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Handbook for doctoral students

PhD studies at the Department of Sociology – an introduction

All eight faculties at Lund University offer third-cycle studies, including the Faculty of Social Sciences. Research studies are an important part of the University’s mandate and responsibility, and as a doctoral student – as PhD students are called – you are an important part of research at Lund University.

The Department of Sociology runs PhD studies in the subjects of sociology and social anthropology.

Table of contents

What are PhD studies

Entry requirements and admission

PhD courses and thesis work

Teaching as a doctoral student

After you have been hired

Terms of employment

What are PhD studies?

Programmes leading to a doctoral degree (PhD) comprise a total of 240 credits consisting of a course component of 75 credits and a thesis component of 165 credits.

For a doctoral degree, students must write a research thesis (doctoral thesis), which is to be based on independent research and must be of a high scholarly standard. The thesis is to be publicly defended in accordance with the rules in the Higher Education Ordinance and in local provisions for the Faculty of Social Sciences in Lund.

Doctoral studies follow a general syllabus established by the relevant departmental board and the faculty (see below for the general syllabus of each subject). Each PhD student follows an individual study plan (see below) drawn up in consultation between the doctoral student and supervisors and approved by the head of department. The study plan is reviewed in January every year.

Entry requirements and admission

Vacancy announcements for doctoral studentships in sociology usually appear once per year. Announcements for doctoral studentships in social anthropology appear somewhat less frequently. The announcements take place in December with employment the following year, in September.

Current vacancies at Lund University.

When you apply for a doctoral studentship you will be asked to write a research plan.

Here is a document with information regarding which aspects should be included in the plan (PDF).

In order to be admitted, applicants must meet both the general and specific entry requirements. The general entry requirements are a completed Master’s degree or substantially equivalent knowledge acquired in some other way.

In addition to the general entry requirements for PhD studies, the applicant must have earned at least 30 credits in the main field of study (sociology, social anthropology) in the second cycle or acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or abroad. The applicant must also have completed an independent degree project of at least 15 credits in the second cycle.

For each PhD student, there must be a funding plan covering the entire estimated period of study.

Mainly applicants employed under doctoral studentships are admitted to PhD studies leading to a doctoral degree. Lund University does not set up scholarships for doctoral studies. However, the study programme can be funded through a scholarship set up by an external agent, such as a municipality or research institute.

Learn more at Lund University Staff Pages

Lund University has its own rules of admission for PhD studies which apply regardless of the faculty where you intend to do your PhD.

Visit Lund University Staff Pages to download the PDF version of the Lund University Admission Rules for Third Cycle Education.

PhD courses and thesis work

PhD studies comprise 240 credits, of which 165 credits consist of thesis work and the rest are PhD courses of various kinds. During the first six months, the doctoral students choose two supervisors in consultation with the head of department or the director of doctoral studies.

The thesis and PhD seminars

Work on the thesis is worth 165 credits and constitutes the core of the study programme. There are three formal milestones intended to help students complete the various stages. Relatively early on in the work, the doctoral student holds an ideas seminar. This is mainly an occasion to present the research issue to be addressed in the thesis project, but also its theoretical starting points and planned methodology. On completion of approximately half of the thesis work, there is a midway review seminar, where the doctoral student presents an introduction and a coherent extract from the future thesis. Two PhD graduate researchers are appointed as special reviewers for the midway seminar. The last milestone is the final seminar before the public defence of the thesis.

The thesis can be written as a monograph or a compilation thesis in which different parts (in the form of academic papers) are compiled with a summarising introduction.

  • Guidelines for compilation theses (Appendix 3) PDF

When the doctoral student is approaching the final phase of PhD studies (public defence of the thesis), both the doctoral student and the supervisors are to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. The department has therefore produced a quick reference guide and some local guidelines. The faculty has also produced a quick reference guide with reminders of the most important stages and actions for the final period leading up to the public defence. Below you will find links to the department and faculty quick reference guides and to guidelines for the public defence of your doctoral thesis.

Other seminars

All employed researchers are encouraged to take part in seminars as much as possible in order to enrich the research environment and disseminate interesting and topical information. The Department of Sociology organises seminars in many different forms (including within the framework of Ongoing Research and the Public Seminar).

PhD courses

The course component comprises 75 credits. It can be studied in the form of common courses or in the form of individual courses, known as independent study courses. There is a more detailed description of the compulsory components in the general syllabus for each subject (see the heading above What are PhD studies? and Appendix 6 below). The department offers courses every year. These are advertised internally. In addition, The Faculty of Social Sciences offers a series of courses for doctoral students every year. Most supervisors also offer independent study courses. These are presented on the websites of the relevant supervisors.

