General Study Syllabys for Astronomy
Swedish title: Astronomi
Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy
Subject-specific parts (*) in Swedish approved by the Faculty Board (the Doctoral Education Board) on 2012-08-28.
Faculty-common parts approved by the Faculty Board of Science and Technology on 2022-04-26. Revision on 2023-02-07.
The faculty-common parts go into force on 1 July 2022. The Faculty-common parts also apply to those who started their doctoral education prior to 1 July 2022, except if this would have a negative impact on the conditions for doctoral students.
Subject description *
Astronomy includes many subfields of theoretical or observational nature. Currently astronomy research in Uppsala University includes primarily the following fields: physics of Milky Way and other galaxies, physics of stars, cosmogony, physics of the Solar system as well as development of new observational techniques and instruments. Doctoral research project must be restricted to these fields.
Astronomical research implies strong international collaboration. Large fraction of observations is collected at large international facilities. Examples of such facilities are the European Southern Observatory coordination collaboration of a number of European countries and the Nordic Optical Telescope. Data stored in archives of various satellite, optical and radio observatories is becoming more and more important. Theory and numerical simulations represent another important component and even here the research is primarily done within international cooperation.
Information about the current research projects at the Division can be found by attending seminars and colloquia and from researchers involved in doctoral education. For further information follow the “Education” link at the Division web page.
Aim and objectives of the education
Overall aim and objectives of the education
Doctoral education shall develop the knowledge and skills needed to be able to conduct research independently (Higher Education Act, 1992:1434). The Higher Education Ordinance’s System of Qualifications (Appendix 2, 1993:100) sets out the requirements to be met for a doctoral and licentiate degree, respectively (see individual study plan template).
Subject-specific objectives *
The goal of doctoral education is to develop competence and experience necessary to carry out an independent and critical scientific studies including the ability to plan, perform and present the results of research project. Doctoral training should give a broad methodological training and knowledge about latest research in astronomy and astrophysics. It should provide a good picture of the modern problems as well as in-depth understanding and competence in some specific area of astronomical research.
The doctoral student shall also be able to present her/his own goals and results orally and in writing to different target groups in English and, in the case of Swedish-speaking doctoral students, in Swedish.
General entry requirements
General entry requirements for doctoral education are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance as follows:
An applicant shall be considered as meeting the general entry requirements if they have
- completed a degree at the advanced level (Master’s level), or
- completed course requirements of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are at the advanced level (Master’s level), or
- acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.
The University may permit an exemption from the general entry requirements for an individual applicant, if there are special grounds (Chapter 7, § 39 of the Higher Education Ordinance).
In order for a person who has completed course requirements of at least 240 credits (under the second item above) to be considered eligible at Uppsala University, the 60 credits at advanced level must include a degree project of at least 15 credits (AFUU § 2, UFV 2022/729).
Special entry requirements *
A special eligibility for a third level program in Astronomy requires successfully passed examination of a sufficiently wide range of astronomical courses corresponding to 75 higher education credits. In special cases exceptions can be made. Examples of education that can provide eligibility without 75 HE points in astronomy are civil engineering in Technical Physics and Physics within the Natural Sciences or if an equivalent knowledge was acquired in a country with a different credit system.
Advertisement, selection and admission
Information and advertisement
Admission shall be made on a competitive basis following open advertisement of a doctoral place, with the exception of that which is specified in Chapter 7, § 37 of the Higher Education Ordinance. The advertisement shall be made available locally and on the University’s website (www.uu.se) at least three weeks before the application deadline and should be given appropriate national and international dissemination.
Selection among the applicants shall be carried out with consideration given to their ability to successfully conduct their studies. The assessment criteria for selection are:
- knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis work and the subject/specialisation
- assessed ability to work independently, for example
- ability to formulate and address scientific problems
- written and oral communication skills
- ability to carry out independent critical analysis
- other experience relevant to doctoral studies, e.g. professional experience.
The assessment criteria may be demonstrated, for example, by supporting documents, an interview or a skills test.
In addition, an assessment is made of the applicant’s general competence and personal qualities, as well as their ability to collaborate. If a number of applicants are judged as being equal, preference shall be given to applicants from the underrepresented legal gender among the doctoral students in the subject/specialisation.
The mere fact that an applicant is deemed to be able to be awarded credits for prior studies or professional experience for the purpose of doctoral studies shall not give an applicant preference over other applicants during selection (Chapter 7, § 41 of the Higher Education Ordinance).
A doctoral student is admitted to a doctoral programme in a doctoral subject/specialisation. Admission of a doctoral student with full-time employment in their doctoral studentship at Uppsala University is decided by the head of the relevant department, except in cases specified in the Faculty’s guidelines for doctoral education (TEKNAT 2021/301). Admissions with other forms of funding are decided by the Faculty Board’s Working Committee after preparation in the Doctoral Education Board.
