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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

The big overview: Junior woodchuck handbook


Diagram of your role as PhD student at SDU


The doctoral school

... comprises students, supervisors, programmes, administration and the head of school


Course Council: The head of School and the heads of the doctoral programmes
PhD Coach: Nina Nørgaard ( / 6550 2196)

Who does what?

The PhD Student:

• is employed by (or contractually related to) the department
• is at the same time enrolled as a student at the Doctoral School in a
doctoral programme (FUP)
• must submit a PhD plan
• must attend courses totalling 30 ECTS
• must gain experience in teaching activities or other forms of knowledge
• must join one or more other (usually foreign) research institutions for
three to six months
• is regularly assessed
• must write a dissertation (in the form of a monograph or an anthology)

The supervisor:

• is responsible to the Doctoral School for the student fulfilling all study
• offers project-specific supervision and general academic advice
• assists the student in the preparation of the PhD plan and submits it for
approval by the PhD Board when completed by the student and signed
by the Head of Department
• submits detailed progress reports to the PhD administration in
connection with the stipulated progress assessments
• is actively involved in the student's choice of coursework and change of
research environment
• is actively involved in determining the nature of the student’s
teaching/knowledge dissemination tasks (to be approved by the Head of
• recommends for the approval by the Head of Department the student's
use of allocated funds (e.g. travel money)
• submits a detailed final statement about the student's overall
progression, including his or her fulfilment of the PhD plan, to be
included in the assessment of the dissertation
• assists without voting rights the committee appointed to assess the

The Head of the Doctoral School:

• is usually also elected chairman of the PhD Board
• enrols new PhD students on the recommendation of the PhD Board
• appoints supervisors on the recommendation of the Head of Department
• appoints Heads of Doctoral Programmes on the recommendation of the
relevant Head(s) of Department
• assesses student progress (after the 2nd, 4th and 5th semester) and in
that connection conducts interviews with the students assessed
• is available to students and supervisors for 'off-the-record' trouble
• is chairman of the Course Council
• is responsible for evaluating all school activities
• submits to approval by the Dean recommendations on any actions to be
taken subsequent to general evaluations of school activities
• is responsible for the economy of the Doctoral School, including the
running of courses in the doctoral programmes
• is responsible for the Doctoral School offering 'generic' courses (as a
supplement to the courses offered within the framework of the doctoral
• represents the Doctoral School in national and international contexts

The PhD Board:

• (the VIP group) submits for approval by the Head of the Doctoral
School recommendations regarding enrolment of new PhD students
• approves PhD plans (and revisions of / addenda to PhD plans)
• evaluates and approves the content and the ECTS rating of all
• recommends to the Dean’s approval a competent assessment committee
suggested by the Head of Department for the evaluation of the
• deals with all applications for dispensation

The Head of Department:

• advertises PhD scholarships/positions
• recommends enrolment and consults the permanent staff members of
the PhD Board and the Head of the Doctoral School on whether
qualified applicants/candidates are eligible for enrolment in the
Doctoral School
• employs the candidate selected as a member of staff
• holds employer responsibilities
• conducts regular employee interviews
• nominates PhD supervisors for approval by the Head of the Doctoral
• co-signs the PhD plan (and later addenda) before submission to the PhD
• assigns teaching and knowledge dissemination tasks to the PhD student
signs the evaluation forms filled in by the PhD student in connection
with progress assessment
• submits to the PhD Board a recommendation on the composition of
committees for assessing dissertations
• approves PhD student expenses on the recommendation of the
• is responsible for organising the oral defence

The Head of the Doctoral Programme:
• receives new PhD students as members of their programme and
secures optimal integration in relevant research environments and
research teams
• is responsible for offering relevant courses and launch research
activities within the framework of their specific programme
• is a member of the Course Council
• cooperates with related Doctoral Programmes at other universities

Who’s who in the Doctoral School?

Louise Nyholm Kallestrup, head of the Doctoral School
Phone: +45 6550 4324 / +45 2843 1767

Ingelise Nielsen, secretary to the PhD Board, PhD administrator

Emilie Svane Bruhn, Doctoral School Secretary, webmaster

Jeanet Dal, course administrator

Martin Lund, financial officer and PhD administrator

Doctoral Programmes

Area Studies, Religion, Archaeology and History,
Head: Nils Arne Sørensen (
Literature, Aesthetics and Culture
Head: Anders Engberg-Pedersen (
Philosophy, Education and Media
Head: Caroline Schaffalitzky de Muckadell (
Design, IT and Communication
Head: Anne Gerdes (
Language and Communication
Head: Cindie A. Maagaard (

The Course Council consists of the head of the doctoral school and the heads of
the doctoral programmes


Department of Media, Design, Learning and Cognition (IMDLC)
Head: Marianne Wolf Lundholt (, +45 6550 1339

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

PhD plan

Your PhD plan is to be approved by the PhD Board no later than three months after starting your studies. It is a good idea to develop your project description into a PhD plan.

