Faculty of Law

Academic supervision at PhD level

Here you can find information on supervision seminars at the Faculty of Law.

En ph.d.-kandidat får veiledning av en forsker
Eivind Senneset

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Supervision training

At the Faculty of Law we wish to give all supervisors at PhD level, both experienced supervisors and employees with PhD qualification who not yet have acted as supervisors, a forum to exchange experiences, competence and qualifications. Every semester supervisors and potential supervisors are invited to a gathering, which will consist of both smaller, informal lunch gatherings without a clear agenda, and larger seminars which can stretch over several days.  

The Dean of Research has put together a committee which will work towards a continuous and comprehensive offer for supervisors. The group consists of Professor and Vice Dean Ragna Aarli, Professor Jørn Jacobsen, Professor Eivind Kolflaath, Associate Professor Maria Vea Lund og Advisor Karoline Aksnes. The Faculty of Law has also established some guidelines for what is considered good supervision practice. 

Guidelines for Supervising at the Faculty of Law

  1. The responsibility for completing the project rests with the PhD candidate. As supervisor, your role in particular is to support the candidate’s  work, act as a discussion partner and give advice on the project's contents and ways of working on it. At the same time, a supervisor shall reflect the faculty’s and the academic community’s expectations for the work and act on behalf of the faculty as the responsible institution for the PhD training.
  2. Establish early contact with the candidate. The supervisor shall take the initiative to a meeting as soon as the candidate is admitted to the programme. Having a talk before the start-up meeting with the faculty leadership is useful. Collaboration methods and expectations should be clarified and be the starting point for further supervision. Completion of organised research training and any mandatory teaching should also be discussed. If there are several supervisors, contact and good relations should also be established between those involved.
  3. Give the candidate time, but also responsibility for getting the project started. A good piece of advice may be that the candidate returns to the project outline to refine it. At an early stage, the supervisor should engage in discussions over the potential of the project, the risks involved and its completion. It will be particularly important to discuss any research ethics issues raised by the project.
  4. The candidate should be given space to find an own voice and academic orientation. If a supervisor is too dominant, especially in the early phases, this easily hampers the candidate's independence.
  5. Keep informed about the candidate's progress. If the candidate has challenges in moving the project forward, this should be addressed, for example, by talking about the challenges, rephrasing the research questions or opening new methodological perspectives on the subject. In particular, it is often appropriate to involve yourself in the candidate's activity level and provide advice on activities that may be suitable to prioritise. If extensive travel activities are taking a toll on the necessary collection of materials or if the candidate has too many other activities that take their attention away from work on the project work, this should be pointed out.
  6. Be a good academic role model. It is important to keep appointments and otherwise maintain a good relationship with the candidate. Be respectful of the fact that one can be academically and personally different. Give criticism, but do it in a constructive manner. Feel free to share experiences about adversity from which the candidate might benefit. Be aware of your different roles and avoid becoming too closely involved with the candidate. If a relationship becomes too close, it is advisable to discuss it with the Dean of Research.
  7. Encourage the candidate to write. It is important for the candidate to gain experience with writing and the difficulties that this can entail. Even if the candidate must, for example, collect extensive material, the production of small pieces of text in the same period can be helpful for gaining this experience. Especially in cases where the project outline shows weaknesses as a text, it is advisable to start early on with text production.
  8. Contribute to the candidate’s integration at the faculty and in other relevant academic environments. Especially when the candidate starts in the position, one should have contact with the research group leader about the new member of the group and ways to integrate the candidate.
  9. Keep project presentation, and especially the midway evaluation, early in mind. Midway evaluation is a good opportunity to test and get constructive feedback on demanding parts of the project. However, fully benefitting from this evaluation requires planning and steady text production, which the supervisor should make the candidate aware of. The supervisor shall take the initiative to discuss the text for the midway evaluation no later than six months prior to the holding of the evaluation.
  10. It is often useful to discuss general aspects of the supervisor role with colleagues. If you are uncertain about the candidate's progression or personal situation, you should contact the Dean of Research.
  11. Should the interaction with the candidate become difficult, the supervisor has a special responsibility to attempt to put the dialogue on a constructive track. If a conflict develops, the supervisor must contact the leadership to resolve the conflict in accordance with the institution's regulations. If necessary, seek help from the Dean of Research, the head of the PhD programme or the Dean.


See also relevant regulations:

About organised research training at the Faculty of Law

Regulations for the Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) degree at the University of Bergen

The training component, regulations for the PhD degree at the University of Bergen

The training component, topics

Other governing documents for doctoral degree (overview page)