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The Doctoral School at The Faculty of Humanities

Ministerial order, faculty rules and regulations

Ministerial Order on the PhD programme from 2013.

Regulations for PhD programmes at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Southern Denmark

In respect of the ministerial order from the Ministry for Higher Education and Science no. 1039 of the 27th August 2013 on PhD programmes at universities and certain institutions for further education in the arts (PhD ministerial order), the following supplementary provisions are laid down regarding PhD programmes and the acquisition of the PhD degree at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

The PhD ministerial order is an order relating to higher education, whose provisions are valid in all cases, regardless of the form of funding of the PhD programme.

§1     The PhD programme must take place at the faculty’s PhD school.

§2     The programme corresponds in extent to a 3-year full-time programme of study (180 ECTS).

§3     The PhD programme concludes with the submission and assessment of a dissertation and with a public defence, see section 14-29.

§4     Once the PhD plan has been satisfactorily completed and the dissertation and defence have been assessed, the Academic Council reach their decision as to the award of a PhD degree, see section 30.

§5     A PhD dissertation can be submitted without prior study, see section 31.

§6     The decision regarding admission to the Gradudate School is made by the head of the Graduate School on the basis of the reasoned request from the head of the department and after recommendations from representatives of the academic staff on the PhD Board.

Admission to the PhD programme is based on a Master’s degree or equivalent. Applicants are required to independently prepare a project description.

(2) The request by the head of the department should be supported with reference either to an expert committee’s assessment of an application for a grant or to an expert report (e.g. in relation to wholly or partial externally funded grants with named recipients). The assessment/report should provide the following: The applicant’s name and degree, the title of the project, a brief description of the project, the level and quality of the project, and the applicant’s academic potential for completing it. In addition, the head of department’s request should include suggestions for principal supervisor and for the research degree programme to which the project will be associated, and it should state any particular needs or conditions relating to the project. As regards externally funded grants, see separate regulations Practical information.

(3) With regard to admission after advice from the department, the PhD Board gives dispensation from parts of the study elements (participation in courses, teaching or other forms of presentation), if the applicant has provided documentation of activities in the area in question. The course element is recalculated in ECTS.

The PhD programme is normally arranged as a fulltime period of study but in particular circumstances it can be arranged as part-time study, if the request is founded on relevant considerations. A PhD programme taken part-time may as a rule last no longer than 6 years. The conditions applicable to part-time admission are established in an agreement between the PhD student, any external partners, and the department/Gradudate School.

(4) Due to the requirements for course participation and teaching, admission to a PhD programme usually takes place as of 1st February and 1st September.

§7     The principal supervisor is responsible for the PhD programme as a whole and must be employed by the faculty and attached to the Graduate School. The principal supervisor has a range of duties, see the provisions below.

(2) The principal supervisor is appointed by the Gradudate School after consultation with the head of the department. If agreed with the department, the head of the Graduate School can, either on his/her own account or on application from the PhD student, appoint other supervisors, who must be qualified in the relevant subject area, and can replace the principal supervisor or other supervisors.

(3) The principal supervisor must be a recognised active researcher at no less than associate professor or senior researcher level in the relevant subject area. This requirement does not apply to co-supervisors.

(4) It is a particular requirement for PhD students under the Industrial PhD programme that, in addition to the principal supervisor, the institution appoints a supervisor attached to the company where the PhD student is employed. This supervisor must be qualified in the relevant subject area.

(5) In cases where a PhD project is a sub-project in an externally funded overall project and where the head of the project receiving the grant is appointed as the principal supervisor for academic reasons, a co-supervisor from the department must be appointed.

(6) Supervisors employed by the faculty are required to take part in the Graduate School’s courses for academic supervisors and in the activities offered by SDU and/or the research course programmes.

§8     The PhD student must follow a carefully laid PhD plan, whose main element consists of the completion of a PhD dissertation. The plan is prepared by the PhD student in consultation with the supervisor.

(2) The PhD plan describes the independent piece of research that the student will carry out during the course of the programme’s three years and is assessed on and describes other activities that form part of the course. The PhD student cannot normally be asked to perform tasks that are not included in the PhD plan.

