Introduction for new PhD fellows
Newly enrolled PhD students are introduced to the working procedures of the department by the programme secretary, who will assist the student during the settling-in period, and the program director. The PhD students will be affiliated to the research units and academic and social activities of the department. The research units will act as framework for PhD presentations.
When a PhD student is enrolled, the Director of the Doctoral School will, on the basis of recommendation from the department, appoint a project supervisor and a principal supervisor for the PhD project from among the active researchers of the department. As regards the appointment of supervisors, academic criteria, resource-related aspects and wishes expressed by the PhD fellow will be taken into consideration. Project and principal supervisors are usually the same person. The supervisor must be available for the PhD fellow during the entire PhD programme period and is responsible for the total PhD programme. In addition to the principal supervisor, a co-supervisor is often also appointed to complement the principal supervisor academically and methodically. Supervision distribution between the two supervisors will be agreed with the PhD fellow and may vary during the enrolment period.
At the Faculty of Social Sciences and at the Humanities, 50 hours’ supervision is allocated to the PhD fellow each semester – a total of 300 hours during the course of three years.
At the beginning of the enrolment period, agreements must be made with the supervisor(s) as regards the form and sequence of the supervision, and mutual expectations must be clarified and written in the PhD plan.
Should irresolvable problems emerge between the supervisor and the PhD fellow, it is possible to change supervisors. This issue can be discussed with the programme director and the head of department. A change of supervisor must be approved by the dean upon recommendation from the head of department.
Within three months of the start of the PhD programme, a PhD plan must be submitted in the Phd manager. This is also called a research and study plan (cf. section 9 in the Ministerial Order on the PhD programme). This plan must include a time schedule stating individual activities in 6-month slots. Please find the template at this link: A template for the PhD plan can be found on the Doctoral School’s website. The PhD student uploads the PhD plan in the IT system PhD Manager, and subsequently, the plan is approved electronically by supervisor, Head of Department, Head of Doctoral Programme and Director of Doctoral School. Guidance to the system can be found on the website of the Doctoral School.
The PhD plan serves a point of departure for the subsequent progress reports. Therefore, it should not be too general, nor too specific.
The PhD plan includes the following elements: research and study placements, teaching and participation in courses and conferences for researchers (cf. section 7 of the Ministerial Order on the PhD programme). The PhD fellow may gain credit transfer for any completed elements of the PhD programme at other institutions against corresponding reduction of the enrolment period. This is only possible at the time of application for the scholarship.
The PhD plan is an important tool as regards a precise problem formulation, as well as the formulation of the focus of the thesis, which should include theory, method and empirical analysis.
Research is an essential element of the PhD course and includes the reading of literature, collection of data, preparation of papers, articles and thesis. Participation in external courses and study periods abroad will also be considered as research related activities.
During their education period, PhD fellows are required to complete a course programme. The total work load of the courses must be equivalent to 30 ECTS points. At the beginning of the programme, a course strategy must be stipulated in collaboration with the supervisor to ensure a suitable combination and distribution of courses, and a publication strategy must also be determined.
It will be fruitful to attend a PhD course which deals in depth with the methods considered by the fellow for their project. To this may be added courses relevant to the project, organised at the theme-based doctoral schools to which PhD fellows at the Department of Culture and Global Studies are affiliated, or which are offered outside of AAU. A large number of PhD courses are offered nationally, in a Nordic context and internationally.
Some of these courses are advertised via mailing lists and on the homepages of doctoral schools and programmes. The number of ECTS points released by each PhD course is normally determined by the organisers of the courses, and participation must be approved by the principal supervisor and the programme director.
Course certificates will be issued, stating the number of ECTS points released by the course in question. Course certificates must be attached to the biannual reports and approved by the director of the doctoral school in connection with evaluation procedures.
Conferences, courses and seminars (ECTS)
It is possible to receive credit for participation in project relevant conferences. Participation must be in agreement with your principal supervisor, and must be approved by your programme director in connection with the stipulated evaluations. Relevance, level, participation character and length of conference will be considered, and documentation for participation must be included.
According to the regulations applying to the Doctoral School at the Humanities
Participation in PhD courses will release ECTS points, following the submission of course certificate together with the relevant progress report. The individual doctoral programmes stipulate if and to what extent conference participation releases ECTS points.
All PhD fellows are encouraged to complete a long-term internship abroad. A number of short stays are also possible.