Structure and content of doctoral education
Doctoral education consists of courses and research work, and can take various forms, as specified in the individual study plan.
The research project must be well-defined and the level of ambition must be set taking into account both the degree objectives of the programme and the net study time (maximum 48 months for a doctoral degree or maximum 24 months for a licentiate degree).
Requirements for doctoral degree *
The requirements for doctoral degree consist of on one hand passed examinations in the courses included in the approved individual study plan of each doctoral student, and on other hand passed public defense of the doctoral thesis. The program leading to the doctoral degree amounts to 240 higher education credits (four years of full-time studies), of which the thesis part amounts to a minimum of 120 higher education credits and the course part to a minimum of 60 higher education credits.
Requirements for licentiate degree *
A stage of at least 120 higher education credits (two years of full-time studies) in the third level program may be completed with a licentiate degree. The requirements for this are that the doctoral student both has passed the examinations included in the program stage and has got an academic paper amounting to a minimum of 60 higher education credits passed. The course part amounts to a minimum of 40 higher education credits.
The head of department is responsible for ensuring that sufficient time is allotted for the department’s doctoral students to receive the necessary supervision. A doctoral student has the right to request a change of supervisor (Chapter 6, § 28 of the Higher Education Ordinance).
Individual study plan
The principal supervisor, in consultation with the professor responsible for doctoral studies (FUAP), is responsible for drawing up an initial individual study plan prior to admission. The head of department approves the study plan in connection with admission. The individual study plan shall contain a timetable for the doctoral studies, specification of how supervision is organised, and a description of the undertakings of the doctoral student and the department during the period of studies. The individual study plan also specifies the courses included in the doctoral student’s education.
The individual study plan must be revised at least annually in collaboration between the doctoral student and their supervisor. The revision involves following up on the doctoral student’s progress in relation to the degree objectives and previous plan, as well as planning for further studies. The FUAP approves the revised study plan.
Follow up *
A course in research ethics, with a minimum of 2 credits and content equivalent to the courses provided by the Faculty, shall be included for the licentiate and doctoral degrees. An introductory course to doctoral studies and a course in scientific writing are also recommended.
Doctoral students who teach should undergo teacher training for higher education. This is specified in the individual study plan, and can either be a credit-bearing course element or take place within the framework of the doctoral student’s departmental service.
Teacher training for higher education, lasting 5 weeks, is equivalent to 7.5 credits at the Faculty, and may be included in the doctoral programme.
Basic Swedish language training for doctoral students who do not have Swedish as their first language may be a credit-bearing course element or take place within the framework of the doctoral student’s departmental service.
Subject specific courses *
Within the third level program there may be different kinds of courses, such as lectures, literature studies, practical training, field studies, etc. The courses are intended to provide a wider overview of the field and to complement the specialized competence acquired as part of the research work. The individual study plan for doctoral studies must include:
- Two or three overview courses corresponding in total to 20 HE points and covering some of the 3 research areas pursued at the Division (A): physics of planetary systems, stellar physics, physics of galaxies and cosmology. Every such course should be sufficiently broad and correspond to at least 5 HE points.
- Four courses of the total of 30 HE points dealing with methodology (M) of research (for example, observational methods, radiative processes, astronomical statistics, numerical methods in astronomy) or specific (S) astronomical/astrophysical objects (e.g. courses focused on comets, the Sun, cosmogony, stellar evolution, supernovae, active galaxies, galaxy formation, particle astrophysics etc.) Both M and S course must be included in the study plan.
- One general Physics, Math or Computer science course (F) of at least 5 HE points selected among doctoral courses given at Uppsala University and one 5 HE point course of a more general kind, e.g. theory of science, history of Astronomy or presentation technique.
Obs: Other courses including those at other places and other areas can in some cases be included upon the approval.
For doctoral courses, the teacher responsible for the course normally serves as the examiner. The head of department appoints an examiner for a doctoral course. The task of the examiner is only to determine grades on examinations. The principal supervisor, in consultation with the FUAP and other supervisors, decides which courses and to what extent (number of credits) the doctoral student is allowed to be credited for in their doctoral studies, and this is documented in the individual study plan.
It is up to the principal supervisor, in consultation with the FUAP and other supervisors, to decide which examinations (courses or other elements carried out during the study period of the doctoral education) the doctoral student will be allowed to count towards their doctoral studies and to what extent (number of credits). This shall be documented in the individual study plan. The task of the examiner is only to determine grades on examinations.
