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The Doctoral School at The Faculty of Humanities

Are you a PhD student?

Find information about your PhD programme here

"Are you a PhD student?" is your informational universe and catalogue for all questions you might have about your PhD programme.

Practical information

Getting an overview: A Comprehensive Guidebook

Welcome to the Doctoral School at the Faculty of Humanities!  As a PhD student, you are affiliated with different units at the University. Both you and the units have different roles and responsibilities, so here is an overview of everything.

The Doctoral School

... consists of students, supervisors, research units, administration and management.

In addition:

Coach: Nina Nørgaard ( / 6550 2196)

Task allocation in keywords

PhD student:
  • is employed at the department (or associated with the department through contract)
  • is enrolled in the Doctoral School
  • is affiliated with a research unit
  • prepares a PhD plan
  • participates in courses yielding a total of 30 ECTS
  • disseminates their research
  • conducts a change of research environment
  • is regularly evaluated and updates their study activities on the PhD web
  • writes a dissertation (monographic/anthological; Danish/English/?)
  • is responsible for the overall PhD training programme
  • provides project-specific supervision and academic discussions
  • assists in the preparation of the PhD plan  
  • provides reports in connection with mid-term evaluations
  • provides a report about the overall programme at the end of the research training programme
  • takes an active role in course selection, dissemination and change of research environment, including recommendation regarding the use of travel funds, etc.
  • is an delegate member of the assessment committee without voting rights
The Head of the Doctoral School:
  • is typically also elected chair of the PhD Committee
  • is a automatic member of the rector’s PhD council
  • enrols new PhD students 
  • appoints supervisors on the recommendation of the head of department
  • evaluates students (after 2nd, 4th and 5th semesters)
  • offers possibilities for confidential conversations
  • evaluates the School’s activities
  • provides recommendations to the dean on the follow-up of overall evaluations
  • manages the finances of the organisation of courses
  • is responsible for offering generic courses
  • represents the School externally in national and international collaborations
PhD Committee:
  • (academic staff group) advises the head of the Doctoral School on enrolment of new PhD students
  • approves courses and ECTS credits
  • processes applications for exemption
  • advises the head of the Doctoral School on PhD plans/revision of PhD plans
  • recommends the head of department’s proposal for the assessment committee for approval by the dean
Head of Department:
  • prepares job advertisements
  • recommends enrolment and obtains approval of possibility for enrolment for qualified applicants/candidates from the head of the Doctoral School
  • employs the PhD student
  • is responsible for staff management
  • organises individual and group performance and development reviews
  • recommends supervisor/change of supervisor for approval by the head of the Doctoral School
  • approves the PhD plan and subsequent additions/changes
  • is responsible for the concrete realisation of the dissemination dimension
  • approves the use of the reserved annual grant according to the supervisor’s recommendation
  • approves evaluation forms
  • submits proposals for committees for the assessment of submitted PhD dissertations
  • conducts the dissertation defence on behalf of the dean
Head of research
  • PhD students are affiliated with their unit
  • is the link between the Doctoral School and the department:
  • plans and organises subject-specific courses and activities in relation to the relevant academic environments
  • is responsible for the PhD students’ optimal affiliation with relevant research environments and research groups in cooperation with the supervisor
  • manages part of the academic environment for the affiliated PhD students
  • collaborates with academic colleagues on a national level


Department of Design, Media and Educational Sciences (IDMU)
Head of Department: Marianne Wolff Lundholt (, + 45 6550 1339

Department of Culture and Language (IKS)
Head of Department: Per Krogh Hansen (, +45 6550 1451

PhD plan

Guidance for the PhD Plan

Within three months of starting your studies, your PhD plan must be approved. It will be summoned through a digital form on PhDweb.

The PhD plan ensures that the PhD student, in consultation with the supervisor, carefully considers and formulates the purpose, content, and timetable of the study. The plan is the basis for the Head of the Doctoral School’s assessment of whether it is a realistically and sensibly planned study of sufficient academic quality. It forms the basis for the regular evaluations crucial for the continuation of the study throughout the study period. At the end of the PhD programme, the PhD plan enables an assessment of whether the education has been satisfactorily completed and whether the achieved result is in line with the planned progression.