It will increase the academic output of the internship if the PhD fellow makes contact and arranges meetings and/or interviews in advance. It is recommendable to introduce the project at the beginning of the internship period, as this will often create a basis for sparring with researchers or PhD fellows at the host institution during the entire stay.
If possible, you should apply for accommodation through the university abroad or the institution you are affiliated to, because this will provide you with the safest and often cheapest accommodation. In the informal housing market, particularly in major cities, the risk of getting into the clutches of slum lords is relatively high. Should it not be possible to find accommodation through the foreign university, it is recommendable to search in the formal housing market (as regards financial matters during your internship, see Finances).
It is mandatory for PhD students at Doctoral School of the Humanities to participate in international research environments as part of the PhD programme outside Aalborg University. The requirements are described in detail in the AAU Handbook.
Participation in active research environments is included as part of the Doctoral Programme of the Social Sciences, and this includes stays at primarily other foreign research institutions.
Teaching and communication obligations
Teaching at AAU departments
Both faculties have stipulated working obligations of 600 hours during the three years. The teaching hours should be planned from the start of the programme, and it is advisable to concentrate teaching in time slots, so that some semesters are kept free for research activities. If possible, it is also an advantage to re-offer courses. In any case, the last six months of the PhD programme should be completely free of teaching so as to provide time for completion of your thesis.
The Aalborg University study form with an emphasis on problem oriented project work entails that supervision will often constitute a large part of the teaching obligations, but lectures, courses and internal examination duties may also be requested.
PhD fellows may be affiliated to several different programmes. If you are interested in teaching in a particular programme/semester, you should contact the programme /course coordinator (or alternatively the study board secretary) of the programme in question. All programmes at AAU are organised in a number of schools. For PhD students at the Department of Culture and Global Studies, it will typically be relevant to teach at programmes affiliated to the School of Culture and Global Studies, which include the following programmes:
- International Relations
- International Business Communication
- English, German and Culture Studies
- Language and International Studies
- Cross-cultural Studies
Outside the department it may be relevant for PhD students from the department to teach at programmes at the School of Political Science (programme: Politics, Administration and Social Science), the School of Sociology and Social Work (programmes: Sociology, Social Work, Social Worker) and the Social Sciences Basic Year, The School of Consciousness and Human Development (SEF) (programmes: Music Therapy, Psychology, Education, Learning and Philosophy), The School of Communication, Art & Technology (CAT)
- List of all study boards/programmes under the School of Culture and Global Studies
- List of all schools and study boards/programmes under the Faculty of Social Sciences
- List of all schools under the Faculty of Humanities
To a wide extent, teaching activities should be planned together with your supervisor with a view to securing the best possible correlation between teaching and research. The supervisor should assist the PhD fellow in meeting their teaching obligations.
Preparation norms vary within different types of teaching activities and within different programmes and faculties. Therefore it is important to keep your own score of working hours and to match this information with the lists of the secretary in charge at the department, who collects the information. Normally, working hours will be credited in the hour bank at the end of each semester.
Pedagogical course for university teachers
The course in university pedagogy is mandatory for PhD fellows, who may choose to have the course credited as 30 hours’ teaching or as a PhD course releasing 2 ECTS points. Exemptions can be made if you have already taken an identical course, in which case no hours/ECTS points will be released, however. Courses are offered regularly by AAU Learning Lab.
Written and oral evaluations
During the enrolment period it will be evaluated whether the PhD process is progressing according to the PhD plan as regards research, teaching and external study periods. The principal supervisor is responsible for assessing in writing whether the demands stipulated in the PhD plan are fulfilled and for explaining any necessary adjustments of the plan. Principal supervisor makes the progress reports on the basis of the student updating the portfolio as well as consultations with the PhD student. The portfolio must include status of the overall PhD study as well as an overview of lessons and teachings and ECTS generating activities (attach certificate/documentation). The supervisor must take into account possible periods of documented illness, maternity/paternity leave and other approved leave.
Special forms must be used for the evaluation. Forms must be downloaded by students at the Doctoral School’s homepage. After the first written evaluation, this approved form must be continuously updated, so that activities continue to be documented in the SAME form. The form and documentation must be uploaded in the PhD Mananger.
