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The PhD programme

The PhD programme at AHO is a three-year full-time programme leading to the degree philosophiae doctor (PhD). When a candidate is awarded the philosophiae doctor degree, it demonstrates that they have acquired research competence in their field. Read more about the PhD programme.

The Research School

The PhD programme's training component covers two semesters and includes lectures and student activities.
The Research School has its own website

Annual amount

The research fellow will have an annual amount stipulated by the Board at their disposal (currently NOK 20,000 per year) for materials, books, travel etc. in connection with the research work and publication of the work. The annual amount rules are described in more detail in the personnel regulations for research fellows. 

Midway seminar

The candidate presents their thesis work in an open seminar. The annual PhD symposium will normally be part of the midway seminar. Ideally, the presentation should be given in the third semester and include:

  • A description of the research project, research questions and choice of method.
  • A description of the project's results so far.
  • An updated progress plan for the research project with dated sub-goals, as well as an assessment of which points in the plan have the potential to be the most time-critical.

Substantiation that the work will be completed as planned (as of now) and on schedule.
The candidate begins by presenting their work (approx. 20 minutes). The work will then be discussed by one/two opponents (internal/external opponents). They will have approximately 20 minutes for comments. Finally, the other participants at the seminar will have the opportunity to ask the candidate questions. 
The head of the PhD programme chairs the seminar. The candidates, opponents and supervisor(s) must also participate. The seminar is otherwise open to anyone who is interested.
The candidate shall send out a written supporting document for the presentation two weeks before the seminar. The supporting document shall contain an overview of the whole of the thesis work so far, including the key research questions, theoretical framework and methodology. The supporting document shall also contain a plan for the remaining work.

Progress reporting

All students admitted to the PhD programme at AHO must fill in an ISP (Individual Study Plan) each semester. An exception applies to candidates whose public defence has been confirmed or who are on long-term sick leaves/leaves of absence. The Research Administration and head of the PhD programme will send out a reminder prior to each scheduled report. The report must be submitted by 30 September in the autumn semester and 30 March in the spring semester.
The ISP is divided into three parts. Parts 1 and 2 are public and used to keep the school updated on the project’s content, activity plan and publications, as well as completed courses. Part 3 is confidential and will not be made public. This part will be filled in by the supervisor in cooperation with the candidate.
The updated ISP shall be submitted to the Research Administration by the deadline each semester. It will be possible to ask for a special progress seminar if the candidate and/or supervisor finds it necessary. In such case, the school must be informed about who should be present at the seminar and what topics the candidate/supervisor wishes to discuss.

The Research Committee will be informed about the progress reporting at least once a year and must initiate measures if there are major discrepancies.

Staff regulations for Ph.D. candidates

This is a translation of the Norwegian regulation. If there is uncertainty about the interpretation of the various paragraphs, it is always the Norwegian regulation that is valid. Errors or deficiencies in the English translation may exist.

1. In general

The Government Personnel Regulations apply to PhD students, and they thus have full rights and obligations as other employees. The head of department is the research fellow's closest manager. Until the department's affiliation is clarified, the subject director is the research fellows' immediate superior.

2. Duty work

Fellows are normally appointed for a period of 3 or 4 years. For a 4-year scholarship, one man-year includes compulsory work within teaching, etc. (25% of total addition time).
The head of department is responsible for the content and scope of the compulsory work. A written agreement must be made between the head of department and the research fellow, which explains this, and which is updated every semester. The agreements must be approved by the principal. Each semester, the research fellow must report his / her time consumption to the head of department, who must approve the hourly accounts.
Participation in the compulsory graduate school takes precedence over compulsory work.

3. Annum

The research fellow has an annum set by the board (currently NOK 20,000 per year) for material, books, travel or the like, in connection with research work and publication thereof. The use of annum must be agreed with the head of department. Annum cannot be used for capital goods such as PC, printer, mobile phone, camera or the like, unless it is approved by the director of administration. Capital goods are the school's property and are returned when the research fellow resigns. Particularly expensive books and encyclopedias must be returned to the library.

4. Presence

Fellows usually have a duty to be present at AHO. Other workplaces for shorter or longer periods can be agreed with the head of department.
The doctoral education includes organized research education with a compulsory attendance. In order to get approval for the completion of the various modules in the graduate school, a minimum of 80% attendance within each module is required. Absence from teaching must be documented with a sick note from a doctor. This also applies to absence due to a fellow's child's illness.

5. Leave and extensions - interruptions during the PhD period

In general, a regular dialogue with the supervisor, research administration and head of department is presumed. After completing postgraduate school, compulsory progression follow-up meetings are held between the research fellow and the postgraduate education every semester until the semester in which the dissertation is submitted. Prior to these meetings, each research fellow must, in consultation with his / her supervisor, submit a progress report according to a set form. Like other employees, PhD candidates must also apply for, or alternatively report, absence.

