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Supervision - PhD

The PhD candidate’s supervisor is responsible for supervising and monitoring the candidate during the PhD programme. The faculty appoints a supervisor and enters into a contract with an external supervisor. The supervisory relationship is regulated by a contract and ethical guidelines.

How and when do I get a supervisor?

The applicant submits an application without formal affiliation with a supervisor and without approval from a supervisor. Upon appointment as a doctoral research fellow/admission as a PhD candidate, the faculty will appoint a main supervisor. The main supervisor will normally be a faculty employee. Awarding of grants and admission to the PhD programme are dependent on the faculty having the supervisory competence and capacity in the field of the applicant’s thesis.

The co-supervisor is appointed when the project is of such an interdisciplinary character that this is deemed necessary. If a PhD candidate and main supervisor determine that there is such a need, a request for appointment will be submitted to the research adviser and the PhD leader together with a CV, start date and estimated distribution of supervision hours. The research adviser will draw up a letter of appointment and an agreement between the co-supervisor and the faculty. An agreement can also be entered into with an external co-supervisor, but it is important to note that no additional funds are normally allocated for this. The question of remuneration of an external supervisor must therefore be clarified before any agreement can be concluded.

Supervisors will either be a professor or will hold a doctoral degree/equivalent qualification.

Scope of the supervision

  • 180 hours of work are the recommended norm for doctoral supervision (includes supervisors’ preparatory work and follow-up).
  • Supervision hours are distributed between the main supervisor and co-supervisor according to the agreement between the parties and the unit.

The scope of the supervision will normally vary throughout the different phases of the PhD period.

Expectations regarding supervision

When the candidate and supervisor sign the admission agreement, they also enter into a mutually-binding contract. The admission agreement stipulates the following with regard to the supervisory relationship:

The candidate and the supervisor have a mutual obligation to keep each other informed of all circumstances of significance to the implementation of the supervision.

The supervisor’s role includes the following:

  • providing the candidate with academic advice and assisting with the practical planning of the work so that the project can be carried out within the framework of the PhD education
  • assisting the candidate in formulating and defining the topic and area of focus
  • briefing the candidate in academic literature and data sources (library, archives etc.)
  • helping to introduce the candidate to relevant academic environments
  • staying up to date with the progress of the candidate’s work and assessing it in relation to the work plan
  • advising the candidate on research ethics questions relating to the thesis
  • taking the initiative to discuss with the candidate how the supervision will take place
  • complying with the ethical guidelines for supervisors at the University of Oslo

Doctoral candidates shall:

  • plan the work such that the project can be carried out within the framework of the doctoral education
  • present reports or a draft of all or parts of the thesis to the supervisor at least every six months, unless otherwise agreed with the supervisor - parts of the thesis can be presented in a seminar or tutorial group.
  • comply with the agreements entered into with the supervisor regarding delivery, supervision, participation in seminars etc.
  • comply with research ethics principles for their subject area

Changes to the supervisory relationship

The research adviser must be notified of any changes to the supervisory relationship, or appointment of a new supervisor or co-supervisor. Either a dedicated supervisor agreement must be drawn up or changes must be introduced into the existing admission agreement and sent to the parties for signing.

Change of supervisor

If a doctoral candidate or supervisor believes that the other party is not fulfilling its obligations, the party claiming a breach must raise the matter with the other party. The candidate and the supervisor must jointly try to find a solution to the situation that has arisen. Any request to be released from the supervision agreement must be addressed to the faculty. The decision to release the doctoral candidate and the supervisor from the supervisory agreement will be made by the Programme Council for the PhD education.

It is important not to let a poorly functioning supervisory relationship continue for a long period of time. How the supervision ought to work should be covered in a meeting between the supervisor and the candidate. If the supervision does not function satisfactorily, either for the supervisor or the candidate, the matter should be taken up directly with the other party. If the relationship makes this difficult, you should contact the PhD leader. The PhD leader has a clearly-defined ombudsman function in relation to all candidates on the programme. Discussions on progress with the PhD leader and annual reports from the candidate and the supervisor should help to ensure that the quality of supervision is adequate.

Joint supervision agreements (cotutelle)

A joint supervision agreement can be entered into with an institution abroad, which entails supervision and a stay at both institutions. Either the doctoral candidate or the supervisor can initiate such an agreement and establish contact with the partner institution. The faculty management will decide whether such agreements may be entered into.


Published Apr. 22, 2015 8:22 AM - Last modified Oct. 9, 2020 6:49 AM