Aarhus Universitets segl


Timeline for PhD study

Overall formal structure

  • Start
  • 2 months –PhD plan to be uploaded and approved (latest after 3 months) in PhD Planner
  • Qualifying exam 1½-2 years
  • Handing in thesis – 3 or 4 years
  • PhD defence ~2.5 month after handing in the thesis

Recurring formal support

  • Revisit “The good plan” for lab/field-based studies in collaboration with supervisor and TAP-supervisor

Every half year

  • Revisit student-supervisor alignment of expectations
  • Well-being conversations (held prior to half year evaluation)
  • March 1st and September 1st – half year evaluation (update the PhD Planner)

Every year in autumn

  • SDD/MUS with discussion on future career – will be held once every year with section leader
  • PhD day at the AGRO Researcher Days

Building up your PhD plan

The PhD plan is jointly prepared by you and your supervisors and a complete PhD plan must be submitted no later than 2 months after the beginning of your PhD study. Later amendments to the plan can be submitted in connection with the half-year evaluations. In fact you are encouraged to update your PhD plan every 6 months. Ask your PhD buddy or supervisor for an example as inspiration.

Some parts of the plan should be put directly into the PhD planner:

  • Courses
  • Dissemination
  • Change of environment
  • Publications
  • Duty work
  • Supervisor agreement

You can find a template for a PhD plan in the box to the right.

Matching expectations

Info will follow

TAP collaboration

The collaboration and cooperation between PhD and TAP is very important. To help with this work we have created some documents to describe and plan the work:

  • TAP supervisor expectations letter
  • Den gode plan/the good plan

The documents can be found in the box to the right.

BUDDY function - job description

Your work as a buddy is very important. As a buddy you are expected to help new PhD students adapt to the new environment and to make sure that they become an integrated part of the research environment in the section and in the department. You shall be available for assistance and act as a go-to-person.


As a buddy you are expected to help the new student with the following:

  1. Directional layout of premises – for instance, direction to the canteen, coffee corners, toilets etc.
  2. The bus transport schedule (bus times to and from the person’s place of residence if relevant)
  3. Remind the new students that they should be registered at the Kommune and open a bank account
  4. Mention of important websites :
    1. Department of Agroecology PhD portal https://agro.au.dk/en/education/phd-programme  
    2. GSTS PhD portal https://phd.tech.au.dk/for-phd-students
    3. Department of Agroecology intranet http://agro.medarbejdere.au.dk/
  5. Inform about half-year evaluation which are fixed to March 1 and September 1
  6. Inform about Lunch seminars
  7. Inform the new student about AGRO´s biannual “well-being” conversations between PhD student and PhD committee member. All students will have a conversation during the months prior to the half-year evaluation (i.e. February and August). Inform about MUS/SDD conversations.
  8. Introduction to the myPhD planner system, and show an example of a PhD plan.
  9. Introduction to the other students in the department
  10. Invite and encourage the new student to come to relevant meetings (sometimes meetings in the calendars have been sent out before the person starts)
  11. Inform about social initiatives at the premises (gym, ping pong, coffee breaks, bread and cake groups, Staff Club, social events etc.)
  12. Explain cultural differences between Danes and people from the rest of the world – Use the angle: “Danes are so strange”
  13. Be observant – is your new colleague happy?

Well-being conversation

Twice a year (before half-year evaluations), a member of the PhD program committee in AGRO will call you in for a “Wellbeing conversation”.

The purpose of the talks is to offer you an opportunity to address issues which might not be easy to discuss with the supervisor, but which can have a profound impact on your well-being. This can be subjects such as the progression of your PhD (on an overall level) and how the cooperation with your supervisor and other staff plays out.

An important subject in the talks is also to take stock on your social well-being, both with regard to work, work-life balance, or any other issues. Examples on topics to discuss could be: loneliness, stress, cultural or gender issues, ideas for improvements (personally or for all students), ideas for student events, or any subject which is important for you at the time of conversation.

The talks are mandatory and confidential and no minutes are made. If needed, a plan for improvement of your well-being will be prepared and followed up upon. Thus, no action is taken unless agreed with you.

You are welcome to contact the PhD program member at any time.

PhD lunch seminar and feedback

The PhD Lunch Seminar takes place during the first half-year after the initiation of your studies.

The actual date is arranged by the PhD secretary and you approximately three (3) months before the day of the presentation.

The seminar lasts a total of 30 minutes including feedback and possible questions. The presentation itself is advised to take between 15 to 20 minutes.

The nature of the presentation is to introduce your project to your colleagues, give an overview of the relative activities planned as well as describe the work to be done.

