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Supervision - PhD

All PhD candidates at the Faculty of Humanities should have at least two supervisors. The supervisory relationship is regulated by contract and ethical guidelines. The department appoints supervisors and signs contracts with external supervisors.

Man and woman looking and pointing on a lap top.
Photo: Annica Thomsson

When candidate and supervisor sign the acceptance agreement, they enter into a mutually binding contract.

The contract states the following about the supervisory relationship:

The candidate and supervisor mutually undertake to keep one another informed at all times of any matters of significance for the conduct of the supervision.

The Supervisor shall inter alia

  • assist the candidate by offering professional advice and providing support in the planning of the work so that the project can be completed within the framework of the doctoral degree course
  • assist the candidate with the formulation and delimitation of topic and problematic issues
  • assist the candidate by providing guidance with respect to literature in the field and the data to serve as a foundation (libraries, archives, etc.)
  • help to introduce the candidate into relevant academic communities
  • keep up to date with the progress of the candidate’s work and assess this in relation to the work plan
  • give the candidate guidance in questions relating to research ethics connected with the dissertation
  • take the initiative in discussing with the candidate how the supervision is functioning
  • in his or her work live up to the Ethical Guidelines for Supervisors at the University of Oslo, adopted by the Senate on 10.06.1997.

The doctoral degree candidate shall inter alia

  • plan his or her work so that the project can be completed within the framework of the doctoral degree course
  • submit reports or drafts of the whole or parts of the dissertation to his or her supervisor, at least every half-year unless otherwise agreed with the supervisor. Parts of the dissertation can, as the case may be, be presented in connection with seminars or group supervision
  • abide by such agreements as are entered into with his or her supervisor concerning submission, supervision, participation in seminars etc.
  • in his or her work live up to such principles of research ethics as apply in the subject field.
  • Where a doctoral degree candidate or supervisor finds that the other party is not complying with his or her obligations, the party who claims that there is a failure to discharge such obligations, has a duty to take this up with the other party. The candidate and supervisor shall make a concerted effort to resolve the situation that has arisen.

A request to be released from the supervision agreement shall be addressed to the Faculty of Humanities, but sent via the basic unit. The decision to release the doctoral degree candidate and supervisor from the supervision agreement is taken by such body as the Faculty appoints.

The total number of hours of supervision for a doctoral degree candidate may amount to 126, including time for preparation.


When a co-supervisor is appointed, a separate agreement shall be made between co-supervisor and the candidate’s basic unit (department/institute/centre), which establishes the distribution of the hours of supervision between main supervisor and co-supervisor and if relevant payment of a co-supervisor from outside the department or faculty. The faculty is not a party to such an agreement. Guidelines for duty hour accounts stipulate hourly rates for supervision at doctoral level. Some departments also have their own guidelines and descriptions of routines for the appointment of supervisors.

In the event of problems in the supervisor relationship

It is important that a poorly functioning supervisor relationship not be allowed to persist for any length of time. How the supervision should be and how it is functioning should be taken up at meetings between supervisor and candidate. If the supervision does not function satisfactorily, for the supervisor or the person supervised, this should be taken up directly with the supervisor or the candidate as the case may be. If circumstances make it difficult to take up the matter directly, the head of Department should be contacted, or the head of research at the department in question or the PhD coordinator at the department. The PhD coordinators at the departments have a clearly defined function of ombud for all candidates at their department. Performance appraisal interviews at the departments, talks with the PhD coordinator and annual reporting from candidate and supervisor shall contribute to ensuring that the quality of the supervision is good enough.

In the event of changes in the supervisor relationship

If, for any reason, there should be changes in the supervisor relationship, a new supervisor or the appointment of a secondary supervisor, the faculty executive office shall be informed of this. A new agreement must be made or changes must be incorporated in the existing acceptance agreement and sent to the parties for signature.

Ethical guidelines for supervisors

The University of Oslo is responsible for providing master degree students and doctoral fellows with supervision of high quality. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the departments and the individual supervisor to manage and conduct this supervision. The supervision shall satisfy to the greatest extent possible both the academic and the personal interests of the individual. The University of Oslo expects the individual supervisor to conduct his supervision in a professional, understanding and ethically creditable manner. Read the ethical guidelines here.

When you apply for admission or PhD fellowship

The applicant sends in an application without formal association with a supervisor and without the approval of a supervisor. Persons who are given fellowships are allocated a supervisor by the administration of the unit in question. Supervisors shall normally be faculty employees. The awarding of grants and acceptance to the PhD programme presupposes that the faculty has supervisory qualifications and capacity in the field in which the applicant wants to write his or her thesis.

The supervisor shall be a professor or have a doctorate or equivalent qualifications. A doctoral project will normally be academically associated with the faculty at which the supervisor is a member of staff. However, it is possible to have a supervisor from another UiO unit, if the project is of an interdisciplinary nature that makes this necessary. An agreement may also be made with an external co-supervisor, but it is important to note that no extra funding is granted for this. In the event of acceptance, the distribution of hours of supervision between the main supervisory and co-supervisor must be agreed, and also any remuneration to an external supervisor.


Published Dec. 21, 2020 10:23 AM - Last modified Apr. 6, 2022 1:32 PM