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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

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 changes do not require an addendum. Substantial changes in dissemination activities require an addendum. An addendum must be approved and signed by the supervisor and the Vice Head of the Department.

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).

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.

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