The PhD plan should include:

  • a description of the PhD project, which would normally build on the project description that was submitted with the application
  • a dissertation: monograph or anthology
  • the language of the dissertation
  • a schedule of the project and distribution of work over the coming semesters
  • an agreement regarding the form of the supervision, which indicates in detail the mutual expectations of the PhD student and the supervisor for the first year of the course
  • considerations regarding the change in study environment
  • plans for the teaching/communication part
  • any agreements regarding copyright, for example if the PhD programme is to be carried out in collaboration with several parties
  • a budget indicating whether the project involves greater expenditure than the normal grant (for example, programmes, expenses for transcription, student assistance, studies, field work, books, particularly expensive courses (e.g. language courses)
  • a budget that makes clear what concrete economic obligations the institution takes upon itself for the PhD student’s PhD course
  • the links to the research course programme (FUP) and course plan

If the anthology form is chosen, any expected or agreed co-authorships should be accounted for.

About the form of the supervision, please refer to the separate instructions here:

As regards the point about links to FUP, please refer to the separate description of the programmes’ activities here programme_structure

(3) The PhD plan should receive final approval not later than three months after the start of the PhD course.

(4) Dispensation given for parts of the PhD plan, subsection 6.3 must be included in the PhD plan.

(5) The PhD plan can subsequently be amended in one or more addenda to the plan in the event that the project’s development and initial results indicate such a need. The head of the Graduate School discusses possibilities and requirements for addenda with the PhD students at their evaluation meetings.

§9     The principal supervisor should submit and the head of the department endorse the PhD student’s PhD plan and subsequent addenda for the approval of the PhD Board.

Teaching and communication

§10     By the conclusion of the programme the PhD student should have acquired experience with teaching activity or some other form of communication.

(2) The principal supervisor should ensure that the activity of teaching or communication is – in a broad or narrow sense – related to the PhD student’s PhD project. If forms of communication other than teaching are to take the place of teaching, this should be approved by the head of the department, see subsection 6.3.

(3) PhD students without grants can be employed by the university to perform tasks described in section 10, but the university is not required to employ them.

(4) The teaching– and communication element is the remit of the head of the department, so its more precise form should be agreed with him/her. The Graduate School recommends that no communication tasks are programmed for the 5th and 6th semesters unless there are sound project-related reasons for so doing.


§11     The PhD programme must include courses or other similar teaching modules corresponding in total to 30 ECTS.

(2) The principal supervisor should ensure that the course of study follows the PhD plan and as part of the evaluation should submit the PhD student’s course activity for approval from the Graduate School, including the weight that each activity should have in the overall course total of 30 ECTS.

Change in study environment

§12     The aim of a making a change of study environment is to give PhD students the opportunity to form part of one or more active environments outside their own institution in order to extend their network, to take part in a broader range of academic activities, to enter into a broader dialogue about their project and to find new inspiration. In the planning of the change in study environment, high priority should be given to the relevance to the project, and insofar as this is compatible with a period of study abroad this should also be given high priority. The time frame and the aims of a change in study environment, which should typically lasts 3-6 months, should as far as possible be fixed in the PhD plan. The final plan for the change in study environment is worked out with the supervisor and sent in with the first annual evaluation for approval from the PhD Board.

§13     A total of three evaluations should be completed. The first two after 12 and 24 months respectively, whereupon the head of the Graduate School assesses whether the PhD student is following the PhD plan satisfactorily.

If, regardless of the evaluation deadlines, any supervisor ceases to believe that the work is progressing satisfactorily, they are to inform the Graduate School, and the head of the Graduate school can, following the necessary explanations, decide to bring the evaluation into effect.

(2) This assessment takes place against the background of an evaluation form and an interview held with the PhD student by the head of the Graduate School, sometimes with the participation of the principal supervisor.

To the evaluation interviews after the first and second years, the PhD student brings a statement of a real, detailed account of mutual expectations between the PhD student and the supervisor about the form supervision that will take during the year ahead.

The student sends the completed evaluation form to the head of the department for a signature/endorsement before it is passed on to the PhD administration. The principal supervisor is asked to send a thorough report on the status of the project in relation to the PhD plan to the PhD administration with a copy to the PhD student and the head of the department. During the following two weeks the PhD student can supply comments on the report. After this, an interview is arranged. Comments in writing on the principal supervisor’s report are brought to this interview.

If the project is running according to the PhD plan and intermediate aims have been fulfilled in respect of course participation and teaching – or if there are satisfactory explanations for why this has not happened – the head of the Graduate School will approve the evaluation at the end of the interview.