5.1 Interruption due to statutory absence

In the event of statutory absence during the PhD period, the admission period is extended corresponding to the duration of the absence. The extension cannot include vacation and periodic work.
This will apply, for example:
  • Sick leave longer than 14 days
  • Military service
  • Maternity / paternity leave
For fathers, a two weeks' welfare leave in connection with childbirth can be included in the extension period.
Short-term absence, ie absence of less than 14 days (separate sick leave, children's illness, welfare leave, holidays) will not provide a basis for extending the PhD period.
Fellows on sick leave have the same duties and rights as other employees. Long-term sick leavers must return to work as soon as possible. This means, among other things, that a follow-up plan must be prepared within 4 weeks of sick leave. The follow-up plan shall contain an assessment of work tasks and work ability, as well as any facilitation and follow-up. After 8 weeks of sick leave, AHO convenes a dialogue meeting.

5.2 Interruption for other reasons

Other types of unpaid leave that continuously lasts one month or longer may provide a basis for granting an extended PhD period. Such leave must be applied for. The research fellow's task is first and foremost to carry out his research work and his doctorate. AHO is therefore very restrictive with leave for research fellows.

5.3 Application for an extension of the PhD period, without prior interruption / leave

Upon application, the PhD period can be extended on other grounds. Such applications are only granted in exceptional cases, and if there are very good reasons for doing so. The application must be accompanied by an account of what has been done / published and what remains of the doctoral thesis. The application can be granted where AHO, after an overall assessment, finds that the project can be completed in the extension period.

5.4. The formal application process for section 5.2. and section 5.3

  1. Application for leave and extension is sent to postmottak@aho.no well in advance of the date for any start of the leave period
  2. Personnel consultant informs the research administration supervisor and head of department for statement / recommendation
  3. The Rector grants an extension based on statements from the supervisor, the head of department and the research administration
  4. Personnel consultant prepares formal answer

6. Extra positions

AHO's guidelines for extra positions also apply to research fellows. However, it is assumed that PhD students should normally concentrate fully on the doctoral program.

7. Termination

Fellows must report on their progress in accordance with current guidelines. Failure to report progress or serious failure in progress may, when the circumstances are due to the research fellow, provide grounds for dismissal.

Thesis formats

Detailed guidelines for § 10 in the Regulations for the degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD) at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO)

The thesis may be submitted in the following forms:

A monograph, a compilation of several written works (article-based thesis) or a compilation of written and performing works (work-based thesis). The level and scope of the work should be the same regardless of whether the thesis is a monograph, article-based or work-based.

A monograph is an independent research work or research and development work that meets international standards with regard to ethical requirements, academic level and method in the field. The thesis must contribute to developing new academic knowledge and be at a level that indicates suitability for publication, or being made public in a suitable format, as part of the discipline’s research-based knowledge development. Monographs are recommended to be between 80,000-100,000 words plus apparatus and footnotes. If a monograph includes extensive empirical material (for example transcripts of interviews, transcripts of primary sources, translations or other sorts of primary material) these can be added to the word count and attached as annexes. The use of the AHO thesis template is recommended but not compulsory.

An article-based thesis should normally include at least three articles in addition to an accompanying binding text known as an exegesis (kappe in Norwegian). The recommended word-count for article-based theses is 30,000-60,000 words plus apparatus, footnotes and submitted articles. At least one article should be accepted for publication in an approved, peer-reviewed scientific publication channel. The publishing channels are selected in consultation with the supervisor(s). If one or several articles are co-authored, the candidate must be the sole author of at least one article, as well as the exegesis. The exegesis should highlight the entirety of the thesis, put the different parts into context and address relevant topics that are difficult to find space for in the articles themselves. The exegesis must also highlight and summarise the thesis’s contribution to the relevant research field and point out any relevant updates as necessary, depending on when the articles were completed.

If an article-based thesis contains extensive empirical material (for example transcripts of interviews, transcripts of primary sources, translations or other sorts of primary material) these can be added to the word count and attached as annexes. Where articles have appeared in printed journals they should be presented as facsimiles of the publication. In cases where journal publishers prevent publication of the print version of the article, the final agreed text version of the article may be used. Refer to existing PhD program detailed guidance for the requirements for publication and authorship relating to article-based theses. The use of the AHO thesis template is recommended but not compulsory.

