Doctoral Training Programme


In the vision of SuPER-W to deliver highly trained professionals, it is essential that, in addition to their research and associated activities in the framework of preparation of their doctoral thesis, the early-stage researchers (ESRs) also complete a doctoral training programme. This programme has 4 pillars: 1. education through research, 2. education through exchange with the non-academic sector, 3. education through structured training courses, and 4. education through participation in public outreach activities.

Within the SuPER-W doctoral training programme, the ESRs profit also from interaction with other ESRs, researchers from other institutions and companies active in the same field through the organisation of network-wide SuPER-W training courses and exchange activities. Explicit focus is laid on international as well as intersectoral mobility (obligatory internships), involvement of ESRs in dissemination, awareness raising and public outreach, and training in specific technical and complementary skills, such as entrepreneurship skills, IP management, conflict management, negotiation and discussion techniques, project management, career development, presentation techniques, popular writing and modern communication and networking skills. Furthermore, the ESRs will be trained in translating research into policy, creative problem-solving, bottleneck identification for implementation of resource recovery technology, business case development, and the role of public perception and policy in innovation, contributing to more effective dissemination and exploitation of research results.

To obtain the joint SuPER-W doctoral training certificate, the ESR should not only have successfully finished the research project, but she/he also should meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Research dissemination and exploitation:
    1. the ESR should have at least one paper accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed international journal or have prepared a patent application;
    2. the ESR should have actively participated (with presentation) in two international conferences
  • Public outreach and involvement in network activities (see also Section 2.3):
    1. the ESR should have contributed to designing or setting up an e-course or a novel activity/tool for summer camp organisers and youth associations in the field of recycling and resource/energy recovery from waste;
    2. the ESR should have prepared at least one article for publication in a journal (or newspaper) focused on a non-expert public or have given at least one lecture on a public event
  • Cross-organisational mobility and interaction with the non-academic sector:
    1. the ESR should have conducted successfully an obligatory internship of 2-4 months in the non-academic sector (see below);
    2. the ESR should have participated actively in the network-wide seminars, workshops, kick-off and closing events. Moreover, the ESR should have participated actively in at least 2 additional events with active involvement of the non-academic sector (e.g. summer schools, seminars, workshops organized by IWA).
  • International mobility:
    the ESR should have conducted research activities in at least two different consortium institutions (located in two different countries), during at least 6 months in each institution.
  • Technical skills (min. equivalent to 12 ECTS credits):
    1. the ESR should have participated in the network-wide workshops on global water management issues, creative problem-solving in resource recovery technology and the use of modelling tools (equivalent to 7 ECTS credits);
    2. the ESR should have followed additional technical training courses offered locally by the beneficiaries, equivalent to min. 5 ECTS credits

Complementary skills (min. equivalent to 11 ECTS credits): 1. the ESR should have participated in the network-wide workshop on career management, and modern communication and networking skills, and the workshop on sustainability, societal aspects, policy and stakeholder involvement (equivalent to 4 ECTS credits, see below); 2. the ESR should have participated in the network-wide training programme on complementary skills (equivalent to 4 ECTS credits, see below); 3. the ESR should have followed additional complementary skills training offered locally, equivalent to min. 3 ECTS credits.


Training sessions and courses offered locally at the participating institutions

The goal of the courses and training sessions is to provide the ESRs with a broad education across the different disciplines of product, energy and resource recovery from wastewater, but also to obtain more detailed specialist knowledge on aspects related to their particular research topic. Moreover, the ESRs are provided with scientific and complementary skills training that should be useful whatever their future career path, such as training in oral presentations, scientific writing, project management, intellectual property management, media training, team and negotiation skills, language and (inter)cultural competences, etc. All host institutions will offer their students and staff a wide choice of elective courses. ESRs are free to choose courses and training sessions among those listed by all beneficiaries.


Specific network –wide training events

SuPER-W organises a series of mandatory network-wide training events on topics which are not offered locally in the participating institutions. These workshops are focused particularly on training the ESRs in the use of tools and techniques for the development of resource recovery technologies, and on developing complementary skills and skills useful to enhance the exploitation of research results and the market potential of newly developed technologies.

  • Workshop 1 on global environment issues, the role and market potential of resource recovery technologies:
    in this workshop the recovery of resources, energy and products from wastewater will be situated within a wider environmental perspective. Global environment issues (e.g., scarcity of clean freshwater resources and global warming), environmental technologies involved and the market potential (economic aspects) of resource recovery technologies will be dealt with.