An assessment must be made as to whether credits can be awarded for prior studies or professional or vocational experience (that have been completed prior to admission to doctoral education) (Chapter 6, § 8 of the Higher Education Ordinance). At the Faculty, the FUAP is responsible for the assessment.
Thesis, doctoral defence and licentiate seminar
The research work shall result in a scientific thesis that must be defended at a public doctoral defence. The research task may be carried out individually or in collaboration with others within or outside the department. However, the doctoral student must be trained to conduct independent research.
The doctoral thesis can be designed either as a monograph, i.e. a unified, coherent scientific work, or as a compilation thesis, i.e. a compilation of scientific papers with a summary of these. The thesis work must be equivalent to at least 120 credits (Chapter 6, §§ 4–5 of the Higher Education Ordinance, and Appendix 2, System of Qualifications). Theses within the Faculty shall include a popular science summary that is in Swedish and at least two pages long.
The doctoral thesis must either meet the requirements for publication in an international scientific journal with independent quality review, or be a summary of scientific papers with equivalent quality requirements. If the doctoral student has co-authored a paper with another person, this may be taken into account only to the extent that the individual effort can be distinguished. This should be done through a description of the doctoral student’s contribution in the papers on which a compilation thesis is based. If parts of the work have previously been published by the doctoral student in a licentiate thesis, this shall be made clear.
The licentiate thesis is smaller in scope, but is subject to the same quality requirements for constituent papers as apply for the doctoral thesis.
In consultation with the FUAP and other supervisors, the principal supervisor shall assess when the thesis work has progressed to the point that a date for doctoral defence or licentiate seminar can be set.
The forms of defence and the grading of doctoral theses are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance, the Faculty’s Guidelines for doctoral education (TEKNAT 2021/301) and Admission and grading regulations for doctoral studies at Uppsala University (UFV 2022/729).
The doctoral thesis shall be defended orally in a public doctoral defence. An examining committee appointed by the Faculty decides on the grade for the doctoral thesis.
The Faculty’s guidelines for doctoral education (TEKNAT 2021/301) summarise the rules for the licentiate seminar.
The grade for a licentiate thesis shall be determined by the FUAP, or another professor delegated this duty, in consultation with the principal supervisor and the external reviewer. The principal or assistant supervisor for the doctoral student may not serve as examiner.
The following degree titles have been established for Astronomy:
Filosofie licentiat- och doktorsexamen
The English translation is Degree of Doctor/Licentiate of Philosophy.
Both the subject and the specialisation are listed on the degree certificate. The degree title (Teknologie/Filosofie licentiat- och doktorsexamen [Degree of Doctor/Licentiate of Philosophy]) shall be determined by the content of the doctoral education, and not by the doctoral student’s degree from a qualifying programme. If a doctoral student wishes to change their degree title to one that differs from that established for the doctoral subject dispensation is required from the Faculty Board (Working Committee). The request for a change of degree title must be made no later than the time of opponent and examining committee appointment or submission of the thesis for printing, whichever occurs first.
Doctoral and licentiate degree certificates are issued upon application in Ladok.
Regulatory framework and responsibilities for doctoral education
Doctoral education is regulated in the Higher Education Act (1992:1434) and the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100). These are supplemented by the following local regulations: Guidelines for doctoral studies at Uppsala University (UFV 2022/728), Admission and grading regulations for doctoral studies and study programmes at Uppsala University (UFV 2022/729) and Guidelines for doctoral (third cycle) education at the Faculty of Science and Technology (TEKNAT 2021/301).
Responsibility for doctoral education ultimately rests with the University Board and the Vice-Chancellor (Chapter 2, §§ 2–3 of the Higher Education Ordinance). Through delegation, the Disciplinary Domain Board or Faculty Board has overarching responsibility and supervisory responsibility, but the day-to-day responsibility is exercised by the department in which the doctoral student is registered. Key functions in doctoral education are the head of department, professor responsible for doctoral studies (FUAP), director of doctoral studies, and the supervisor. See the Faculty’s Rules of Procedure (TEKNAT 2019/177) for a description of roles and responsibilities.
In the first few months doctoral student is given a possibility to actively follow the work of all research groups at the Division for Astronomy and Space Physics. He/she will be given a possibility to do small projects with some groups and will be provide with all necessary supervision. The goal is to simplify the choice of the doctoral project.
It is very important that doctoral students follow closely the development in all fields of research during the whole period of their education. This is done through regular reading of the scientific journals and attending seminars and colloquia. Students should also follow the research relevant to astronomy, astrophysics, space physics and physics in general carried out at other divisions and departments.
The value of a doctoral education in astronomy in the job market depends not only on the content of dissertation but also on the competence and expertise acquired during studies, work at the Department and applied skills acquired in the process, e.g. software development, computer techniques, applied physics, statistics etc.