The principal supervisor is responsible for assessing in writing whether the demands stipulated in the PhD plan are fulfilled and for explaining any necessary adjustments of the plan, pursuant to section 10, subsection 1, in the PhD Order.
1st Progress report (portfolio) = after 6 months
2nd Progress report (portfolio and oral) = after 12 months
3rd Progress report (portfolio) = after 24 months
4th Progress report (portfolio and oral) = after 30 months
For PhD students at both faculties, the forms may be completed continuously. It is important that activities attended are approved in the next evaluation.
According to the executive order, the supervisor is responsible for the evaluation, but in practice it is and should be the joint responsibility of the PhD student and the principal supervisor to complete the evaluation and submit it in due time. In the evaluation, the supervisor must comment on the course of the PhD process in relation to the plan. For the PhD student, the evaluation may have the effect of academic self-reflection and contribute to ensuring that the PhD process does not run off track.
The PhD student uploads the portfolio in the IT system PhD Manager, and subsequently, the portfolio is approved electronically by supervisor and Head of Doctoral Programme.
If your work is not progressing according to your PhD plan and your supervisor/doctoral school director rejects the progress report, the doctoral school will make a written offer to give you three months to get back on course (cf. the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme, section 10, subsection 2). If this offer is accepted, a new assessment will be made after the three months. If the assessment is negative, PhD employment and studies will be discontinued. If the assessment is positive, the PhD programme will be continued. The three-month procedure will not cause the employment period to be extended.
The programme director may offer an informal interview with the PhD fellow about the PhD programme, according to need. The programme director is also currently available for questions as regards the PhD programme. In addition, the programme director will arrange meetings according to need with the entire PhD group at the Department of Culture and Global Studies regarding issues of principle or of a general character.
Staff Appraisal Review
You will be invited to an annual staff appraisal interview with your programme director. Your contribution of themes to be discussed will be welcomed. The interview is formal, and minutes will be taken, which will be included in your case file.
A PhD grant is financed by the department or wholly or partly by various external sources. Whether you are enrolled under the Faculty of Social Sciences or the Faculty of Humanities, identical salary standards will apply. As regards salary rate for the PhD scholar, this will be calculated on the basis of qualifications and seniority, and in accordance with the basic salary rate of the AC [Danish Confederation of Professional Associations] agreement.
Most PhD scholars have a taximeter grant/disposable amount for the payment of expenses in connection with conferences, courses, seminars, placements abroad, books and other purchases made in connection with the PhD education. For PhD scholars who are financed by the department, the amount is DKK 70,000 (PhD scholars commencing studies as of 1 January 2011) for the entire period. Of this amount, DKK 7,000 must be set aside for the expenses in connection with the submission of the thesis and the defence. For PhD scholars who are faculty financed, the amount is DKK 70,000 (PhD scholars commencing studies as of 1 January 2011) for the entire period. Of this amount, DKK 8,000 must be set aside for the expenses in connection with the submission of the thesis and the defence. For PhD scholars financed by external sources other amounts and rules may apply. We recommend that you read the directions given by the grantor together with the project secretariat.
The taximeter grant must also cover transcription, proofreading and language revision expenses (if needed); the department will not cover any additional expenses. Furthermore, you may set aside funds for a stay at a writers’ retreat, for instance for when you are in the final stages of writing your thesis.
Expenses towards travel related to your PhD studies must be paid from your PhD grant, and before you travel, you must make a budget stating estimated expenses. Your main supervisor will need to approve your budget.
As an employee at AAU, you may receive a cash advance payment for travel to cover official expenses which you will need to pay during your travel. You must always remember to keep your receipts. You may apply for advance payment for travel before departure in the rejse- og udlægssystemet (RUS) by creating an electronic travel reimbursement form.
Air and train travel must be booked by the PhD scholar from AAU’s travel agent Via Egencia (Tel.: +45 7070 8180 – email: firstname.lastname@example.org). ALWAYS remember to state your staff number (printed on your staff card and in the AAU electronic directory) and the EAN no. of the Department when booking your ticket. If you book the ticket yourself in the Travel Agents system, you will not pay a fee to Egencia.A booking will always cause an electronic invoice to be sent, and this will be used in the electronic travel reimbursement. ALL receipts and tickets/ticket remains relating to your travel must be submitted to the project secretariat when you enter your travel in the electronic travel reimbursement system. The travel reimbursement form must be completed and signed no later than seven days after your return. If you are not employed at Aalborg University and hence do not receive your salary from Aalborg University, you cannot book your travels yourself, it needs to go through the administrative staff, please contact the person in charge of your taximeter account.
