Graduate Programmes

The Graduate School for Biological Sciences offers a Core PhD Programme for all students and six independent PhD Programmes focussed on molecular Biosciences:

  The GSfBS Core Programme  

The Core Programme is the central part of the Graduate School for Biological Sciences. It offers a special programme of training and support during the period of Doctoral Thesis research. Training & support elements within the Core Programme are:

Thesis committee
Each student chooses a thesis committee consisting of the supervisor and two further independent scientists.It is recommended that one tutor is from a closely related field and the other from a different field but with supportive complementary expertise. All tutors need to be at least independent group leaders. The committee meets with the student once per year to discuss the planning and progress of the research project and any other matters of importance. The members of the committee read and comment upon the project proposal and the first year report, and also comment on all oral presentations. The thesis committee is involved in the decision about when the experimental work should be considered complete and the student should write up. They are available for discussions and advice to the student on all matters at all times.Thesis committee form sheet

Written and oral reports
To offer possibilities for learning to plan a project and identifying with the purpose of the experiment, students will be expected to write a research proposal for their chosen or assigned project within three months of starting work. The project proposal will be discussed with the thesis committee. Format of project proposal
One year later a progress report in the format of a scientific research paper will be submitted which will contain a critical discussion of results and of problems encountered. The two reports, i.e research proposal and first year report, will form the basis for meetings with the thesis committee, following an oral progress report, in which the project and its progress, as well as any other matters of relevance, will be discussed. Format for progress reports
In addition oral reports will be presented to other members of the programme, usually on the occasion of a graduate student symposium or retreat. The oral representations are also attended by the members of the thesis committee and will be followed by a critical assessment and suggestions for improvements, if necessary.

Breadth of scientific background
A graduate student must focus on a small section of a field in order 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 students’ scientific education. The students will attend regular progress reports and literature seminars of their own research group. In addition, students are expected to attend departmental seminar series in which the research of the institute or other assembly of scientists is presented, and during the course of their thesis to become familiar with the research conducted in biology in Cologne. In addition, discussion and active intellectual engagement between students from different research groups are fostered by annual retreats that are organized and exclusively attended by students.
To extend the students’ exposure to research beyond that of the local area, they receive funds to organize a conference series. See crossroads in biology.

Other skills
For a career in science, students 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, for example in industry and science administration, and students need to learn about career structures and options in these fields:
• We annually offer a one week Bioinformatics course
•Critical thinking modules with the IGC in Portugal
• Workshops in science writing (paper and funding) and presentation (oral and poster) are an integral part of the core training of all graduate students.
• Retreats in Trier for group leaders and students together joined by leadership training for the group leaders and presenting with confidence for the students
• Retreats for female career development in Vienna
• Workshops in negotiation skills, team management, leadership skills and conflict resolution are available to students during the final part of their training. Courses to develop and improve teaching ability are being discussed and may be provided centrally for all graduate students by the Department of Education or by private organisation.
• A seminar on patenting issues is offered to students and postdocs
• Advanced English as concurrent course
• German for International students at two levels, beginners and more advanced

Other Activities

Activities such as the Symposium "Cross Roads in Biology" organised exclusively by students, the Alumni Day, Career Day and PhD Days are great opprotunities to discuss science with famous scientists, with many different professionals inside and outside of academic research.



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page last updated 2015_06_18