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Part A

Part A comprises the preparation of a plan for research and work activities and of courses, work on the thesis, required work for the department and the qualifying examination.

When enrolling in the 4+4 programme the student needs to acquire 60 ECTS points in order to obtain a Master's degree. Part A must therefore include PhD and graduate courses corresponding to at least 30 ECTS points as it is possible to take graduate courses corresponding to up to 30 ECTS points with full ECTS value during the course of studies (graduate programme).

It can be recommended that the course programme in Part A include a considerably greater share of the overall course programme corresponding to a total of 60 ECTS points. It is also possible to take the entire course programme during Part A.

Graduate courses taken as part of a graduate programme at the University of Southern Denmark or subjects taken at another institution must be approved separately by the respective Academic Study Boards at the University of Southern Denmark. 

The PhD plan and the updated PhD plan

Students under the 4+4 programme must submit a PhD plan to the PhD committee for approval no later than two months after enrolling, cf. section 9. The PhD plan can be of a more preliminary character than PhD plans under the 5+3 programme, but plans for courses in Part A should be clarified and the PhD plan must include deliberations about all items in the plan and a statement from the principal supervisor.

After approximately one year of enrolment in a PhD programme, the PhD plan must be updated and forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat no later than 14 months after enrolment. At the same time, a statement from the principal supervisor containing an evaluation of the course of the programme to date and the updated PhD plan, as well as an assessment of the probability that the student will be able to complete the programme in accordance with the PhD plan must be forwarded. The statement must either confirm that the PhD study programme will be performed in accordance with the PhD plan or provide an account of any adjustments that may be necessary. The PhD student must be given a copy of the statement and is allowed two weeks to comment on it.

The Head of PhD School decides whether the PhD study programme has been performed satisfactorily on the basis of the updated PhD plan and the principal supervisor's statement.

Status report and the principal supervisor's statement on completion of Part A

The PhD student and his/her principal supervisor must forward a status report to the PhD School Secretariat no later than 22 months after enrolment. This report must include:

  • a description (approximately half to one page) of the research carried out during the PhD project to date (progress, results, any obstacles) and research plans for the remainder of the PhD period – including any adjustments made in relation to the PhD plan.
  • the PhD committee's form containing information on completed and planned courses, communication activities, periods spent abroad, the fulfilment of the work requirement for employed PhD students and information on the form and extent of supervision. Results (grades) must be given for courses that will be assigned to the graduate programme and therefore need not be approved by the PhD committee.
  • information on who the examiners will be and when the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar will be held.
  • any other information that could be of relevance to an evaluation of the course of studies.

The report must be written jointly by the PhD student and his/her principal supervisor on a special form. The principal supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the material is forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat within the deadline. The principal supervisor is also responsible for appointing examiners and agreeing on a date for the seminar.

The PhD student forwards all of the material for the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar to the Student Information Point, including a copy of the completed form for use in connection with the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar, no later than a month before the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar are to be held. The Student Information Point will check with the principal supervisor to ensure that there is an agreement with the examiners. The Student Information Point will ask the Examinations Office to draw up an examination protocol and the Student Information Point will then forward all of the material to the examiners.

The qualifying examination and the PhD seminar

Part A concludes with a qualifying examination and a PhD seminar. The qualifying examination must show that the PhD student has achieved a level of qualification corresponding to a Master's examination and the PhD seminar must provide a broad basis for assessing the probability that the PhD student will be able to complete the PhD programme and make adjustments to the PhD project if necessary.

It can be recommended that the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar be held in good time before the conclusion of part A – i.e. at least a month before its conclusion.

The services of two examiners - one from the department (may not be the principal or co-supervisor) and one from outside the University of Southern Denmark are drawn on. The examiners are appointed by the Head of Department at the request and on the recommendation of the principal supervisor, possibly in collaboration with other supervisors. The examiners must be professors, full-time associate professors or hold similar academic qualifications in the relevant academic field. The examiners must be appointed no later than 22 months after enrolment in the 4+4 programme. At least one of the examiners must be from outside the university, i.e. not employed at the University of Southern Denmark, and also act as an external examiner in connection with the qualifying examination.

The examiners, supervisors and the PhD student agree on a date for the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar, which must be held no later than 24 months after enrolment in the 4+4 programme. The department will ensure a suitable room is reserved for the seminar, which will be announced on the department's website.

The qualifying examination is held with the point of departure in that part of the PhD thesis which has been completed. At least a chapter or an article – possibly in the form of a literature survey or the review of a method – must have been completed. The contents of the written work must be of such a character to be at least equivalent to the academic requirements for a Master's thesis. The PhD student must have prepared the material so that it can be the principal supervisor and the examiners to hand no later than a month before the date agreed for the qualifying examination.

The latest version of the PhD plan, the status report, any supplementary material written by the PhD student, such as (drafts of) other articles or chapters that are expected to be included in the final thesis, a detailed research plan, questionnaires, interview guides, data lists, lists of theories or similar must also be forwarded for use in connection with the PhD seminar. This material must provide the examiners with an opportunity to evaluate the research design and the preliminary results. The supplementary material should not exceed 50 pages.

The qualifying examination is held as a thesis examination. The PhD student must have an opportunity to present the principal features of the examination material. The student will then be examined by the principal supervisor and an external examiner.

The principal supervisor and the external examiner give a grade in accordance with the seven-point grading scale based on the qualifying examination, which expresses the degree to which the goals in relation to the requirements for a Master's thesis have been achieved. The minimum pass grade is 02. Re-examinations/make-up examinations can be held but must have been passed no later than three months after the first examination. Only the principal supervisor and the external examiner may be present during voting.

The PhD seminar is held immediately after the qualifying examination and is chaired by the principal supervisor. The PhD student must have an opportunity to present his/her research plan and possibly also other material that has been forwarded and to discuss this with the examiners at the seminar. The PhD supervisors can take part in the discussion and the principal supervisor can also permit other people who are present to participate.

Based on the material and the seminar, the examiners assess the course of the PhD programme to date and the plans for the PhD project. The examiners' assessment could contain suggestions and ideas for the further work and they can provide comments and evaluations either in a joint statement or in two individual statements. The examiners' statements must be forwarded to the principal supervisor as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after the seminar. The PhD student must also be given a copy of the statement and is allowed two weeks to comment on it. The examination protocol is registered at the Student Information Point and a copy of the protocol and the examiners' assessment are forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat.

The principal supervisor evaluates the course of the programme to date and any planned adjustments and changes and states whether the student is qualified to continue to part B and thereby complete the PhD programme, based on the status report, the qualifying examination and the PhD seminar. The grade awarded to the student for the qualifying examination must be included in the statement. The PhD student must be given a copy of the statement and is allowed two weeks to comment on it. The principal supervisor's evaluation is forwarded to the PhD School Secretariat together with the faculty's form: "Request for employment" (in Danish: "Anmodning om ansættelse").

The Head of PhD School decides whether the student can continue to part B and be offered employment for the remaining two years on the basis of the examiners' and the principal supervisor's written evaluations and the grades given for the courses completed and the qualifying examination.

The PhD School attends to all approvals before the "Request for employment" form is forwarded to the Staff Office. An employment contract is then sent from the Staff Office to the PhD student and the PhD School forwards a letter to the PhD student on the transition to part B.

If the student wishes to leave the programme before passing the qualifying examination, the activities completed during the PhD study programme will be transferred to the graduate programme in pursuance of the current procedures for credit transfer.

After the qualifying examination has been passed, the student has qualified for the Master's degree and can request his/her Master's degree certificate.

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