This article presents a 10-year experience of soft and transferable skills acquisition through the involvement of PhD students in the organization of an international conference. Soft and transferable skills acquisition is currently perceived as a core component of doctoral studies. Examples include writing and communication, teamwork, time management, leadership, resource management, negotiation, problem solving, listening, planning, entrepreneurial spirit, mastering ethics awareness, etc. The need for such skills is due to the leading role that doctoral students are expected to play in society. As such, various organizations have issued recommendations for doctoral programs to include a formal component of soft skills training. In this article, an effective way of introducing soft and transferable skills acquisition in doctoral engineering education is introduced. Namely, a form of collaborative project-based learning is designed as a compulsory course. This includes a set of base lectures, a long period of parallel working groups focusing on the various aspects of organizing an international conference, running the actual conference, and performing a post-conference assessment. Results and lessons learned demonstrate the validity and effectiveness of the proposed approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number235
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2020


  • Doctoral conference
  • Doctoral education
  • Group work
  • Project-based learning
  • Soft skills


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