How to cope with my supervisors

One issue that many PhD students have in common is: how do I cope with my PhD supervisors? What do they expect from me? How do I make them happy? Where do I draw the line between their suggestions and my own decisions about my research? How much freedom do I have? Can I say no? How can I discuss and negotiate with them? How do I deal with their feedback or with progress meetings? And with differences of opinion, friction or conflict?

You can in fact learn to build a productive, effective relationship with your supervisors. After all, that relationship is important in determining the pace at which you complete your PhD and to your success and wellbeing during the programme. 

We want you to finish your PhD programme without unnecessary delays and with excellent results, but we also want you to have the time of your life! Without the right training, however, many PhD students have trouble communicating effectively with their supervisors. Cultural differences can also play a role for foreign PhD students. The relationship that you have with your supervisors in the Netherlands may be very different from what you would expect in your own country.

Target group

PhD students and postdocs.


During this course, we will help you understand the underlying conditions, planning and expectations. You will work with a professional actor on a series of exercises in which you practise communicating with different types of supervisors and in difficult situations.

Practical information

  • Duration: One session, from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
  • Date: 2 October 2018
  • Language: English
  • Location: Utrecht
  • Group size: Maximum of 12 people


The Local Consultations Committee (employer and union representatives) considers it well worthwhile to spend part of the employee benefits budget on sustainable career development. Training, courses and coaching meant to support sustainable career development are therefore funded from this budget.