skip to content

The Core Programme

Send to Isabell Witt:

1. Filled in and e-signed registration form

2. Research Proposal plus the minutes of the corresponding TAC meeting

3. First progress report plus the minutes of the corresponding TAC meeting

4. Second progress report plus the minutes of the corresponding TAC meeting

5. Minutes of further TAC meetings

6. Certificate of a workshop in Good Scientific Conduct

The Core Programme is the central and compulsory part of the Graduate School for Biological Sciences. It offers a programme of training and support during the doctorate. 

Thesis advisory committee (TAC) Meetings
The TAC meets with the doctoral student at least once per year to discuss the planning and progress of the research project and any other matter of importance. TAC members comment upon the research proposal, the first and second year report, and on all oral presentations. The TAC is involved in the decision about when the experimental work should be considered complete and the student should write-up. In general, it is strongly recommended to discuss the form and content of the dissertation with the supervisors and the mentors of the TAC well in advance of submission. A corresponding comment needs to be part of the TAC minutes form from the second year report onwards. Mentors are available for discussions and advice to the student on all matters. The TAC minutes form needs to be filled in during all TAC meetings and the electronically signed document must be sent to the GSfBS office (isabell.witt(at)uni-koeln.de) together with a PDF of the written research proposal or progress report. Please download the form and open it with Adobe Reader or Professional for electronic signatures. It is compulsory that the doctoral candidate will meet with the mentors without the supervisor for a minimum of ten minutes before or after each TAC meeting.

Written and oral reports 

Research Proposal within five months after starting the doctoral project
Doctoral students write a research proposal for their chosen or assigned project with the aim of learning to plan a scientific project. The research proposal will be discussed with the TAC within six months after the doctorate has started. In the TAC minutes needs to be a comment about the feasability of the doctoral project.

First Progress Report within 17 months after starting the doctoral project
A progress report in the format of a thesis or a scientific research paper will be submitted which will contain a critical discussion of results and of problems encountered. Format for progress reports. The reports form the basis for meetings with the TAC and need to be sent to the mentors by month 17, followed by an oral progress report  within the following four weeks, where the project, as well as any other matters of relevance, will be discussed. In the TAC minutes needs to be a comment whether the doctoral project is recommended for furtherance.

Second Progress Report within 29 months after starting the doctoral project
A progress report in the format of a thesis or a scientific research paper will be submitted which will contain a critical discussion of results and of problems encountered. Format for progress reports. The reports form the basis for meetings with the TAC and need to be sent to the mentors by month 29, followed by an oral progress report  within the following four weeks, where the project, as well as any other matters of relevance, will be discussed. In the TAC minutes needs to be a comment whether the doctoral project is recommended for furtherance. The TAC is involved in the decision about when the experimental work should be considered complete and the student should write-up. In general, it is strongly recommended to discuss the form and content of the dissertation with the supervisors and the mentors of the TAC well in advance of submission. A corresponding comment needs to be part of the TAC minutes form from the second year report onwards.

After 41 and 47 months TAC meetings should be held. Deviations from these intervals can be decided by the TAC, which must be communicated to the coordinator. This can also be recorded in the TAC minutes form.

If a doctorate is not 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.

3. Compulsory training in Good Scientific Conduct (GSC)

4. Breadth of scientific background

Doctoral candidates must focus on a small section of a field to become an expert in the area. A number of programme components are designed to counteract a too narrow focus of interest and to broaden the scientific education. The doctoral candidates will attend regular progress reports and literature seminars of their own research group. In addition, they are expected to attend departmental seminar series to become familiar with the research conducted in biology in Cologne. In addition, discussion and active intellectual engagement between doctoral candidates from different research groups will be fostered by annual meetings that are organized by doctoral candidates and supported by the GSfBS.

5. Career development

For a career in science, doctoral candidates need not only excellent research results and skills but also the ability to present their work orally and in writing and to deal with a complex academic and social environment. Furthermore, a doctoral degree serves not only as a preparation for a research career, but also as entry to other professions, such as in industry and science administration. Doctoral candidates need to learn about career structures and options in these fields. The GSfBS offers training for these skills.

  •  Workshops in statistics literacy, scientific writing and presentation are part of the core training of all graduate students. 

  •  Bioinformatics, data analysis and data visualisation workshops help managing data bases, analysing data sets and understanding the application of statistics.

  •  Workshops in negotiation skills, career management, team management, leadership skills and conflict resolution are offered. 

6. Doctorate related events and networking

To extend the doctoral candidates’ exposure to research beyond that of the local area, they will receive funds to entirely organize a conference called "crossroads in biology" to which they invite and host international top scientists.

Activities such as the Symposium CEWIS, the Alumni Day, Career Day and PhD Day are great opportunities to discuss science with Alumni, famous invited scientists and with many professionals inside and outside of academic research.

Students are asked to join the GSfBS alumni on facebook, LinkedIn or XING