Structure and Organisation of the educational programme

The ICO educational programme provides a conceptual basis and organizing framework with the aim of supporting PhD candidates to develop themselves to the highest possible level of professional researcher in the field of education and training. To this end, ICO establishes formal educational structures and networks of PhD candidates together with experienced researchers to build communities of learning and practice.

Content of the programme.
The ICO educational programme reflects the expertise in the school. A distinction is made between two classes of research competences: (1) thematically or domain-oriented, and (2) methodological. Thematically oriented coursework is provided by at least two master classes related to the ICO research themes . These master classes should not necessary be related to the research themes a PhD student belong to. Methodological coursework is provided by at least one master class related to qualitative analysis, research methods (e.g., design research) advanced statistical analysis, and philosophy of science. The master classes are complemented by an introduction course, the ICO National Fall School (research retreat), and the ICO International Fall School. 

Structure and organization
PhD candidates are selected on the basis of their academic track record and only admitted to the programme after their PhD project proposal has been accepted by ICOs scientific committee. The programme includes both compulsory and elective activities. Compulsory activities are the introduction course (5 ECTS, or 140 hours); two thematic master classes (3 ECTS or 84 hours each); one methodological master class (3 ECTS or 84 hours), and attending and presenting at one international Fall School (3 ECTS) and national Fall School (1 ECTS). The thematic master classes are initiated by the thematic groups in a two or three-year scheme. Course designs typically offer blended solutions combining face-to-face and on-line teaching. PhD candidates decide in consultation with their supervisors on their individual learning trajectories, which are laid down in their education and supervision plan. They have to present and discuss their project and progress in their first year (Introductory course), second year (Junior Presentation at either the ICO National or International Fall School), third year (Senior Presentation at either the ICO National or International Fall School), and fourth year (defence of dissertation). ICO requires the establishment of professional contacts between PhD candidates and staff members in four ways: (1) between PhD candidates and ICO staff members in their thematic groups, which organize regular meetings to prepare research proposals, joint publications, debates, and so forth; (2) between PhD candidates and staff members in so-called colloquia, which are often combined with dissertation defences and promoted to discuss specific research topics; (3) between PhD candidates and staff members from all thematic groups in ICO-wide activities such as the bi-annual National Fall School, and (4) between PhD candidates, their supervisors, and their advisory committee (promotie-begeleidingscommissie), which will typically include ICO staff members from other universities. Furthermore, ICO promotes international networking. International students and prominent researchers enrol in ICO activities; PhD candidates and staff members are stimulated to take part in international conferences, workshops and other events, and staff members are visiting lecturers in PhD programmes abroad.

Set up of the ICO Educational programme


Introductory course: a three day course, in which candidates present an overview of their PhD research proposal and the first study, review other proposals, review a PhD thesis, simulate an editorial board meeting and acquire insight in how to manage their supervisor. Candidates learn about the ten themes of ICO’s research programme, about the scholarly process and about scientific integrity and data management.


Thematic courses: at least two thematic courses are part of the educational programme, (3 EC each), in which candidates acquire knowledge about recent developments in various research fields representing the ten themes comprising ICO’s research programme.


Methodology courses: PhD candidates participate in at least one methodology course (3 EC), related to quantitative or qualitative methodologies.


Two conferences are to be attended:

1)      ICO National Spring School: a national two-day conference (1 EC) in which PhD candidates present their work and receive extensive feedback from ICO staff members and their peers;

2)      ICO International Spring School: an international five-day conference (3 EC) in which PhD candidates present their work, receive feedback and attend thematic and methodology workshops offered by ICO staff and international well recognized experts in the field.

The two conferences are offered bi-annually. The international conference is offered in collaboration with other European universities who conduct high quality research within the field of educational sciences. The two conferences are organized alternatingly in March of every year.


Total EC of ICO’s educational programme