Skills for Supervising Bachelor and Master Theses

Thesis-Supervision Skills: The Solution-Focused Approach

Course Information

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2019,
    9:00 AM till 5:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 24, 2019,
    9:00 AM till 5:00 PM
  • Registration Opens
    August 7, 2019, 9:00 AM
    Registration Deadline
    September 23, 2019
    Course Fees
    This course is free of charge and for doctoral candidates of the University of Basel only (min. 6, max. 20 participants).
    Dr. Oliver Schürmann
    Organized by

    Graduate Center
    Transferable Skills
    GRACE Homepage


    Supervising students in writing a thesis takes up a large part of academic work and comes with important responsibilities. A functioning communication between supervisor and student can make the difference in the students’ experience, quality of the thesis and motivation. For the supervisor, successful communication can reduce workload, increase satisfaction and joy when working with the student and enhance the focus on the benefit of collaborative research practices. In this prototypical course, participants get introduced to the solution-focused approach and learn some basic skills when advising students in writing their theses.

    Participants who complete the course will
    • know and experience the process of solution-focused dialogue
    • understand the value of resource-focus in thesis supervision
    • harness individual supervising skills and build their unique platform to develop a personal style of supervision
    • develop their own style of giving useful feedback and constructively deal with challenging situations


    Day 1
    Introduction and structure of the workshop
    Platform-building with resource focus
    Introduction to solution focused dialogue
    Practical applications
    Theoretical context

    Day 2
    Giving constructive feedback
    Dealing with challenging situations
    Case-sharing and discussion
    Future development steps


    The methods are based on the basic principles of solution-focused coaching, which has its roots in solution-focused brief therapy (de Shazer, Berg, and others). After short introductions, we train coaching skills using participative exercises in groups with short recap sessions. In this way, participants experience the usefulness of solution focused coaching questions from the perspective of a coach and a coachee. On day two we tap into theories of self-management, feedback-giving and non-violent communication.

    Target Group

    Doctoral Candidates & Postdocs

    About the Trainer

    Oliver works both in academia and private institutions as a coach, trainer and researcher. He holds a doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Basel and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, with a focus on cognitive underpinnings of judgment and decision-making processes. He has worked as teacher and trainer in various disciplines including music, academia and public schools. Oliver is currently employed as scientific consultant and coach for collaborative communication at the Istituto Marco Ronzani and as a scientific researcher at the Chair for Cognitive Science at the ETH in Zürich. Oliver combines his experience as coach and teacher with his background in cognitive science to provide a wide set of skills for supervising, coaching and mentoring students in different fields and settings.


    18 h
    Preliminary work: ~2 h
    Workshop: 16 h
    Follow up coaching and recap: 2


    Registrations will be processed according on a “first come, first served” principle. The course registration will be confirmed by email. The registration to a course makes the participation in the full training mandatory. For this workshop unexcused absence and cancellation of the workshop after the registration deadline leads to a penalty fee of CHF 30.00. (send an email to Please find the detailed regulations on the Transferable Skills Homepage.


    Universitätsbibliothek Basel, GRACE room 306 (3rd floor) Schönbeinstrasse 18-20, 4056 Basel

    to top