Part A. PhD handbook for candidates and supervisors

A Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) programme is, in a nutshell, supervised research that qualifies you for research activities and other work where there is a requirement for a high standard of scientific insight and analytical thinking.

The aim of the PhD programme at the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) is to train independent researchers with qualifications at a high international level. This will be done in cooperation with national and international research communities and in accordance with recognised scientific and ethical principles.

The handbook is based on the Regulations for the philosophiae doctor degree (PhD) at the University of South-Eastern Norway.  Several of the programmes have in addition their own supplementary provisions.

Candidates have both conditions of study and  conditions of employment, either with USN or another employer. Part A of the handbook deals primarily with the rules and procedures relating to the PhD candidate's conditions of study at USN. The conditions of employment are governed by other regulations.

Responsibility for implementation of the PhD programme

  • It is the USN board that has the ultimate responsibility for the PhD programmes
  • Responsibility for the daily running of the PhD programmes is place on the faculties
  • The research committee coordinates across USN's PhD programmes and ensures unified and good research training at USN
  • The candidate is admitted to a PhD programme, and at the same time employed by a department at USN or another institution. If the candidate is employed by USN then the head of department responsible for the appointment and employment
  • Each PhD programme has a programme committee that is responsible for the academic content, development and teaching of the programme within the approved framework and guidelines The head of the programme committee has academic responsibility and functions as the programme coordinator. Each programme also has an administrative PhD coordinator

1. Start up

Goal: PhD candidates at USN must ensure a good start up that lays the foundation for the successful completion of the PhD programme.

Preparation, admission and start date

Here you will find forms and information about preparation, admission and the start date.

Conditions for admission are described in chapter 2 of the PhD regulations and any supplementary provisions.

A PhD programme requires good knowledge of English. It is expected that the candidate is able to communicate research results both orally and in writing in English, and can participate in seminars conducted in English etc.

PhD candidate:

The application for admission must amongst other things contain:

  • Preliminary project description (for some programmes in collaboration with the supervisor)
  • Training plan that includes courses (min. 30 credits),  a schedule, preliminary publication plan and funding plan
  • At least one proposed co-supervisor in addition to the supervisor, and a description of an active research community



Appointment of supervisor

Work on the PhD thesis must be carried out under individual supervision. The Faculty appoints supervisors for candidates. In some programmes, an advertised PhD scholarship will already be tied to a particular supervisor when it is announced. The main rule is that the supervisor must be employed by USN. The admission is finalised by an agreement between the faculty and the candidate. The PhD agreement is described in §2-5 of the PhD regulations. The PhD candidate must have at least two supervisors, one which is appointed as the main supervisor. The PhD agreement, Part B, Agreement on academic supervision in the PhD programme , must be completed for all candidates that are admitted. The parties in Part B are the candidate, supervisors and the host faculty. If a candidate has several formal supervisors, then part B must include all supervisors. Procedures relating to the appointment of a supervisor are dealt with in § 3-2 of the PhD regulations. All supervisors must hold a doctoral degree. The main supervisor must be employed by the institution. Some faculties have their own guidelines for supervision. All the supervisors are jointly responsible for the academic follow-up, and will facilitate the candidate's regular participation in an active research environment with senior researchers and other PhD candidates. Good dialogue, mutual trust and respect between the PhD candidate and supervisor is essential to a productive collaboration and good results.

2. Implement

Goal: PhD candidates at USN must be ensured good quality and support in all areas of the programme in order that they can complete within the prescribed time and achieve the described learning outcomes for the programme

During the PhD programme

All the forms and information relevant for the research training can be found here.

PhD candidate:

As a PhD candidate you must take the initiative to discuss with supervisors the challenges and issues that may arise with the research or supervision. If you are not able to discuss the issue with your supervisor(s), then you can go to go to the academic/administrative head of the PhD programme. The responsible faculty has the responsibility for the appointment of a new supervisor(s) in the event of prolonged illness, leave, etc.


  • Must give the candidate regular and anticipated supervision of a high quality and in line with the PhD regulations, in order that the project complies with good research practice and maintains an appropriate academic level
  • Must ensure the follow up of the candidate's progression
  • Must submit progress reports
  • Must participate in the candidate's midway evaluation and assist with the coordination of this
  • Is responsible for ensuring that the candidate is familiar with the laws and regulations for the use of research data, detecting fraud and breaches of research ethics and possibly intercepting and handling deviations by the candidate
  • Is responsible for the planning and implementation of supervisory meetings
  • Must ensure that the candidate is connected with a relevant academic community with an international focus and connection with any research groups
  • Is responsible for dialogue between the main supervisor and co-supervisors
  • Is obliged while employed to report any results with commercial potential
  • Is  responsible for further developing their own supervisory skills through participation in external academic communities and supervisory courses

The supervisors should know the PhD candidate's academic background and whether there is a need for the reinforcement of special knowledge or skills at the start of, or during, the PhD period. In addition to individual follow-up, it is expected that the supervisor participates with the candidate in some seminars.

Study stays at guest institutions USN encourages its PhD candidates to study at other institutions. Such a study period should as far as possible be included in the project description. If, following the start of a project the candidate wants to spend part of their studies at a guest institution, unless this has been included in the original plan, this must be clarified with the supervisor and the faculty.

It is important to inform USN of prolonged absence. For extensions a separate form for changes in the contract period must be completed  which will include an explanation of why the agreement is being extended and how the extension will be funded. With extensions due to leave, sick leave, work on another project or similar, documentation or confirmation from the employer must be enclosed. The extension must be approved by the faculty.

3. Completion

Goal: Research work and publications undertaken by PhD candidates at USN must meet high international standards.

Submission and assessment of a thesis

All the forms and information regarding submission and assessment can be found here.

PhD candidate:

  • Must inform the supervisor before submitting a thesis
  • Must send the application for the assessment of a thesis to the faculty with attachments and in accordance with applicable regulations
  • Must submit documentation that the training component has been successfully completed
  • Must submit a PhD thesis of high ethical and research quality that is in accordance with the applicable regulations and of a good international standard
  • Must ensure that all parties involved have their contribution recognised and safeguarded in accordance with applicable regulations and that the co-author declaration(s) is signed

The PhD candidate should have the thesis language ​​proofread before submission.


  • Is responsible for ensuring that the PhD thesis maintains high ethical and research standards in accordance with applicable regulations
  • Should normally have given a green light to the candidate prior to submission
  • Must propose an assessment committee for the faculty

Once the application to have the PhD thesis assessed is approved, the Faculty appoints an assessment committee. The faculty is responsible for sending copies of the thesis to the assessment committee. The candidate must during the assessment period not make contact with the members of the assessment committee.

Within 3 months of the committee receiving the thesis, the committee will issue a reasoned opinion of if the work is worthy of being defended for the doctoral degree or not. The PhD candidate will receive the recommendation from the faculty and be given a deadline of 10 working days to submit any written comments on the opinion.

PhD candidate:

  • Must submit a brief summary of the PhD thesis in Norwegian and English to the administration
  • Must prepare a press release and take press photos
  • Must ensure that the manuscript is sent for printing at the library and proofread the proof copies.

Trial lecture and disputation

All the forms and information regarding the trial lecture and the disputation can be found here.

The topic for the trial lecture must be announced to the candidate and made public 10 days before the lecture. It is the assessment committee which proposes the topic of the trial lecture and the topic should not be directly connected with the topic of the dissertation.

The disputation is the candidate's defence of the thesis. It is the faculty that organises the disputation. The time and place are made public no later than 10 working days before it is held. As a general rule, the trial lecture and disputation are held on the same day.


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