The PhD plan is summoned via a digital form on PhDweb.

The PhD plan must ensure that the PhD student, in consultation with their supervisor, carefully considers and formulates the purpose, content and schedule of the study programme. The PhD plan is the basis for the PhD Board’s assessment of whether the course of study is realistic, reasonably planned and of sufficient academic quality. It forms the basis for the regular evaluations that are crucial for the continuation of the study programme for the rest of the study period. At the end of the programme, the PhD plan makes it possible to assess whether the programme has been satisfactorily completed and whether the achieved results are in accordance with the planned programme.

The PhD plan must therefore include:

  • A description of the PhD project, which will normally build on the project description submitted with the application
  • The form of the thesis: monograph or anthological thesis (for anthological theses, any co-authorships must be stated)
  • Language of the thesis (Danish or English; other languages must be specifically argued for)
  • A schedule for the project and the distribution of the work over the coming semesters (as far as possible, the last two semesters should be kept free for work on the thesis). It is a good idea to draw up the schedule in table form.
  • Plans for the communication component (which should fall within the first four semesters)
  • An indication of the organisation of supervision for the first year, based on an alignment of expectations between the PhD student and the supervisor
  • Considerations for change of environment (final plan to be completed by the first-year evaluation at the latest)
  • Any copyright agreements, e.g. if the PhD programme is to be carried out in collaboration between several parties
  • A budget indicating whether the project involves costs above the normal allocation (particularly in relation to travel funds, special equipment, licences, data collection, etc.). Many people will simply state that they will use their basic pool for travelling to courses, conferences and changes of environment, and that they will apply for funds for any additional costs.

If changes to the PhD plan are required after approval, an addendum must be submitted to the PhD Board. Changes in courses, communication and change of environment do not require an addendum. An addendum must be signed by the supervisor and head of department.

From February 2008, revised May 2020

Alignment of expectations regarding supervision

The PhD plan must include a separate section on the organisation of supervision, which details the alignment of expectations between the supervisor and the PhD student regarding supervision during the first year of the programme.

The expectation alignment for the following years forms part of your first-year, second-year and fifth-semester evaluations. The report should include a description of how the supervision will be implemented in practice:

  • 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 acknowledges that needs and supervision programmes can vary greatly. The PhD student and supervisor simply need to make sure they have a realistic and detailed alignment of expectations to avoid misunderstandings and disappointment.


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).

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 purpose of the change of environment is to give you as a PhD fellow the opportunity to join one or more active environments outside your own institution in order to expand your network, participate in a wider range of academic activities, engage in an extended dialogue about your project and find new inspiration. When planning your change of environment, project relevance should be your top priority. In addition, we always recommend an international change of environment. Your change of environment should have a total duration of 3–6 months, and you should start planning the time and place of the change of environment in your PhD plan. The final plan for the change of research environment is to be prepared with your principal supervisor and submitted for approval by the PhD Board no later than in connection with the first-year evaluation.’

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 for the Faculty’s requirements if there is specific justification for doing so and as long as the statement of purpose in section 12 is considered to have been fulfilled in a proper manner.

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.

Extra travel pool

A special pool has been established at the doctoral school to support project-related travel abroad, over and above the trips covered by each PhD student’s standard travel budget of DKK 30,000. Examples include attending conferences, changes of environment, summer schools, etc.

The following rules apply to application:

  • No fixed form is used for application
  • Send the application to the head of the doctoral school
  • The application must be supported by the supervisor and head of department
  • It must be documented (e.g. by bank statement) that the student’s basic pool of DKK 30,000 has been used up or specifically allocated, e.g. to already booked trips, etc.
  • The purpose of the travel and its relevance to the project should be described briefly but precisely.
  • A budget should be provided for the amount applied for, including a declaration of any other sources of support
  • At the end of the trip, settlement of the travel expenses is made in the usual way at the department, and a brief report is sent to the head of the doctoral school

All PhD students can apply. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis by the head of the doctoral school.

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 29.08.2023