It includes two segments; the first one focusing on the scientific aspects, principles and hypotheses posed by you and the second on the PhD activities and requirements that you plan to complete such as publications, shift of work environment, courses taken, etc.

Your main Supervisor will briefly introduce you at the beginning of the seminar. In the occasion of him/her not being available, then the task is transferred to the closest member of the PhD Committee.

After your presentation is over there is a short feedback session, where the PhD Committee members present have the task to offer comments and pose questions in regards to the proposed PhD plan and structure and advise you if certain aspects seem irregular or possibly non feasible for that particular case. Scientific nature comments and questions are also welcomed if the fields of research are relevant and similar. Fellow PhD students are encouraged to give you relevant feedback both in connection to your topic but also more general feedback on your presentation technique etc.

Half-year evaluation

In AGRO the half-year evaluations should be made by 1st March and 1st September.

For the PhD student:

  • If you started in May, June, July, August, September, or October – you should submit your first half-year evaluation in March.
  • If you started in November, December, January, February, March, April, - you should submit your first half-year evaluation in September. 

You do NOT need to make an evaluation if:

  • you are in the beginning of your PhD and have just made your PhD plan
  • you are on sick or maternity leave
  • you are in the end of your PhD and have closed the planner as part of finishing your study

Remember to re-visit your PhD Plan (pdf) and make sure that it is updated. In case of changes, upload a new document.

Your evaluation (corresponding to ½-1 page) should be made directly in the dialogue boxes of the PhD planner system after dialogue with your supervisor.

The evaluation should contain information regarding your progress on:

  • scientific work during the last 6 months
  • publications
  • courses
  • dissemination
  • duty work
  • teaching
  • change of environment

Please also update specific details on courses, change of environment etc. directly in the PhD Planner system

It is important to state whether things are moving on as planned and if not state the reason why!

When the half-year evaluation is accomplished, you should click “Send to supervisor”. Please be aware that you do not get an email announcement of changes made by supervisor, Head of Programme  etc. You need to enter the system and check.

If you are in doubt, on which option to choose please contact your supervisor or Head of Programme.

If you update in your PhD plan outside of the half-year evaluation rolls, the plan should only be saved and not sent for evaluation.

For the Supervisor:

It is important that you make the evaluation thoroughly. Once you have gone over your student’s PhD Plan and evaluation, there are two options. If the evaluation is ready to be passed on in the workflow, click the “Complete assessment. Send to student” button at the bottom of the page. This sends the evaluation back to the student for comments before it is passed on to the Head of Programme. If, the student needs to do further work, before it is ready to be passed on in the workflow, you should click the “Return to student for plan adjustments” button. The evaluation is returned to the student for further work, before it is once again passed on to the supervisor for assessment and final acceptance, to the Head of Programme and finally to the Head of School

When the evaluation has been approved by the Head of Programme and the Head of School, the PhD planner status will change to “awaits student planning”.

The evaluation and previous evaluations can be found in “Plan history”.

Ad hoc courses

Supervisors have the possibility to define an ad hoc course designed specifically for a PhD student. Such a course may include participation in a conference, a short internship with a company or other things. A course description (see below) must be prepared and the supervisor is the course responsible. The ad hoc course must be pre-approved by the Head of Programme chair. When the course is finalized, the student/supervisor sends an E-mail to the Head of Programme (lis.w.de.jonge@agro.au.dk) with the following attachments: The course description, statement from the course responsible with a positive assessment of the course activity.

See a template for scientific course announcement in the box to the right.

Approval of PhD courses

See form in the box to the right

The qualifying exam

The purposes of the Qualifying exam are:

  • For the PhD-student a chance to wrap up the present work and get external eyes and advice on the progress and how to best proceed.
  • For the supervisor(s) a chance – if not done before – to initiate talks on the eventual content of the PhD thesis and how to get there.
  • For the PhD-school to ensure that the student accomplishes his/her study as planned and to discuss and validate plans for the rest of the study period.

The Qualifying exam takes a form as a midway seminar where you, your supervisor(s) and the external opponents discuss what has been done so far and the priorities to be made in the remaining part of your study. It should therefore be seen as an opportunity to plan the time schedule and scientific program ahead as well as the formalities for finalizing the PhD thesis and conducting the defense.

