University of Gothenburg

About the programme

As a Doctoral Student, you are completing the final educational stage of a long process that, for many of you, began at basic course level. The doctoral level also entails independent research as part of a specific project. As a consequence, you are simultaneously both a student in the final stage of your education, as well as independent researcher and a faculty member.

About the programme

Being a doctoral student entails independent research as part of a specific project, and as a consequence you are simultaneously both a student in the final stage of your education, and an independent researcher. The programme focusses on clearly defined empirical questions, where doctoral students are expected to carry out innovative and internationally competitive research.

The programme includes a strong methodological tradition and often multidisciplinary collaborations with researchers in other subjects including areas outside psychology, which provides good conditions for a continuing career both in and outside of the academic world.

Following completion of the third-cycle level, you will be adequately equipped to carry out independent research and apply for project funding.

Scope and desired educational outcomes

The aim of the programme is to develop the knowledge and skills required in order to be able to conduct individual research in psychology and to contribute to the development of knowledge in that field.

The third-cycle programme is worth 240 HE credits (corresponding to four years) and it is concluded by the doctoral student submitting a dissertation for public review.

The successful applicant for the third-cycle programme concluding with a doctoral exam will also be given an opportunity for a licentiate exam after 120 HE credits (corresponding to two years). It is also possible to limit the doctoral application to solely a licentiate exam from the beginning. If so, there is no option of automatically proceeding to a doctoral exam. The third-cycle programme ending with a doctoral exam is a separate programme that is applied for in competition with other applicants.

General and individual study plan

The general study plan for a PhD or a Licentiate encompasses information on:

  • Objectives for the postgraduate programme. Formal entry requirements
  • Admission and selection of candidates
  • Content and of the programme
  • Conditions for supervision

The individual study plan must indicate:

  • Research topic and plan for thesis
  • Courses; planned and accomplished
  • Information about the progress of the thesis

The individual study plan should be prepared after admission. The plan is updated annually and should indicate revisions from the previous plan. The status of the individual study plan should be considered in terms of an agreement and a contract between each candidate, the supervisor, and the department.


For each postgraduate student two supervisors are appointed, one as an assistant supervisor.

The main supervisor must be employed at or co-opted by the University of Gothenburg. At least one of the supervisors must be qualified for appointment as a senior lecturer/associate professor (docent) and at least one of the supervisors must have experiences from supervisor training.

The supervisor is the person who, within his or her employment, has to guide the student with regard to course elements and in particular with regard to the research for the thesis.

Supervisors at the Department of Psychology (listed on our Swedish page)


We work continuously with quality improvement and quality assurance in the programme's various bodies: the Committee for Third Cycle Education, the Board of Supervisors and the Doctoral Board. We have also taken part in a number of benchmarking projects in order to gain inspiration from other third-cycle programmes.

In the 2015-2016 review by The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), our third-cycle programme was assessed as "high quality". The programme satisfies all quality requirements, was found to be well-structured, and to be of a good international class.

Both student and staff member

Admission to the third-cycle programme entails being both a student and a staff member at the same time. Both roles are regulated in relevant ordinances covering both rights and obligations.

A doctoral student is usually employed to conduct research studies on a full-time basis. The exception from this is collaborative doctoral positions, where the third-cycle programme is pursued on a part-time basis alongside ordinary employment with an organisation outside the university.

Doctoral students usually (though not always) perform three different types of work. Working on a thesis, departmental duties, and academic training. Teaching is usually considered to be part of departmental duties, and course credits in the context of the third-cycle programme are usually perceived as academic training.

Where you are in organisation terms:

:: The Department of Psychology

Admission to the third-cycle programme entails being both a student as well as an employee of the Department of Psychology. Both roles are regulated separately in the relevant ordinances that cover both rights and obligations.

As a Doctoral Student, you are part of the faculty and voluntarily involved in anything to which other employees are also invited. As a faculty staff member, you can find internal information on the Staff Portal.

Your supervisor: The supervisor's overall task is to plan and direct the doctoral work in such a way as to ensure that the exam targets are achieved. Your supervisor works with you to schedule courses and other activities so that the dissertation work progresses according to the individual study plan. The supervisor should also have an understanding of acting on the employer's behalf with respect to you as a Doctoral Student, with responsibility for educational and scientific matters.

The Director of Studies for the third-cycle programme is Professor Linda Hassing

The Post-graduate Studies Officer is Ann Backlund.

The Department of Psychology's doctoral group is a subject group that is part of the Faculty of Social sciences union with the task of safeguarding, promoting and protecting the interests of Doctoral Students, primarily in issues relating to education, social welfare, equal opportunities and the working environment. The doctoral group invites all Doctoral Students in the department to approximately two meetings per term. The contact person is Sara Szepanski

:: :: The Faculty of Social Sciences

The Department of Psychology is a part of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Our third-cycle programme is also a part of the faculty's third-cycle programme. The departments of the Faculty cooperate on several matters, including the design and provision of joint third-cycle courses. Some of these are compulsory for all Doctoral Students at the faculty, while others are optional.

The website of the Faculty of Social Sciences contains general information about education at third-cycle level. There is, among other things, full supervision of the education, including a description of the entire doctoral defence process.

  • The Faculty of Social Sciences' pages on the third-cycle programme

:: :: :: The University of Gothenburg

You will of course also be a member of the University of Gothenburg! The university's pages for Doctoral Students on the Staff Portal contain information that is applicable to all Doctoral Students at the University of Gothenburg.

  • Doctoral Students at the University of Gothenburg ("the Doctoral Student Portal")
  • Administrative study handbook for third-cycle level

Laws and regulations

A general summary of the laws and regulations applicable to the appointment as a Doctoral Student can be found in the Higher Education Ordinance. For the University of Gothenburg, there are also supplementary local regulations in the form of the Doctoral Regulations (new version as of 01-07-2017). A department may not have local regulations that are in violation of the common regulations, though there may be local adaptations and practice that it may be useful to be aware of.

  • University of Gothenburg, policy paper: Rules for studies at third-cycle level ("the Doctoral Student regulations", applicable from 01-07-2017)
  • Faculty of Social Science, policy papers 

Director of Studies:

Director of Studies:
Professor Linda Hassing
+46 (0)31-786 4258

From admission to doctoral thesis

The path from admission all the way to defending a doctoral thesis involves several steps. You will e.g. be provided an individual study plan and a supervisor who will help you and then, about four years of research later, you finally get to defend your doctoral thesis at a public defence. You can read more about the process at the university's pages on third-cycle programmes.

The Department of Psychology is a part of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Our third-cycle programme is also a part of the faculty's third-cycle programme. On the Faculty of Social Sciences' website, you will find a more detailed summary of what the dissertation process at the Faculty of Social Sciences looks like.