For the successful completion of the yDiv research training programme, each doctoral researcher needs to complete 12 credit points (CP) following the yDiv curriculum. A minimum of 10 CP must be gained from courses and a minimum of 2 CP from activities (see table below). The yDiv credit point system follows the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), where each credit point (CP) is equivalent to approximately 25-30 h workload, including contact hours and personal study.

yDiv offers a variety of biodiversity courses that are thematically grouped under one or several of the four research areas of iDiv:

  • Patterns
  • Processes
  • Functions
  • Biodiversity and Society

yDiv courses aim to bridge different levels of biodiversity research, from theory to applied aspects of nature conservation.They are typically organised as a result of collaborative effort between different groups and scientists, and they commonly include field work or laboratory work in the form of a „hands-on“ component.

yDiv doctoral researchers are strongly encouraged to participate in the workshops offered by sDiv, the Synthesis Centre of iDiv. 2 CP can be gained for active participation. You can apply by sending a short, informal application (including a summary about your PhD project and why you would benefit from participation in the workshop) to the sDiv and yDiv coordination.

yDiv also runs several courses that have a more methodological focus. These courses are built to provide insight into techniques particularly designed for biodiversity research. The Bioinformatics Unit (BIU) and the Biodiversity Informatics Unit (BDU) of iDiv both organise annual training for yDiv doctoral researchers.   

Transferable/professional skills courses complement the course offers at of the graduate academies. The purpose of this part of the curriculum is to strengthen the professional and interpersonal skills of the doctoral researchers and prepare them for their future career. Typical topics within the transferable skills include career development, presentation skills, networking, leadership and time management.

Only two courses are mandatory for yDiv doctoral researchers (Introduction to integrative biodiversity science at iDiv and Good scientific practice). All other courses are elective, however note that a minimum of 1 CP must be gained from transferable skills courses, and that one single course can count for a maximum of 5 CP. Note that those yDiv doctoral researchers who have started before 2016 can compensate the 2 CP of mandatory courses with elective courses.

The flexibility of yDiv curriculum and the wide selection of courses within yDiv and at its partner institutions allows the doctoral researchers to tailor their training so that it best serves the completion of their scientific project and the development of their professional skills.

yDiv curriculum requirements valid from June 2015

Curricular element

ECTS credits

Minimum ECTS




Mandatory courses

• Introduction to integrative biodiversity science at iDiv



• Good scientific practice



Elective courses

• Biodiversity courses themed around the four iDiv research areas: patterns, processes, functions, biodiversity and society

0.5-2 per course


• Methodological courses

0.5-2 per course


• Participation in an sDiv workshop



• Transferrable skills courses

0.25-1 per course





• Acting as elected PhD representative at the yDiv board or the iDiv council



• Acting as peer support (tutor) to new doctoral researchers

Up to 1


• Acting as teaching assistant/assisting the supervision of B.Sc. or M.Sc. research projects

Up to 1


• Organising events at yDiv/iDiv

Depending on hours


• Participation in the iDiv scientific events (excluding meetings of own lab group): for example scientific retreat, joint journal clubs, scientific visits etc.

Depending on hours


• Scientific outreach activities

Up to 1


• Participation in the yDiv retreat

0.5 (for 2 retreats)


• Participation in 10 seminar series talks & writing a brief summary (see guidelines from yDiv webpage)



Total minimum



1CP = 25-30 h

Example: completing the yDiv curriculum requirements

Read here how Ms A, our exemplary doctoral researcher, completes the yDiv curriculum requirements:

Ms A, a doctoral researcher, joins yDiv, and completes the two mandatory courses on her first year after joining (1,5 CP). At her first PAC meeting, she discusses and agrees a plan of the courses and training that best support her progress.

The PAC agrees that Ms A will need to improve her skills in R programming to successfully complete her research project, so she takes the yDiv course „Programming with R in ecology“ (1 CP). During the first year, she also completes a one-day professional skills course on time management (0.25 CP) and a one-day course on presentation skills at HIGRADE (equivalent to 0.25 CP). She gets a post-doc mentor via yDiv to help her further with the R packages she needs to use.

During her second year, she helps to organise the yDiv scientific symposium, participates in the iDiv scientific retreat, and helps to organise two visits of international researchers (1 CP based on 30 hours). She participates in a two-week summer school in Copenhagen, bringing back the certificate to the yDiv coordination, and gets 3 CP registered under elective courses. At yDiv, she takes a course on Meta-study techniques on her second year (2 CP). She also takes a three-day course on image processing analysis at the Research Academy Leipzig (0.5 CP).

She participates in the yDiv retreat on all of her three years she spends at iDiv (0.5 CP maximum). She also participates in all iDiv seminar series talks that are of interest to her. On her third year, she submits a summary of the 10 most important talks to yDiv coordination and gains 1 CP. She also attends a yDiv course on Science-policy interface (1 CP), and during her last year, attends an sDiv workshop (2 CP). Although she does not need any more credit points towards her yDiv certificate, she decides to attend yDiv training provided on leadership skills and supervision (0.5 CP). She also helps to organise the iDiv summerfest, and takes part in several cross-working group journal club meetings (0.5 CP).

When graduating, Dr. A gets a certificate and a detailed transcript from yDiv, stating all the courses and activities she has undertaken (including presentations/posters at the yDiv scientific symposia and attendance to the themed retreats). Her future employer appreciates the extra training she has got, and her ability to organise and take initiative. She joins the group of yDiv alumni and during the following years, she participates in the yDiv curriculum as an invited speaker.

Share this site on:
iDiv is a research centre of theDFG Logo