This graduate school is coordinated by the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.
Director of Graduate Studies: Elin Esbjörner Winters


(approved by the Pro-Vice-President on 15 September 2005. Ref. nr. C2005/1045)
(revised 16 October 2008)
(revised October 2013)
(revised 20 May 2014)
(revised 30 August 2016)
(revised 28 March 2018)

1 Description of the subject

Bioscience is an interdisciplinary field of research and education at Chalmers University of Technology. Bioscience at Chalmers is characterised by the development, implementation and communication of technological and engineering tools and solutions to problems within biology, biotechnology, biomedicine, bioinformatics and food science.
The graduate school for Bioscience operate across the following departments:
  • Applied Mechanics (Tillämpad mekanik)
  • Biology and Biological Engineering (Biologi och bioteknik)
  • Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (Kemi och kemiteknik)
  • Computer Science and Engineering (Data- och informationsteknik)
  • Mathematical Sciences (Matematiska vetenskaper)
  • Microtechnology and Nanoscience (Mikroteknologi och nanovetenskap)
  • Physics (Fysik)
  • Signals and Systems (Signaler och system)

2 Goal

The doctoral program in Bioscience aims to equip the graduate student with the ability to plan, perform, critically evaluate and present independent work within the research and development field, industry, the educational sector and other operational activities within society.
The education leads to a PhD- or licentiate degree in Bioscience.  Depending on whether the student has a background in technical or natural sciences, the final exam will be either doctor or licentiate in technology or philosophy.
The PhD student can choose to obtain their degree in Bioscience, or in Bioscience with specialization in one of the following areas:
  • Biochemistry (Biokemi)
  • Bioinformatics (Bioinformatik)
  • Biomedical Engineering (Medicinsk teknik)
  • Bionanotechnology (Bionanoteknik)
  • Biophysical Chemistry (Biofysikalisk kemi)
  • Biophysics (Biofysik)
  • Educational Science (Utbildningsvetenskap)
  • Food & Nutrition Science (Livsmedelsvetenskap)
  • Industrial Biotechnology (Industriell bioteknik)
  • Theoretical Biology (Teoretisk biologi)
  • Molecular Biology (Molekylärbiologi)
  • Synthetic Biology (Syntetisk biologi)
  • Systems Biology (Systembiologi)

3 Admission

The general prerequisites for enrollment in the graduate school of Bioscience is either an MSc degree, engineering degree or equivalent education, with focus on Biosciences or the particular specialization the PhD education should be oriented towards (see above, paragraph 2).
Specific prerequisites:
  • Applicants to the doctoral program must have achieved 240 credits (HEC) of which 60 HEC must be at an advanced level (i.e. at least 60 HEC must be from Master courses).
  • Students with other equivalent education may be admitted to the PhD program after review and consideration of expected capacity to complete a post graduate education. For more details on admission requirements, such as knowledge of English etc., please refer to Chalmers “Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes” (paragraph 4.1 – Prior knowledge requirements) or the “Graduate Student Handbook”.
  • Applicants must be approved by a department with supervisors and examiners in Bioscience prior to commencing their graduate studies.
MSc degree certificates and other relevant documents are reviewed by the Director of the graduate school who, together with the Proprefekt (Deputy Head of Department), approves admissions to the graduate school.
The PhD student is initially employed for a period of one year, thereafter the employment agreement is renewed for another two years, and finally for one last year. For the employment contract to be renewed, all the requirements must be fulfilled by the PhD student. The requirements are reviewed by the Director of the graduate school in conjunction with yearly follow-up conversations. The Director of the graduate school consult with the Supervisor and advises the Examiner if the contract should be renewed. If necessary the Proprefect is consulted.
For further details of admission requirements, please refer to Chalmers “Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes” (paragraph 4.1 – Prior knowledge requirements) and the “Graduate Student Handbook”.

4 Structure of the education

Students admitted to the graduate school are assigned a main Supervisor, who is responsible for the supervision of the educational process and the development of the current scientific research project. In addition, each graduate student should be assigned at least one Co-Supervisor. The main Supervisor is responsible for finding a suitable Co-Supervisor. Graduate students are also assigned an Examiner, who should not be the same person as the main Supervisor. The Examiners’ most important task is to authorise that the PhD student meets the prerequisites for half way seminar, licentiate degree and PhD degree. The Examiner also determines which courses can be included in the exam, as well as how many credits (HEC) they correspond to.
Each graduate student must have a personal study plan. The study plan should be prepared in a specific template, which can be downloaded here. The personal study plan should be completed no later than three months after admission to the graduate school. This is done in consultation with the main Supervisor. After that, the personal study plan should be sent to the Director of the graduate school. Progress of education is followed-up with annual meetings, of which the first meeting should take place well in time prior to the end of the first year, usually 9 months after start. Ahead of each follow-up meeting the PhD student is responsible for updating the personal study plan, according to instructions noted within the template and where necessary following clarifications in person during the follow-up meeting. The personal study plan is an important document, which is officially recorded and, amongst other things, provides the basis for half way seminars and renewal of employment contracts. Instructions for the personal study plan and follow-up meetings are listed below in bullet points:

  • Mandatory follow-up conversations with the Director of the graduate school should take place yearly. These meetings are booked by the PhD students themselves via a slot reservation list sent by email by the Director of the graduate school at least twice per year to all PhD students in the graduate school.
  • Apart from the PhD student and the Director of the graduate school, at least one Supervisor should attend the meeting. Other parties, such as the Examiner, Co-Supervisor and others are welcome to join the meeting if desired.
  • The personal study plan is updated by the PhD student and sent to the Director of the graduate school at least two working days prior to the meeting.
  • After the meeting the study plan is revised according to the discussion and decisions taken during the meeting. The PhD student collects signatures from the main Supervisor and Examiner and send the updated study plan to the Director of the graduate school for final signature. The final, signed, version should be sent in pdf format by email to the Department Administrator (institutionsadministratören) for archiving in Chalmers 360 registry system.
The graduate school comprises a number of components of a total of 240 HEC for a doctoral degree or 120 HEC for a licentiate degree (60 HEC represent one year of full time study at Swedish universities and colleges). A doctoral degree is equivalent to 4 years of full time studies. The licentiate degree is equivalent to 2 years of full time studies. Graduate students can work up to 20% of a full time with either teaching at undergraduate level, other departmental- or external assignments. In such cases, a licentiate degree can take up to a maximum of 2,5 years, while a doctoral degree can take up to a maximum of 5 years.
The graduate program consists of the following components:

  • Research work which forms the basis of a scientific thesis
  • Mandatory and optional courses
  • Participation in scientific conferences, seminars and guest lectures at the department and the graduate school
It is strongly recommended that graduate students, in addition to their own research area, acquire skills in the following two areas prior to receiving their PhD degree in Bioscience:

  • Statistical planning of biological experiments and analysis of experimental results
  • Ethical issues in bioscience research
This knowledge can be assimilated either through formal courses or seminars, participating at conferences, during work in the graduate school or through previous education.

4.2 Courses

To receive a PhD degree, at least 60 HEC is required, whereof at least 15 HEC must be from Generic and Transferable Skills courses (GTS courses) and 6 HEC from Advanced Technologies in Bioscience. To receive a licentiate degree at least 30 HEC is required, whereof at least 9 HEC must be from GTS courses and 4 HEC from Advanced Technologies in Bioscience.
The exam for a course included in a PhD degree can be in written or oral form, or in the form of a project or similar. Only ratings “pass” or “fail” are given for such courses.
4.2.1 Mandatory Courses
During their education, PhD students must acquire 15 HEC (9 HEC for a lic. degree) in the field of Generic and Transferable Skills (GTS), which is an umbrella term for activities and courses which are not directly related to the research topic, and which aims to give Chalmers students professional and personal development. In addition, all PhD students at Chalmers should attend an introductory day for PhD students, and in the period after their half way seminar hold an oral popular science presentation
Advanced Technologies in Bioscience (6 HEC for PhD, 4 HEC for lic.) is a required course in the Graduate School of Bioscience. This course should consists of in-depth studies of 2-3 techniques that the PhD student uses in their research. Examination is in the form of one report/technology.
4.2.2    Optional Courses
These courses should have a strong focus on bioscience, or on the subject of a particular specialization. When the PhD student choose to specialize within a particular subject, approximately 50% of the optional courses should be with focus on bioscience.
Completed courses at the advanced level (Master) can be credited as courses for a PhD degree, provided that the obtained total credits exceeds 240 HEC. The number of credits which can be credited corresponds to obtained credits over 240 and a maximum of 30 HEC. The Examiner decides which courses can be credited.

5 Requirements/rules for graduation

5.1 PhD degree

To obtain a PhD degree the following requirements must be fulfilled:
  • Completed courses of at least 60 HEC (see above, point 4.2)
  • Approved half way seminar or licentiate degree
  • Approved popular science presentation (see above, point 4.2.1)
  • Approved PhD thesis and thesis defence
The requirements for the half way seminar are the same as for the licentiate degree (see below, point 5.2), with the exception that the licentiate thesis is not included. Normally this should take place prior to the end of year 3. A reminder is sent to the PhD student after 2,5 years.
The PhD thesis should normally be written in English (Swedish can be approved, but the thesis should still include a summary in English in such cases). The thesis should include an overview of the research field as well as a discussion concerning the student’s own contributions towards this research field. The thesis should be based on at least 4 scientific articles based on the doctoral student’s own original research whereof at least two must be published.
To ensure that the thesis is of an acceptable quality, a preliminary version of it should be sent for review to the opponent and members of the grading committee at least three months prior to the thesis defence. The preliminary version should, as a minimum requirement, include a short summary of the work (approximately 1 A4-page), as well as the articles and manuscripts intended to be included in the final thesis. The final, printed, thesis should be available for review at least three weeks prior to the defence date.
The doctoral thesis is defended at a public thesis defence, after which the grading committee assesses whether the grade “pass” or “fail” should be given.

5.2 Licentiate degree

To obtain a licentiate degree the following requirements must be fulfilled:
  • Completed courses of at least 30 HEC (see above, point 4.2)
  • Approved licentiate thesis
  • Approved licentiate seminar
The licentiate thesis can be written in English or Swedish. The thesis should include an overview of the research field as well as a discussion concerning the student’s own contributions towards this research field. The thesis should include at least 2 scientific articles based on own original research, whereof at least 1 article, with the student as first author, must be published.
The licentiate thesis should be presented publically in English or Swedish, after which the Examiner in consultation with the main Supervisor assesses the thesis and its presentation. Only the grade “pass” or “fail” is given.

Page manager Published: Wed 17 Jun 2020.