The exam usually takes place 18 month before submission of the thesis (if you are a 4+4 students it is after 24 months) and consists of your written progress report and an oral exam. More information can be found here: https://phd.tech.au.dk/for-phd-students/progress-report-qualifying-exam

Overview of the process:

  1. Approximately 3 month prior to the qualifying exam the PhD-student receives notification from the PhD-school describing the formal requirements of the exam.
  2. 6 weeks prior to the exam the PhD-student need to register.
  3. 3 weeks prior to the exam the PhD-student shall hand-in a progress report of maximum 30 pages, where the student briefly introduces the field of research, gives the aim of the PhD-study, gives an overview of the planned work, gives details on accomplished work (we strongly advise to use draft manuscripts directly), give an overview of status on courses, change of environment and duty work, and gives a detailed plan for the remaining study period.
  4. At the qualifying exam the PhD-student first gives a presentation (up to 45 minutes) and secondly discus status and progress with the two examiners and the supervisor(s).  

Guidelines for thesis and defence (who does what?)

AGRO recommends that the PhD thesis is based on normally 3 in extenso peer-reviewed papers published or publishable in internationally recognized journals. This means that the PhD thesis will normally include three or more papers or manuscripts in different stages of completion, which relates to the topic of the PhD project. All parts should have a scientific quality that aligns with the expectations for peer-reviewed publication. Further, the PhD thesis must include sections encompassing the following elements:

  • Summary in English
  • Summary in Danish
  • A general introduction describing the academic field of study in the project including references to existing knowledge along with the purpose/aim of the project and a brief description of the proposed research questions and/or hypotheses
  • A brief description of materials and methods and an assessment/discussion of the applied methodologies
  • A summary of main results, potentially also representing parts that are not included in the attached articles/manuscripts, but still has scientific merit in relation to the PhD topic
  • A critical review section in which the PhD student relates the entirety of own work and results to the state-of-the-art work within the field. The PhD student must demonstrate an up-to-date knowledge hereof and be able to put this knowledge into a broader perspective. The review section should demonstrate the student’s ability to find, synthesize and critically evaluate information from various sources. The section should also document skills in terms of paraphrasing and citation.
  • Conclusion and account of further research perspectives
  • Published articles/submitted manuscript or draft manuscripts

If published articles or submitted manuscripts are included in the thesis, you must ensure that you have permission from the publisher to reproduce these in the thesis. The procedure for obtaining permission depends on the publisher and is found on the journals webpage.

Charlotte Hamann Knudsen will take care of setting up the cover page. Charlotte will be assisting with ideas to the cover page if needed.

No later than 1 month before the defence the student should send this to Charlotte Hamann Knudsen (charlotte.knudsen@agro.au.dk):

  • Pictures for cover page (3 pictures in high quality)
  • Title of the thesis
  • Short summary for the back page (max 650 characters including spacing)

No later than 14 days before the defence the following should be sent to Charlotte:

  • Final thesis in pdf version
  • List of pages with colour ( page number in pdf-file not in content)
  • Information about where the thesis should be sent to (Foulum or Flakkebjerg)

If this deadline is not kept the thesis will NOT be printed.


The official font at AU is AU Passata or Georgia and the size should be 11, 1.5 line spacing.

The first page of the content should be on a right page.

The page numbers are centered at the bottom of the page 10 mm from the bottom.

Margin is:

  • Side: 25 mm
  • Top: 25 mm
  • Bottom: 20 mm

Headlines should be size 12 and bold.

It is possible to have up to 20 single pages with colours, the rest of the pages are black/white.

There will be ordered 25 copies in total. 2 copies will be sent to the library and 2 copies will be kept in the department. The student will have the rest of the copies. If more copies are needed the student will have to pay for these. The 4 copies should be delivered by the student to Karina Rysholt Christensen in Foulum or to Charlotte Hamann Knudsen in Flakkebjerg.

All contact to the printing company will go through Charlotte Hamann Knudsen (charlotte.knudsen@agro.au.dk).

PhD travel guide

Duration of stay up to 10 days

In AGRO it has been decided that the PhD students receive the standard daily allowances in connection with travels up to 10 days (both in Denmark and abroad). The daily allowances cover additional expenses for meals, small items, transportation at the destination etc., paid by the student during the travel. This means that the company Eurocard should not be used during the travel. If free meals are received it should be deducted when making the travel statement in RejsUd.

Additionally, the following will be covered (often via Eurocard before the travel is made):

  • Transportation to and from the main destination (cheapest public transportation)
  • Accommodation#
  • Visas
  • Conference/congress/course fees (including mandatory events paid together with the fee)

These rules also apply for PhD students without salary from AU.

Change of environment*

  • Transportation to and from destination (cheapest public transportation)
  • Visas
  • Documented, reasonable and necessary establishing costs (e.g. bed, chair, table, basic kitchenware)
  • Tuition fee – if it is a necessity in order to carry out the change of environment
  • If conferences/congresses are attended during this time, the above “Duration of stay up to 10 days” is to be implemented.
  • Courses regardless of length are excluded from this category and run with the above description (“Duration of stay up to 10 days”)

All costs related to change of environment should be sent to Karina Rysholt Christensen who will take care of the reimbursement

Work obligations for PhD felloes - duty work

As a PhD student your employment include tasks other than the PhD project amounting to a maximum of 280 hours per year, a total of 840 hours during the PhD, cf. “Cirkulære om overenskomst for Akademikere i staten (link)” and GSTS Rules and Regulations (link).