The PhD plan must therefore include:
  • A description of the PhD project, usually building on the project description submitted with the application.
  • The form of the thesis: monograph or anthology (if an anthology, specify any co-authorships).
  • The language of the thesis (Danish or English; specific reasons must be provided for any other language).
  • A project timetable and the distribution of work over the coming semesters (the last two semesters should, as far as possible, be reserved for thesis work).
  • An indication of the form of supervision for the first year based on an alignment of expectations between the PhD student and the supervisor.
  • Considerations regarding environmental changes. A final plan must be available no later than the 1st-year evaluation.
  • Plans for the dissemination part (which should occur within the first four semesters). The plan can be conveniently presented in table form and should be as detailed as possible. For example, it's a good idea to specify titles of planned courses and estimated hours according to the applicable agreement.
  • Any agreements on copyright, e.g., if the PhD programme is carried out in collaboration with multiple parties.
  • A budget indicating how the basic fund (30,000 DKK) is expected to be used. Specify the amounts estimated for courses and environmental changes. Also, indicate if the project involves higher expenses than the normal allocation (especially for travel, special equipment, licenses, data collection, etc.) and how this is expected to be financed. Many can simply state that they will use their basic fund for travel in connection with courses, conferences, and environmental changes and that they will seek funding for any additional needs.
  • Affiliation with a research unit.

If changes to the PhD plan are needed after approval, you must submit an addendum to the Head of the Doctoral School. Changes in courses and environmental change do not require an addendum. Substantial changes in dissemination activities require an addendum. An addendum must be approved by your supervisor, the Vice Head of the Department, and the Head of the Doctoral School. You can submit your addendum for approval by starting the form “Approval of an addendum to the PhD plan” on PhD web.

From February 2008, revised September 2023

Alignment of expectations regarding supervision

The PhD plan should include a separate section on the form of supervision, detailing the alignment of expectations between the supervisor and the PhD student regarding supervision in the first year of the process.

Expectation alignment for subsequent years occurs as part of your 1st-year, 2nd-year, and 5th-semester evaluations. The explanation should specify how the supervision will be concretely implemented:

  • Meeting frequency
  • Meeting type (online/physical)
  • Meeting structure (agenda, minutes, loosely structured, etc.)
  • Supervisor availability between meetings (phone, email, drop-in, etc.)
  • The supervisor’s deadline for responding to written material
  • The amount of written material the supervisor has to address
  • Contact during supervisor’s or PhD student’s stay abroad
  • Other expectations that the PhD student and supervisor may have of each other during the supervision process.

The Doctoral School recognizes that needs and supervision processes can vary widely. However, PhD students and supervisors must ensure a real and detailed expectation alignment to avoid misunderstandings and disappointed expectations.


Along with your principal supervisor, you as a PhD fellow must prepare three evaluations of the course of study during your programme. The evaluation is a report of the tasks that you as a PhD fellow have to fulfil, such as course activities, dissemination, change of environment and written work, but it must also inform the head of department about the status of the project. The first evaluation must be approved after the second semester, the second after the fourth semester and the final evaluation after the fifth semester. After the sixth semester, the principal supervisor submits an evaluation of whether the overall PhD programme has been completed satisfactorily.

The regular evaluations of the PhD programme are organised to comply with the provision in section 10 of the attached PhD Executive Order of 27 August 2013.

All evaluations are summoned as a digital form via PhDweb. All study activities (course activities, communication activities, change of environment) must be continuously updated on the same platform.

First-year evaluation

The first evaluation is summoned one year after enrolment and consists of a digital form available via PhDweb, which is to be completed by both you and your principal supervisor. You will subsequently be invited to an interview with the head of the doctoral school. 

The digital form contains the following tasks:

  • You must upload your approved PhD plan 
  • Along with your principal supervisor, describe the status of the joint supervision agreements
  • Your principal supervisor must write a detailed account of the project’s status in relation to your PhD plan. The principal supervisor must also describe the quality of your written work so far.

Your PhD plan forms the basis for the interview and the digital form. Therefore, it is important that you keep your study activities updated on PhDweb so that each evaluation is based on the most current study activities.

After the first year of study, you are expected to have accumulated 10–15 ECTS credits and have fulfilled part of your communication obligation. There must also be concrete plans for a change of environment.

If the project is progressing according to the PhD plan and you have met the expected sub-goals in terms of course participation and dissemination, the head of the doctoral school will approve the evaluation at the end of the interview. If there is any uncertainty about whether your project is progressing according to plan, both you and your principal supervisor will be invited to a meeting with the head of the doctoral school.

