Rules and rights

  • Research degree
  • Change of supervisor
  • Courses
  • Doctoral degree
  • Licentiate degree
  • Pedagogical training
  • Study plan
  • Supervision

As an education programme the PhD consists of a series of courses and a thesis in which the doctoral student carries out an individual research project. The education programme as a whole corresponds to a net study time (nettostudietid) of four years of full-time studies (240 hp), the successful completion of which results in the award of a doctoral degree. To be accepted to a PhD programme certain admission requirements must be met, both general and subject-specific (to be determined by each individual faculty). Also, the candidate must be deemed to have the required skills and abilities to complete the degree successfully. If a candidate is from outside the Nordic countries, and does not have a previous education entirely in English, the candidate needs to have passed a test of English skills (IELTS or TOEFL). Each particular area and faculty has more detailed information about the relevant application conditions on their websites.

The faculty board may admit students to research-level studies leading to either a licentiate degree or a doctorate. It is considered important that the creation of a two-stage model of admissions is avoided. Therefore, when a student is admitted to a licentiate program, a special explanation must be incorporated in the student’s individual study plan. Admission of students to licentiate programs is to be decided by a Faculty board, or equivalent thereof, and may not be delegated. Graduate students originally admitted to a program leading to a licentiate may, upon renewed application and approval, continue their studies toward a doctorate. Research students who originally planned to complete a doctorate may be permitted to conclude their studies with a licentiate. (The stated follows from section 3 of the Admissions Ordinance for Studies at the Graduate Level Uppsala University, UFV 2006/1972.)

If problems arise relating to supervision, the PhD student ought to firstly raise the issue directly with the supervisors, the head of the department (prefekt) or those responsible for the department’s post-graduate programme (i.e. director of research studies, studierektor för forskarutbildningen, or equivalent). At any time during such a process you can turn to the Ombud for PhD students who can offer confidential advice.

According to national legislation (the Higher Education Ordinance, chapter 6 § 28 section 2), doctoral students have the right to request a change of supervisor, if they wish to do so. A PhD student is accepted to a Department at the University, and not to e.g. an individual supervisor there employed or to a project. A change of supervisor can involve complications, but it is a legal right, and thus the faculty and department are obligated to assist where necessary. The person responsible is the head of department. However, at some departments, this duty has been delegated to the director of research studies.

It is the duty of the head of department to find a solution, which as far as possible satisfies the interests of all parties. In some cases, e.g. where the student is nearing completion of the research, it should be considered whether the original supervisor should retain scientific responsibility for the project. In cases where the student has only recently begun the research, a change of project can be considered in addition to a change of supervisor. The extent to which this is motivated varies between different research subjects.

It is often easier to change a supporting supervisor than changing the main supervisor. It is not particularly uncommon that a change of supporting supervisor is made due to a project progressing in a direction where scientific reasons motivate such a change.

A change of supervisor should take place if:

  • a supervisor is no longer employed by or adjuncted to the university, or takes full-time leave of absence over a longer period,
  • if duties within the university, or illness, make it difficult to fulfil the obligations of supervisor, or
  • if there is a conflict of interest. For more information, see regulations concerning conflict of interest in the university sphere (Jävsregler inom universitetets verksamhetsområde):  link (only available in Swedish)

    In the case of a change of supervisor, the individual study plan must be revised and its changed conditions must be reported to Uppdok and to the Faculty Office (or the equivalent thereof at your faculty) for registration.
The PhD programme requires completing a range of courses, including e.g. reading courses. The extent of the course part of the research degree varies from subject to subject, but can be up to a maximum of 120 hp. The aim of these courses is in part to provide a general competence in the subject, and in part to ensure the necessary skills to complete the research work for the doctoral thesis. Certain courses are obligatory for all PhD students within a particular subject, others are a matter of individual choice in line with the specific demands of a given project. The obligatory elements shall be clearly stated in the general study plan, or in the study plan for the subject (ämnesutbildningsplanen) if such a plan exists. The individual courses you opt to study should be chosen in consultation with your supervisors as well as stated in your individual study plan.