The department is entitled to assign these tasks, often it is handled by your main supervisor and/or the programme chair.

You must report the extent of duty work the PhD planner and it should be updated at each half year evaluation (specified according to the type of work, e.g. name of course, types of communication/presentation). It should also be discussed with your main supervisor. We urge you to keep score of your work.

All dissemination activities (including lectures) are listed in the PhD Planner under “Dissemination”. Any other kind of duty work must be reported under “Other Activity” or a bullet created by you called “Duty work”.

Examples of duty work can be:

  • Bachelor, graduate or master lectures
  • Lectures at PhD courses
  • Lectures for secondary school students
  • Supervision of bachelor or graduate students
  • Review of articles
  • Experiments not part of the project
  • Articles not part of the dissertation
  • Planning of conferences, theme days, meetings etc.
  • Committee work
  • Tasks related to counselling of the authorities
  • Guided tours for guests
  • Organisation of seminars and journal clubs
  • Buddy for new PhD students

Discussion of duty work ought to be on the agenda at your supervisor meetings. Coordinate the expectations to duty work – especially at the first supervisor meeting and in connection with preparation of the curriculum.

Students in AGRO's PhD committee

Students are expected to:

  • Take part in planning the content of the annual Researcher Days which are held in November. The days are for all VIP and one day is reserved for PhD specific activities. Topics could be:
    • Thesis writing
    • Communication between supervisor and student - How to align expectations
    • Presentation technique
  • Attend PhD committee meetings and contribute with input on the more general matters. There are approximately 3-4 meetings per year (about two hours per meeting)
  • Work as a link between other PhD students and Lis, Karina and the other PhD committee members
  • Opportunity to bring up topics at the PhD committee meeting, e.g. if something does not work as expected or something is really good
  • Plan “Student event” once a year. The event is normally held in Aarhus over two days. The main purpose is to strengthen the social PhD network, but it should also contain a professional part.
    • Topics could be:
      • ​​​​​​​Stress management
      • PhD wellbeing

What do students get out of it?

  • Influence on issues to be addressed and decisions to be made
  • Participation counts as part of duty work

Working Environment Forum (W.E.F.) for PhDs and Postdocs

W.E.F. is a platform to address all kinds of social, mental, or professional issues related to our work at AGRO-Foulum as well as a forum to share knowledge and relevant links for further help and information.

The group aims at being a dynamic and constructive forum to discuss relevant issues among PhDs and Post Docs. It is dynamic in the sense that topics will develop over time according to the wishes and the needs of the participants. This requires that participants are open and active (also outside of meetings).

W.E.F. is a safe space to discuss issues, challenges, complains, etc. within a closed group but also offers the opportunity to act on specific problems as the group can approach relevant persons or fora, e.g. The Department Forum, if changes are needed. United as a group we are more likely to make ourselves heard by the management/department/university as well as gain self-confidence to deal with issues. Working environment is not an individual issue, and it should be addressed together in the spirit of a union standing together.

The aim of the W.E.F. is to connect PhDs and Post Docs at AGRO-Foulum to facilitate sharing of challenges as well as to discuss and get advice from each other, but we encourage the participants to use it as much as possible, e.g., all participants have the opportunity to form smaller writing groups or other specific constellations that can benefit their specific needs and wishes.

All PhDs and Post Docs from AGRO are very welcome to join W.E.F.! This also includes guest PhDs which are strongly encouraged to participate in order to benefit from the experiences of others. This can be related to the work that is demanded by the university or the expectations we are faced with (or that we put on ourselves). Furthermore, everyone is invited to the Teams channel AGRO share and connect where links and files can be uploaded. Contact the group to join this channel.

Main meetings occur every month, and you should get invitations to the meetings in your outlook calendar via your email. If not, contact PhD student Esben Øster Mortensen (eom@agro.au.dk) or head of the PhD committee Lis Wollesen de Jonge (lis.w.de.jonge@agro.au.dk).

W.E.F. works in a democratic way and all participants are encouraged to take initiative and responsibility. The W.E.F.-moderator group will call for meetings, prepare the meeting agendas and act as moderators during the meetings. The meeting agendas will be based on the wishes from all participants. Anyone who wish to participate in the W.E.F.-moderator group is very much welcome!