Quality in doctoral courses
Every year, Karolinska Institutet (KI) offers its 2,000-plus doctoral students some 200 doctoral/third-cycle courses; postdocs, doctoral students from outside KI and other applicants can also attend these courses, space permitting.
Maintaining the quality of doctoral courses
Syllabuses for all doctoral courses
All doctoral courses at KI follow a fixed syllabus. The content of each syllabus and the credits awarded are decided by the Course and Programme Committee following a dialogue between the doctoral programme, the course provider and the central director of doctoral education.
All doctoral courses are evaluated digitally on completion by means of a survey containing a fixed set of questions and optional questions added by the course provider.
Links to previous evaluations are published in the course catalogue for all but new courses as a quality indicator for the students. The results of the surveys and the views of the course providers are also to be made available to course participants, and inform decisions on whether or not courses are to be offered again.
Courses can be offered through the doctoral programmes or by a research school, or they can be freestanding.
Courses offered through doctoral programmes. KI’s doctoral programmes are led by highly qualified individuals with a thorough overview of the courses that their doctoral students need to take and are responsible for offering courses in their respective research fields. The courses are required to have a far-sighted approach to content and organisation and to cover both fundamental and specific/cutting edge knowledge and skills of relevance to their field. Programmes are expected to adopt a pedagogical profile/approach in these courses by paying consideration to aspects such as progression.
Courses offered through research schools. The Committée for Doctoral Education appoints steering groups to the research schools operated under KI and decide on their intake. Before a research school can begin or be authorised to continue accepting students, it must meet a certain level of quality as regards course content, admissions, advertising, follow-up, etc.
The research schools arrange a cohesively structured course package adapted to their specific cohort of students.
Freestanding courses. Most freestanding courses have a general science focus, although some lie outside their programme’s sphere of responsibility (e.g. courses on laboratory science and on human biology and pathology for doctoral students lacking a university-level medical grounding).
Improving course quality
Clear instructions for the doctoral programmes
A description of responsibilities and instructions has been established for KI’s doctoral programmes that places clear demands on how the programmes are to work, for example, with a sustainable, well-conceived range of courses in their field; this is expected have a quality-raising effect. The course prospectus is to be so designed as to give students and supervisors an overview of which ones are held regularly (and how often) and which are held sporadically, so that the student’s individual study plan can be properly formulated.
Course for course providers
The course Designing doctoral courses is aimed for providers of doctoral courses and is a continuation course in the theory and practice of teaching with a special focus on the opportunities and challenges that doctoral education presents.