The awarding of a doctoral degree is made on the basis that the student has completed the necessary courses for the research programme, and that a doctoral thesis has been examined and approved via public examination. This thesis presents the results of the research project in a way that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to formulate and treat academic problems independently. A doctoral thesis should convey new knowledge and in this way improve our knowledge. There are two types of thesis: monographies and article-based theses (sammanläggningsavhandlingar). A monograph is a unified and coherent work, while an article-based thesis is composed of a number of articles that have been written during the process of the research degree, accompanied by a unifying summary of these (kappa). Certain of the articles included may have been co-authored with several other people, but the individual PhD candidate must be the main writer for a significant proportion of the thesis. At least three weeks before the final public examination, the doctoral thesis must be publicly available at the University library with a sufficient number of copies to allow satisfactory review of the work prior to the examination. There is a fair amount that needs to be arranged in connection with this examination and the publication of a thesis. A check-list can be found here.

The licentiate degree can be completed after two years of full-time studies, provided that all the necessary courses have been completed and that the research student has written a thesis equivalent to at least 60 hp, which has been defended and approved at a ’licentiate seminar’. A PhD student who has been admitted to a doctoral programme cannot be forced against their will to submit for a licentiate degree, even if it is common practice in some subjects to complete a licentiate degree on the way towards a doctoral degree. Certain subjects also insist upon an obligatory ’half-time control’ seminar after two years (in which case this is to be included in the individual study plan). Details as to how the examination of the licentiate thesis is to proceed can be found in the general study plan for each subject’s research degrees.

PhD students who teach undergraduate courses should normally have completed introductory teacher training or have attained equivalent skills via other means. It should be noted that all doctoral students at Uppsala University have the right to attend the shared, university-wide course in pedagogical training, and it is the Head of Department or Director of Studies that approves participation in such courses. Different faculties have different models in place for how they compensate for the time that PhD students spend in completing this course. Some departments are prepared to recognize this course as equivalent to a course for the research degree and thus include it as such. Other departments regard this course as a matter of staff training, and treats it as part of the employment as an assistant (institutionstjänstgöring; see below for more details). Some general information about teaching and educational training at Uppsala University can be found in the document Teaching and Learning at Uppsala University. For more information about the teaching at your department, you can contact your supervisor, or for instance the director of research studies or faculty doctoral council.

According to national university regulations each PhD programme should have a General study syllabus (allmän studieplan). In addition to this, an Individual study plan (Individuell studieplan) should also be agreed upon for each PhD student (the Higher Education Ordinance, chapter 6 § 29). The latter plan shall include details such as the particular degree being pursued, the time-plan for the programme, the financing of the studies, any intended teaching, any special conditions relating to place of work, computers and other equipment, as well as information about the project’s supervisors and the extent of supervision expected. (More information on the General study syllabuses and Individual study plans can be found in the Guidelines for Third-cycle Education at UppsalaUniversity. The individual study plan is a document with legally binding effect and is to be reviewed at least once per year by the PhD student and supervisors, modified where necessary and then signed by PhD student, supervisors and the Head of Department. If needed, the individual study plan should be revised more often. The purpose of such follow-up is to ensure the research project is proceeding satisfactorily, and to recognize and solve potential problems at as early a stage as possible. All parties should remember that the study plan is a legally binding document, which means that it states your obligations as a PhD student, and at the same time the University’s obligations towards you. This also means that the study plan can be utilized, e.g. by a PhD student who feels that something provided for in the study plan has not been given.

For each PhD student at least two supervisors should be appointed: a main supervisor, with primary responsibility for the research degree and the doctoral thesis, and a supporting supervisor. At least one of these supervisors must be qualified as a ’docent’. Similarly, at least one supervisor must be employed by, or adjunct to, Uppsala University. The chief task of the supervisors is to help the PhD student develop into an independent researcher. The supervisor should:

  • Act as a conversant in an academic discussion, helping with the choice of thesis topic and ensuring that this is realistic and practically conceivable;
  • Review manuscripts and other relevant material, and aid in the process of revising texts and results for publication;
  • Recommend appropriate courses and interesting and relevant reading material;
  • Assist with establishing contact with other institutions in Sweden and abroad;
  • Help in guiding the PhD student in visiting and participating in international conferences and meetings;
  • Recommend potential sources of research funding and financial support.

