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IMPRS Curriculum & Activities

Doctoral Training within IMPRS-PMPG

Our IMPRS is an interdisciplinary doctoral programme devoted to scientific excellence in plant biology, with a focus on plant systems biology and plant genomics. Research is at the core of the doctoral programme.



The programme provides intellectual and technical training through original research, interdisciplinary dialogue, and training of transferable skills.


Our doctoral candidates are highly skilled young researchers.

The doctoral research projects of our students are carried out in our faculty members' research groups, under the direct supervision of the faculty member and senior scientists in his or her group.

In addition, each doctoral student is supported by an independent PhD advisory committee (PAC). The PhD advisory committee is designed to give guidance to the student and evaluate the progress of the research project during yearly meetings. The PAC comprises 2-3 members and is tailored to the needs of the student and his or her thesis project. At least one of the committee members has to be from another department than the student, and the student's direct supervisor is not a member of the committee.


The elements of our curriculum and doctoral training have three
major aims:

  • Support of doctoral candidates and their scientific projects
  • Promotion of interdisciplinary dialogue
  • Development of transferable skills

The doctoral candidates within IMPRS-PMPG come from a variety of scientific backgrounds - biology, biochemistry, chemistry, bioinformatics, physics and mathematics. Their research projects have an experimental or theoretical/bioinformatics focus or combine both approaches. We aim to be as flexible as possible in our scientific and complementary training so that the curricular activities fit the individual needs of each PhD student and his or her thesis project.

Students who work on one side of the spectrum - experimental or theoretical - come into contact with the other side of the spectrum during the various weekly seminars at different levels in the MPI-MP and, more directly, the monthly IMPRS seminar where IMPRS students present and discuss their research projects. In addition, the yearly IMPRS retreat provides a valuable opportunity for our students to exchange knowledge and experience and to discuss new research ideas in interdisciplinary teams.


Good scientific practice

All students should be familiar with the Rules of Good Scientific Practice .
For more information, you can also have a look on the website of the Max Planck Society.


More information about the IMPRS-PMPG curriculum is on page 2.
Page 3 gives you information about formalities. - Please read on!

IMPRS-PMPG Curriculum Details

The curriculum consists of different elements: lectures, seminars, practical courses, complementary skills courses, teaching experience, conference visits etc. Doctoral students should collect at least 20 credit points (CP) within the curricular activities. The table provides you with an overview of how the CPs are distributed: 13 CPs are awarded for compulsory training elements, the remaining 7 (or more) CPs can be distributed over selectable elements. Details on the training elements are given below.


The CPs are a measure that follows the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). 1 CP is awarded for 25-30 working hours (on average). This includes approximately 16-18 h presence during a course and time needed for study before and after a course.

CPs can be collected for training activities offered within the doctoral programme and outside.




1. Compulsory core elements

Progress reports: 5 CP
Written and oral progress reports allow the students, their supervisors and  PhD advisory committees to evaluate the progress of the thesis project. In addition, they are an opportunity to practise scientific writing and communication skills.
Oral presentations should be given yearly within the seminar of an institute, department, research network etc. 1 CP is awarded for each presentation; a total of 3 CPs has to be collected.
At the end of the first and second year (12 and 24 months, respectively), the students write a report on the progress of their research project. The reports are the basis for the yearly meeting with the PhD advisory committee. 1 CP is awarded for each written report; a total of 2 CPs has to be collected.

Scientific skills: 4 CP
Students should regularly attend lectures, seminars and colloquia offered within the institute, department etc. In addition, they attend courses and workshops on scientific skills. At least 2 CPs should be collected for these activity within the three years.
The active attendance of conferences is part of the doctoral training. The presentation of a poster or a talk will give students the opportunity to discuss their work with a wider audience. At least 1 CP should be collected for active conference attendance.

Transferable skills: 2 CP
Training in complementary/transferable skills is an important element of our curriculum. Students will benefit from this training not only during their doctoral research but also in their future careers. We offer courses on, for example, scientific writing and presentation, intercultural communication, team dynamics, and ethics in science. We collaborate with the Potsdam Graduate School to complement our course offers, for example with regard to professional knowledge about entrepreneurship and business management. 2 CP should be collected for participation in transferable skills courses.

Teaching: 2 CP
Teaching and supervision of other students during practicals, courses or workhops allows the development of communication and training skills. At least 2 CPs should be collected for teaching activities. The University of Potsdam requires doctoral candidates to gain teaching experience. The experience is teaching is expected in the form of assistance during University practical courses or tutorials. This required teaching is awarded with the required CPs within the doctoral programme.


2. Selectable training elements

The 7 or more CP collected within the selectable training elements can be awarded for different activities. The students can distribute the CP depending on their individual needs and interests. An emphasis should be placed on attending training courses that complement a student's university degree background, and extend his/her scientific skills to strengthen his/her research and promote career development.

The following activities qualify for CP in selectable training:

  • Lectures, seminars, workshops and practical courses offered within the doctoral programmes
  • Attendance of seminars, colloquia or conferences without active contribution
    (up to 2 CP additional to the compulsory ones)
  • Conference attendance with poster presentation or talk
    (up to 2 CP additional to the compulsory ones)
  • Lab visits and external workshops or courses
  • Transferable/complementary skills courses
    (up to 2 CP additional to the compulsory ones)
  • Career workshops/courses
  • Teaching
    (up to 4 CP additional to the compulsory ones)
  • Language courses (up to 2 CP)


Acknowledgement of course participation and monitoring of students' progress

The coordination office will monitor the progress of doctoral students within the IMPRS-PMPG. Students should fulfil all required activities within the curriculum and collect 20 CP or more. To be awarded CP for a training element, it is necessary that students provide proofs of fulfilment. Copies of certificates, written reports, conference abstracts etc. should be handed in to the coordination office. The study progress of all doctoral students will be monitored with the help of a database.
Visits in external labs and external training activities can substitute for attendance of courses offered within the doctoral programme. Attendance of conferences and external courses requires approval of the responsible supervisor.


Evaluation of training courses

In order to maintain a high quality curriculum, we evaluate our teaching and training activities. The coordination office provides support to allow evaluation of the quality and relevance of training elements.


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