Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Building Economics and Management
  • Building Physics
  • Building Materials
  • Sustainable Building
  • Concrete Structures
  • Engineering Geology
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Steel and Timber Structures
  • Water Engineering
The graduate school is organised within the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.
Director of Graduate Studies: Kathleen Murphy, Rasmus Rempling
Administration: Lena Högberg​
Web administration: Gunnel Berggren


(approved by the Pro-Vice-President on September 15, 2005. Ref. nr. C2005/1045)
(revised November 27, 2007)
(revised September 1, 2013)

1. Subject description and goals at the programme

1.1 Subject

The overall aim of the work at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering is to create the physical conditions for a resource-efficient and sustainable society. The work is focused on building, infrastructural facilities and the interaction between technology, man and nature. Important general issues are thus related to the safety and health of human beings, environmental impact, energy utilisation, the operation, maintenance and management of facilities/buildings and cost efficiency in social structures. The above operational content represents the scientific scope of the Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate school.

The graduate school of Civil and Environmental Engineering should be in a position to provide, on an internationally competitive level, both general and broad-based knowledge in and surrounding the scientific field selected and which offers a high level of expertise within the subject specialisation dealt with in the thesis.

1.2 Programme objectives

The graduate programme is aimed mainly at a PhD. There is, however, the possibility within the framework of the graduate programme to take a licentiate degree, either as part of a PhD or as a final examination.
The main objectives of the graduate programme are to provide:
  • good knowledge in a broad area around the chosen subject specialisation.
  • familiarity with the scientific literature within the chosen subject specialisation.
  • an independent, critical, problem-oriented approach.
  • training in scientific methodology and reporting.
  • a good capacity to identify, formulate, process and solve technical and scientific problems.
Other key objectives are to develop the capacity to
  • plan and lead technical research and development.
  • plan and lead engineering work, where scientific education and research experience are required or can be used beneficially.
In order to achieve the established objectives, training needs to be given in order to develop the capacity for scientific communication, i.e.
  • to discuss scientific problems with research colleagues in and outside the country.
  • to disseminate pedagogically written and verbal knowledge about one's own research area, as well as its results and potential, to both colleagues and the general public.
  • to also find scientific results in the literature outside one's own subject specialisation which are relevant to the stated problem.
This overall description of the purpose of the graduate programme also applies generally to the licentiate programme. However, the licentiate degree does not have the same breadth nor the same depth as the PhD programme. Nor are the demands for independence in this scientific work as strong.

2. General requirements for admission

Generally, for admission onto the PhD programme the applicant should have a basic university education comprising at least 180 higher education credits (according to the Swedish education system). The orientation of the applicant's degree should also be linked sufficiently to the PhD subject. In addition to this minimum requirement, there are also special prior knowledge requirements for the subject.
To be admitted to the Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate school the following is required:
  • Completion of a general, local or individual undergraduate programme. The university programme should comprise at least 180 higher education credits, which is supplemented by a further 60 higher education credits within the graduate school's subject specialisations. The university studies should have been completed satisfactorily.
  • Applicants with a foreign first degree the same knowledge requirements apply as for those with a Swedish first degree although applicants from abroad who do not have English or a Scandinavian language as a first language should also normally take an English language test (e.g. TOEFL 550 (paper-based or TOEFL 213 (computer-based) to be admitted.

Those who do not satisfy the admission requirements in the syllabus can be admitted through a special admission procedure, in consultation with the subject specialisation examiner, involving course supplements. The head of department shall then approve the supplementary course package. When these courses have been approved the prospective graduate student is admitted.

3. The plan of the graduate programme

At the Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate school all the following subject specialisations (see point 4 below) can be taken for both a licentiate degree or a PhD. Completion of a course programme and an independent scientific project is required for both these degrees.
The graduate student is assigned an examiner, a main supervisor and at least one assistant supervisor. The examiners at the graduate school belong to the department's research groups (normally research group leaders) and represent its subject specialisations. An examiner could also have the role of supervisor.
Together, the main supervisor and the graduate student prepare an individual syllabus, which shall be approved by the examiner. The individual syllabus comprises a list of courses and a plan for the research work. The syllabus shall then be updated at least twice a year.
The graduate student shall belong to the Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate school and can also belong to another graduate school (e.g. an inter-institutional graduate school or national graduate school).

4. Specializations

The graduate programme subject Civil and Environmental Engineering offers nine specializations:
  • Concrete structures
  • Building economics and management
    Byggnadsekonomi och byggnadsorganisation
  • Building physics
  • Building materials
  • Sustainable Building
    Hållbart byggande
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Steel and timber structures
    Stål- och träbyggnad
  • Engineering geology
    knisk geologi    
  • Water engineering
In this context it can be pointed out that the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering also runs a graduate programme, Applied Acoustics, within the framework of an inter-institutional graduate school (see separate study plan).

5. Courses

For the licentiate degree the course element in the programme comprises at least 45 higher education credits. For the PhD degree at least a 60-point course element is required. Subject-specific courses are run by the graduate school and other departments/graduate schools at Chalmers although there are also national and international courses. The graduate student and an examiner will together agree on which courses will be included in the degree.

