Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on KI’s doctoral education

[Updated 2021-02-26]

Latest major updates of this webpage

2021-02-26 Adaptations made to new KI recommendations regarding face masks

2020-11-19 Information that public defences are not affected by the restrictions of number of people  

2020-10-15 Theoretical doctoral courses will be given remotely until further notice

2020-08-21 Tips regarding online supervision

We all have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19, both at KI and in society at large. This is done by following current recommendations. Maintain physical distance to other people at all times. Stay at home if you or any member of your household have symptoms of COVID-19. Face masks are recommended where physical presence is necessary and physical distancing hard to achieve.

Doctoral students and supervisors find detailed information regarding how different aspects of doctoral education at KI are affected by the ongoing pandemic below. 

To perform a doctoral education during the pandemic

Many doctoral students will be affected in different ways by the current situation. We recommend that all doctoral students review their individual study plan with their supervisors and discuss if plans need to be revised. This applies to both the research plan, participation on courses and study-related travels. The starting position is for doctoral education to continue at KI and we must all do what we can to help solve the problems that arise.    

Tips for supervisors:

  1. Effective Practices in Supervising Doctoral Candidates at a Distance, a webinar from the UK Council for Graduate Education from the 1 May now available on YouTube.
  2. A Guide to Online Supervision – Guide for Supervisors 


The Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket) have announced that if a doctoral student, as a consequence of COVID-19, has been prohibited from performing his/her tasks as a doctoral student, it should be possible to prolong the employment beyond the stated four years. It is the KI department where the doctoral student is registered that decides if a prolongation should be considered. The assessment of the individual case is done on a case-by-case basis. 

Criteria for a possible prolongation (at the bottom of the page)

Doctoral students who perceive that the current situation is affecting their doctoral education should document this. Such documentation is required if at a later stage an assessment has to be made to judge if a delay was caused by COVID-19, and of circumstances the student could not control.

    Student or staff?

    A doctoral student is both a researcher and a student. This could sometimes cause confusion regarding which recommendations to follow.  

    It is decided that when the doctoral students are doing research, they are considered as researcher staff, and the same recommendations apply to them as to all other members of the staff. KI as a workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic

    When the doctoral student attend courses or other educational activities, they are considered as students, see below.

    Courses and other educational activities

    Theoretical doctoral courses will continue to be given remotely, until further notice.

    Practical courses and course modules at all educational levels that cannot be held remotely are prioritised to be held at Campus. If it is not possible to follow the recommendations of physical distancing, face masks should be used.

    Instructions for facemasks

    Further information for course providers: 

    Half-time review

    The half-time seminar can either be conducted with only digital participation, at campus with a limited number of participants, or as a combination. There is no rule saying that the half-time seminar must be public.

    When you decide how the half-time review is to be conducted, try to ensure that it is done in a way that most effectively fulfils its purpose: i.e. that the student has a chance to obtain feedback, that the review serves as an educational element, and that the department is informed of the student’s progress.  If you have any questions, contact your department’s director of doctoral studies. 

    It is important that the half-time review is not postponed due to the pandemic! It may be even more important than usual to have an opportunity to follow-up and discuss alternative solutions if the student’s study plan has to be revised on account of the prevailing situation. 

    Public defences

    Public defences must be accessible via web casts, and the public/audience should be recommended to take part of the defence through their own computer. There should also be a room on site for those who cannot participate in any other way. Note that a public defence should not be considered as a public gathering (allmän sammankomst) and does not fall under the directive from the Swedish Government regarding the number of people allowed to gather in the same place (this means a different interpretation to what has been communicated earlier at this webpage). 

    The doctoral student, opponent, examination board, supervisor and defence chairperson can participate on site or digitally. Digital participation must be notified to the Dissertation committee.

    All doctoral students, supervisors and public defence chairs must inform themselves through this webpage where all information regarding public defences during the pandemic has been gathered: Important information about public defence during the coronavirus pandemic

    Admission of new doctoral students

    According to the ordinary process for admission of new doctoral students, decisions of admission is taken continuously when a candidate has been selected and the recruitment process is concluded - without delay.

    If the doctoral student, at the time of admission, hasn’t arrived at KI or for any other reason cannot begin their doctoral studies immediately, a study start date has to be decided. No research or educational activities are performed before the starting date. Under present circumstances, the period between admission and study start might be longer than otherwise, but the admission process is the same as usual.

    Please note that doctoral studies can start without the student being on site. The doctoral student can participate in activities from a distance, for example writing the individual study plan, taking doctoral courses online, preparing for the ISP seminar, theoretical studies, participating in online seminars and meetings, etc.

    Travel, research visits and international conferences

    Doctoral students are to observe the same guidelines on travel, research visits and international conferences as all other members of staff.  

    Personal presentations at international conferences are obligatory for KI’s doctoral students. If the current COVID-19 pandemic mean that a student cannot fulfil this requirement, the doctoral student should approach the departmental director of doctoral studies and discuss how this could be solved.

    KI’s travel grant for research visits for doctoral research

    Owing to the limited opportunities for doctoral students to conduct planned research visits, the travelling/utilisation time for KI’s travel grants for research visits for doctoral students has been extended to 2021. This also applies for travel grants for research visits for doctoral students advertised, applied for and granted in the spring and autumn of 2019.

    If you have applied for a grant for a trip that has to be cancelled, we ask you to repay the money, although the sum granted can be used to cover any costs you may have incurred in cancelling.

    Information for international doctoral students

    If you need to stay longer in Sweden than originally planned or need to leave Sweden earlier: