Individual study plan (ISP)

Last changed: 23 May 2023

Each doctoral student shall have an individual study plan (ISP) and at SLU the ISP is created and managed using the digital ISP portal. To access the ISP portal, click on the green button below.

What is an individual study plan (ISP)?

According to the Higher Education Ordinance, all doctoral students must have an ISP that must contain the university's and doctoral student's commitments and a timetable for the education. At SLU we use a digital ISP that contains the following parts:

1. General information
2. Research plan
3. Commitments
4. Degree outcomes
5. Educational activities
6. Schedule, follow-up and evaluation

Under the expandable menus below, you can read more about each part of the ISP.


Who is responsible for the ISP?

It is the main supervisor's responsibility to plan the eduation. But as soon as the doctoral student is admitted to the education it is important that the doctoral student is involved in the work with the ISP and that both parties are informed if there are major changes in the education's conditions.


Annual follow-up of the education

The doctoral student's individual education and progression towards the degree outcoems must be followed up at least once a year. In connection with this, the ISP must be updated. However, the main supervisor and doctoral student are recommended to work continuously during the year with the ISP in the ISP portal.

There are checklists for the annual follow-up and for discussion about forms of collaboration that can also be used in the discussion about how the main supervisor and doctoral student collaborate on ISP. These checklists can be found on the staff website's page on Guidelines and forms within the doctoral program.

Guide for formulating individual intended learning outcomes to meet qualitative degree outcomes.

1. General information

The first part of the ISP contains, among other things, information about the doctoral student, supervisor and doctoral education subject. The main supervisor must also briefly describe planned support for the doctoral student and financing of running costs.

2. Research plan

Section 2 of the ISP is used to describe the thesis project in more detail. 

3. Commitments

Most parts of the ISP are planning tools and change as the plans and conditions change. During the course of the education, it turns out that some of the planned training activities are never carried out for various good reasons. For example, the doctoral student has learned a skill in another way than taking a course. The commitment part of the ISP is different. Certain educational activities/elements are absolutely crucial for the doctoral student to achieve the degree objectives within the stipulated time. These are commitments to be carried out in the coming year.

The commitment part of the ISP must contain commitments that SLU, the main supervisor and the doctoral student must implement during the coming year in order for the education to proceed according to plan.

The commitment part becomes valid for a maximum of one year of actual study time. Should a serious conflict arise between the supervisor and the doctoral student, the signed commitment part constitutes an official basis in the work of resolving the conflict.

The entire ISP, including the commitment part, must be approved digitally by the head of department, main supervisor and doctoral student no later than 3 months after the start of studies.

4. Degree outcomes

The degree outcomes (examensmål) are general, abstract and all-embracing in order for them to be able to apply for all disciplinary research domains. Consequently, researchers need to formulate and provide examples of the norms that apply to their domain and how to implement them in specific areas.

The path to attaining the degree outcomes – the content and formulation of doctoral studies – differs for each student since both doctoral students and their thesis projects are unique. Doctoral studies are individual and therefore require personal intended learning outcomes that are distinct and specific and can therefore be followed up.

The supervisor and doctoral student must have a mutual understanding of what their individual degree outcomes involve, i.e., create individual intended learning outcomes for the student’s doctoral studies. When carrying out different daily research activities (laboratory session planning, sampling, peer reviews of manuscripts, writing applications, seminars, group meetings, etc.), make a habit of discussing which general expertise and knowledge are required and which are applied. Then relate them to the general degree outcomes.

Guide for formulating individual intended learning outcomes to meet qualitative degree outcomes.

5. Educational activities

Section 5 should describe which activities are planned to be carried out within the doctoral education. This can be, for example, courses, field trials and conferences. The schedule is just a plan, and will change over time.

There is also a possibility to describe the activities that are not included in the doctoral education, such as teaching and administrative work at the department.

You can read more about "Period of study and study activity" under this tab on the page that deals with "Planning and follow-up" of the doctoral program on the SLU staff web.

During follow-ups of the ISP, the information about the activities in section 5 is updated.

6. Time plan, follow-up and evaluation

The annual follow-up of the ISP should be done by the doctoral student and the supervisor after one actual year of study has passed.

The follow-up must relate to the individual intended learning outcomes and the following must be assessed:

  • How is the programme progressing?
  • Can the programme be completed as currently planned?
  • What action can be taken to improve the programme?
  • What is planned for the coming year?

At the follow-up the completed educational activities shall be documented, and the time plan, research plan and other relevant sections shall be updated.