PhD @ Erasmus School of Law
Doctoral Programme: two phases
EGSL offers a two-phased structure for the four-year doctoral programme: a probationary phase of 14 months followed by a 34-month doctoral programme.
The first phase - Probationary phase
After careful recruitment and screening, EGSL offers PhD researchers in the first ‘probationary’ phase an educational programme of 60 credit points (henceforth EC). This programme contains a variety of courses to foster talent and to facilitate the completion of the doctoral programme. The educational programme is split into two parts: one part being the internal curriculum, consisting of general courses in methodology, reflection and practical skills, consisting of 30 EC. Intensive guidance in a “Research Lab” serves to write a research proposal that meets the quality criteria of the NWO.
PhD researchers are expected, throughout the first and second year, to participate in roughly 10 EC on external courses that suit their individual research project, including at least one methodological course. The remaining time in the first year is reserved for an independent study on the researcher's research project. Drafting the research proposal, in addition to the successful completion of the curriculum and visible progress of the research, forms a requirement for participation in the second part of the PhD trajectory.
By the end of the probationary phase, PhD researchers present their research (the present state of affairs as well as the future plans regarding their research) to the academic staff of ESL at Review Day. After Review Day, the various doctorate committees evaluate the progress that has been made and decides on the continuation of their PhD project. After successful completion of the probationary phase with the approval of the doctorate committee, the ESL-employed PhD researcher then is offered a 34-month appointment as a PhD researcher.
The second phase - dissertation
Whilst focusing on education and formulating the right research questions and a sound plan of the thesis in the first phase, PhD researchers can devote all their time to their research and the completion of their thesis in the second phase. They are welcome to attend follow-up courses and other activities organized for PhD researchers at ESL.
The Erasmus Graduate School of Law offers young researchers in the field of law and criminology a broad postgraduate Educational Programme consisting of (1) courses into writing skills, (2) research methods and (3) courses elaborating the PhD theme as such. The Educational Programme is set up in an inspiring, multidisciplinary and dynamic research environment, in which reflection is stimulated and in which senior and junior researchers can exchange ideas and experiences in order to learn and grow.
Participation in the educational programme is formalized within the PhD trajectory in the first year, and depends on how a PhD researcher is affiliated with ESL: it is compulsory for full-time (1,0 FTE-0,8 FTE) PhD researchers with an ESL-employee status and other fulltime PhD researchers, and it is optional for PhD researchers with a part-time appointment of less than 0,8 FTE and other parttime PhD researchers. When participation is optional, the PhD researcher can select - in consultation with the supervisor and EGSL - the courses he or she wants to participate in.
Participants in the EGSL Educational Programme will receive professional guidance by a variety of senior researchers (doctorate committee), a process which will be monitored by a thorough internal system of quality control. PhD researchers also will be invoked to take part in scientific and social activities – such as attending and presenting their findings at a national or international conference – and will be stimulated to publish multiple articles in scientific journals.
Probationary year (30 EC)
During the Research Lab participants will develop their research ideas by working on the research design of their dissertation or on their research proposal. The course proceeds by-way of bottom-up and learning by doing approaches, in which peer- and master-review processes play a central role.
During the first part, the focus is on elaborating the topic of research, in terms of research questions, theory, and methodology. The interplay between an original and academically relevant research question and the development of one’s method will be addressed in various ways. Specific themes to be explored include the international and European dimension of one’s research and the role of other disciplines in the research project.
During the second part, the focus is on writing the full research design or proposal. In addition to developing the content and research methods, attention will be paid to positioning one’s research and convincing diverse audiences of its value.
The general aim of the Writing Clinic is to help you develop as writers of academic (legal) texts by reflecting upon the conventions of academic (legal) discourse and by writing an academic (legal) article. In addition, the aim of the clinic is to learn how to present your research results in a convincing way by focusing on the structure and the quality of the argumentation in your texts. But we will also especially focus on how to formulate and present constructive criticism of each other’s work. In doing this, you will develop tools to improve your writing process, as well as your reviewing skills.
During our discussions, we will focus both on the macro-level of the envisioned journal, the intended reader and the purpose of the text, and on the micro-level of the language, style and other relevant details. Rewriting texts incorporating criticism is an important element of the course. To that end, we will have meetings discussing different versions of your paper. After completing this course, you will find it easier to recognise weak aspects of your writings and learn how to improve your texts and incorporate reviewers’ comments. You also learn to present your ideas to a multi-disciplinary audience, to defend claims and to review and comment (in a constructive and academic way) on theories and claims of colleagues.
The meetings are meant as low threshold discussions in which everyone is encouraged to give critical but constructive feedback on each other’s work, as well as allow for discussions of whatever hurdles, pitfalls and questions you may encounter during the writing process. In order to facilitate these discussions, we ask you to review the work of your fellow PhD students and to think critically about your own method of writing, as well as a style of giving feedback.
The end goal of this course is, firstly, to push you to think critically about writing an article within the context of your PhD research, even at this early stage. Secondly, the low threshold discussions give an opportunity to practice not only giving but also receiving critical feedback. And finally, seeing each other’s writing process gives a sense of the various approaches to, and styles of writing as well as their pitfalls and possible solutions.
There are seven Research Methods Seminars ((Literature research and research of court decisions, Comparative law, Legal theory and legal philosophy, History of Law, Law and Economics, Social sciences: empirical research, Social sciences: criminological focus on fieldwork).
The aims of these seminars are:
- To introduce PhD researchers into the different methods of legal research.
- To create awareness about the possibilities of these methods for their project.
- To highlight the risks connected to each method.
- To provide guidance for further training in this method.
In every seminar the PhD researchers will get:
- an introduction of the method and its role in legal research
- an example of existing research applying the method
- an overview of main risks connected to the research method
- and will be asked to make a connection through their own research
PhD researchers are expected to choose two methods out of the seven they deem particularly relevant for their research, for which they are required to hand in a more extensive end assignment.
In this course, we will focus on managing your PhD, with a special emphasis on the collaboration between you, your supervisor, and your daily supervisor. The course will help you both to take guidance of your own PhD trajectory and to make the most of the time your supervisors have available for your guidance. We will focus on skillfully managing your meetings and on communicating clearly, also under pressure.
Each meeting is a mixture of theory and practice, and of more interactive parts with ample time for exchanging ideas and insights. Though lecturing is part of the meetings, you will be invited to discuss, to explore, and to discover what collaboration entails. This will help you to manage your PhD with clarity, creativity, and confidence.
The aim of the course is to familiarize the PhD researchers with the rules and guidelines that apply to the writing of English academic texts and thus to improve the quality of their dissertations.
PhD researchers get information on how to prepare and how to structure a presentation, e.g. use of instruments and tools, use of your voice and body language. They prepare their presentations for Review Day.
EGSL has a responsibility to train the PhD researchers with regard to the Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and the GDPR. The course consists of:
- Online training privacy in research (end product is a completed template. Following the outcomes, one has to follow workshop 2 or not).
- Workshop responsible data management (end product is a Research Data Management Plan)
- Online training on Academic Integrity & Ethics
Remaining time probationary year: spent on individual work to the research project
Individual external courses (during the first and second year)
Communicate your research (second year PhD researchers)
EGSL Workshop poster presentations (for second-year PhD researchers)
EGSL Workshop employment/Career possibilities (third year PhD researchers)
Current PhD researchers are welcome to check out the current course schedule at CANVAS. For all employees there are several courses and workshops available, see TOP, e.g. a course time management.