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Information for the supervisor

Supervisors must follow up and quality ensure their candidates’ research while on the PhD programme. A summary of what this entails can be found here.

This is a practical guide for supervisors. The guide is based on the rules and regulations for the degree of PhD.

A supervisor must have a doctoral degree or equivalent academic competence. A supervisor who does not have a PhD must be approved by the faculty.

Principal supervisor and co-supervisor

All PhD candidate must have at least two supervisors throughout their time on the PhD programme. One of the supervisors must be employed by the faculty in minimum 20% position as a researcher or professor/associate professor.  A supervisor is either appointed as a principal supervisor or as a co-supervisor. Only one supervisor can be the candidate's principal supervisor. The different roles involve different duties and responsibilities.

You and your candidate must keep each other informed regularly of all matters that may be important for the completion of the doctoral education.

You commit yourself as a supervisor by signing the candidate’s application for admission. 

Supervision - number of PhD candidates

A supervisor cannot be appointed as supervisor for more than maximum 6 candidates at the same time (i.e. principal and co-supervisor together).

  • Principal supervisor: You can be appointed as principal supervisor for maximum 4 candidates at the same time.
  • Co-supervisor: You can be appointed as co-supervisor for maximum 5 candidates at the same time.

Are you an internal or an external principal supervisor?

  1. An internal principal supervisor is employed at the faculty.
  2. An external supervisor is employed at another institution.

As a rule the principal supervisor should be employed at the Faculty of Medicine.

The candidate must submit an application to the faculty if he/she wants an external principal supervisor.

Your role as principal supervisor

The principal supervisor, along with the internal co-supervisor if the principal supervisor is external, has the primary responsibility to follow up the rules and regulations regarding the PhD education of the candidate.

Prepare the candidate’s application for admission

You should help the candidate with his/her application for admission, and you should both ensure that the application includes all the documents that are required.

You must:

  • approve the plan for the elective component of the PhD educational component
  • write a project description with the candidate
  • take academic responsibility for the content of the project.

Your must document that the candidate has a master's degree or equivalent studies in accordance with the Norwegian criteria for higher university education.

Academic progress

The principal supervisor has the primary responsibility for following up the candidate academically.

You should among other things help the candidate to:

  • develop a plan for completing the PhD project within the prescribed admission period,
  • formulate and restrict research themes and questions,
  • discuss and evaluate hypotheses and methods,
  • be familiar with the research literature and databases,
  • get in touch with relevant scientific communities,
  • follow the plan for completion of the PhD project,
  • get guidance as regards research ethical questions,
  • discuss how the supervision is working,
  • solve any challenges related to the learning environment,
  • implement the obligatory mid-term evaluation.

You should also attend the first day of INTRO I. Supervisors are required to attend the first day of INTRO I once during a 3 year period.

The candidate should among other things:

  • make a plan for completing the PhD project within the prescribed admission period,
  • make reports or drafts to his or her supervisors of the thesis or parts of the thesis,
  • comply with research ethical principles applicable to his or her research area,
  • meet deadlines or at least adjust his or her plans in consultation with you as supervisor.

Propose evaluation committee

As principal supervisor it is your responsibility to propose members of the evaluation committee. The committee evaluates the candidate’s thesis. The candidate must not be involved in this work.

The evaluation committee normally has 3 members and shall be  composed such that: 

  • one member is from a foreign institution (normallty the 1st opponent),
  • one member is from an other institution than University of Oslo (normally the 2nd opponent),
  • one member is employed (associate professor or professor) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo (committee chair)
  • both genders should be represented
  • all members must have a doctoral degree or equivalent academic qualifications, and must also have research based knowledge relevant to the research area of the thesis,

You must make sure that the proposed committee members are prepared to sit on the committee.

From the time the committee is appointed until the candidate has taken the PhD examination there should be no contact between the supervisor and committee members regarding the candidate or the candidate's work.

Dates for the PhD examination cannot be set before the thesis is found worthy of public defence. It is the Dean that sets the date for the PhD examination.There are deadlines for trial lectures and public defences in connection with holidays.

Impartiality requirements and academic motivations

The rules on impartiality contained in § 6 of the Public Administration Act (pdf) apply to the members of the committee. A signed declaration of impartiality (docx) from each proposed committee member should be enclosed with your proposed evaluation committee.

The faculty requires academically well-founded reasons as to why the members should sit on the Committee.

Submitting proposal for evaluation committee

The thesis should not be sent to the evaluation committee before the dean has officially approved and appointed the proposed committee.

It is important that the information regarding each committee member’s title, postal address, email address and phone number is correctly filled out.

Send the proposal for evaluation committee and chair of the defence form (docx) to

Propose chair of the defence

You should also propose two people who are prepared to act as chair of the defence. The chair of the defence, also known as acting dean, should be employed at the Faculty of Medicine as professor, associate professor or professor emeritus, but can not belong to the same department as the candidate or supervisor. The supervisor has a duty to inform the chair of the defence of the date for the public defence once it has been approved by the Dean and then report which of the two suggested persons that will act as chair to the Faculty.

You propose chairs of the defence on the same form as you propose members of the evaluation committee.

Important time frames

  • Recommendation: The evaluation committee has 3 months to submit a recommendation.
  • Revision of a submitted thesis: The evaluation committee must present its final recommendation within 1 month after a candidate has handed in a revision of a submitted thesis.
  • Earliest date for trial lecture/public defence is 6 weeks after the recommendation has been approved.

Your role as co-supervisor

As co-supervisor you give academic supervision, and share academic responsibility for the PhD candidate with the principal supervisor.

If the principal supervisor is external, at least one co-supervisor must be employed by the Faculty of Medicine. When the principal supervisor is external, it is the internal co-supervisor's responsibility, in consultation with the external principal supervisor, to propose an evaluation committee and chair of the public defence.

Changes to the supervisory relationship

Any change of supervision must be approved by the faculty. If you wish to resign or change your role from being a principal supervisor to a co-supervisor this must be approved by the faculty.

What do you have to do?

  • You must sign the contract for the change of supervisors (docx).The agreement is not valid before all the involved parties have signed.
  • Send the contract to the faculty.
  • A candidate must have a minimum of two supervisors. You cannot resign before a new supervisor has been appointed if the candidate only has two supervisors.

Problems between you and your candidate?

You and your PhD candidate should agree on the nature of the supervision. Any problems that arise in the supervisory relationship should be addressed as quickly as possible. It is important that you do not let a bad supervisory relationship persist.

If you cannot come to an agreement, one or both of you can ask to be released from the supervisor agreement.  A request to be released from a supervisor agreement must be sent to the faculty along with an explanation.

The faculty must approve any change of supervisor. A supervisor cannot resign before a new supervisor has been appointed.

Ethical guidelines

Rules and regulations


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Published May 12, 2017 1:51 PM - Last modified May 11, 2021 1:07 PM