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Structured Guidance

Fig. 1. Gantt chart of structured guidance within the GSGS


The above chart (Fig. 1) outlines how structured guidance is organised within the GSGS. More detailed information can be found in the Supervision Agreement.

In February 2021, statutes ("Ordnung") of the GSGS was published after making their way through the various university bodies. We currently in a transition period between old and new nomenclature. The reason is that all department-wide Graduate Schools in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences have or are about to introduce similar statutes with the same nomenclature, aligned with the new Doctorate Regulations (Promotionsordnung, 12/03/2020). What previously was someone's "Doctoral Committee" in the GSGS is now called "Thesis Advisory Committee" (TAC); co-advisors are called "mentors". In the coming months, we will try and update all GSGS forms and the website accordingly. Please be forbearing with us should some of our material be confusing or nomenclature mixed-up for some months to come.

The Admission section gives information on what to do to become a GSGS member.

As a GSGS member you should

  1. Form a thesis advisory committee (TAC), previously called 'doctoral committee' (DC);
  2. Sign a supervision agreement with the members of your TAC;
  3. Report regularly to your TAC and the GSGS office;
  4. Meet frequently with your TAC members;

Thesis Advisory Committee

As a member of the GSGS, you have to find one or two scientists besides your principal supervisor to be part of your doctoral committee within the first 2 months of your project. The doctoral committee (DC) will accompany you throughout your independent research phase. The co-advisors can but do not need to become the official examiners of your doctoral thesis. Involvement of external experts is encouraged.

If a potential DC member would like know what they are getting in to before deciding, please feel free to point them toward this overview.

Your principal supervisor (or "advisor") has to be a professor or Privatdozent legally entitled to supervise doctoral candidates in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, UoC.

The other one or two doctoral committee member(s) are called “co-advisors”.
    a) Co-advisors must have a doctorate or PhD degree.
    b) At least one of your co-advisors must be
            1) from outside your own working group, and
            2) independent of your principal supervisor.

Supervision Agreement

The doctoral candidate and his/her doctoral committee (DC) members agree on and sign a supervision agreement (download to fill out) within the first 3 months of a candidate’s project. All members and the doctoral candidate get a copy; the original is kept in the GSGS Office.

In principle, this agreement needs to be handed in with the GSGS office before any GSGS courses can be attended or funding can be applied for. By mutual agreement of the signatories, most parts of this document can be changed at all times.


Doctoral candidate members of the GSGS have to submit a detailed research plan between 3 and 6 months after the start of their project. After that, a progress report is due every c. 9 months; each exact due date is fixed during the previous meeting. Unless agreed otherwise, doctoral committee members should receive the report at least two weeks before a planned meeting to give them time to read and comment it.

Only if the doctoral committee members agree in advance, a progress report can be written in the form of a draft publication or given as an extended talk, where the doctoral committee members are present.

Please consult the guidelines for reporting before writing your detailed research plan or progress report.

Meetings & feedback

Candidate and doctoral committee members meet at least once every 9 months. These meetings are initiated and organised by the doctoral candidate. Depending on the composition of the doctoral committee, joint or separate meetings can be held; also teleconferences are an option.

The aim of the meetings is to discuss the planning and progress of the research project and any other important matters, and to identify any training needs. Some guidelines for doctoral committee meetings are provided here. The members of the committee read and comment on the detailed research plan and the progress reports, which are submitted to them at least two weeks before the meeting. They are further involved in decisions on important steps in the research project.
The doctoral committee feedback form needs to be filled out and signed by each DC member for each meeting; for joint meetings this can be done jointly. A scan of all signed documents is to be sent to the GSGS office by the doctoral candidate along with a PDF of the report as soon as possible after the meeting and by the due date agreed on in the supervision agreement or in the previous feedback form.

GSGS Induction Module

An induction module is organised several times per year. Every doctoral candidate member should attend it at least once. Besides introductory and general information about the GSGS, there will be sessions on issues such as good scientific practice, scientific ethics, data management and data storage.

GSGS Research Conference

Each GSGS candidate has to present a poster at a GSGS Research Conference at least once during his or her project, ideally between 3 and 18 months after the project start date. more....