  • Workshop 2 on career management, modern communication and networking skills:
    this training helps the ESRs to manage their career, build up a sustainable professional network with other academic and non-academic experts and acquire skills to further expand this network, which is particularly essential for a career in the field of resource recovery technology. Training on career management and modern networking and communication tools (e.g., electronic networking, e-mails, twitter, e-conferencing/podcasts and videoconferencing) is provided, as well as  a specific training session focused on academy-industry relationships and the role of European/international professional and research networks and innovation partnerships within the field of water, sustainable materials management and resource recovery technology in innovation and personal career development.
  • Workshop 3 on creative problem-solving in resource recovery technology:
    in this workshop, the ESRs should develop possible solutions to technological problems in particular fields and present them to the other groups. Researchers from the academic as well as the non-academic sector (active in different disciplines) will be involved as project supervisors.
  • Workshop 4 on modelling tools:
    this training will focus on the use of modelling tools for process control and reactor design, re-design of wastewater treatments systems towards (enhanced) recovery of energy, products and resources, upscaling of technology developed in the lab, and extrapolation of lab results to full-scale field conditions. It is complementary to the training on modelling tools already offered locally at the participating institutions, as it is applied specifically to the field of resource, energy and product recovery from wastewater.
  • Workshop 5 on sustainability, societal aspects, policy and stakeholder involvement:
    this workshop focuses on sustainability and life cycle assessment of wastewater treatment systems, the role and nature of public perceptions, stakeholder involvement and policies in innovation, and training in acquiring skills to be actively engaged in (public and stakeholder) communication, regulatory committees and policy making. As part of this workshop, the ESRs are trained in the international/European policy on sustainable materials management, the impact of public perception and policy on the development and implementation of innovative technologies, and the (potential) impact of technological innovation on decisions made by policy-makers.
  • Workshop 6 on business case development
    in the field of resource recovery, energy and product from wastewater, including the identification of bottlenecks for successful implementation of resource recovery technologies and the development of urban, industrial and mixed urban-industrial ecosystems. As part of this workshop, the ESRs should develop in small groups a business case or a new urban, industrial or urban-industrial ecosystem in which resource recovery technology can be implemented.
  • Network-wide training event on complementary skills:
    this training programme includes several elective short training sessions (each 7-14 contact hours + assignments): 1. Grant application and research proposal writing skills, negotiation skills; 2. Training in contractual and legal rules/regulations in the professional sector (e.g., working conditions, professional responsibility and accountability, valorization and IP management, contracts); 3. Job search skills, CV writing, interview techniques; 4. Presentation techniques; 5. Popular writing; 6. Conflict management, discussion techniques and applied group dynamics; 7. Project management; 8. Entrepreneurship and starting up a company (e.g., financing tactics, internationalisation, negotiating venture capital, technology transfer, human resource management, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, governance). This training event is offered mainly to allow ESRs to fill up gaps in complementary skills training and extend it beyond what is already offered locally.[G1] 



In the first and last year of their studies, all ESRs should conduct an internship of at least two times one month. This internship covers a training period at a non-academic host institution. The ESR is engaged in every-day working activities at a level corresponding to the final degree, and become familiar with the non-academic setting in which they have to situate their own research activities. Moreover, during their internship, all ESRs disseminate their results, explore the exploitation potential of their results in a non-academic setting (e.g., set up a business plan), identify research needs and (remaining) bottlenecks for use of their results, and formulate recommendations for future research. This helps to exploit the market potential of newly developed technologies more efficiently and effectively and speeds up the valorisation process. The internship should last for minimum 2 (for ESRs who cannot conduct PhD research activities during their internship) and maximum  4 months (for ESRs who can conduct PhD research activities during their internship).


Role of the non-academic sector

The non-academic partners, i.e. industrial partners involved in technology development, service providers, consultancy/engineering companies, and a public agency, conduct research projects in close collaboration with the beneficiaries, host the ESRs for internships and monitor their performance during the internships. They also co-supervise the research and training activities conducted by the ESRs, i.e., participate in the Doctoral Guidance Committees and review their research, training and dissemination (RTD) plans. The non-academic expert within each Doctoral Guidance Committee particularly reviews to what extent the content of the RTD plan and progressions made by the ESR are in agreement with the needs of the professional sector, especially when the ESR plans a future career in the non-academic sector. Moreover, the non-academic sector is actively involved in network-wide training events, scientific PhD workshops and seminars, i.e. attend presentations of the ESRs, give own presentations, contribute to the (panel) discussions, and organise company visits. Furthermore, the ESRs become a member of the International Water Association (IWA) and can attend activities organised by its Young Water Professionals network as part of their doctoral training programme. This network presents many opportunities for interaction with the non-academic sector.