Doctoral student guide: Chapter 3 - Prerequisites of the doctoral education

Last changed: 14 April 2023

Doctoral education is an individual education. This means that even if the qualitative targets are the same for all doctoral students, the path to these goals is different for different individuals.

Which path you take to achieve your qualitative degree targets depends on what background knowledge you have in a certain field, what your thesis project is and to some extent also what you want your future career to look like. For example, it is possible to control which courses you take in view of what your career plans look like. Perhaps you would like to take a course in project management, or an extra course in pedagogy.

You and your supervisor plan your education using your individual study plan (ISP). But, it's important to remember that plans are just plans, and they can be changed. It is important to be able to adjust and have back-up plans to use if things get tough.

And remember that even though it's an individual education, it doesn't mean you're alone. There is always someone to contact if you need advice or help.

The documents that create the framework for your studies

Several documents have been created to ensure you receive a fair education. The documents below can all be found on the “Regulations and forms” pages on the SLU staff web for doctoral students.

The Higher Education Ordinance stipulates qualitative targets for third-cycle (doctoral) courses and study programmes. The targets are highly generalised and need to be formulated into individual intended learning outcomes so they are relevant to you. 

Your individual study plan (ISP) is an important document. In section 9, you can read more about what is included in an ISP and what they are used for.

“SLU Guidelines for doctoral education” and “Admission regulations for third-cycle (doctoral) education” are two important documents related to doctoral studies. 

You have been admitted to a third-cycle (doctoral) subject and will have a general study plan that contains requirements to be met during your studies.

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. 

Research schools

All types of SLU research schools have the same overarching goal – to create a larger cross-departmental educational context with a large and varied range of educational activities in a way that may be difficult to prioritize or finance for a single department or research group.

A research school at SLU is an organisation that does not need to follow the regular departmental and faculty structure. It is usually thematically defined, and provides educational activities in the form of courses or seminars, workshops, networking events and field trips that are relevant and valuable to doctoral students from different departments and faculties. The education offered should be of a high, international level. Networking is important, and a research school may have close interaction with external stakeholders and with other Swedish and international universities.

Usually there is a core group of doctoral students whose thesis work fits in well with the school's theme, and who benefit from most activities. Other students may prefer to take part in the activities of several different research schools.

Doctoral courses

During your education, you will participate in a number of doctoral courses. Remember that you can also participate in courses at other universities.

Here you can find information about SLU's doctoral courses and the requirements for the courses to be included in your degree.