Curriculum of the PhD Programme in Economics

  1. General Rules
  2. Objectives of the Programme
  3. Enrolment in the PhD studies
  4. Contents of the Programme
  5. Plan and Half-Year Assessments
  6. Particular Rules on the 4+4 and 3+5 Programmes
  7. The PhD Thesis
  8. Written Assessment
  9. Oral Defence
  10. Complaints and Exemptions

1. General Rules

This curriculum has its basis in the PhD order of January 2008 from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the general rules and guidelines for the PhD programme at the University of Copenhagen of 27. august 2013, and the joint rules set by the Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences. The present curriculum does not make reference to all of these superior rules. The specific rules concerning the Economics programme have been laid down by the Economics PhD study committee, and subsequently approved by the PhD committee of the Graduate School.  

2. Objectives of the Programme

The PhD programme qualifies the PhD student to independently undertake research, development and teaching assignments at an international level in the private and public sectors, for which a broad knowledge of research is required. The PhD programme mainly comprises active research training under supervision. 

Upon completion of this programme, the PhD student will have provided a significant contribution to the development of new knowledge and understanding of Economics, and will possess extensive knowledge about the subject at the highest international level. This presupposes that the student masters the common methods within economic theory and econometrics, is able to initiate and manage a research project, and is able to analyse, evaluate and develop new ideas within the discipline. Furthermore, the person must be able to participate in international discussions within the discipline and communicate scientific/academic results and advances to the general public. 

The programme comprises PhD projects within a broad range of sub-disciplines of Economics. It is appropriate for some PhD projects to be carried out in partnership with relevant institutions outside the university. 

3. Enrolment

Enrolment is subject to written application; confer the Graduate School's rules.

The decision on enrolment is based on the applicant's documented academic qualifications, the suitability of the research project as a PhD project, how the project fits into the department's academic profile and whether the department can provide the necessary academic and financial resources for an academically sound completion of the programme. 

The applicant is advised to contact a potential supervisor prior to application. This person can inform the applicant whether the department has the required resources within the research area, and may in some cases be able to advise on the drafting of the desired PhD project. 

Students are enrolled on either a 5+3, a 4+4 or a 3+5 PhD programme in Economics. 

Admission to the 5+3 programme is based on a successfully completed Master's degree in Economics or Mathematics-Economics from the University of Copenhagen (or equivalent). It is an additional admission requirement, not automatically satisfied by these two master's degrees, that the applicant must have completed relevant advanced courses within the core disciplines of macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics. The Economics PhD study committee lays down specific rules for this, published on the programme homepage.

Admission to the 4+4 programme is based on a successfully completed Bachelor's degree in Economics or Mathematics-Economics plus 60 or more ECTS credit points from a Master's degree in Economics or Mathematics-Economics from the University of Copenhagen (or equivalent). If the applicant has not already fulfilled the specific course requirements of the 5+3 programme, it must be explained how these requirements can be satisfied during the first year of the PhD studies as part of an overall satisfactory plan for the PhD studies. Attention is drawn to the special rules regarding the 4+4 programme in Section 6, below.

Admission to the 3+5 programme is based on a successfully completed Bachelor's degree in Economics or Mathematics-Economics (or equivalent). In addition, enrollment as 3+5 student requires that the student meets the admission requirements for the master’s programme in Economics Read more about admission requirements and is assigned a 3+5 scholarship. If the applicant has not already fulfilled the specific course requirements of the 5+3 programme, It must be explained how the applicant can fulfil the specific course requirements of the 5+3 programme during the first two years of the PhD studies as part of an overall satisfactory plan for the PhD studies. Attention is drawn to the special rules regarding the 3+5 programme in Section 6, below.

Upon enrolment, the student is assigned a principal supervisor from the Department of Economics, taking into consideration the applicant's wishes. The student is encouraged to also find a second supervisor. If the PhD student is associated with an institution outside the department, the second supervisor will normally be a qualified employee from the external institution. 

When applying for enrolment, it is possible to apply for approval of well-documented, previously acquired competencies (credit transfer), to be considered part of the applicant's PhD studies. 