A student who has completed some second cycle courses can transfer credits from them to the PhD studies subject by decision of the director of doctoral studies. The credits form the basis for a reduction of the length of the doctoral studentship. Potential credit transfers are reviewed at the request of the doctoral student.

Doctoral students can also attend suitable courses outside their immediate environment. Courses organised around Sweden and in other countries can be integrated into your PhD studies. The costs of course participation outside the faculty are to be covered either by the doctoral students’ funding or by other grants, which must be applied for.

Completed and passed PhD courses are registered when the doctoral student/principal supervisor submits a completed examination form with course certificates attached where appropriate, to the administrator of doctoral studies. The administrator ensures that the courses are registered in Ladok. For registration of credits for commenting on another doctoral student's idea seminar, only the examination form is filled in. Read more about commenting on idea seminars in the Guidelines for work-in-progress thesis (Avhandling på gång) (PDF 60 kB, new tab), which can also be found further up this page.

Individual study plan

An individual study plan is to be drawn up for each doctoral student to structure and organise the study programme. The study plan is drafted in consultation between the supervisors and the doctoral student, approved by the head of department and archived at the department.

The individual study plan is to include a schedule for the doctoral student’s PhD studies and thesis work, including completed and planned courses, a plan for the scope and organisation of supervision, a plan of completed and planned departmental duties, and a funding plan.

The doctoral student’s individual study plan is to be reviewed once per year. In case of changes to the rate of studies, such as absence due to illness or parental leave, the individual study plan is to be revised.


You have two supervisors during the PhD programme. These are appointed during the first semester in consultation with the Head of department or the Director of Graduate Studies. All PhD students have the right to change supervisor.

Teaching as a doctoral student

In addition to your doctoral studies, you will be expected to teach in first and second-cycle education and/or take on administrative duties.

The teaching activities of doctoral students hold a special position since they are both voluntary, and also regulated by formal governing documents. However, tensions may arise between various expectations within the organisation, such as the demand for responsibility in teaching and requirements imposed within the framework of doctoral education. Therefore, doctoral students must be able to navigate different roles during their educational period – as a doctoral student with an accompanying educational hierarchy, and as a research and teaching colleague in more egalitarian relationships.

It is primarily the director of first and second-cycle studies who is in charge of planning teaching duties for doctoral students, and he or she will consult with you early on to find out your teaching interests, etc. We usually work with teaching teams on our various courses which provides you with support when you start teaching, and the director of first and second-cycle studies will also assist in various ways.

You also have the opportunity to join our mentoring programme which is designed to support those of you who are new to teaching. Read more about the PhD mentoring programme (PDF, new tab).

Higher education teacher training

A doctoral student engaged in teaching is to have undergone two weeks’ introductory training in teaching and learning in higher education, or to have acquired equivalent knowledge by some other means. This does not affect the admission procedure, but it entails that, before being assigned teaching duties, you will be offered an opportunity to attend a course (or the equivalent) comprising at least two weeks’ training in teaching and learning in higher education.

During your time as a doctoral student, you will also have the opportunity to attend various courses in teaching and learning in higher education offered either by the faculty or by the University’s Centre for Educational Development (CED). They list all current courses in teaching and learning on their website. Your teacher training is planned in consultation with your supervisor and director of studies.

The University’s stated target is for all teaching staff employed until further notice to have undergone 10 weeks’ training in teaching and learning in higher education.

How the scope of your employment is affected by teaching duties?

A doctoral studentship is 4 years long. A doctoral student can undertake departmental duties (teaching, administration) for 20% of full-time working hours at most. The doctoral student is compensated with an equivalent extension of the study period. If you are a doctoral student in sociology or social anthropology, you are also granted an extension for participation in courses in teaching and learning in higher education (equivalent to a maximum of 7.5 credits). If you are a doctoral student in education, you can either transfer credits from your courses in teaching and learning in higher education as text credits or as an extension (Appendix 7).

After you have been hired

As a doctoral student, you are employed for a fixed term at the Department of Sociology, Lund University.

Introduction days

An introduction will take place early in the first semester for the newly admitted student. Newly admitted doctoral students will meet and receive information from the head of department, director of doctoral studies, director of first and second cycle studies, human resources manager, health and safety representative and other people at the department. The faculty also organises introduction days for new doctoral students. In addition, all new employees are invited to take part in the University’s introduction day for new employees. This event is normally organised once per semester. It addresses issues such as terms of employment, work environment, occupational health and employee organisations. It also includes an introduction to the large organisation that is Lund University and to its history.

Certificate of employment

A certificate of employment is sent to new doctoral students after the admissions process is completed. You do not sign an employment contract.

