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A main supervisor and at least one co-supervisor must be appointed for each PhD programme. The supervisors plan the PhD degree programme together with the PhD student and ensure its completion. As a PhD student, you are entitled to academic supervision, and the Graduate School of Health regards good supervision as essential to a successful PhD programme.

Choice of supervisor

We advise you to get in contact with potential supervisors before applying for enrolment as a recommendation from the main supervisor is mandatory as part of the application for enrolment (and fellowship).

Contact to potential supervisors can be established through the Head of the Graduate Programme. Alternatively, contact details of all researchers at AU can be found in the AU researcher database “Find a Researcher”.

The main supervisor must be employed by the Faculty and be on the level of an Associate Professor or Professor. The main supervisor is responsible for the entire PhD study. Additionally, one or more co-supervisors with supplementary professional/academic knowledge, which is considered necessary for the completion of the project, must be appointed.

In addition, co-supervisors employed by the Faculty must be on the level of a PhD or equivalent. There is no requirement for the co-supervisor to be employed by the faculty. If the PhD project is conducted outside the university, as a rule one of the co-supervisors must be employed by the institution at which the project is conducted.

In the case of industrial PhD students, one of the co-supervisors must be affiliated with the company by which the PhD student is employed.

It is the Head of the Graduate School, who appoints PhD supervisors. In the appointment process, emphasis is placed on the supervisors ability to cover all professional/academic aspects of the project. Furthermore, it is emphasised that supervisors are active researchers within the given field of study. If the applicant wishes to have more than a total of three supervisors affiliated with the project, an argumentation for this must be submitted.

Supervision collaboration

A good relationship between the PhD student and the supervisor is often the reason why a student chooses a particular supervisor, but it is equally important that the parties discuss expectations and roles before agreeing to collaborate.

You should talk about financing, teaching obligations, GP activities, the responsibilities of the parties, meeting activity, study periods abroad, etc. As a PhD student, you should expect to be the party initiating the collaboration. In addition to having relevant academic knowledge, networks cutting across faculty borders and a history of solid research production, your supervisor should be good at communicating and creating a good environment.

A supervisor’s responsibility

The supervisors have obligations to both the PhD student and the graduate school. They define the project together with the PhD student. It is your personal responsibility as a student to complete the PhD programme, but the supervisor is responsible for providing support throughout this process in the form of qualified feedback.

The main supervisor is responsible for:

  • establishing a schedule for regular meetings with the student, when all aspects of your work can be discussed. Such an agreement includes regular weekly or monthly meetings, for example, depending on the nature of the project
  • ensuring that the PhD student is informed about the necessary safety precautions to be taken in laboratories and/or departments, about the graduate school’s regulations regarding IT security and the necessary legal requirements and research ethics relating to the project
  • discussing the work done and, if necessary, reviewing the purpose of the work in the light of progress made and external factors such as financing the project or the publication of new findings that make it necessary to reassess the project. The main supervisor must also be able to tell you to stop if the results achieved indicate interesting – but uncertain and time-consuming – sub-projects
  • ensuring that the PhD student has the opportunity to present his or her own work both internally and externally and the opportunity to join a journal club or similar activity
  • ensuring that the degree programme is completed
  • contacting the PhD supervisor if problems arise affecting the completion of the degree programme
  • submitting the required evaluations
  • submitting proposals for assessment committees

The main supervisor and/or co-supervisor are responsible for:

  • providing day-to-day supervision including the planning of protocols, discussion of practical problems, if relevant, and discussion and compilation of results
  • ensuring that the PhD student acquires a general understanding of the relevant literature and that you keep up to date with the latest relevant articles
  • providing constructive criticism and feedback regarding submitted manuscripts/publications and the dissertation, within a time frame that ensures the dissertation is submitted on time
  • being informed at all times about the progress of the PhD student’s work



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Revised 12.09.2016