Second-year evaluation

Your second-year evaluation will be organised in the same way as your first-year evaluation. After the second year of study, you are expected to have accumulated 25–30 ECTS credits and completed the majority of your communication activities. Usually, the change of environment will also be completed after the second year.

Fifth-semester evaluation

Your fifth-semester evaluation will also be summoned as a digital form on PhDweb.

The digital form contains the following tasks:

  • You must upload your approved PhD plan 
  • In collaboration with your principal supervisor, you must write a detailed account of the project’s status in relation to your PhD plan and the time frame for submission of your thesis

The form is then automatically sent for approval to your principal supervisor, the head of department and the head of the doctoral school. If your report shows that your PhD thesis cannot be submitted on time, you will both be invited to a meeting with the head of the doctoral school to work out a plan for submission. 

The course activities, dissemination obligation and the change of environment are expected to have been completed at this time. However, ECTS credits earned after this must be registered on PhDweb if you have not yet earned 30 ECTS credits at that time. However, this requires separate approval from the supervisor, department and head of the doctoral school. Course activities must be listed in Danish and English, as exam certificates and the course insert must be prepared in both languages. 

ECTS in the PhD programme at the Doctoral School at the Faculty of Humanities at SDU 

According to the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme, during their study programme PhD students must complete courses equivalent to 30 ECTS credits. The 30 ECTS credits are obtained by participating in:

  • Advertised courses offered to PhD students primarily under the auspices of our own or other doctoral schools and where course certificates are issued with ECTS weighting.
  • Activities that yield ECTS credits, which directly support the project in question and/or prepare the PhD student for a career in research (e.g. study circles, master classes, conference participation, trial defence, (co-)organisation of courses, symposia and conferences). As a rule, ECTS are not awarded for regular ongoing participation in the research group.

Advertised courses are either generic or specialised. Generic courses are typically offered centrally by the doctoral school or SDU HR, while subject-specific courses can be offered by the research groups.

There are two mandatory generic courses: the welcome session and Responsible Conduct of Research. You will be invited to the welcome session by the doctoral school administration immediately after you start your studies. You must register for Responsible Conduct of Research, which you can find on our course page. ECTS-yielding activities are also offered by the research groups or agreed directly with your supervisor.

We encourage you to aim for 15–20 ECTS from advertised courses and 10–15 ECTS credits in other ECTS-yielding activities. However, the needs of PhD students can vary, so there are no specific rules on how to distribute the ECTS value of your activities. Courses and activities are listed in a course insert in the final PhD diploma.

Registration of course activities

You must continuously register your course activities on PhDweb and upload your course certificates with the registrations. If your course activity has not resulted in a course certificate, you must start the form ‘ECTS-giving activities’ in PhDweb and subsequently upload the approved form together with your registered activity.

An activity (e.g. conference participation with a paper) cannot both count as dissemination and yield ECTS credits. Teaching is calculated in total hours for preparation and teaching hours. Remember to check your standard agreement on SDUnet to see the applicable rules for preparation time, working hours per scheduled hour, etc. It is possible to earn ECTS credits in connection with courses and activities during changes of environment – as always, in agreement with your supervisor.

Change of research environment

In section 7(3) of the PhD programme executive order, there is a requirement that during the course of study a change of environment should be carried out, primarily abroad. The requirement is not quantified. Section 12 of the Faculty’s code of practice states in more detail:

‘The change of environment aims to provide the student with the opportunity to engage in one or more active environments outside their own institution, thereby expanding their network, participating in a broader range of professional activities, engaging in an extended dialogue about their project, and finding new inspiration.

2) In the planning of the change of environment, project relevance should be prioritized, and to the extent compatible with international stays, this should also be given high priority.
3) The change of environment should have a total duration of at least 3 months (13 weeks) and, as far as possible, should be scheduled and targeted in the PhD plan.
4) The final plan for the change of environment is developed in collaboration with the supervisor and must be submitted no later than in connection with the 1st-year evaluation.
5) Dispensation from the requirement for a change of environment can only be granted under exceptional circumstances.

Your stays abroad do not necessarily have to be an uninterrupted period of 3–6 months if personal or work-related commitments or challenges make it impossible. The PhD Board is therefore fairly pragmatic with regard to how the change of environment is undertaken, as long as the purpose is achieved. For instance, the change of environment could consist of several separate stays over the three years of study with a duration of as little as one week (e.g. a conference), as long as the total amounts to at least 13 weeks.

