The UOC offers four research, transfer and entrepreneurship courses in english, for students, researchers and faculty to promote research in the academic, scientific and business fields.

Within our society of knowledge, the training of researchers for supervising thesis as an entrance door to the culture of research and as means of acculturation within the scientific community is gaining more and more relevance.

The requests of the European Union (EEES) give a clear idea about which direction should be taken when it comes to training doctors, and how this must be carried out (Irish Universities Association, 2008; Vitae, 2010), LERU (2010). In the UK, the Roberts report influences the training of PhD students in transversal competences, ranging from training techniques and abilities to team work, eventually becoming a training in competences which are transferable to professionalization and surely to the labour market (Hernández and Díaz, 2010). That includes not only intellectual and technical competences, but also social competences, as well as of leadership and management.

The abandonment of PhD students (for example, 13% regarding the relation of students who enrolled in the academic course 2007-2008 and those who presented their thesis four years later, according to data of INE), is caused by many convergent factors, such as the academic competence, psychosocial factors and institutional culture. Out of them, the most effective factor is the supervision of the thesis (Armstrong, 2004; Difabio, 2011).

Each thesis supervisor, as a leader of the research project of the PhD student, assume a supervision style (Fernández and Wainerman, 2015), according to the goals outlined, but we cannot forget the relation established between the supervisor and the student, which reinforces the personal orientation in both academic and non-academic aspects. As Wainerman (2011) claims, the competences necessary for a research project are only acquired through the implication in a project with the guide of a `master'.

At present, the supervision of thesis is understood as an educational practice which belongs to the pedagogy of research and to the pedagogy of doctoral education (Fernández and Wainerman, 2015; p.161), which provides the supervisor with an active role.

Referring to the academic aspects, the thesis supervisor becomes a model and a provider of learning (De la Cruz Flores et al., 2010; Difabio, 2011; Fernández and Wainerman, 2015) who:

  1. promotes reflection;
  2. helps to manage knowledge;
  3. clarifies expectations and limitations;
  4. follows the development (clear objectives, updated information, revision of written work, immediate feedback);
  5. plans meetings and motivates students to publish;
  6. gives practical support as an advisor (resources, institutional policies, connection with other professionals);
  7. adapts to the level of difficulty of the students;
  8. must maintain a professional relation both realistic and constructive with the student.

For the PhD student, the process of elaboration of a thesis is a path of construction of identity as a researcher, where frustration, loneliness, uncertainty, doubts and ambivalence occur, for which it is necessary the support provided by the supervisor to generate social and emotional conditions necessary for continuing with the project.

Having considered that and bearing in mind the following:

  1. the functions of a thesis supervisor as it has been commented;
  2. the fact that researching and leading a thesis involves different skills (De la Cruz et al, 2010; Halse, 2011; quoting Fernández and Weinerman, 2015);
  3. the role of the supervisor is not only supervising and guiding the process, but also stimulating, giving empathy and feedback to facilitate the learning (Manathunga, 2007);
  4. the relation with the supervisor is one of the most influential factors in the probability to finish a doctoral thesis (Fernández and Weinerman, 2015) and,
  5. the number of students who abandon the quality in the supervision of the thesis becomes a key factor.

From these factors emerge the proposal and aims of this training in Soft Skills for thesis supervisors.

When we speak about personal and professional abilities, we distinguish between Hard skills and Soft Skills. The former are those abilities learnt through training, teaching or working, which allow us to carry out a determined task; whereas the latter are those interpersonal abilities related to emotional intelligence and which include, for example, self-leadership, self-regulation, authenticity, capacity for reflection, pro-activity, motivation, empathy, time-management and problem-solving, among others.

The research, transfer and entrepreneurship courses are recognized as university activities and thus count as free elective credits for bachelors degree courses. They also count towards training for competitive grants for doctoral students at any university.