(3) If the head of the Graduate School concludes that the researcher’s study programme is not running satisfactorily, the PhD student is given a chance to right the situation within three months. This opportunity can only be given once during the entire PhD programme and must not lead to a prolongation of the total course. The PhD student has a deadline of eight days to respond to this offer. If the PhD student does not wish to accept this offer, s/he ceases to be enrolled at the university at the end of the month.

Immediately after the three months have elapsed, the principal supervisor sends a thorough report on the status of the project in relation to the revised PhD plan to the head of the Graduate School.

The head of the Graduate School sends the report to the PhD student, who has two weeks to submit any comments. The head of the Graduate School summons the principal supervisor and the PhD student to an interview. Based on the principal supervisor’s report, on any comments from the PhD student and on the course of the interview, the head of the Graduate School assesses whether enrolment should be continued or whether it should be concluded.

The decision is communicated to the PhD student immediately afterwards.

Any other potential place of employment is informed of the student’s deregistration.

(4) After the 5th semester a final evaluation is carried out consisting of two elements.

  1. The student and the principal supervisor are requested to send a report on the status of the PhD programme of study in relation to the PhD plan and to comment specifically on the time scale for the submission of the dissertation. These may take the form of individual or joint reports.

    In the event that it cannot be established that the submission of the PhD dissertation will take place immediately upon completion of the PhD programme (6th semester), a revised plan should be submitted as an addendum to the PhD plan, see subsection 8.5. In such circumstances the head of the Graduate School can summon the PhD student and the principal supervisor to a group interview. The aim of this addendum is to describe in detail and set a time frame for realistic intermediate aims with a view to completing and submitting the dissertation.

  2. At the same time an overview of registered activities in the PhD database is sent out for comment from the PhD student and the principal supervisor. The PhD student’s own memorandum of courses are to be compared with the overview of courses, teaching/communication and changes to study environment that have to date been approved and registered. Missing courses and courses attended by the student during the 5th semester are to be entered in the overview. All the course certificates for the whole PhD course are to be attached to the overview. The overview should be certified by the supervisor(s), the head of the department, and the PhD student.

§14     A PhD dissertation is a major academic production, which should demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct independent research through the use of the subject’s academic methods and to contribute to advancing research into the issue in question. It should be presented in a form and be at a level that corresponds to international standards for PhD degrees in the relevant subject area. In its length and level the dissertation should correspond to two years work (120 ECTS).

(2) A PhD dissertation can take the form of a monograph or an anthology. It should be clear from the PhD plan which form has been chosen for the project.

(3) If it takes the form of a monograph, the length of the dissertation is 250 pages -/+ 20 % pages of 2400 characters (including spaces) and is submitted both as a hard copy and as a pdf file.

(4) If the dissertation takes the form of an anthology, it should consist of 3-6 articles and a summary account. In choosing the anthology form, any expected or agreed co-authorships should be accounted for in the PhD plan. In addition, the student should be sole author of at least one article and principal author for at least one article. If this requirement cannot be fulfilled due to the particular traditions of the research environment, the grounds should be given separately in the PhD plan. The articles should be related in content and/or method and should be written with a view to publication in academic journals or the like. They do not need to have been submitted to a journal or accepted for publication.

For each article of which the student is not sole author, a co-authorship declaration should be provided from which the PhD student’s central research contribution should be evident.

The summary account describes the project’s overall research topic in the context of the articles, the theoretical basis and methods it has used (including reasons for the choice and method validation in relation to other competing approaches) and the results achieved. It should also provide a critical assessment of these results in relation to existing knowledge and of their future implications. The summary account has a recommended length of 30-80 pages. The length of the anthology dissertation, i.e. the articles and the summary account, is 125-250 pages of 2400 character (including spaces).

§15     The dissertation is accompanied by an abstract (recommended length 3-6 pages), in which an account is given of the academic results achieved. The abstract is written in Danish and in English.

§16     The dissertation is written in either Danish or English or, if special circumstances recommend it, in another foreign language. The choice of language should be given in the PhD plan. Regardless of the language chosen, the PhD student commits him/herself to composing the dissertation at an academic level that is linguistically correct.

§17     A PhD dissertation cannot be submitted for assessment by more than one author as a group. The research project behind the dissertation may well have been carried out in collaboration with others. If academic assistance, such as help with statistics, has been made use of in the course of the work, this should be indicated in the dissertation.