Uppsala university's organization

  • Outline
  • FDC
  • Ombudsman
  • ID and nations

As a PhD student, you have a right to influence your education: a right guaranteed by legislation. Student representation at Uppsala University is at the moment organized by the University’s six student unions (studentkårer), with the swedish names: Uppsala studentkår, Farmaceutiska studentkåren, Uppsala Teknolog- och Naturvetarkår, Uppsalaekonomerna, Juridiska föreningen, and Gotlands studentkår Rindi. Which of these particular unions that represents you depends on which faculty or campus you belong to. Membership in these organizations is entirely voluntary. For further information, including details on how to join, visit:

The Doctoral Board (Doktorandnämnden) is a co-operative body for the representation of all doctoral students from across the University’s faculties (irrespective of membership in the specific student unions). The Board deals with university-wide issues relating to PhD students, and is responsible for appointing PhD student representatives for various key boards and committees at the university level, as well as arranging social activities to bring doctoral students from different parts of the University together. To influence the PhD education within your particular faculty, you should turn to the specific committees established for this: the Faculty Doctoral Councils (fakultetsdoktorandråden). These councils are concerned with monitoring the situation of doctoral students in their respective faculties, as well as with appointing PhD student representatives for the faculties’ decision-making bodies and for the Doctoral Board. Within the area of Humanities and Social Sciences, there is a further body for cooperation between the various faculty-level councils, namely the Doctoral Committee for the Humanities and Social Sciences or HSDU (after the Swedish name Humanistiska och samhällsvetenskapliga doktorandutskottet), which discusses area-wide questions and selects representatives for the governing boards at this level (i.e. humsam), in particular the Board for the Disciplinary Domain (Områdesnämnden).

Many departments at the University also have their own particular organizations or associations for PhD students (doktorandföreningar), which serve to promote their member’s interests. These organizations play a vital role in allowing PhD students to connect with their peers and in working towards the improvement of their working environments and employment conditions. For further information about how to start up such an organization, contact the Chair of the Doctoral Board. If such an association exists at your department, it may appoint a PhD student representative to serve on the department’s governing board. Otherwise the department normally advertises the candidacy of such a position, according with the University’s statutes and regulations. All student and PhD student representatives are appointed for a mandate period of one year at a time.

There are the following Faculty Doctoral Councils (fakultetsdoktorand-råd) at the University:

  • The Doctoral Council of Pharmacy (Farmaceutiska doktorandrådet; FDR),
  • The Doctoral Council of the Humanities (Humanistiska doktorandrådet; HDR),
  • The Doctoral Council of Law (Juridiska doktorandrådet; JDR),
  • The Doctoral Council of Medical Sciences (Medicinska doktorandrådet; MDR),
  • The Doctoral Council of the Social Sciences (Samhälls-vetenskapliga doktorandrådet; SDR),
  • The Doctoral Council of Theology (Teologiska doktorand-rådet; TDR)
  • The Doctoral Council of Science and Technology (Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga doktorandrådet; TNDR), and
  • The Doctoral Council of Educational Sciences (Utbildningsvetenskapliga doktorandrådet; UDR).

Contact information for the respective councils can be found here.

There are normally PhD representatives in the different councils and boards at the respective levels. The Doctoral Board elects representatives at the university level, and the different Doctoral Council or their joint committees (e.g. HSDU) elect representatives at the Faculty and Disciplinary Domain levels.

Also, the PhD students are normally represented in the different Forums, Centres and Networks located at or tied to the University. How the doctoral representation is organized and elected varies.

For further information on the structure of the University, visit the following link. 

If a study-related problem occurs during your time as a PhD student you can contact the Student- and PhD Student Ombudsmen, employed by the student unions, for advice and support. Such issues can for example regard questions about your rights when it comes to parental leave, occupational health care or a change of supervisors. The ombudsmen never pursue a matter or share information on your situation with a third party without your consent to specifically do so.

For further information, visit the link

You can contact the ombudsmen at:

All students at the University, including PhD students, are eligible to apply for a student identification card at the beginning of each term, at the moment there is an agreement with Mecenat. The student identification card entitles the holder to student discounts on items ranging from books and computers to train and bus tickets and much more (further details can be found at or at Membership of either a student union or a nation is also printed on this card. However, you are entitled to a student identification card even if you are not a member of a student union or nation. If you are a member of a student nation, the card can be used, together with a valid proof of identification, to gain entry to Uppsala’s 13 student nations.

These nations play an important role in student life in Uppsala, both socially and for your studies. Besides being an excellent place to meet people studying a diverse range of subjects, nations also offer student accommodation, scholarships, libraries, pubs, food, cafes, student parties (gasquer), sports associations, choirs, theatre societies, orchestras and many other things that can enrich your time as a student in Uppsala. The funding scholarships available through nations can also provide a valuable extra form of financial support for research-related travel, purchases of equipment, fieldwork etc. More information about these organizations, how to join, forthcoming events and scholarships can be found at:

Additional benefits and advantages

  • Wellness Subsidy
  • Accomodation
  • Health Care
  • Unemployment

Uppsala university offers employees a ‘Wellness subsidy’ (friskvårds-bidrag), to promote well-being and physical activity. As a PhD student with an employment position (doktorandanställning) you are currently (2017) entitled to claim up to 2000 kr per year (or 1000 kr per term) for expenses concerning for example training memberships (i.e. a gym-card). To receive the full level of contribution you need to be employed for the whole period that the card is valid for, otherwise a proportional reduction will be made. For more information, visit: ??