When studying abroad, it is important that the change of environment is organised as informally as possible, so that you as a PhD fellow are perceived as an independent ‘visiting scholar’ rather than a student. In Denmark – unlike most other places in the world – PhD students are not ‘just’ students but also colleagues employed under a collective labour agreement. Typically, the change of environment can be arranged informally through the supervisor’s or other colleagues’ networks. The doctoral school does not require documentation for the stay and recommends that students avoid enrolment or any other formal affiliation at the international university (which will typically trigger tuition fees or other payments). Therefore, you are also encouraged to bring your own computer and other equipment and to make use of shared study spaces rather than requesting your own office. The only specific wish of the doctoral school is for you to gain insight into a different research environment, including having the opportunity to participate in research activities such as research group meetings, guest lectures, study circles, etc. and to discuss your project with one or more fellow researchers.

During the stay, you have the opportunity to earn ECTS credits for your course activities by participating in courses, conferences and ECTS-yielding activities.

The PhD Board cannot issue dispensation from the requirement of change of environment as it is a ministerial order requirement, but in special cases dispensation can be granted from the Faculty’s requirements if exceptional circumstances are present. If you wish to apply for an exception, please start the form “Dispensation change of environment” at the PhD Web.

All students in the doctoral school each have a basic pool of DKK 30,000 to cover travelling costs for courses at other universities, national and international conferences and changes of environment. All travel is agreed and settled at the department in accordance with current practice at the relevant secretariat.

Buddy system

Each year, buddies are appointed for the new PhD fellows. A buddy is a PhD fellow who has attended the doctoral school for at least one semester.


A buddy is tasked with promoting the academic social environment among PhD students in a research training programme and preferably also across programmes and to this end can initiate lunch or coffee and cake meetings at the expense of the doctoral school. Buddy meetings are a study environment-promoting activity organised by the doctoral school without a formal agenda and minutes but with an overall annual evaluation by the PhD Board. The purpose of the buddy scheme is to give PhD students the opportunity to informally exchange experiences and discuss issues related to their course of study. A buddy can also organise themed meetings, with possible guest appearances, such as a supervisor, a head of programme, the coach or the head of the doctoral school. There are no specific rules for frequency of meetings, but 2–4 times per semester will go a long way towards meeting the goal. Catering at buddy meetings is spartan, e.g. one sandwich and bottle of water per participant or coffee and cake. The catering is collected from the canteen (no electronic orders) and paid with a requisition available from Martin Lund in the Faculty administration ( 3117). After the event, a list with the names of the participants is handed over to Martin. Any questions about the scheme should be directed to the head of the doctoral school.


A staff psychologist is affiliated with SDU, and contact information can be found on SDUnet. PhD students at the Faculty can receive coaching from a Faculty member.

Coaching can benefit both PhD students who are stuck in the writing process and PhDs who want to work on their strengths and weaknesses and optimise their motivation in the work process.

Coaching is a clarification process that uses targeted questions to help you uncover a given issue and find achievable solutions and realistic goals.

Coaching should not be confused with the academic guidance provided by the PhD supervisor. A coach does not provide advice or academic input unless you ask for it. Instead, the coach acts as a catalyst for your self-reflection.

A coaching programme consists of a series of individual interviews. The duration of a coaching programme is based on the individual PhD student’s needs and typically extends over 1–6 meetings of approximately 60–90 minutes.

Nina Nørgaard on coaching:

‘In my coaching of PhD students, recurring topics have been temporary work process issues, writer’s block, time prioritisation, structuring the working day, stress, planning, focus, motivation, work-life balance, teaching and supervision challenges, personal and academic insecurities and the need to find new ways out of being stuck. You decide what the focus of your coaching programme should be.

Nina Nørgaard, Coach for ph.d.-studerende på Humaniora, SDU

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, you’re very welcome to contact me.’

PhD coaching is confidential and free of charge.

Nina Nørgaard
Associate Professor, PhD, Certified Coach
Department of Language, Culture, History and Communication
University of Southern Denmark, Odense
Tel.: 6550 2196
Office: Ø11-303b-2 

The Doctoral School at The Faculty of Humanities

  • Campusvej 55
  • Odense M - DK-5230

Last Updated 27.06.2024