§18     Two months prior to the expected submission of the dissertation, the PhD student sends the completed form for the expected submission date and the dissertation’s title to the PhD secretariat. This provides the basis on which the department requests suggestions for the assessment committee. At the same time the principal supervisor is requested to provide a report on the course of study.

§19     The enrolment of the PhD student at the Graduate School is concluded with the submission of the dissertation.

§20     The dissertation is submitted in eight copies to the PhD secretariat, addressed to the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

(2) The copies of the dissertation submitted belong to the university. One is filed, one is forwarded to the University of Southern Denmark and can be made public with the permission of the student. The remainder are sent to the department and are distributed to the supervisor and the members of the assessment committee.

The dissertation is otherwise the property of the author and – apart from the requirement contained in these provisions that it should be made available in reasonable time prior to the defence – cannot be subject to loan, sale or other distribution without the author’s written consent.


§21      No later than at the conclusion of the PhD, the principal supervisor submits a comprehensive report on the PhD course as a whole, including the completion of the individual elements of the PhD plan, cf section 10-12.

(2) In the event that the supervisor recommends in his/her report that the PhD programme has not been satisfactorily completed, the PhD student has the opportunity to present comments on the principal supervisor’s report within a deadline of at least two weeks.

(3) On the basis of the principal supervisor’s report, of any comments by the PhD student and of the annual evaluation, the dean assesses whether the PhD programme as a whole has been satisfactorily completed. If this is the case, the assessment procedure is set in motion.

The assessment committee

§22     No later than at the submission of the dissertation, the dean appoints an assessment committee made up of experts based on suggestions from the PhD Board and the head of department.

(2) The assessment committee should consist of three members. Two of these should be external, and one of these should be from abroad unless this is inappropriate on academic grounds. The PhD student’s principal supervisor is appointed to the committee without voting rights but has a duty to take part in all phases of the committee’s work. Only recognised researchers in the relevant subject area can be proposed as members of the assessment committee. For PhD students under the Industrial PhD programme, at least one of the members of the assessment committee should have research experience relevant to the business within the subject area in question.

(3) The constitution of the assessment committee is communicated to the author, who has eight working days to make objection about its members.

(4) In the event of objection being raised by the PhD student, the dean reviews the case after having requested a report from the PhD committee and the head of the department.

The preliminary assessment

§23     Within two months of the submission of the dissertation the assessment committee should provide a reasoned recommendation as to whether the dissertation constitutes a sufficient basis for the award of a PhD degree. The month of July is excluded from the calculation of the two months. The recommendation is no more than five pages of 2400 characters in length (included spaces). As part of the recommendation, the assessment committee shall complete a half-page resumé in English if the main recommendation is in Danish. The report should contain an assessment of the dissertation and a conclusion indicating the degree to which the requirements of the ministerial order have been met. The principal supervisor’s report forms part of the assessment. If the committee are not unanimous, their recommendation should be based on a majority vote.

(2) If it does not occasion a delay in the defence, the assessment committee’s chairperson can permit a limited number of alterations or additions to the dissertation prior to or as part of the defence.

(3) If the dissertation is deemed unsuitable for defence, the recommendation should also include an assessment as to whether the dissertation can be resubmitted in a revised form within a deadline that should be at least three months.

(4) The preliminary assessment is sent to the author and the principal supervisor for comment.

(5) The author and the principal supervisor must have the opportunity of presenting comments on the preliminary assessment.

(6) The assessment committee’s report and any comments from the author and the principal supervisor will then form the basis for the dean’s decision

  • whether the defence can take place
  • whether the dissertation can be resubmitted in revised form within a deadline of at least three months. If the dissertation is resubmitted in revised form, it is assessed by the original assessment committee unless special circumstances arise.
  • whether the dissertation is to be submitted to a new assessment committee for assessment.

(7) If the defence cannot take place, the PhD student or author are informed as soon as possible that the dissertation cannot form the basis for a defence in its present form. The dissertation is returned.

The defence

§24     The PhD programme is concluded by a public defence, which consists of the following parts:

a. A presentation of the project of no more than 30 minutes duration.
b. An opposition from the external member of the assessment committee of no more than 30 minutes duration each, including the responses from the author.
c. The chair of the defence opens the discussion to the floor. A maximum of 30 minutes contribution from the public, including the author’s responses.
d. The assessment committee’s chairperson concludes the defence. Max. 30 minutes. The entire process must last no longer than three hours, including breaks.

