Rights and obligations within SLU´s doctoral education

Last changed: 13 June 2024

Knowing which rights and obligations that apply to doctoral education provides the conditions for good cooperation between doctoral student and supervisor and a successful educational process.

The conditions that apply to your studies vary depending on the type of funding you receive. Unlike other doctoral students, those employed by SLU (or other university or company) may have additional employee benefits such as access to occupational health services, whereas doctoral students funded by scholarships turn to the student health serviceThe Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (Kammarkollegiet) offers compensation to doctoral students funded by scholarships if they become ill or take parental leave.

The vast majority of doctoral students are employed, either by SLU or by an external employer. This means that the head of department's responsibility for employees' work environment also applies to doctoral students. In addition, the head of department has a responsibility to ensure that even the doctoral students who are not employed by SLU are offered conditions and opportunities that as far as possible are similar to those that apply to the university's employees.


The obligations of the doctoral student

Doctoral students should

  • actively and independently pursue their studies, both experimental and theoretical parts, and document the research results so that a thesis can be presented and defended after 4 or 2 years net study respectively;
  • continuously inform supervisors of educational, scientific and practical developments and propose changes and adaptations motivated by how the thesis project is progressing;
  • after consultation with the supervisor, take part in PhD courses;
  • be well informed about SLU's rules and policies for doctoral education.

Individual study plan (ISP)

All doctoral student must have an individual study plan (ISP). At SLU these ISPs are created and managed in the digital ISP portal. 

What is an ISP and why should I care? 

Student influence - what does it mean?

  • According to national legislation, students shall be entitled to exert influence over the courses and study programmes at higher education institutions.
  • SLU students have the right to be represented on all decision-making and preparatory bodies which operations are important to education and student situations. It is the student unions via SLUSS that selects the representatives for the SLU decision bodies.
  • Doctoral student representatives are active participants in for examplethe SLU board (Styrelsen), Fur, Faculty boards and doctoral educationcommittees (Fun).
  • Contact SLUSS PhD student council if you are interested in participating in this important work.

Doctoral student councils at SLU

SLUSS PhD Student Council is a coordinating body for SLUSS, the PhD councils of the student unions and the PhD student commissioner. The board considers issues relating to research, PhD education and other questions affecting PhD students at SLU.

ASK PhD Council

SHS PhD council

ULS PhD Student Council

VMF PhD Student Council

Guidelines and admission ordinance at doctoral level

The admission regulations for third-cycle education regulate the process when a doctoral student is admitted to their studies. The regulations contain information about the financing forms in place, for example doctoral studentships, employment with another employer and funding through scholarships.

The framework for your doctoral studies is determined by the SLU guidelines for third-cycle (doctoral) education, which are based on the Higher Education Act and the Higher Education Ordinance. It is important to remember that the guidelines that applied when you were admitted to your studies will continue to apply, assuming you do not apply to change to a newer version. Sometimes, there will be considerable differences between each version of the guidelines.

These guidelines describe:

  • the scope and content of the studies, including course requirements;
  • procedures for planning and follow-ups – ISP, compulsory procedures and follow-ups. The actual period of study and prolonging (extension of study period for special reasons);
  • what to do if your studies aren’t working out. Chapter 7 is a particularly important chapter: Procedures when a course or study programme is unsatisfactory
  • requirements for the thesis and what is expected to be able to publicly defend it;
  • procedures prior to the public defence of doctoral thesis, external reviewer, examining committee. How the public defence takes place.
  • how to apply for your degree certificate.

Work environment and equal opportunities

Work environment for doctoral students

The vast majority of doctoral students are employed, either by SLU or by an external employer. This means that the head of department's responsibility for employees' work environment also applies to doctoral students. In addition, the head of department has a responsibility to ensure that even the doctoral students who are not employed by SLU are offered conditions and opportunities that as far as possible are similar to those that apply to the university's employees.

Information about terms of employment at SLU

Information about SLU´s work environment efforts

Illness and healthcare, including care of a sick child (for employed doctoral students)

Health and parental insurance for doctoral students financed with scholarship.


Equal opportunities at SLU

Equal opportunities mean that all employees, students and applicants must feel welcome and given equal conditions regardless of gender, sexual orientation, transgender identity or expression, disability, ethnic origin, religion, other beliefs or age. SLU's work with Equal opportunities shall lead to equal possibilities and rights for employees and students at work and in their studies.

SLU does not accept any form of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or reprisals! The work with gender equality and equal opportunities (JLV) is led by the vice-chancellor, who bears the utmost responsibility. According to the Discrimination Act, employers and employees shall collaborate on active measures.

Information about SLU's work with Equal opportunities.

Information about how SLU works preventively against discrimination.


If something should happen – where can I get help?
As a doctoral student, you are usually both an employee and a student. This means that the head of department is responsible for your work environment. The head of department is also responsible for ensuring that also doctoral students who are not employed by SLU are offered conditions and opportunities that are as far as possible similar to those that apply to the university's employees. This means that if you have problems with the work environment, it is primarily your head of department, your HR specialist, the occupational health service or your safety representative at the department that you should contact.

Each manager and supervisor has a responsibility to ensure that any cases of discrimination and harassment are investigated and remedied. Every employee has a responsibility to ensure that the work and study environment is free from discrimination and harassment.

What you can do in case of harassment.

If you should encounter problems concerning your education you can turn to your principal or assistant supervisor, to the director of study/contact person for doctoral education at your department or the faculty director of study for doctoral education.

You can also always contact the doctoral student ombudsman/counsellor (Doktorandombudsmannen) for advice, regardless of the nature of your problem.

Contact information – doctoral education.

Doctoral student ombudsman/counsellor

Supervision and supervision policy at SLU

The requirements for supervision and the responsibilities of the supervisors are described in the SLU guidelines for doctoral education. At least two supervisors must be appointed for each doctoral student, and one of them should be appointed principal supervisor. Doctoral students are entitled to supervision during their studies, unless the Vice-Chancellor decides otherwise by virtue of the Higher Education Ordinance. A doctoral student may request to change supervisor.

The faculty board decides on any change of supervisor. Applications can be made either by an individual student, or by a student and his/her supervisor together.

Assignments at the department

During your doctoral education, it may happen that you, for example, participate in teaching at undergraduate or advanced level or perform administrative work at the department. Different departments have different amounts of tuition, so it varies how much tuition you as a doctoral student are allocated. The routines around how teaching and other departmental service work and to what extent you get extended study time for these assignments also vary between different departments to a certain extent. However, it is important that you know in advance what you are taking on, how much work (time) will be required of you for the assignment and how much of this time you can have your education extended. Discuss this with your supervisors, the course leader and/or your director of studies at the department.

Tip 1! Write down all your tasks, and how much time you spend on them, so you keep your time in order.

Tip 2! Update your CV on an ongoing basis with your teaching and administrative assignments so that you have it available when you later look for a job. Otherwise, it is easy for you to forget some aspect that could be good to mention when writing applications.

Routines for prolonged study time (prolongation)

Different types of assignments may justify extending the doctoral student period. 

Positions of trust at faculty level (such as a representative on the faculty board or doctoral education committee (Fun)) are reimbursed at the faculty level. Contact information and instructions for each faculty can be found on the contact information page for the doctoral education.

Prolongation can also take place at central SLU level (for example, a representative on SLU's board or Fur - The Doctoral Education Council). Application form for extension at central SLU level. For more information about this, contact Lotta Jäderlund.