Part B. PhD handbook for administration of PhD programmes

This part of the PhD handbook is specifically designed for those who administer the various PhD programmes at the University of South-Eastern Norway.

Organisation of the PhD programme

The board

  • The PhD programme is anchored at institutional level, and  USN's board has overall responsibility for the PhD programme and determines the organisation and operation
  • The board approves whether to apply for accreditation and approval of a PhD programme and determines which faculty will be the host faculty for the administration of the programme

The research committee

  • Coordinates across USN's PhD programmes and ensures unified and good research training at USN


  • Ensures that USN has subject relevant research projects in its research training
  • Is responsible for preparing the annual quality report for the faculty that must include an evaluation of the PhD programme and ensure quality development, as well as being part of the department's annual quality report
  • The Dean of the host faculty appoints the members of the programme committee

Programme committee

  • Is responsible for the academic content, development and teaching of the programme within the approved framework and guidelines
  • Has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the dean and faculty in matters relating to academic content, structure and implementation of the PhD programme in line with USN's PhD regulations and other regulations
  • Must follow-up the study programme in line with USN's quality system, and report annually on the quality in the programme
  • Must provide advice on quality improvement for the doctoral programmes
  • Is responsible for reporting regularly to the dean on the progression of the PhD candidate.
  • Each PhD programme has a programme committee


  • Must ensure that the candidate has access at all times to relevant infrastructure
  • Must ensure affiliation with relevant academic communities, with an international focus, and possible connection with research groups
  • Department heads must conduct annual appraisals with candidates who are employed by USN.

Head of the programme committee

  • Must function as programme coordinator for the PhD programme and report to the dean
  • Has academic responsibility for the PhD programme
  • Is responsible for evaluating and reporting in accordance with the quality system at USN

The FoUI section

  • Is responsible for supervising PhD forums consisting of PhD coordinators from all the PhD programmes
  • Is responsible for coordinating procedures in the PhD programmes

Responsibility for implementation of the PhD programme

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.

Prior to admission

All the forms and information regarding preparations and the process leading to admission can be found here

The majority of USN's PhD candidates are funded through scholarship schemes involving an employment relationship between the candidate and USN. The departmental heads have staff responsibility for these Usual rules on employment apply to PhD candidates employed at USN or external parties. In addition, scholarships are subject to the regulations relating to conditions of employment as a post-doctoral fellow, research assistant and specialist candidate.

The programme committee:

  • Is responsible for HSN taking on highly qualified candidates for its research training
  • Must ensure quality in the employment and admission process
  • Must ensure that there are supervisors with the formal qualifications and capacity to receive the candidate being offered admission to study

Departmental heads:

  • Agree a start date with the candidate, and provide office space in a relevant academic community
  • Advise the IT service of office space and the start date
  • Have a welcome conversation with new candidates at start up with information about academic and administrative contacts
  • Must ensure that the candidates will be integrated into the department's environment as early as possible
  • Work out in cooperation with the candidate a plan for the completion of any compulsory duties in accordance with the regulations.

PhD coordinator:

Following application for admission

All the forms and information regarding admission and the start date can be found here.

The process from application for admission to a written agreement is dealt with in §§ 2-2, 2-4 and 2-5 of the PhD regulations and and described step by step in HSN's quality procedures and job descriptions for the PhD programme with associated forms.. The process is conducted as follows:

PhD candidate:

PhD coordinator:

  • Informs the candidate and supervisors on admission decisions
  •  Ensures that the admission is formalised in the form of a written agreement between the PhD candidate, supervisors, vice dean of the responsible faculty and any external institution within three weeks of admission
  • Ensures that the candidate and supervisor deliver the final project description within three months of admission
  • Gets a signature on the agreement from the dean and return one copy to the candidate and one to the main supervisor. The third copy is archived

The programme committee:

  • Processes the application and makes admission decisions/recommendations
  • Processes the final project description
  • Must follow up on the connection to the relevant academic community, international orientation, and any connection with research groups
  • Must ensure that foreign candidates are also well catered for and are naturally included in the academic community


  • Makes admission decisions
  • Is responsible for formally appointing the main and co-supervisors when making the admission decision

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

The completion of the PhD course is dealt with in i chapter 3 of the PhD regulations.

The programme committee:

  • Must ensure that the candidates receive regular and anticipated supervision of a high quality and in line with the regulations of the university
  • Must participate with the FoUI section and the vice rector for Foui in its work on following up on supervisors and offering supervision courses
  • Must ensure that candidates have an academic forum
  • Is responsible for reporting on progress and midway evaluation   in collaboration with the faculty
  • Is responsible for evaluating the candidate's progress and conducting a midway evaluation
  • Must ensure that the candidate's progress is in accordance with the prescribed time, agreement on funding and that the project complies with good research practices and is of an appropriate academic level
  • Is responsible for academic assessment and any recognition of external training in terms of the programme requirements and transitional arrangements for PhD candidates who change PhD programme or finish.
  • Is responsible for the evaluation and reporting of the supervision in accordance with the quality system
  • Is responsible for any final seminar

The research committee:

  • Is responsible for making recommendations to the appeals committee in matters regarding decisions on the forced termination of a PhD programme before the prescribed time and complaints about all individual decisions.

The FoUI section:

  • Is responsible for the annual electronic evaluation of the PhD programmes that is sent annually to the PhD candidates on all PhD programmes
  • Is responsible for annually updating the electronic evaluation and sending reports with the results from the evaluation to the heads of the programme committees
  • Is responsible for supervising PhD forums consisting of PhD coordinators from all the PhD programmes
  • Is responsible for coordinating and updating the PhD handbook, procedures and forms for the PhD programmes

3. End

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

Submission and assessment of a thesis

Completion and submission of the thesis is covered in Chapter 4 of the regulations, and described step by step in USN's quality procedures and job descriptions for the submission of a thesis with associated forms.

The programme committee:

  • Is responsible for sending theses to the assessment committee
  • Is responsible for the assessment and evaluation of a thesis being conducted
  • Is responsible for approving applications for assessment and establishing an assessment committee
  • Is responsible for managing the committee nominations
  • Is responsible for ensuring that the assessment of a candidate thesis meets the minimum requirements for research expertise and that the expected learning outcomes are achieved

PhD coordinator

  • Is responsible for sending press releases to the communications department
  • Is responsible for facilitating and following up on the trial lecture and disputation

The communications department

  • Must publish information about disputations on the USN websites

Trial lecture and disputation

Procedure for the trial lecture and disputation, with accompanying job descriptions and forms used in the process.

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.

The programme committee:

  • Is responsible for the conduct of the trial lecture and disputation
  • Must ensure that the candidate formally receives their diploma and has a doctorate conferred on them.
  • Is responsible for awarding a doctorate