A work-based thesis consists of both a written and a performing/creative part. The performing/creative part should culminate in a public presentation, exhibition and/or performance and must be documented for posterity. The form and scope of the documentation must be tailored to the individual project's nature, research questions and intention. Process documentation must be included to the extent that it is relevant with regard to the research question and intention. All the material presented in connection with the assessment of the thesis will later be filed in a publicly available archive. The candidate is responsible for obtaining an approved written agreement on such archiving when submitting the thesis for assessment. The scope of the written part of the thesis may vary according to the size of the performing work. If the candidate chooses to write this part in the form of several articles, at least one of the articles should be accepted for publication in an approved, peer-reviewed scientific publication channel. The publishing channels must be chosen in consultation with the supervisor(s).

Works-based theses must include a written exegesis. The recommended word-count for the works-based theses is 30,000-60,000 words plus apparatus, footnotes and submitted works. Works included in the thesis must either be submitted directly as attachments to the exegesis or described in attachments to it (via words, photographs or drawings). Works and descriptions of works may also be accessed through hyperlinks in the submitted works-based thesis. Refer to PhD program detailed guidance for preparation and examination of works-based theses. The use of the AHO thesis template is recommended but not compulsory.

Works published more than five (5) years before the time of admission cannot be accepted as part of the thesis. AHO may grant exemptions from this requirement if extraordinary circumstances so warrant.

The PhD thesis: template

All PhD candidates at AHO are obliged to use AHO’s template for PhD theses. If you are writing an article-based thesis, you are obliged to use the template for the introduction (‘kappa’). Published articles shall be printed in the same way as in the journal in question.

You are responsible for ensuring that the thesis complies with the template. AHO will not cover any expenses for this. PhD candidates entitled to an annual amount, i.e. candidates appointed as research fellows at AHO, may use this amount for text editing and work with the template. 

AHO's template for theses are available in two variants:

Contact The Research Administration if  you have any questions about the template

Absence and extension of periods

In cases of approved absence, an extension of the research fellowship period may be granted.


  • Personnel regulations AHO 
  • Personnel regulations for research fellows

for information about what constitutes approved absence.


A supervisor will be appointed by the start of the study period. It is possible to apply for one or several co-supervisors

Appointment of supervisor(s)

The PhD program board will appoint a main supervisor for all PhD candidates. The main supervisor must confirm that he or she is willing to take on the assignment in advance. The main supervisor has the primary responsibility for the professional follow-up of the candidate, and should normally be employed in a permanent academic position at AHO.

In special cases, an external supervisor may be appointed. AHO then covers fees within a given hour determined by the program board. AHO does not cover travel expenses in connection with supervision. PhD candidates are entitled to the supervision of one or more co-supervisors. The hour is determined by the program board. Co-supervisors are appointed by the program board on the basis of proposals from the PhD candidate in consultation with the main supervisor. An application with CV must be submitted. AHO recommends that all PhD candidates have at least two supervisors. If possible, there should be a joint meeting between the PhD candidate and both / all supervisors  at least once a year. All supervisors must have a doctorate or equivalent research qualifications. In special cases, special emphasis on specialized, subject-specific competence can be permitted with co-supervisors. 

Rights and obligations with respect to supervision

The doctoral candidate and the main supervisor have a duty to keep each other informed about all factors of significance for supervision. The parties must actively deal with any circumstances that could prevent the performance of supervision as agreed in Section 5 below. The candidate and the main supervisor must submit progress reports as described in Part A of this agreement.

The academic supervisor is to:
  • give advice on formulating and delimiting topics and research questions;
  • discuss and assess hypotheses and methods;
  • help the candidate to become acquainted with the literature and relevant data (library, archives, etc);
  • discuss various aspects of the written presentation (structure, language, referencing, documentation, etc);
  • stay informed as regards the candidate’s progress and evaluate that progress relative to the plan for completion;
  • help to introduce the candidate into relevant research environments;
  • discuss results and their interpretation;
  • give advice on scientific dissemination;
  • provide the candidate with guidance in ethical matters related to the thesis. 
The candidate is to:
  • provide a draft of parts of the doctoral thesis to the supervisor as agreed and in accordance with the project description. Parts of the thesis may be presented in relevant seminars;
  • complete the required coursework in accordance with the progress plan;
  • uphold the ethical principles that pertain to his or her area of research.

Approval of ECTS points for external courses and other activities

As per the program description, the PhD program board can award ECTS credits for:
  • Institute higher seminar presentations (2 ECTS)
  • Courses tailored to the individual field of study, e.g., national or international research schools/PhD courses or specially tailored collaborative courses with the AHO Masters Programmes (6-7 ECTS)
  • Research mediation (3-4 ECTS)
​Download form for approval of ECTS points for external courses and other activities (PDF)

Please use this form when applying for ECTS credits. It can be sent to the PhD coordinator.