Course for PhD supervisors at Aarhus BSS

Main purpose of the course

The basic idea of the course is to increase the competences and flexibility of the participants in their role as supervisors. Furthermore, the course aims to ensure local and systematic exchange of experience amongst the PhD supervisors at the faculty.



The course focuses on supervision of PhD students. The purpose is to boost participants’ supervision skills by adressing central aspects of the supervision, from enrollment to PhD defense.

1. The formal framework for the PhD program
What is the framework set by the ministerial order and Aarhus BSS Graduate School and how do you fullfill it?

2. Purpose and criteria
What are the requirements for completing a PhD degree and which criteria are used for the assessment of PhD theses?

3. Recruitment of students
How to discover particularly talented PhD students?

4. Supervision roles, relations and matching of expectations
How do you establish and maintain constructive relationships with the student and the other supervisors in the project? What is an appropriate balance between control and independence and how do you handle items such as gender, culture, power and professionalism in the cooperation?

5. Inquiry and listening techniques in supervision talks
How do you ask questions that promote student independence and how do you ensure frame setting and progression in the conversation?

6. Project management and evaluation
How can supervisors help students plan and manage their projects, including assessing risks, having realistic expectations and ensuring progression in the project?

7. Integration of students in the research community
What can supervisors do to promote student involvement in the daily research community as well as cultivate and care for international networks?

8. Writing and text feedback
How do you stimulate student writing processes and how do you provide effective feedback on texts that are instructive to the student?

9. Defense and assessment practice
What is the primary supervisor's role in assessment and defense? How do you choose opponents? What is required by a good opponent? How can supervisors prepare students for defense?



    Learning outcome

    At the end of the course, participants should be able to:

    • identify and recruit talented applicants for a PhD course
    • align expectations with the students, including being able to describe and justify their own supervision practices
    • support the students in planning and managing a research project
    • promote student integration into research environments
    • stimulate student writing processes and provide constructive text feedback, both in F2F supervision and online supervision
    • use communicative methods which ensure progression in supervision talks and promote autonomy among students
    • identify and handle typical challenges in supervision such as balancing between support and control, between product and process supervision, between private and professional matters in supervision
    • analyze, assess and handle concrete dilemmas in their own supervision practices
    • receive and provide collegial feedback as part of the development of own and others' supervision
    • explain typical criteria for the assessment of PhD theses in social sciences
    • act optimally within the formal framework and regulations of the PhD program at Aarhus BSS

    Fundamental concepts and working methods

    The course is founded on the fundamental concepts that:

    1. the best way to learn the skill of supervision is not simply talking about it, but to give, receive, and observe supervision. Consequently, the main focus is on testing specific supervision principles and methods
    2. that the participants work with a self-defined project throughout the process to ensure that the course is perceived as relevant and results in concrete and useful solutions for the individual participant
    3. it requires courage and safety as well as systematics and frame setting to share experiences from one's own supervision practice with colleagues. Therefore, the participants are divided into 'learning groups' throughout the course. After the course, the groups can also serve as collegiate forums for exchange of experience.


    Detailed instructions will be available on the Blackboard course homepage. Preparation will include formulating own goals for the development process as well as joining collegial supervision groups.