The Graduate School for Biological Sciences offers a Core PhD Programme for all students and independent PhD Programmes focussed on molecular Biosciences:
The 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:
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 will be 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 will receive funds to organize a guest lecture series. Students will prepare for seminars by international top scientists invited for the lecture series by reading and discussing recent publications of the guest’s research. These students will act as the guest’s hosts during his or her visit.
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:
• Workshops in science writing and presentation will become an integral part of the core training of all graduate students.
• Advanced graphics, image processing and desktop publishing is to be taught by the central graphics department of the Biological Institutes.
• Workshops and presentations with representatives from industry and biotech companies are planned.
• Curriculum in Ethics in the Life Sciences, as a part of which a course will be offered by the Faculty of Philosophy at the University in collaboration with the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine for the students of the Graduate School for Biological Sciences.
• Workshops in negotiation skills, team management, leadership skills and conflict resolution will be 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.
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.