Outcomes for doctoral education according to the Higher Education Ordinance

Outcomes for the degree of doctor and the degree of licenciate [Licentiatexamen] are defined by the Higher Education Ordinance, annex 2, and represent generic outcomes for all doctoral education within Sweden.

In order for a degree to be issued, all degree outcomes specified in the Higher Education Ordinance regarding knowledge and understanding, competence and skills, judgement and approach must be met. In addition the doctoral student shall have been awarded a pass grade for a research thesis (doctoral thesis) of at least 120 credits for the Degree of Doctor or shall have been awarded a pass grade for a research thesis of at least 60 credits for a Degree of Licentiate.

How can the outcomes for doctoral education be achieved?

Making it concrete how to achieve the outcomes for doctoral education contributes to that the doctoral students gets a clear picture of the expectations. Tracking progress regarding the fulfilment of the outcomes at the time of annual follow up and half-time review supports effective monitoring of the students’ education as a whole, and can facilitate the dialogue they have with their supervisors. As an aid in the planning of the doctoral education, and to ensure that all doctoral students achieve the degree outcomes, the doctoral student and supervisor should describe relevant activities for all intended learning outcomes in the ISP (see the examples below and see the example text for each outcome in the ISP system). That the outcomes for degree of doctor are well on the way to being achieved is assessed at the half-time review, which should be carried out two years after admission or when two years of full-time doctoral education or the equivalent has been completed. At the time of a student’s thesis defence, his or her supervisor attests that the outcomes as set forth in the Higher Education Ordinance have been achieved.

Interaction with supervisors, research group members and the rest of the scientific community is of the utmost importance to becoming independent and achieving the outcomes for the degree. Regular formal and informal meetings with supervisors and research group members, keeping up with the latest scientific developments and gradually acquiring more responsibility and autonomy in their analyses and syntheses are essential for students in their endeavours to become independent researchers. Supervisors should think about how the supervisory situation can be structured so as to stimulate learning.

KI arranges and provides financial support to a large number of activities that go to make up a first-class doctoral education. Examples of activities arranged by KI are general science courses, project-specific courses, seminars/seminar series, symposia and scientific retreats/conferences. The Committee for Research and the Committee for Doctoral education regularly announce travel grants for participation in international conferences and research visits abroad and in Sweden. However, the design and content of a doctoral education is very individual, and the fulfilment of a student’s degree outcomes and ambitions of scientific autonomy are particularly dependent on the student’s own powers of initiative as regards self-development and the development of others, including interaction with the society in general.

Outcomes matrix for doctoral degree - activities contributing to the achievement of each intended learning outcome 

In order to facilitate for doctoral students, supervisors and members of the Examination Board to get an overview regarding activities contributing to the achievement of each intended learning outcome for doctoral degree an outcome matrix has been produced. It gets clear that there are many activities that contribute to achieving the outcomes.

The sections of the thesis summary chapter in which achievement of each outcome for doctoral degree at KI can be shown are exposed in a separate outcomes matrix.  

The outcomes for doctoral education – who assesses what?

KI is required to ensure that each doctoral student who graduates has achieved all the outcomes for the degree. It is important that the doctoral student and the supervisor together reflect upon the student’s academic progress and think about what they need to do to ensure that the doctoral student meets these intended learning outcomes. The primary responsibility for achievement in this respect lies with both the doctoral student and the principal supervisor.

The principal supervisor

It is the responsibility of the principal supervisors to ensure that doctoral students receive a quality education that is realistic in scope in relation to their individual study plan (ISP). The supervisor together with the doctoral student, is responsible for conducting an annual follow up of the doctoral education. During these follow-ups and other feedback meetings with the doctoral student, the supervisors assess the status of the research projects and how far the students have come on the way to achieve the outcomes. Such sessions also provide opportunities for supervisors to give practical advice on how their doctoral students can advance in terms of their individual study plans or how these plans, including research projects, ought to be revised. This is called “formative assessment”.

When students apply to defend their theses, their supervisors are required to testify that they have, in their judgement, achieved the outcomes for the degree of doctor as laid out in the Higher Education Ordinance. This requires thorough knowledge of the students’ skills and abilities in terms of these objectives. Some intended learning outcomes (ILOs) concern collaboration with the society in general (see below). Students are expected to be able to make a reliable assessment of their achievements in this respect and account for how they know that these ILOs have been met. The skills required of doctoral students include being able to:

  • discuss research and research results with society in general,
  • demonstrate an ability in research, education and other advanced professional contexts to contribute to the development of society, and
  • demonstrate deepened insight into the possibilities and limitations of science, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual regarding its application.

The half-time review board

The half-time review is an extended annual follow-up that is arranged once students are half way though their studies in order to check that the outcomes for degree of doctor are well on their way to being achieved. The board is required to assess, in consultation with the students and their supervisors, whether the students’ projects have the potential to lead to a doctoral degree, and to propose any necessary changes to their individual study plan. Progress towards the degree outcomes, including the students’ development as independent researchers, is also taken into account.

Examination board

The examination board is to assess the thesis and its defence, taking into account the outcomes have been achieved.

More information for the Examination board

Additional information: Intended learning outcomes in doctoral courses

All of KI’s doctoral courses are examined in terms of the intended learning outcomes as stated in the respective syllabus.

Information about course syllabi and intended learning outcomes in doctoral courses