For you as a doctoral student

On this page, you will find information about what you need to know as a doctoral student at MDU.

The rules and guidelines that apply to an individual third-cycle subject are specified in the general syllabus for the subject. In this way, the general syllabus constitutes a regulatory framework for the third-cycle subject. It is thus an important governing document for your doctoral studies.

The general syllabus is specific to each individual third-cycle subject and may differ in terms of requirements for obtaining a degree. For example, a third-cycle subject may require you as a doctoral student to take 60 credits of courses, while a doctoral student admitted to another third-cycle subject must take 50 credits of courses.

What is an individual study plan?

The individual study plan is one of the most important documents that you as a doctoral student have during your studies. The individual study plan is a mutual agreement in which your, and the University's, commitments are documented and followed up.

The individual study plan contains what you as a doctoral student must do during your time as a doctoral student and what the University must do to create the conditions for you to be able to achieve the qualitative targets for a doctoral degree or licentiate degree. The individual study plan contains your planned activities and completed activities, such as courses, conferences, thesis project (e.g. when you are going to study the subject, collect data or write a manuscript), any academic duties and similar.

Do I need to have an individual study plan?

Yes. The university is obliged to ensure that you as a doctoral student have an individual study plan and that the plan is written in consultation with you. That is, you and your principal supervisor must write your individual study plan together within three months of being admitted. Your individual study plan must then be followed up annually.

Where can I find my individual study plan?

The University uses a digital system for managing individual study plans called W-ISP. Through this system, you and your principal supervisor write down the activities you are going to do, how your supervision is to be provided, your form of funding and the like. Through this system, your individual study plan will then be reviewed by others before the plan is approved by the relevant committee. This process is part of the University's quality assurance work for doctoral education.

In 2023, the university started a process to change the system, from W-ISP to Ladok ISP. Information about the transition and what it will mean for you as a doctoral student will be provided on an ongoing basis on the internal portal.

What must be stated in the individual study plan?

In the individual study plan, activities that provide the conditions for achieving the national qualitative targets and what is stated in the general syllabus for the subject must be specified, which includes:

  • the content, approach, and time plan for the research project
  • how the entire period of study will be funded (the funding plan must be
    available in the individual study plan or in cases where an agreement forms the basis for secured funding, a reference to the agreement's
    reference number must be included)
  • that the principal supervisor and other supervisors appointed to the doctoral student are stated
  • that the planned and actually estimated progression in the education as well as the planned and actual degree of activity are shown
  • that research projects requiring granted permission in order to be conducted, such as ethical permission, the reference number of the granted permit or statement must be specified in the individual study plan, or the individual study plan states that ethical permission must be applied for. A permit must be granted before the relevant research begins.

At Mälardalens University you have the right to supervision corresponding to 100 hours per year (during full-time studies). For doctoral students with a lower degree of activity supervision will be reduced with the equivalent number of hours. This is a minimum level provided by the principal supervisor together with one or more supervisors. No principal supervisor must be bound to more supervision than the equivalent of seven full-time doctoral students.

The supervisor's responsibilities and obligations towards the doctoral student

The person appointed as the principal supervisor and supervisor are the University's representatives towards the doctoral student during their third-cycle education. This entails a professional approach and being well acquainted with the rules and conditions concerning third-cycle studies. This applies to national as well as local rules and guidelines.

The principal supervisor has an overriding responsibility in consultation with the doctoral student,

  • to draw up and annually follow up on the individual study plan
  • to ensure that agreements, when admitting doctoral students with
    external funding, are established and decided by the Legal Officer
  • to facilitate that you reaches all their qualitative targets.
  • to ensure that your research studies are realistic based on time and conditions and that they have a high quality
  • to ensure that you conducts the quality assurance seminars specified in the general syllabus
  • to ensure that your publications comply with the Vancouver recommendations regarding co-authorship.

Distribution of work duties between supervisors

The division of duties between the principal supervisor, supervisors and any external supervisors must be decided between them. This division of duties should be recorded in the doctoral student’s individual study plan.

Sometimes situations may arise when it is appropriate for the doctoral student to change supervisors.

Change supervisor

Examples of such situations include:

  • the supervisor becomes seriously ill
  • an intimate personal relationship develops between a supervisor and doctoral student or between supervisors in the supervisor group
  • the supervisor leaves his/her employment
  • an insoluble conflict arises between the doctoral student and the supervisor.

According to the Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 6, Section 28, doctoral students who request it have the right to change supervisors. Decisions on the change of supervisor are made by the faculty board's committees after consultation with the School.

If there are allegations of discrimination and or harassment, the case must be handled in accordance with the University's case management plan.

How to change supervisor constellation

If a supervisor change becomes relevant, or additional supervisors are added, the doctoral student must request this on a special form.

Within your education, you should also take a number of courses and, depending on the subject, participate in various credit-bearing components that you can use in your degree. The number of credits that you should read is regulated in the general study plan (syllabus) to which you are admitted. It also states whether certain courses and/or components are compulsory.

You must check with your principal supervisor before taking a course. All courses that you take should be written into your individual study plan and reconciled with the degree objectives.

Previously completed higher education programmes or higher education modules may be credit transferred.

The Head of division, or a person/authority with delegation, takes decisions on whether a higher education programme/module can be credit transferred.​​​​​​​

At the University, doctoral students must present their ongoing doctoral studies internally, but also at public seminars to provide the research community and the public with insight into the research that is conducted at the University.

The University recommends that this is done by conducting at least three seminars during the programme (with a doctoral degree as the goal); at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the programme.

