Rights and obligations in doctoral education

Last changed: 01 April 2022

Both doctoral students and supervisors have rights and obligations, and it is important to know what these are as early as possible. This will make your journey towards a doctoral degree easier.

Doctoral education at SLU are regulated by laws, ordinancies and SLU´s own guidelines. A doctoral student is always admitted to specific doctoral education subject, with a general study plan. It is recommended that you read through the SLU guidelines for doctoral education and the general study plan for your subject, or for your doctoral student´s subject if you are a supervisor. Don't miss the related information in the links at the bottom of this page. 

The doctoral student ombudsman has an important task to monitor the interests of doctoral students at SLU. DO can assist doctoral students with advice and support in difficult situations.


Rights and obligations for doctoral students

Here you can find an overview of the doctoral student´s rights and obligations. 

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.

Read more about gender equality and equal opportunities at SLU. 

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.

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.

Supervision and responsibilities

At least two supervisors are appointed for each doctoral student. One of them is nominated as the principal supervisor. Students are entitled to supervision during their studies, unless the Vice-Chancellor decides otherwise in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 6 Section 30. A  student may ask to change supervisor.

 The principal supervisor is responsible for the content and quality of the education. He/she should also make sure that the content of plans and reports is well in line with the subject tradtion, and the character of the thesis work.

The supervisor and doctoral student must arrive at a common understanding of the implications of the degree outcomes for them specifically, that is they must together formulate individual learning outcomes for the programme. Together, they should continuously discuss and follow up how the education is progressing and adjust the planning accordingly. This is documented in the indivual study plan.

The principal supervisor is responsible for determining whether the student has achieved the learning outcomes related to the degree, see chapter 5.4 in the SLU guidelines for doctoral education, and for ensuring that the thesis is of good quality according to the critera applied within the discipline.

Supervision policy at SLU

Supervisors at SLU should

  • guide the student in both practical and theoretical issues, and keep abreast of educational theoretical and practical advances;
  • strive to create favuorable conditions for scientific discussions between student and supervisor, and other members of faculty;
  • guide and encourage the student in terms of methodology, literature, publishing and networking;
  • have a professional approach in order to promote equality and all forms of non-discrimination;
  • not commit to more students than he/she can provide adequate supervision for;
  • be well informed about SLU's rules and policies for doctoral education.

The main supervisor is responsible for

  • the quality and of the research project, which constitute the base for the thesis work. The project should be of reasonable extent
  • that the doctoral student get adequate courses within the education
  • that follow ups of the education, including external pre-examination procedure, are conducted according to the guidelines
  • thesis defence and/or licentiate seminar is being prepared and conducted according to the guidelines
  • continuing his/her education for supervision and pedagogics with help of courses offered by for example SLU.