A postgraduate education is the highest academic education at a university. The PhD program involves four years of full-time studies or eight years of part-time studies corresponding to 240 credits and concludes with a doctoral degree. The education prepares you for a continued career in the academy or outside the university. The main objective of the medical education at doctoral level is to educate researchers who can advance the development in medicine, partly through their own new discoveries, partly through critical examination and introduction of forthcoming new experiences and methods in health care.
The content of the PhD programme
The doctoral program contains various steps towards a thesis. At the Faculty of Medicine there is one subject that PhD candidates can be admitted to; Medical Science. The research work is the dominant part of the education at doctoral level and the doctoral student's contribution must be clearly distinguishable.
A supervisor and assistant supervisor are appointed in connection with the admission of the doctoral student. The supervisor's task is, among other things, to ensure that the dissertation work progresses in a reasonable pace, ensuring that the doctoral student acquires the knowledge stated in the study plan and to support and encourage and be available for discussions with the doctoral student. All supervisors must have a PhD degree and have attended the course for supervisors.
Individual study plan
At admission, an individual study plan is drawn up that should reflect the content of the doctoral education and which the doctoral student and the supervisor together must update at least once a year. The content fo the study plan is an agreement between the doctoral student and the supervisor and shall contain information about the project, courses, planned thesis work, supervision, conferences, half-time review and other things that are needed for the doctoral student to achieve his or her goals in the doctoral education.
The doctoral program contains a course package with compulsory courses that the doctoral student must attend, preferably during the first two years. There are courses in ethics, scientific and oral communication, statistics, qualitative methods and knowledge in collaboration. In addition to the courses, there is also a Portfolio (called Generic knowledge and skills) where the doctoral student must document and reflect on his or her entire postgraduate education. The courses and the Portfolio together comprise 28 credits.
Seminars and other training activities
During the postgraduate program, it is compulsory for doctoral students to attend at least six seminars per year during three years (for doctoral students admitted to a licentiate degree for 1½ years) within their specific focus area within the subject medical science. This includes public defenses, half-time reviews or equivalent. Exactly what is to be included is specified in the individual study plan and participation is reported within the portfolio in the course Generic knowledge and skills.
The doctoral students are also encouraged to participate in scientific conferences, both national and international. Teaching, administrative tasks and participation in committees and boards may also be relevant for doctoral students.
When approximately half the time of the postgraduate education has passed, a half-time review is organised. The half-time review is not a formal examination, but the purpose is to give the doctoral student support and advice on how to continue the thesis work in the best way. Prior to the half-time review, the doctoral student writes a brief report of the project and attach manuscripts/papers which is presented at the seminar. The half-time review takes the form of a public seminar with two external reviewers. Following the seminar, an individual conversation follows between doctoral students, all supervisors and reviewers. At the half-time review, the Portfolio is also assessed.
The thesis is the final aim of the doctoral program. The thesis must be designed as a composite thesis, i.e. multiple scientific articles that the student has written alone or jointly with one or more other persons. This means that it contains articles and a summary (kappa) that will present the articles in a relevant context. The norm for the number of articles in the thesis is three to four where two are to be published or accepted. The doctoral student must be the sole first author of one of the published articles and the first author of at least one of the other articles.
The dissertation is the actual examination occasion and is a public event. Prior to the public defense, a chairman is appointed for the public defense, an opponent and an assessment committee consisting of three persons with scientific competence. In due time before the public defense, the assessment committee has made a preliminary review of the thesis and submitted a statement on whether the thesis is of such magnitude and quality that a public defense can be recommended. At the public defense, the faculty opponent briefly describes the content of the thesis and the doctoral student answers questions. The word is then freely open for a discussion, when the members of the assessment committee and other members of the audience may ask questions and pose comments on the dissertation. The doctoral thesis may receive a pass or fail. In grading, the assessment committee takes into account both the content of the thesis and the defense of the thesis.