The purpose of the seminars is for you to be given the opportunity to discuss your ongoing work and to have it reviewed by internal and external senior researchers. Furthermore, they will ensure the quality of the work and that the rules of research ethics are complied with.

Doctoral students (with a doctoral degree as their goal) must complete the corresponding mid-way and final reviews during their studies.

Which seminars and how they are designed may differ depending on which third-cycle subject you are admitted to.

According to the Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 5, Section 2, if you are employed on a doctoral studentship you may use up to 20 per cent of your time on departmental duties.

You will agree with your principal supervisor whether it is relevant for you to include, for example, teaching within your study period. The time you spend on teaching must be documented in your individual study plan and means that your study time and employment period are extended by the corresponding time.

If you are employed by another employer, you may have a larger percentage included, however these duties cannot amount to more than 50 per cent overall. You need to have activities other than your research work specified in an agreement between your employer and the University.

During your time as a doctoral student, you may write articles, conference papers, manuscripts and the like together with your supervisors and/or possibly together with other people.

The Vice-Chancellor has decided on guidelines regarding co-authorship and the order of authorship for researchers and doctoral students at Mälardalen University.

The Vancouver recommendations

The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following four criteria:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or reviewing it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Choosing a journal

When you are going to submit your manuscript to a journal, you should be vigilant about the choice of journal and, in some cases, the publisher. The University Library can help you if you are unsure whether the journal you have been looking at is such a type of journal.

An approved leave from studies spans a predefined and time-limited period and as a doctoral student, you will continue your education when the period of leave from studies has expired.

You need to apply for approved leave from studies on a special form.

The period of employment may not exceed eight years (doctoral degree) or four years (licentiate degree). However, as a doctoral student, you can have this time extended.

The time may only be extended if there are special reasons for doing so in accordance with Chapter 6. 29 § Higher Education Ordinance. Such reasons may include:

  1. illness;
  2. leave of absence for service in the Swedish defence forces or
  3. an elected position in a trade union or student organisation, or
  4. parental leave.

At Mälardalen University, doctoral students employed as doctoral students are entitled to a 10 per cent reduction in working hours for their assignments as doctoral student representatives in the University's preparatory and decision-making bodies. The doctoral student who acts as chair of the doctoral student council is entitled to a 20 per cent reduction in working hours according to the same routine. The time that the doctoral student spends in various bodies is deducted from the possibility of academic service in accordance with Chapter 5. 2 § Higher Education Ordinance.

A notification of non-completion of studies means that you as a doctoral student permanently end your doctoral studies. Notification of non-completion of studies can only be made by you as a doctoral student, and the notification means that you have a permanent non-completion of studies.

Notification of permanent non-completion of studies is made on a special form.

Mälardalen University must withdraw supervision and other resources for doctoral students who to a significant extent disregard their commitments in the individual study plan according to Chapter 6, Section 30 of the Higher Education Ordinance.

Resources may not be withdrawn from doctoral students holding doctoral studentships for the period in which the doctoral student has been appointed to
a doctoral studentship pursuant to in accordance with Chapter 6, Section 30 of the Higher Education Ordinance.

A decision to withdraw resources can be appealed to the Higher Education Appeals Board (ÖNH). External link.

During your time as a doctoral student, you are encouraged to participate in international contexts with your research.

It can be to present your ongoing research at a conference or go on short stays to another university abroad.

Through Erasmus exchanges, you as a doctoral student have the opportunity to apply for funding for such stays and exchanges. Information about Erasmus can be found here:

You can also contact the international coordinator at your school.

Disciplinary measures may be taken in accordance with Chapter 10, Section 1, of
the Higher Education Ordinance against students who:

  • use prohibited aids or other methods to attempt to deceive during
    examinations or in the assessment of other forms of study performance
  • disrupt or impede teaching, tests or other operations, within the framework of courses and study programmes at the University,
  • disrupt activities in the University Library or any other separate
    establishment at the University, or
  • expose another student or employee to harassment or sexual harassment such as that which is referred to in Chapter 1, Section 4 of the Discrimination Act (2008:567).

This also applies to doctoral students. Disciplinary matters are dealt with by MDU’s Disciplinary Board and the student has the right to be heard on the matter and also to be present when others address the Disciplinary Board on the matter, unless there are special grounds to the contrary pursuant to Chapter 10, Sections 9–11 of the Higher Education Ordinance

You can turn to one of the following persons if you have questions that you do not feel you can discuss with your supervisor(s):

  • your Head of department who is responsible for your working environment
  • Director of Doctoral Education within your third-cycle subject
  • Dean of School
  • Doctoral Student Council
  • Doctoral Education Coordinator
  • Pro Deans or the Dean of the Faculty Board

At Mälardalen University, there is zero tolerance for discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and victimisation, as well as threats and violence.

If you have seen or experienced something that does not seem right, you can make a report in the University's system Aj, oj halloj

You can also contact the, Pro Dean Economics Committee, the Pro Dean Healthcare Committee, the Pro Dean Engineering Committee or the Pro Dean Education Committee.

Third-cycle studies is regulated by laws, regulations and ordinances. This means that the University is obliged, as a public authority, to comply with what has been decided in the Higher Education Act and the Higher Education Ordinance.

Regulations and guidelines for third-cycle studies at Mälardalen University, contains both the national laws and rules and the local regulations and guidelines that the University has, and which regulate third-cycle studies at Mälardalen University – from admission to the degree.

As a doctoral student, you need to have knowledge of these regulations and guidelines. The document also contains information about your rights as a doctoral student at Mälardalen University.

Coordinators for Third-cycle studies