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Content of the PhD Plan

The initial version of your PhD plan must be approved within three months of enrolment. To ensure that the three months deadline for approval can be met, the initial PhD plan must be submitted within 10 weeks from commencement of study.

Your PhD plan provides an outline of your complete study period, incl. a plan for your research project. The PhD plan is prepared in collaboration with your main supervisor and must be as comprehensive and detailed as possible. The plan is a mutual agreement between you and your main supervisor on a work schedule for the complete PhD study.

The PhD plan is dynamic and subject to revision throughout your study period, both in connection with half-year evaluations and your qualifying examination. The plan is an online log covering the various elements of your PhD study period and, furthermore, it ensures that successful completion meets the formal requirements of the PhD regulations (course work, mobility, dissemination, etc.), which must be met in order to obtain a PhD degree. It is therefore very important that all planned and completed study activities are registered in the system. This should include the status and results in relation to the activities described in the previous plan, for instance summary of changes to the project plan and your plans for the next 6-12 months.

Changes to the plan must be approved by your main supervisor, the head of your programme and the head of PhD school via the half-year evaluations.

Please note it is important that you add each part of your PhD programme as separate plan elements under the relevant category. Please do not upload multiple plan elements as a single document as this complicates the further process.

All elements in the PhD Planner system must be described in English.

The PhD plan includes the following items:

Project plan incl. a time schedule with important milestones

Your project description should include project background, research question(s), hypothesis, state-of-the-art methods, expected outcomes and time schedule with important milestones in the PhD project. Furthermore, a time schedule must be included in the plan. This is to ensure that enough time is allocated to each phase of your PhD studies: coursework, dissemination activities, going abroad, your PhD project itself and time for writing your thesis.


The PhD plan should include a plan for publications.


The PhD plan must include a plan for the required PhD coursework; courses or similar study elements totalling approx. 30 ECTS. It is recommended that the PhD student uses a max. of 10 ECTS on transferable skills courses. Attending a course in science teaching is compulsory for PhD students who work as teaching assistants etc. and advisable for other PhD students. Courses can be taken at Aarhus University or at other institutions in Denmark or abroad.

The majority of the course activity, if not all, should be completed before the qualifying exam. Click here to find and sign up for courses.

It is only your PhD courses that must be registered in the PhD Planner system. Please note that if you are admitted without a Master’s degree, you must meet the Master’s degree course requirements as well as the PhD course requirements. Your MSc course programme must be approved through the "Contract generator" by the head of Master’s programme and the study administration. Find more info on approval of your MSc course programme here.

Dissemination activities

The PhD plan must include a plan concerning the nature and extent of dissemination activities e.g. teaching, preparing courses, assisting students with lab work or exercises, co-supervision of Bachelor students/Master students/group work, public lectures, writing articles for newspapers, creating web pages, book chapters or manuals communicating disciplinary material, activities involving high school students and presentation of research results to companies.

Research Environment Change (mobility)

PhD students are required to participate in active research environments outside Aarhus University, since extended visits to collaborating research groups at other institutions or companies comprise an important part of the PhD education. PhD students are encouraged to go abroad for a period of at least three months. The mobility requirement may also be met by combining several shorter visits and/or by stays at research institutions or companies within Denmark. You should consult your main supervisor for information on the timing and logistics of the visit(s) to other research groups.

If a PhD fellow is prevented from work obligations such as teaching due to a research visit, it is possible to get exemption with no reduction in payment. Find more information on teaching exemption, insurance, etc. at the GSTS webpage on going abroad.

Supervision agreement

The PhD plan must contain a description of requirements and agreements concerning supervision including form and extent. If you have one or more co-supervisors, their roles and duties must be specified in the plan. For inspiration see our page on “Matching expectations”.

Copyright/intellectual property right agreement (if relevant)

PhD students who are employed at a public research institution are covered by the Act on Inventions at Public Research Institutions. According to the Act, the rights to an invention made as part of the work at the institution belong to the PhD student who made the invention, but the institution has the possibility to take over such rights. Therefore, the PhD student has an obligation to notify Aarhus University immediately when an invention is made in order for AU to decide whether it should take over the rights to the invention. If AU takes over the rights to the invention and subsequently generates a net income from the commercial exploitation of the invention, AU will pay a reasonable remuneration to the PhD student.

A PhD student who is not an employee of the research institution is not covered by the Act, and the institution is not entitled to take over the rights to any inventions made by the PhD student. However, an agreement to this effect may be made between the institution and the PhD student.

Financial plan

The PhD plan must include sources of scholarships/fellowships, tuition fees and running costs. This information is provided by the GSTS.

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