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Compulsory Core Programme

Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting Goals

The TAC is responsible for the individual scientific guidance of doctoral candidates in addition to their advisor. The main purpose of TAC meetings is to keep track of and discuss the scientific progress, and to offer advice on the thesis project’s development. Mentors are not part of the advisor’s research group and thus provide an external view of the project and an independent opinion. The mentor should be experienced in supervising PhD projects. If necessary, mentors can mediate between the doctoral candidate and the (official) advisor. In case of a serious conflict, the TAC can hand over to dedicated ombudspersons. Additionally, the TAC should advise doctoral candidates on career planning and professional development.

TAC composition

  1. The TAC consists of the advisor and, if applicable the official advisor, two mentors and the doctoral candidate.
  2. Mentors must come from outside of the research group of the advisor in order to promote independence. Mentors may come from outside the University of Cologne.
  3. All TAC members should be present at each TAC meeting (TAC meetings can be conducted using an online conferencing tool).

TAC Topics

Project progress and timeline:

  • The main focus of the TAC should be to provide scientific guidance to the doctoral candidate and offer scope beyond the input from the doctoral candidate’s research group.
  • record of on-the-job training in (experimental) techniques, evaluation methods, theoretical background, literature, network, outlook /research plan /proposal
  • Adjustments of research plans /change of topic /unexpected developments
  • (First) results
  • Finishing up / rounding off the project

Publication strategy, especially the format of the thesis
Conference attendance
Career plans, recommended workshops/ trainings
Conflict prevention. In addition, the TAC should point out the different contact points at Department, Faculty and University level for complaint management.

TAC meeting format, 1,5 h max. in total is recommended

  • ca. 20 min scientific presentation by doctoral candidate to all TAC members
  • 20-40 min progress discussion with all TAC members
  • at least 10 min discussion without advisor (mandatory)
  • discussion without doctoral candidate

After each TAC Meeting, the signed TAC minutes and the written proposal/report need to be uploaded to the G-folder in docfile and the GSfBS needs to be informed about this step isabell.witt(at)


Advisor / Betreuer*in des Promotionsvorhabens: Person usually at the research institution where the doctoral project is being worked on.*

Mentor: Person holding a doctorate or PhD degree who joins the TAC alongside the advisor(s), without having an advisor role.

Doctoral candidate: Person, who works on the doctoral project.

Note: TAC members are not necessarily the people who will serve on the examination board for the thesis defence, especially in the special cases listed in the appendix.

Suggested format for a research proposal 
TAC minutes feed back form for research proposal TAC-meeting

Participation in a compulsory workshop "Good Scientific Conduct"

Suggested format for a progress report
TAC minutes feed back form for 1st progress report
TAC minutes feed back form for 2nd progress report
TAC minutes feed back form for n progress report

Active participation in a GSfBS or other programmes PhD day (poster or oral presentation)

§ 4 GSfBS regulations
(5) If the doctorate cannot be completed within 3.5 years, further progress reports (3rd, 4th, etc. progress reports) and TAC meetings should be held at 6-month intervals (after 41, 47, etc. months). Deviations from these intervals can be decided by the TAC, which must be communicated to the coordinator. This can also be recorded in the feedback form.
(6) If a doctorate is not to be completed after 54 months, separate consultations will be held with the doctoral candidate and the supervisor by a member of the Steering Committee or by a member of the GSfBS appointed by the coordinator from the group of supervisors. 2
The doctoral candidates are obliged to prepare all necessary consultations of the TAC by means of the relevant reports and presentations.

The GSfBS Ordnung in the legal German version.

This English version is only meant to assist you and is not a legal version of the regulations.