Doctoral Studies - structure and timing

PhD thesis and structure of the degree

As a rule of thumb, a PhD thesis based on journal articles consists of an introduction and 4 scientific articles, two of which have already been published or accepted for publication. The most​ important criterion is not the number of papers, however, but the overall scientific quality of the PhD thesis. If the papers are lighter than average in a scientific sense, more papers may be needed. This may also be the case if the own contribution of the defendant to coauthored papers has been limited, e.g. the defendant has more than one paper where she/he is not the first author.​
A PhD thesis can also be a monograph, i.e. written as a coherent book. ​This format is rarely used in the natural sciences, however, because scientific merit is mostly judged by publications in scientific journals. Your chances of succeeding in a scientific career are therefore better if you have published in scientific journals already before graduating.
The research director is responsible for assessing that the thesis fulfils the requirements before proposing to the faculty that the pre­-examiners be nominated.
All research has to be carried out such that it conforms with good scientific practice and research ethics. Guidelines are available both at the European level and nationally​.


Apart from writing a PhD thesis, doctoral students are required to attend courses and carry out other studies that together give a total of 40 ECTS (1.8.2018 onwards). Each doctoral student makes a personal study plan, which is meant to ensure that the student obtains the knowledge and skills that are needed to successfully carry out the research on which the PhD thesis is based. The study plan needs to follow the requirements of the curriculum.
The studies can include, apart from courses specifically tailored for doctoral students, also intermediate to advanced level courses targeted at BSc or MSc students. Basic courses meant for BSc students cannot be included in a doctoral degree. Courses given at any recognised university in Finland or abroad are eligible.
The PhD thesis cannot be sent for pre-­examination until enough studies have been completed and registered, and the research director has approved them.​ 
Doctoral candidates that have started their studies prior to 1.8.2018 can either continue to follow their personal study plan with 60 ECTS or change to the new 40 ECTS curriculum (detailed instractions how this is done will be emailed to the doctoral candidates in August 2018).

Summary of the BGG curriculum 2018-2020  

 Studies in research topic 15-30 ECTS

  • Postgraduate studies and summer schools (minimum of 2 ECTS required), 2-23 ECTS
  • Book exam or literature essay (minimum of 5 ECTS required), 5-10 ECTS (Book exam: 1 ECTS / 100 pages, Literature essay: 1 ECTS / review based on 30–70 pages of primary literature)
  • Seminars and Doctoral training days (minimum of 2 ECTS required from the list below), 2-13 ECTS
    • Seminars, 0-4 ECTS
    • Phd seminar, 0-4 ECTS (doctoral candidates in biology are recommended to have 2 ECTS from PhD seminar)
    • BGG Doctoral Training Days, 0-4 ECTS (1 ECTS/ year for attending)

Studies supporting research area 0-10 ECTS

  • Teaching practice, 0-10 ECTS (1 ECTS for 27h of teaching and preparation, 2 ECTS for officially nominated supervisor of master's thesis)
  • Scientific publication which is not a part of the PhD thesis, 0-4 ECTS
  • Studies in minor subject, 0-8 ECTS

Studies supporting mobility and professional career 2-10 ECTS

  • Scientific conferences (minimum of 2 ECTS required), 2-10 ECTS (National conference with poster presentation 1 ECTS, National conference with oral presentation 2 ECTS, International conference with poster presentation 2 ECTS, International conference with oral presentation 3 ECTS)
  • Research visit, 0-4 ECTS

  • Professional internship, 0-6 ECTS

General studies aiming for expertise 4-10 ECTS

  • Ethics of Academic research (obligatory), 2 ECTS
  • Public outreach (e.g. courses, popular articles on scientific topics, scientific blogging), 0-4 ECTS
  • Language and presentation skills, 0-8 ECTS
  • University pedagogy, 0-8 ECTS
  • Professional and career skills (e.g. courses offered by UTUGS), 0-6 ECTS

How to register your credits

Credits from courses you take at the University of Turku are registered routinely by the course teacher. Other credits are registered via electronic form Apply for study credit. A doctoral candidate fills in the electronic form and sends it to his/her supervisor for acceptance. After the acceptance of the supervisor the form comes to the administration of the postgraduate affairs of the faculty. You need to present the appropriate course certificate or other proof of having completed the activity in question.


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