4. Contents of the Programme

The research project is the main part of the PhD programme and must be able to serve as the basis for the PhD thesis. The work may be organised as an independent project or as an integrated part of a larger research project. In the latter case, the project work must be clearly defined and structured with a view to meeting the objective of the PhD programme. The project must always be integrated in the department's research environment. This is insured partly through the contact to the supervisors and their research networks, partly through the student's active participation in the department's seminars, workshops and conferences. The PhD student is required to present at least two seminars in the department, and must when feasible participate in a research student workshop such as those organized by the department's national and international networks DGPE, EDGE, QED, and NNE. 

The PhD student must satisfactorily complete courses totalling approx. 30 ECTS credit points beyond the master's degree requirement. The courses provide the student with partly the needed specialised knowledge about the dissertation topic, partly generic competencies within research, teaching and knowledge dissemination. The courses can be of shorter or longer duration, and can be offered in direct connection with the programme, by the Graduate School, by national and international graduate schools, or by other relevant higher education institutions. In relation to the Graduate School's course rules, it is specifically decided for the Economics programme that seminar and conference participation cannot count towards these course points, and that generic courses can count for up to a total of 5 ECTS credit points. Subject-matter courses are credited with points according to the general scale that one ECTS credit point corresponds to 25-30 hours of workload. As a rule of thumb, full-day courses will be credited with ½ point per course day, with extra credit awarded for particularly demanding activities such as project writing and a final exam. 

The student must, as part of the programme, participate in other, mainly foreign, research environments. Most commonly, a semester's stay at a highly esteemed foreign university is arranged with the assistance of the supervisor. One aim of this stay is to advance the PhD project, while the student is well integrated in the foreign environment. The activities carried out during a stay at another research institutions are usually subject to the pre-approval of the principal supervisor. In addition, the students may participate in international conferences and workshops. 

Knowledge dissemination is a mandatory part of the PhD study programme. The requirement to disseminate research can be fulfilled in various ways, since knowledge dissemination can take many forms. The PhD student may write feature articles or analytical articles for news papers, short articles, texts for relevant homepages, or (s)he may appear in a professional capacity on TV or on the radio or in other media. The knowledge dissemination can take place through Danish or international media. PhD students who do not disseminate their research either on their own or with the help of their departments, must take the generic course in knowledge dissemination offered by the graduate school.

The rules of the Graduate School contain details on leave of absence, part-time study, and enrolment period extension.

5. Plan and Half-Year Assessments

Within three months of the commencement of the PhD programme, the PhD student must have an approved PhD plan. Every six months, each PhD student's progress is assessed in relation to the general requirements of this programme as well as the individual goals of the PhD plan. Following each half-year assessment, an individual process evaluation form is updated with a view to drafting a supervisor's report, which will be accompanying the thesis at submission. The rules of the Graduate School provide details on this procedure.

The principal supervisor must submit, no later than at the time of the submission of the PhD thesis, an opinion on the progress of the PhD programme as a whole - this corresponds to the final version of the process evaluation form. The opinion must be accompanied by a list of the individual elements of the PhD plan, including teaching and knowledge dissemination, affiliation with other research environments, participation in courses, including specification of ECTS points etc. The opinion is prepared in collaboration with any other supervisors. The opinion must be prepared in both Danish and English, and will accompany the subsequent PhD Diploma. 

6. Particular Rules on the 4+4 and 3+5 Programmes

Students enrolled in the 4+4 programme must, within two years of the commencement of the PhD programme, obtain the Master's degree according to the rules laid down in the curriculum for the Master's programme in Economics. During the first two years in the PhD programme, the student thus has to complete curriculum elements, including the master's thesis, totalling 60 ECTS credit points. As agreed with the study board for the Economics programme, the master's thesis of a 4+4 student is subject to a particular set of rules. This thesis accounts for 30 ECTS credit points and will be orally defended, but the performance is evaluated against special objectives and criteria, and special form requirements are in force. Subsequently, the master's thesis may constitute a preliminary version of a contribution to the PhD thesis under the following conditions:

- The PhD thesis must have clear references to the master’s thesis in the introduction and in the chapters that build on the master’s thesis.

- It must be stated in the PhD thesis that the chapters building on the master’s thesis have previously in a preliminary version constituted the master’s thesis, which after two years in the PhD program has been handed in for assessment. Thus the chapters are an extension of the master’s thesis.

- The chapters building on the master’s thesis must document that new research results have been achieved subsequently.

