Training programme

People debating at CEPS Ideas Lab

PLATO will research and discuss key policy issues for Europe with a vast group of policy stakeholders (photo: CEPS Ideas Lab 2015).

Training programme

PLATO offers an intensive and demanding programme of academic training as well as training in a range of professional skills, work experience from relevant sectors and individual professional career planning.

Researcher mobility

We offer

  • Transnational and cross-sectoral mobility
  • Preparing for a range of careers
  • State-of-the-art academic training
  • Transferrable skills training
  • Quality supervision
  • Individual career development

Transnational and cross-sectoral mobility is a key aspect of the network. The ESRs will spend parts of their PhD at another partner university and undertake a secondment at a training partner to gain first-hand experience from the policy-advice, consulting or civil society sectors. As such, PLATO's ESRs will be able to consolidate their intercultural and language skills at the same time as they develop their core competencies and enhance their professional development through the PhD schools.

A range of careers

Although academia has traditionally been the main career path for doctorates, an increasing number of PhDs are going into leading positions in other sectors. PLATO’s training programme is set up to enhance the ESRs’ career perspectives and employability across sectors. It is taught by a multidisciplinary faculty of leading scholars as well as professionals from think tanks and the consulting sector, non-governmental organisations and media.

Academic training

PLATO’s academic programme will draw on the research excellence of all of its nine university partners, which include some of the leading European scholars in the fields of study. ESRs will have exceptional access to academic resources and opportunities, including complementary competencies in research methodologies and disciplines available across the network.

PLATO will offer thematic and methodological courses at PhD schools in Berlin, Vienna, Cambridge and Twente. They will include workshops and courses dedicated to state-of-the-art academic training, with a focus on theory-building and legitimacy research from different disciplinary perspectives: political science, law, sociology (gender and communications), political economy, and public administration. ESRs will also have access to a wide range of PhD courses offered by all PLATO partner universities, and the possibility to tailor their academic training to their individual needs. The ESRs will be enrolled in the local PhD programmes of the recruiting university, and PLATO’s training will to the greatest possible extent be acknowledged as regular elements of their PhD degree.

From research to policy making and advice

PLATO’s consortium includes eleven training partners which will contribute to complementary training in a range of other professional skills through more practically oriented courses and giving the ESRs the opportunity to gain first-hand work experience from relevant sectors during a 4-week secondment.

Among PLATO’s partners are several leading European think tanks with a strong academic component, who are specialized in providing policy advice to decision makers (Bruegel, CEPS, Clingendael, Jacque Delors Institute, the Polish Institute of International Affairs and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs SWP). The network also includes a leading consulting firm for trade associations (Kellen) and non-governmental organisations promoting citizens’ rights, democracy initiatives, and civic participation in the EU decision-making process (European Citizen Action Service and Democracy International). These sectors rely on state-of-the-art political science research, and will provide the ESRs with an awareness of their needs and mindsets though network meetings, training modules and secondments. PLATO's group of training partners moreover includes the leading online daily news site on EU politics, EUobserver, and the career development organisation Vitae, who will assist the ESRs in their individual career planning.

Complementary training

PLATO’s PhD schools will offer training modules to develop a portfolio of expertise and competences: core professional skills (academic writing, publication strategy, teaching/presentation techniques, IPR and copyright), research leadership and entrepreneurship (funding, project management, networking), and dissemination (public engagement, policy recommendations). Each course will combine teaching with teamwork and exercises and bring in internal as well as external expertise.

Quality supervision

PLATO provides a quality framework for supervision with cross-institutional and cross-sectoral tuition and mentoring, supported by an overall structure of monitoring and quality control at network level. Each ESR will be supported by a supervisor, a co-supervisor at another partner university and a mentor from a training partner. In their third year, ESRs will spend three months at the academic institution of the co-supervisor, allowing also for closer cooperation with other PLATO ESRs at the same institution.

Individual career development

Each ESR will develop an individual career development plan with the professional help of PLATO’s partner Vitae, the global leader in the professional development of researchers. PLATO's ESRs will use the Researcher Development Framework (RDF), describing the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of successful researchers, which is an interactive way for researchers to manage their professional development.