The first year

During the first year of a PhD track, there are several procedural milestones that need to be taken care of. It is the reponsibility of the main supervisor of a PhD candidate to be aware of these milestones and to complete them in due time.

Since in particular the first year assessment is of the utmost importance, a detailed description follows below.

Overview of procedural milestones during the first year

Personal PhD tracking pages


First Year Assessment

At the end of the first year (12 months), all PhD candidates must go through the First Year Assessment interview. This is a key evaluation point, which should lead to the so-called go/no-go decision: a decision regarding the extension of the PhD position to the full span of the PhD track.

The main goal is to assess whether the PhD project is on track and whether the PhD candidate has high chances of successfully completing the PhD (including the defense ceremony) within the duration of their appointment. The interview also serves to monitor the quality of the supervision and training being received by the PhD candidate.


The main supervisor is in charge of organising this interview. All researchers in the supervision team are advised to be present. The PhD candidate may also invite an external mediator, provided other parties are informed of this in advance.

Besides the supervision team, an external observer must be present at the interview. The external observer does not need to be an expert in the research area of the PhD project. The external observer is chosen by the main supervisor and may be:

  • A member of academic staff at the ILLC who is not part of the supervision team and who is at least as senior as the main supervisor
  • The ILLC PhD Programme director
  • The ILLC Director

Step-by-Step Procedure

Before the interview

  1. Around three weeks before the end of the first 12 months: the main supervisor emails the PhD programme director.
  2. Upon approval of the external observer, the main supervisor schedules the interview with all relevant parties.
  3. At least two weeks before the interview: The main supervisor asks the PhD candidate for input regarding the different sections in the First Year Assessment form (available on the PhD candidate's personal tracking page) and drafts the assessment. The main supervisor shares the draft with the supervision team and possibly modifies it according to their comments.
  4. At least one week before the interview: The main supervisor sends the draft of the assessment to the PhD candidate, the supervision team, the external observer (as approved by the PhD Programme director), and to the ILLC PhD mailbox.

Personal PhD tracking pages

During the interview

  • The external observer chairs the meeting, asking the supervisor to go over each point in the assessment draft.
  • The PhD candidate and any other members of the supervision team, as well as the external observer, are encouraged to comment and discuss the proposed assessment.
  • Typically the assessment form is adjusted by the main supervisor during the interview to reflect the discussion.
  • The external observer should encourge the PhD candidate to record any additional comments s/he may have on the assessment form.
  • The interview is expected to last a maximum of 1 hour (and hardly less than 30 minutes).

After the interview

  • If the final version of the assessment cannot be fully completed during the interview, the form can be submitted shortly after. The main supervisor is responsible for ensuring that all parties present at the interview receive and approve the final version of this document.
  • The final assessment in PDF format must be sent to the ILLC PhD mailbox and a hard copy signed by all parties present at the interview must be delivered to the ILLC PhD team.