It must be ensured that the student after these two years has completed relevant advanced courses within the core disciplines of macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics, as otherwise required for admission to the 5+3 programme. At the transition to the final two years of the PhD programme, the PhD student must obtain approval of a revised PhD plan.

The 3+5 programme goes on for five years. The first year is identical to the first year of the Master’s programme. The four subsequent years are equivalent to the 4+4 programme.  

7. The PhD Thesis

Upon completion of the PhD programme, a PhD thesis is submitted. The thesis must document that the completion of the PhD project meets the international standard. It must contain research contributions that either have been or can be published in recognized academic publication outlets. The PhD thesis can take the form of either an article collection, including a summary explaining how the articles are linked together and their contribution to the PhD project in its entirety, or a monograph. The PhD programme committee must approve in advance if the thesis language is not Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, or English. 

Approximately one month before the enrolment expires, the student receives further instructions on the thesis submission procedure - if the student wishes to submit sooner than this, the student must give the Graduate School at least one month's notice. The PhD student's enrolment expires upon the submission of the thesis, but the supervisor and the department assist the PhD student in the period up until the defense. 

The PhD thesis can not be submitted for assessment by two or more authors jointly. The thesis must include abstracts in Danish and English. In addition, the thesis may include abstracts in other languages than Danish and English. When submitting the thesis, the PhD student must also enclose a very short summary of 10-20 lines of text for use in connection with the announcement of the thesis defense. If the thesis includes articles or draft articles prepared in collaboration with others, there must be enclosed written declarations from each of the co-authors stating the contribution of the author of the PhD thesis to the work. 

In special cases, a thesis may be accepted for assessment without the author having completed a PhD programme, if the PhD Study Board assesses that the author has in other ways acquired other comparable qualifications. The procedure is described in the rules of the Graduate School. 

8. Written Assessment

The PhD thesis and the subsequent defense are assessed by a three-member expert committee, appointed no later than immediately following the submission of the PhD thesis. Two of the members must be external to the University of Copenhagen, and at least one of the members must be from outside Denmark. The third member is usually from the Department of Economics and serves as chair of the assessment committee. The PhD student's supervisors cannot be on the assessment committee; however the principal supervisor assists the committee without voting rights. 

The assessment committee is charged with assessing the submitted thesis and its subsequent defense. The committee has to assess whether the author, independently, has completed a scientific project, applying the relevant scientific methods of research within the chosen field of research. The work should contribute to the advancement of research on a level that meets international standards for PhD degrees in Economics. Within two months of the submission of the PhD thesis, the assessment committee must make its recommendation to the faculty as to whether the PhD thesis fulfils the requirements for the award of the PhD degree. This recommendation must be written and reasoned and, in case of disagreement, it must be based on a majority vote. The author must receive a copy of the recommendation. If the assessment committee's assessment is favorable, the thesis may be defended. If the assessment committee's assessment is not favorable, the assessment committee must state whether the PhD thesis may be resubmitted in a revised version, and it must set a deadline for resubmission. 

More details on the procedure are given in the rules of the Graduate School. 

9. Oral Defense

The PhD thesis is defended publicly. At the defense, the author must have the opportunity to explain his or her work and defend the PhD thesis before the members of the assessment committee. Following the defense, the assessment committee makes its final recommendation as to whether the author should be awarded the PhD degree. 

The defense must take place no earlier than two weeks after the assessment committee has submitted its preliminary recommendation and no later than three months after the submission of the PhD thesis. The defense and the thesis are public, and the defense must be announced as detailed in the rules of the Graduate School.

A permanently employed academic staff member will moderate the defense on behalf of the head of the Graduate School. The entire defense should not take more than three hours, including any break. The author is given up to 45 minutes to present the main findings of the PhD thesis, and the assessment committee will then ask the author questions based on the thesis and the presentation. At the end of the defense, the audience will be given the opportunity to ask the author questions based on the thesis and the presentation. The moderator of the defence must ensure that the defense proceeds in a dignified manner and may, if necessary, interrupt or prolong the defense. 

10. Complaints and Exemptions

In special cases, the PhD programme committee may grant exemptions from the rules specifically laid down for the PhD programme in Economics, including the specific admission requirements. Please confer the Graduate School rules for other ways to file a complaint or seek exemptions. 

Version: February 2016 – Jakob Roland Munch