- You must always include original tickets (and what remains of them) and receipts for other expenses
- If you are driving in your own car, you must include a short explanation as to why this is cheaper than a public means of transport. If you are employed at AAU you must fill in a form and attach it to your travel form.
- If expenses are to be reimbursed by other sources, the department will only make advance payments if these sources are registered for VAT.
Long-term placements abroad
In connection with long-term placements abroad, the PhD scholar may apply for support for travel expenses through fonde og erhvervslivet, as the placement must otherwise be paid by the taximeter. In addition, it is essential to look into special tax-related issues in connection with the placement. It may be of great financial significance to receive the fiscal benefits of running two households or to be posted abroad, technically. In theory, it ought not to be a problem to receive a deduction, but in practice, many PhD scholars have had difficulties obtaining this, one of the reasons being that rules are interpreted differently. We recommend that you go to your local tax office and explain to the people there that you are a “state employee travelling on business”. This is also important with regard to health insurance after your return to Denmark, as the insurance will then be in force from day one. It will often be useful (and sometimes required in connection with visa applications) to have an official invitation from the university abroad.
If you have questions regarding tax deduction, you must contact your local authority.
If you are employed at Aalborg University, please remember to pick up a travel insurance card from Europæiske Travel Insurance from Susanne Aarup. You may also read retningslinjerne vedr. tjenesterejseforsikring. NB! This insurance only covers business travel abroad! For private travel, you must take out a personal insurance policy. If you are not employed at Aalborg University, you need to take out an insurance policy.
When you buy books (if you have a "taxameter" amount at the department) in AAU bookshop (Fibigerstræde 15), you must state your name, the name of your department, your staff number, and the name of one of the administrative staff in the project secretariat, so that an electronic invoice may be forwarded to us. If you buy books or other material from other shops in Denmark, you must ask the shop to forward an electronic invoice (AAU is no longer allowed to pay on the basis of paper-invoices). It is important that you state your name, staff number, the EAN number of the department (5798000420793), and the name and address of the secretary in charge of the payment of the invoice. This does not, however, apply to books etc., purchased outside of Denmark. It is also possible for you to pay the actual expense and subsequently fill in an expense report in RUS – Travel and Expense System, and have your expenses refunded.
Leave of Absence
Leave of absence’ is the general term for any discontinuation of the PhD course, including the right to continue the course after the leave period without any additional requirements. An application describing why the PhD fellow apply for leave and date for leave must be submitted to the respective director of the Doctoral School deans, endorsed by the supervisor and programme director. No progress reports will be required from PhD fellows on leave.
Maternity/paternity and parental leave
PhD fellows are entitled to maternity, paternity and parental leave like other state-employed staff (further details are available from AAU handbook), and are entitled to salary according to the stated rules. The termination date of enrolment to the PhD scholarship will be adjusted by the length of the leave period. Remember to submit a copy of your pregnancy notification form to the head of division.
If the employment period of a PhD fellow expires during a maternity/paternity/parental leave period, the PhD fellow will be re-employed upon expiry of the leave period for the remaining scholarship period. In order to avoid the closure of VBN etc. during a leave period (and if this coincides with termination of employment), the PhD fellow must create a profile as an “external person” in ScanPas before termination of employment. To do this, please contact programme secretary.
Leave because of sickness
AAU employed PhD fellows are covered by the general legal employment rules relating to leave of absence in case of sickness, and are entitled to their salaries during sickness, on condition that the rules as regards reporting sick and fit are complied with. In case of long-term sickness, which has demonstrably delayed the PhD studies, the scholarship employment period may be prolonged, following reasoned application to the dean, endorsed by the supervisor and the head of department. A doctor’s note must be forwarded to the HR department.
Leave for external projects
Externally financed projects which require leave from the PhD project may seem attractive, but they are not always conducive for the PhD work. If it is estimated that the leave period will cause a prolongation of the PhD period or deterioration of the PhD thesis, the leave application will be rejected. If other employment is directly relevant for the thesis, i.e. because it will secure the collection of data for the thesis, there will be greater likelihood that the leave application will be approved. The principal supervisor must recommend the leave, which must be approved by the dean upon recommendation from the head of department.