3. In-depth studies

Minimum 3 ECTS credits

These educational activities aim to provide the PhD candidates 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, workshops, season schools, placements at other laboratories and journal clubs.

EPS will organize a balanced variety of courses, workshops and season schools every year. The programmes and lecturers for each course are chosen to guarantee the inclusion of the most recent scientific insights. Quite often, these courses are organized in collaboration with other 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 a subset of PhD candidates from both schools;
  • it broadens the PhD candidate’s view;
  • it adds new dimensions to the PhD candidate’s 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 or research institutions 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, workshops or season schools is required.

In principal 0.3 ECTS credits per day; 2 courses minimum

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

0.3 ECTS credits per day; 3 ECTS credits maximum

At some laboratories journal clubs are being organized. In a journal club, PhD candidates discuss for instance the design of a scientific article and the possible application of the knowledge from this article, preferably under the guidance of an experienced scientist. There is a maximum of 3 ECTS credits for attending such a Journal Club regularly (every two weeks or every month) over a period of 4 years.

Depending on frequency; 3 ECTS credits maximum

4. Personal development

Minimum 3 ECTS credits

These educational activities aim to strengthen the PhD candidate’s abilities and performance skills in their project and their future career in academia or outside academia. Personal development courses and trainings are organized at all universities by specialized branches of their own organization. EPS also recognizes the potentials of personal development through the (co)organization of scientific meetings, courses or outreach activities, or the membership of the EPS PhD council.

These courses and trainings aim to improve amongst others:

  • Societal awareness and scientific responsibility:
    • Ethics in (life) science(s)
    • Scientific integrity (required element, either via the EPS Introduction Course or via a different course)
  • Performance in the research project at hand:
    • 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
    • Outreach

0.3 ECTS credits per day; a scientific integrity course and 1 additional course required

Co-organizing a PhD course, seminar series, workshop, scientific excursion, outreach activities et cetera, preferably under the guidance of an experienced EPS staff member, will substantially contribute to the PhD candidate’s organizational skills.

Maximum of 1.5 ECTS credits per activity; 3 ECTS credits maximum

Active participation in the EPS PhD Council improves the organizational and management skills and at the same time broadens the PhD candidate’s network and is therefore credited with 0.7 ECTS credits per year of membership, but with a maximum of 1.4 ECTS credits. The chair and the secretary of the EPS PhD Council not only chair the council but also attend meetings of the board, the research committee and the educational committee and are therefore credited with 1.4 ECTS credits per year, with a maximum of 2.8 ECTS credits.

0.7 ECTS credits per year for a member; 1.4  ECTS credits maximum
1.4 ECTS credits per year for the chair and secretary; 2.8 ECTS credits maximum

Additionally EPS PhD Council members can claim credits in this particular section for (co-)organizing events for the council, such as the EPS PhD days, the EPS company visits, or EPS workshops.

Maximum of 1.5 ECTS credits per PhD Council activity; 3 ECTS credits maximum

5. Teaching & Supervision Duties

During the PhD project the PhD candidate might be required to perform teaching and supervision duties or might choose to participate in these activities voluntarily. Please note that the PhD candidate should not spend more than 10% of their time on these teaching and supervision duties and that clear learning targets for the PhD candidate should be agreed upon in the TSP form. Please note that this section on teaching and supervision duties is only available in the new TSP version from November 2019 onwards.

For courses in which the PhD candidate has teaching duties, please calculate the total of contact hours, preparation time and hours needed for marking exams or correcting reports. One ECTS credit point equals a study load of 28 hours.

Depending on amount of hours; 3 ECTS credits maximum

PhD candidates regularly spend time on supervising BSc or MSc thesis students. EPS strongly advocates that PhD candidates supervise BSc or MSc students on thesis subjects that fall within their own scientific expertise and also fit within the scope of their PhD thesis. Because the work done by students under the supervision of PhD candidate will in most cases also benefit the results of the PhD candidate, 75% of the average time spent on supervision is counted here. Depending on the kind of work the students will need to do, a thesis or internship can require either desk research of laboratory research, or a combination of the two. Please follow the guidelines for calculating the amount of supervision hours as stated in the Teaching sheet in the TSP. One ECTS credit point equals a study load of 28 hours.

Depending on amount of hours; 3 ECTS credits maximum