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IRI Life Sciences

The IRI Graduate School offers its students a wide variety of courses. Doctoral students have to attend to mandatory courses and events as well as to take part in additional courses and workshops. The students receive credit points for their participation that are aligned with the standards of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

It is mandatory for each student to acquire 20 credit points (CP) during the three years of the graduate programme. In justified cases, the doctoral student can apply for an extension of this time period.


The curriculum consists of five categories, in which credit points have to be acquired:















Supervision agreement and PhD committee meetings (2 CP)

The essential and mandatory part of the graduate programme are a supervision agreement and two PhD committee meetings. At the beginning of the doctoral studies, the PhD student and his/ her supervisor sign a supervision agreement about the conditions of the supervision.

Together with the supervisor, the PhD student selects an individual PhD committee (thesis advisory committee, TAC) to support the scientific progress of the thesis project and the individual qualification. The PhD student is required to arrange regular meetings of the PhD committee at least in the first and in the third year of the doctoral studies. 

Before the thesis committee meeting, the student submits a short report (maximum of 5 pages) to the committee members and the coordination office. This report should briefly introduce the state of the research project, describe progress and pitfalls as well as future directions and outlook, and make mention of how training (lectures, seminars, soft skill courses) is coming along. During the meeting, the student gives a 15-minute presentation covering all issues included in the report, followed by a discussion with the committee members. After the meeting, the student writes a summary of the discussion (about one page in length) and sends it to the committee members and the coordinator.

Lectures and seminars (8 CP)

All lectures and seminars provided by IRI, our member institutions and the scientists associated with the IRI Graduate School are open to the students.

1 CP is awarded for visiting 12 lectures/ seminars or 3 tutorials. As a rule of thumb, one ‘course day’ of a workshop etc. is awarded 0.5 CPs.

Seminar series and colloquia organized by the IRI Life Sciences can be found here.

Practical courses (2 CP)

The purpose of the practical courses is to introduce students to new scientific methods. These courses will be conducted for 3 to 6 students upon request. All students may also participate in the practical courses run by external institutions like EMBO, EMBL, Come Trust or corporations.

Again, one ‘course day’ will be awarded 0.5 CPs. Each student is obliged to earn a total of 2 CPs from practical courses. It is strongly recommended that students aim to complete their practical courses within the first two years of their studies at the IRI Graduate School.

Soft-skills training and career support (2 CP)

The IRI Graduate School is part of the Humboldt Graduate School (HGS), which offers a variety of soft-skills courses. Please contact the coordination office, if you want to enroll to any HGS soft-skills courses.

Again, one ‘course day’ will be awarded 0.5 CPs. Please find current soft-skills course offers at the HGS here.

Additionally, relevant courses at any institution affiliated with the IRI Life Sciences can be attended. For a reimbursement of potential course fees, please contact the coordination office prior to enrolment. The ‘Science-Ethics-Politics’ workshop offered by the ZIBI Graduate School is also open to all students of the IRI Graduate school.

The IRI Graduate School offers different measures to support the career development of doctoral candidates: as a full member of the Humboldt Graduate School our doctoral students have access to their offers on Individual Career Counselling, Career Days, a Peer Mentoring Programme and selected Workshops.

Togehter with the PhD students from the ZIBI, IRI graduate students organize the seminar series "Career Options in...". Please find upcoming events here.

Scientific Events (6 CP)

It is our aim that all of our students are integrated not only into the community of IRI Life Sciences, but also into the greater international scientific community. Our graduate programme is designed to facilitate this integration. Students are encouraged to invite guest scientists, organize symposia and colloquia, and present their own work at international conferences in order to actively participate in the shaping of their scientific field. Advanced students are furthermore encouraged to do their own teaching, which can also be awarded with CP.

Scientific events organized by IRI Life Sciences can be found here.