5.1 Compulsory courses

Generic and Transferable skills (GTS) aims to give doctoral students at Chalmers professional and individual development, and is a program of activities/courses not directly linked to the respective areas of research. The graduate student is required to take at least 15 credit points out of the GTS program before receiving a PhD degree. Chalmers offers a range of activities/courses as part of the program. 9 credit points in the area of GTS are expected to be obtained before the licentiate degree examination. Another 6 credit points are expected to be obtained before PhD degree examination. Mandatory courses for the licentiate degree are: "Teaching, Learning & Evaluation”,”Research Ethics & Sustainable Development” and ”Career planning – Your Personal Leadership”. 1,5 credit points are optional (from GTS activities/courses). The 6 credit points after licentiate degree are also optional and selected according to the student´s need.
The optional activities within GTS do not necessarily have to be taken from Chalmers’ central activities or courses. The activities can be obtained from other providers, after suggestion from the examiner or supervisor, and approval by the deputy head of department in consultation with the director of studies of the research school. As an example, GTS could include related activities or courses given at the department.
In addition to the courses within Generic and Transferable Skills, the student is also required to participate in the introduction day for doctoral students (before the licentiate examination, at latest). Further requirements are an oral popular science presentation to be performed prior to the PhD thesis defence and a written popular science presentation to be published on the back of the PhD thesis.
The 15 credit points in GTS are mandatory for doctoral students admitted after September 1, 2012.
If a graduate student also belongs to another graduate school other courses could be compulsory.

5.2 Other courses

Each subject specialisation offers or proposes suitable courses in view of the content of the research task.
Courses offered by the Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate school are presented in the home page, Graduate course list.
Every second year the department offers a study trip on the topic “Urban development” (equivalent to 1,5 higher education credits)
Graduate courses run at other graduate schools or departments could be included in the coursework.

5.3 Crediting of courses

Relevant courses from Master's programmes can be credited in the graduate programme. A maximum of 30 higher education credits in the graduate programme can be collected before the graduate studies have commenced within the framework of a completed degree programme. This applies to graduate students who are admitted with at least 300 higher education credits from their Master's degree or equivalent. Graduate students who are admitted with a 240-270 point first degree may not be credited with any higher education credits from the first degree. A form for transfer of credits/reporting of credits form is available on the Chalmers intranet.

6. Degree thesis

6.1 Licentiate thesis

The licentiate thesis shall be of such quality that (following possible editing) it can be accepted for publication in an international scientific journal of good repute. The thesis shall be written in English. A special expert discussion initiator shall be summoned to the publicly announced licentiate seminar.

6.2 Doctoral thesis

The PhD thesis can be a composite thesis comprising a summary and a number of articles (normally 3-5) of such quality that they have been accepted, or can be expected to be accepted, for publication in an international scientific journal of good repute. Examined conference articles can also be included in the thesis. Alternatively, the thesis could be a monograph with the equivalent quality requirements. The thesis shall be written in English.

7. Requirements for degrees

7.1 Licentiate degree

The licentiate degree comprises two years of full-time study, equivalent to a total of 120 higher education credits. Of this, the course element shall comprise at least 45 higher education credits, including all compulsory courses, and the scientific work at least 60 higher education credits. The relationship in extent between the course element and the scientific element can thus vary between 45/75 and 60/60.

7.2 PhD degree

The PhD degree comprises four years of full-time study, equivalent to a total of 240 higher education credits. Of this, the course element shall comprise at least 60 higher education credits, including all compulsory courses, and the scientific element at least 150 higher education credits. The relationship in extent between the course element and the scientific element can thus vary between 60/180 and 90/150.
The relationship in extent between the course element and the scientific element is decided from case to case in consultation with the examiner.

8 Supervision

Supervision comprises general advice and constructive critical examination of the research and its results. The supervision also includes general advice regarding the organisation and arrangement of the studies and instructions for specific courses.

8.1 Examiner

The head of department appoints one or several examiners for each subject specialization. Examiners are appointed for a period of five years. Professors and other persons on the associate professor level who are permanently linked to Chalmers can be appointed as examiners.
An examiner has overall responsibility for the graduate programme in a subject specialization and shall ensure that the graduate programme satisfies the quality demands with regard to research tasks and other elements. An examiner decides when 50% of the graduate programme has been completed and the graduate student has thus reached the so-called licentiate level.
An examiner shall approve the individual syllabus and be involved in study follow-up. An examiner shall also examine the licentiate essay or PhD thesis in advance. The examiner approves, following consultation with the main supervisor, a licentiate thesis and its presentation.

8.2 Supervisor

The head of department states which main supervisors shall be available for each subject specialisation. The main supervisor shall be on the associate professor level and be linked to Chalmers.
The main supervisor and the graduate student shall together draw up the individual syllabus. The main supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the graduate student receives sufficient qualified supervision to follow the syllabus.
In conjunction with admission of the graduate student, an assistant supervisor is appointed by the head of department to assist with agreed advice and follow-up of the PhD work.
If the thesis is carried out in industry or at another organisation outside Chalmers University of Technology, an assistant supervisor shall be appointed at the research location where the work is done.
According to the above, an examiner can also have the role of supervisor. However, BoM advocates that different people perform these roles whenever possible.

9 Examination on the proficiency in the subject

The student takes part in course examinations where such are arranged. In other cases knowledge control takes place through submissions, seminars or oral examinations. The knowledge examination on external courses is run by the examiner in question.

10 Additional guidelines

Reference can be made in other respects to the general instructions for graduate schools at Chalmers University of Technology and the rules of procedure for graduate studies decided by the President.

Page manager Published: Fri 23 Apr 2021.