The structure of the programme follows Bologna recommendations achieving a balance between four important aspects:
- improvement of the knowledge and skills in the main study topics;
- acquisition of a basic common set of knowledge and skills in the PASC domain;
- flexibility, in order to accommodate the student's interests and profile;
- opportunity to acquire a set of transferable skills which boost research performance and career opportunities.
The programme will be lectured by the universities involved (Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade do Porto, Universidade do Minho, Universidade de Évora, FCUL, IST) in a flexible way that includes formal local courses, video-conference classes among the institutions and a yearly IDPASC school devoted to the basic formation program. The pool of courses offered to students is the sum of all courses offered at all the participant institutions. This intrinsically optimises the use of the resources, disseminating through all the institutions in the programme the expertise existing at each of them. The courses taken by the student at other participant institutions will be according to his curriculum recognised by the university where he/she is enrolled. If a student needs to take a course at a different institution and a solution for local presence cannot be found, video-conference attendance must be ensured.
The available courses can be divided in four main areas:
- Particle and astroparticle physics;
- Astrophysics, gravitation and cosmology;
- PASC-related techniques and technologies;
- Transferable skills.
Area (I) includes quantum field theory, electroweak model, strong interactions and hadron physics, neutrino physics, among others; area (II) includes for example gravitation, astrophysical objects, Big Bang cosmology, solar physics and space weather; area (III) covers a wide set of courses corresponding to the technical expertise of the participant research groups such as advanced computing (for example advanced programming and extensive computing), data mining and data storage, particle detectors, optics, electronics and data acquisition systems, telescope and satellite infrastructures. Area (IV) gathers the transferable skill component including tools and techniques shared with other sciences, science management and communication.
The curriculum of each student will be set by the student with the support of his/her supervisor and approved by the IDPASC Programme Board (PB) and the university PhD coordinator. The following rules hold:
- Students must choose, from the pool of courses offered by all participant institutions, 4 subjects which must belong to at least 2 different areas (I) to (III) indicated above;
- First year students must attend the 2-week IDPASC school, held once per year and covering core PASC subjects (particles, astrophysics and cosmology; theory, observations and experiments). The school program, location and dates will be agreed upon by the PB each year. Preparatory materials will be available before the school. After the school, proceedings or slides will become available for future students. The school will be open to other students, in particular to international IDPASC network students;
- PASC seminars, and seminars of general relevance, will be organized in all participant institutions and can be attended locally or via video-conference;
- Every year, a workshop will be held where second, third and fourth year students will show their work to the community in oral presentations. The workshops are mandatory for all students and have the goals of monitoring their progress and providing additional guidance;
- A meaningful transferable skill component will be present in the program of the IDPASC schools, general seminars and courses.