Payment of salary

Your salary is normally paid out on the 25th of every month. You are responsible for providing your account details to the paying bank, which is Nordea. You will need a Swedish personal identity number in order to open a bank account. If you do not have a bank account at Nordea, you must submit a transfer order to Nordea so that your salary gets paid to the right bank.

Read more about salary payments and how to acquire a Swedish personal identity number on the Staff Pages.


As an employee, you are covered by various insurance policies. Some examples are occupational injury insurance on the way to and from work and during working hours, group life insurance and insurance while on business travel.

Here you can read more about the different kinds of insurance.


At you find information about how to find accommodation.

Terms of employment

Salary issues and extensions

There is a special salary scale for doctoral students. As a newly admitted doctoral student, you will normally receive an entry-level salary determined by the faculty. Your salary increases each time you complete a stage of your PhD studies. This takes place on three occasions: on completion of 60, 120 and 180 credits respectively. The supervisor is to submit a certificate to the head of department. Please contact the Human resources administrator at the department for the application form for salary increase.

In addition to extension on the grounds of teaching duties carried out at the department, extension is also granted for sick leave and parental leave. Also some types of authorised leave of absence, but not all, can give rise to an extension (check in advance with the director of doctoral studies or the human resources manager). There are also rules for extension of an employment period due to elected office within student organisations and bodies in which students are represented.

When entering the program, the doctoral student gets some “back-pack” funding to be used for activities related to his/her doctoral education and dissertation work.

Read more about back-pack here (PDF).

Rights, obligations and expectations

As a doctoral student, you are employed by the Swedish state, which includes a range of social benefits, including paid parental leave, paid holidays and an occupational pension. The doctoral student has access to a workplace, their own computer and other equipment needed to carry out their work. Insurance during working hours, work-related travel and fieldwork are included under the terms and conditions of a government employment contract.

More about being a government employee.

Being reachable

The obligations are less explicitly stated. In addition to the general guidelines laid down by the common values of the public sector, the principle of public access to official documents and the principle of the legal certainty of the exercise of public authority, it is of great importance that the doctoral student is accessible during working hours. Supervisors and/or employers should be informed of travel, overseas visits and other absences, and valid contact details should always be provided. If for any reason the doctoral student is unavailable for a certain period, the supervisor and/or employer must be informed in advance.


Your manager will, as far as possible, plan so you can take your leave in a single block between June and August. This is often referred to as your main annual leave.

The year’s entire annual leave is primarily to be used during the year in question, but if you are entitled to more than 20 days of paid leave, you may choose to save one or several of the additional days for a subsequent calendar year. You must always use at least 20 days out of the year’s quota of leave during the year in question.

More information about annual leave and how to apply for it.

Sick leave

Notify your line manager or the contact person appointed by your manager immediately when you are ill. Also, report your absence in SSC Primula. When you are well again, you should enter your declaration of illness for the period you were away in SSC Primula.

More information about sick leave and notification of illness.

Parental leave, parental allowance and caring for a sick child

Parental leave entitles you to an extension of your doctoral studies.

The staff page about parental leave, parental allowance and caring for a sick child.


Gym membership reimbursement, the health promotion hour and partial reimbursement of healthcare and medication costs.

Find out more about the benefits to which you are entitled as an employee at Lund University.

Being present at the workplace

If you do not spend enough working time in the department building, the workspace may be shared or transferred to others. When the doctoral position is terminated, there is no guarantee of access to a private workspace, computer or other resources.

Actively contribute to the collective environment of the institution

There is a requirement for doctoral students to actively contribute to the collective environment of the department. Attendance at and participation in the general research seminars and other joint research activities is the most obvious. In addition, there are expectations that doctoral students also participate in other social activities in the workplace, take responsibility for the doctoral council (as chair and/or participant), are represented on the departmental board and take responsibility for more informal tasks such as participation in various review bodies, in the admission process to doctoral studies, in health and safety management and in gender equality, equal treatment and diversity work.

Doctoral students’ council: your own representative body

There are two representatives elected by the doctoral students at the department and a doctoral students’ council, a body which safeguards the interests of doctoral students at the department. The doctoral students’ council usually meets once per month. In the doctoral students’ council, you can raise issues and problems which arise in your work as a doctoral student and that you are having trouble dealing with on your own.

Work environment

Lund University also has a doctoral students’ union and a doctoral student ombudsman who provide advice, support and information during your time as a doctoral student. Learn more on

For more information on the rights of doctoral students, please read the Doctoral student handbook on

In addition, there are several documents which deal with the University’s work environment on the Lund University Staff Pages.

Information regarding our procedures for preventing and managing conflicts between supervisors and doctoral students (PDF)

Guide to Swedish academia

Young Academy of Sweden has produced a guide explaining higher education and research in Sweden.

Read A Beginner's Guide to Academia in Sweden (PDF, new tab)