Doctoral student guide: Chapter 4 - Supervision and supervision policy

Last changed: 16 March 2023

The relationship between the doctoral student and the group of supervisors is important to create good conditions for the education. At the bottom of this page you will find links to some documents that can be useful when discussing forms of cooperation and expectations together.

As a doctoral student you should have at least two supervisors. 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 faculty board decides on a change of supervisor. The application can either be made by an individual doctoral student or by the doctoral student and supervisor together.

According to the Higher Education Ordinance, SLU can only accept as many doctoral students as can be offered supervision and acceptable study conditions in general.


Unspoken expectations could create unnecessary stress

At the start of a new doctoral project, both the new doctoral student and the supervisor group have their own expectations for the education and the research project. It may be wise to talk about these expectations right from the start to open up for a good dialogue and a good discussion climate. There are guides that can be used if you want support in these discussions (see under the heading "Links" at the bottom of this page).

Unspoken expectations and unclear requirements can create stress. A doctoral education contains parts that can be difficult to predict or plan for, so it is good to discuss this openly to reduce the risk that you as a PhD student alone take on too much responsibility and think that you always have to solve all problems yourself without asking for help from colleagues or the supervisor group.

For example, a more experienced scientist knows from experience that it is common for laboratory experiments to fail occasionally, and is not surprised if some parts need to be adjusted before everything works as it should. But for a new PhD student, a failed experiment can become a personal failure if no senior role models explain that this is how research works, and that part of the training is to be allowed to make mistakes to learn the craft of research.