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Supervision of PhD students

The PhD programme is to be completed under supervision. The PhD student is both entitled to receive supervision and obliged to receive supervision.

A principal supervisor and up to three project supervisors or co-supervisors are appointed for every student in connection with the vice head of the PhD school´s approval of the enrollment of a student.

The Faculty of Engineering offers a supervision training course to all supervisors of PhD students.

The principal supervisor must be a recognized researcher in the relevant academic field. The principal supervisor must be employed at the Faculty of Engineering as an associate professor or professor and actively conduct research in the field of the PhD student´s project.

The principal supervisor may only assume supervision responsibility for a PhD student if it is possible to provide good supervision throughout the individual PhD student’s programme. The desirable supervisory effort by the principal supervisor requires approximately 45 hours per semester per PhD student. A principal supervisor is under an obligation to be available to provide supervision by appointment.

The principal supervisor has the overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with all formalities relating to the PhD programme, as set in the PhD Order, as well as with Faculty rules.

The principal supervisor must ensure that a PhD plan is completed within two months after the PhD studies begin. The principal supervisor must ensure that expert supervision is available for every aspect of the project, possibly by involving co-supervisors.

The principal supervisor must ensure that PhD students have a realistic possibility of following the PhD plan. If problems arise, and it is not possible to resolve them, the principal supervisor is responsible for making adjustments in the PhD plan in collaboration with the PhD student and with any project supervisors and/or co-supervisors to enable the PhD student to re-establish a realistic possibility of obtaining the PhD degree without delay.

Prior to making the written evaluation of how the PhD studies are proceeding, the principal supervisor, together with any project supervisors and/or co-supervisors, must assess whether the PhD student is satisfactorily following the PhD plan and whether continuation can be recommended without qualification or whether the PhD student requires a deadline of three months for bringing their study back on track. The three-month deadline for re-establishing the study process may only be granted once during the course of study and will not extend the overall period of study prescribed for the programme. At the same time, the principal supervisor, together with any project supervisors and/or co-supervisors, must assess whether any changes in relation to the PhD plan are needed. The principal supervisor ensures that the supervision provided by project supervisors and co-supervisors is satisfactory.

The principal supervisor is under an obligation to notify the head of the PhD School as soon as possible if any doubt emerges concerning the PhD student’s ability to complete the PhD programme. The principal supervisor is under an obligation to keep notes in this regard.

The principal supervisor has overall responsibility for the change of research environment and, as part of preparing the PhD plan, must plan the change of research environment. The change of research environment, which should preferably be abroad, should be planned well in advance with the PhD student, and involve any project supervisors and/or co-supervisors.

Project supervisors and co-supervisors are not required to be employed by the Faculty or to be associate professors or professors. Project supervisors and co-supervisors may be lecturers with a doctorate or possess qualifications equivalent to the level of a senior researcher. The supervisors may not have overall responsibility for the PhD study and may only supervise PhD students in academic issues and contribute specialist knowledge to the student's PhD project. Project supervisors and co-supervisors are to make their national and international academic networks available to the PhD student.

For enrolment under the industrial PhD scheme, a supervisor must be appointed at the company which employs the PhD student. This supervisor must be qualified within the appropriate academic field.

In addition to academic supervision, the University is also under an obligation to offer PhD students supervision and guidance in the disciplines of teaching and a presenting. Teaching courses as well as writing and presentation courses are available for the PhD students at TEK.

Individual supervision from the PhD coach as well as the head of the PhD School is available upon request.

Replacement or addition of supervisors
Following an application from the PhD student, the PhD committee may:

1) Appoint other supervisors, who must be qualified within the relevant field.
2) Replace the principal supervisor and other supervisors

Replacement due to problems in the working relationship between the principal supervisor and the student.
To successfully complete the programme, it is crucial for the principal supervisor and the PhD student to be able to get along well together. A poorly functioning working relationship can cause both academic and financial problems. If this occurs, the head of department will be brought in for the purpose of trying to find a solution. In some instances, it may be necessary for the head of department to designate a new principal supervisor.

Replacement due to termination of the principal supervisor’s employment.If the employment of a designated principal supervisor with the faculty ends, normally they will not be able to continue as the principal supervisor for a student, but can become a co-supervisor instead, and a new principal supervisor will be designated. The PhD School must be notified by the department of the principal supervisor’s termination of employment. The head of department must designate a new principal supervisor for the PhD student. If the PhD student has completed most of their study programme, they can ask the head of department for permission to have the supervisor in question continue as principal supervisor. 


The PhD School at The Faculty of Engineering University of Southern Denmark

  • Campusvej 55
  • Odense M - DK-5230
  • Phone: +45 6550 7433

Last Updated 16.11.2023