Remember that many training- and sport-centers offer student discounts open to PhD students! Studenthälsan, for instance, has two centers under the name Campus1477 (

It can be hard to find accommodation having newly arrived in Uppsala. As a PhD student you are entitled to rent students' accommodation. The university has general information and lists of landlords with student apartments on the page. The student union, Uppsala studentkår, has joined together with the university and local council to form a housing association: This site also offers some useful tips and advice on finding a place to live. Many departments at the university also have some form of accommodation for rent for shorter periods of time to visiting researchers, newly-arrived PhD students etc., so do check with your department if you are struggling to find somewhere to live.


The student health organization, Studenthälsan  specializes in study-related problems. They employ general practitioners, counselors, psychologists and nurses. Studenthälsan works actively with preventive health care, such as through the provision of ’health profiles’ after consultation with a nurse. The clinic also works with courses/groups, seminars and a focus on study environments. These courses include stress-management courses aimed at and tailored to PhD student.

Uppsala University uses occupational health care to prevent work-related illness, physical as well as psychological, poor health, injuries and disease, and to help individuals to return to work and to start work adaptation and rehabilitation as soon as possible. Following the first of January 2015, the University’s health care provider is Feel Good AB. All registered research students, regardless of their source of funding, have a right to use the services of the occupational health organization, provided that they have a degree of activity of minimum 20 percent. Visits are approved by and paid for by the Head of Department/equivalent or the Personnel department. For conversational support, three visits are paid for by the Personnel department, without the Head of Department/equivalent needing to be informed, but for further visits you need to consult with your Head of Department/equivalent, since further visits are paid for by the Department/equivalent.  

Employed personnel can be reimbursed by the University for Costs for medical care and medication. For further information, visit: ??? (only available in Swedish, and requires login for Medarbetarportalen).  

If you have been a member of an unemployment fund (a-kassa) and meet certain conditions you are entitled to claim unemployment benefits while you apply for jobs after graduation. It is generally the case that membership in such a fund is connected to trade union membership, though there are exceptions. The most important condition in order to receive unemployment benefits is to have been a member in an unemployment fund for at least 12 months. You cannot claim benefits during the time you are studying, even at doctoral level, since you must be applying for jobs and prepared to take available work. Note that receiving a study grant, even including a 20 percent commission as assistant, does not entitle you to benefits. Part-time studies with, for instance, a half-time employment as a PhD student reduces the level of unemployment benefits you may claim. Contact these unemployment funds and the trade unions for more detailed information about the rules and regulations relating to unemployment benefit.

Funding and financial support

  • PhD Employment
  • Assistant employment
Employment as a PhD student shall normally relate to work full-time.
If a PhD student so requests, the employment may relate to work
part-time, however, no less than 50 percent of full-time (the Higher
Education Ordinance, chapter 5 § 3 a). The salary for this position is
to follow a development curve that is negotiated annually by the trade
union, see (Swedish only).

As an employee, you are provided with a range of benefits, including
paid holiday, sickness benefits and paid parental leave. You are also
entitled to paid leave in connection with funerals of relatives, moving
accommodation and medical appointments. There are different
systems in use for the practicalities of taking holiday depending on the
department; speak to your particular Personnel administrator to find
out what applies for your department.

According to the Higher Education Ordinance (chapter 5 § 2) employed PhD students are supposed to primarily devote themselves to their own education (where the own research is included). However, PhD students are commissioned to work up to 20 percent full-time as an assistant (institutionstjänstgöring). This time can normally be spread out over the years of your education and does not count as part of the doctoral program. This means that working 20 percent as an assistant reduces the pace of studies to 80 percent, with the result that the education will take five years instead of four. Working as an assistant can cover a range of tasks in your department, from teaching and supervising labs to copying and administration.

You do not have to perform any teaching or other departmental duties unless your contract for your scholarship allows it, and it is written in your individual study plan. You generally do not have to do anything that is not stated in your Individual study plan. Some flexibility is however allowed, for example, if a senior asks you to help out with smaller issues with short notice (and you do not have time to revise the study plan).