§25     The assessment committee submits proposals for time and place for the public defence for the approval of the dean. The defence must take place at least two weeks after the assessment committee have made their recommendation. The defence should take place no later than three months after the submission of the dissertation. In extraordinary circumstances, the dean can decide that the defence should be postponed. Such a postponement is conditional upon an agreement having been reached between the author and the university, which would include the time when the defence would be held.

§26     In extraordinary circumstances the dean can decide, with the agreement of the author, that the planned defence can be conducted with the participation of only two members of the assessment committee.

§27     The assessment committee can indicate in writing no later than one week before the defence elements of the dissertation that the committee wish to discuss with the author.

§28     The dissertation must be available for interested parties at least 14 days before the defence.

Final recommendation

§29     After the defence has been held, the assessment committee submits a written recommendation to the dean regarding the award of the PhD degree. Grounds must be given for the recommendation and, if the committee are not unanimous, their recommendation should be based on a majority vote.

(2) If the assessment committee’s final recommendation is negative, the author is immediately informed. The dean can decide that the dissertation should be presented for assessment by a new assessment committee, if the author submits such a request within a deadline of at least one week.

(3) After a satisfactorily completed defence the final recommendation can take the form of additional comments to the preliminary recommendation to the effect that at the public defence the author has provided documentation that the requirements of the ministerial order section 3 have been met and that the assessment committee recommends that the PhD degree be awarded.

(4) If weakness or strengths in the dissertation that the committee judge have not been (sufficiently) recognised in the preliminary recommendation become evident at the defence, the committee must incorporate these new factors in their final recommendation.

(5) The author must have the opportunity to comment on the final recommendation within a deadline of at least eight working days, whereupon the committee submit their final recommendation to the Academic Council. The final recommendation of the assessment committee is sent to the author for his/her information.

The award of the degree

§30     Members of the assessment committee can summon a meeting of the Academic Council, at which the recommendation is addressed. The decision to award a PhD degree is made as soon as possible after the assessment committee have submitted their final recommendation. The PhD degree can be awarded if a recommendation to award a PhD degree is made by at least two of the members of the assessment committee .

§31     At the recommendation of a department and the head of the Graduate School, the dean can certify that a PhD dissertation can be accepted for assessment without the author having completed a PhD programme, if the author has acquired the qualifications by other means that can be regarded as equivalent.

(2) In exceptional circumstances, the dean can approve the submission of a PhD dissertation from someone who does not fulfil the requirements under subsection 6.1 on the admission of PhD students. This approval is conditional on a recommendation from the relevant department.

(3) The dean can permit a dissertation that is based on articles already published to be submitted as a PhD dissertation. If some of the published articles have been written in collaboration with others, a declaration should be appended from each stating their contribution to the work.

(4) The dean can permit that an author can submit a number of dissertations that are related in their field of study or method as a PhD dissertation. In such a case, these should be accompanied by a summary account.

§32     The dean can permit a dissertation written by a PhD student from a foreign institution of higher education to be accepted for assessment, if the PhD student has completed a period of study at the Danish institution as part of a mutually binding cooperation agreement on PhD programmes, including assessment, defence, and issue of degree award and if the institution judges that the PhD student has acquired qualifications that can be regarded as equivalent to a Danish PhD programme.
§33     Admission on the basis of a collaboration on double or joint degrees can take place against the background of a framework agreement between the department and the partner institution. An individual agreement is also made between partners concerning the contents of an individual PhD student’s PhD programme. The PhD plan is shaped on the basis of this agreement.

§34     Based on the decision of the Academic Council regarding the award of the PhD degree, the university issues a certificate in both Danish and English. The certificate states the subject of the dissertation and outlines

a) which courses the PhD student has completed
b) which teaching or communication duties s/he has undertaken
c) whether the PhD student has spent time during the research programme at other institutions of higher education, companies etc. at home or abroad.

(2) PhD students who are not awarded a PhD degree can, if requested, be issued with documentation both in Danish and in English for those parts of their PhD programme that have been satisfactorily completed.

§35     The university can make dispensation from rules laid down by the university.

§36     These regulations come into force on 1st September 2015 and replace previous regulations most recently revised in September 2012.

§37     PhD students being enrolled before 1st September 2015 will complete their study due to the General Rules most recently revised September 2012.

The Doctoral School at The Faculty of Humanities

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Last Updated 17.08.2023