Download the brochure for the programme

Credits: 3 ECTS

Date: 19 February 2020

Certificate: Training Programme in Soft Skills for Doctoral Thesis Supervisors

Language: English


The general objective of this course is:

  • To provide tools and resources for the thesis supervisor in order to assimilate the typical competences of the most effective and efficient supervision.


Below are the competences which must be assimilated:

  • Leader the student along the process of elaboration of the doctoral thesis.
  • Facilitate the organization, planning and supervision to the student.
  • Motivate throughout the period of work and supervision.
  • Adopt attitudes and behaviours which facilitate communication between the supervisor and the student.
  • Develop the student's critical thinking.
  • Accompany the student in their process of acculturation and as an independent scientific.
  • Establish and manage the relation of work with the student.
  • Manage possible conflicts.
  • Provide with constructive feedback (suggest areas of improvement and reinforce positive aspects).
  • Orientate to results.


This online training is developed according to the methodology of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

At all times for that reason the groups are reduced personalized attention and individualized dedication of the process will be provided.

In the modules corresponding to management of beliefs and management of emotions, a session on Skype is optional in order to supervise the evolution of the training and to give feedback.

Related programmes

This course is part of the Research, Transference and Entrepreneurship courses (Cursos de Recerca, transferència i emprenedoria) which are offered by the PhD School (Escola de Doctorat) for researchers in the academic and corporate fields as well as for PhD students.


Module 1. General overview.

  1. Soft skills and emotional intelligence.
  2. Motivation to changes. Comfort zone as a supervisor.
  3. Awareness raising.
  4. Influence circle.
  5. Commitment scale.
  6. States of change.

Module 2. Leadership as a model for the PhD student.

  1. What is a leader? Self-leadership.
  2. Range of competences as a supervisor.
  3. My professional values.
  4. Self-sabotage in front of a thesis.
  5. The hero / the heroine in front of a thesis.
  6. SWOT of the project of the student.
  7. General action plan depending on each SWOT.

Module 3. Management of beliefs in front of the student and their work.

  1. The map.
  2. How our beliefs play a role in a process of doctoral thesis supervision.
  3. Limiting and stimulating beliefs in front of a work and/or the student.
  4. Cognitive distortions and irrational beliefs.
  5. Dismantling limiting beliefs.

Module 4. Management of emotions in situations which may arise in relation with the PhD student.

  1. Emotions and their functioning.
  2. The positive intention towards works and situations.
  3. Resources of emotional management to advance in the process of supervision.

Module 5. Management of stress in front of different thesis projects and support to the student.

  1. Anxiety and stress.
  2. Sources of stress in front of the thesis work and the student.
  3. The personal traffic light.
  4. Strategies of confrontation in front of the process of each work.
  5. Mindfulness and other confrontation techniques.

Module 6. Management of the PhD students: interpersonal abilities and communication.

  1. Active listening.
  2. How to ask.
  3. Assertiveness.
  4. It's not what, it's how! Techniques.
  5. The constructive and motivating feedback within the process of elaboration of the thesis.

Module 7. Management of learning: management of time and planning.

  1. Management of time applied to thesis works.

    1.1. How to manage the different timing for each work?
    1.2. Relevance pyramid.
    1.3. Time consumers focused on the revision process.
    1.4. Techniques.

  2. Planning addressed to the thesis.

    2.1. Powerful questions to shine a light on the students.
    2.2. Construction of objectives in the elaboration of a thesis.
    2.3. Action plan depending on the objectives.

Teaching staff

Maite Duran

Fees and enrolment

Methods of payment

You can pay for Research, transfer and entrepreneurship courses with a credit or debit card.

  1. VPoS: payment using a credit or debit card via the VPoS (virtual point of sale) provided by «la Caixa».

Enrolment withdrawal


Concept Price
Price of this course 350,00 €

Enrolment open

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Start teaching: February 2020

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Send us your details and we'll send you information on this programme and others you might be interested in

Dial a number that's 9 digits long.
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