Doktorsnám í sálfræði

Sálfræðideild HR býður metnaðarfullt doktorsnám í sálfræði og fyrir þá sem vilja stunda fræðilegar rannsóknir á einu af sérsviðum deildarinnar.

Með doktorsnámi er ætlunin að styrkja rannsóknir við deildina samhliða því að þjálfa unga vísindamenn til hagsbóta fyrir íslenskt samfélag og atvinnulíf.

Frekari upplýsingar um doktorsnám veitir:


Dr. Birna Baldursdóttir, lektor við sálfræðideild

Reglur um doktorsnám

As advised in the Reykjavík University (RU) Rules for PhD Studies (approved by the RU Executive Committee on 12 March 2014), individual departments have the freedom to organise doctoral studies in light of the unique features and traditions of their respective fields of study. Accordingly, the present adaptation of the University Rules applies specifically to doctoral studies in the Department of Psychology.

1 Introduction

The broad aim of doctoral studies at Reykjavik University is to benefit society by:

a. strengthening research and knowledge generation in the University's academic fields, and

b. providing advanced training in research and science.

These Rules take account of the Bologna Process on cooperation in higher education in Europe; the Regulation on Doctoral Studies in Higher Education Institutions, No. 37/2007 and Article 7, of the Higher Education Institution Act, No. 63/2006; and internationally recognised customs relating to the organisation and quality of doctoral studies.

2 Role of the Department of Psychology Research Council

In its primary role as a recommending body, the Department of Psychology Research Council (PRC) is responsible for overseeing the Department's PhD program. The PRC makes recommendations to the Chair of Department in relation to such matters as admission of students to the PhD program (as provided in Article 4 of these rules); the appointment of supervisors (as provided in Article 5); the appointment of external examiners (as provided in Article 9), and may recommend in relation to thesis committees (as provided in Article 6). Additionally, the PRC is committed to remaining abreast of international developments in doctoral studies so as to ensure, with the cooperation of supervisors and others, that the quality of doctoral studies in Psychology compares favourably to that of similar programs abroad. Details concerning membership and operation of the PRC are as specified in the appended Terms of Reference.

The PRC shall be responsible for the following:

  • Review applications to the PhD program and make recommendations for acceptance or rejection. The PRC will only review applications from students who have already identified a willing Principal Supervisor (as provided in Article 4 of these rules). Final decisions for acceptance or rejection shall be made by the Chair of the Department of Psychology.
  • After a Thesis Committee has approved a Research Proposal (as provided in Article 6 of these rules), the Thesis Committee will sign-off on the Research Proposal and send it to the PRC for review. This review will focus on the Research Proposal's adherence to the Department of Psychology's rules for PhD Studies. If the PRC finds what it deems to be serious weaknesses in a Research Proposal, the Thesis Committee shall be advised in order that the Research Proposal may be revised accordingly.
  • Review Annual Progress Reports after they have been approved by the Thesis Committee (as provided in Article 3 of these rules). The PRC's focus here will be similar to that relating to Research Proposals. Additionally, the PRC will give particular attention to factors that have or may delay progress.
  • Review the suitability of proposed External Examiners with reference to criteria specified in Article 9. If a proposed External Examiner is considered by the Research Council not to satisfy the requirements of Article 9, the Thesis Committee will be requested to propose a replacement.
  • The PRC has a role in resolving disagreements as described in Article 11.

3 PhD Studies in Psychology Aims and Structure

Aims. The program of PhD Studies in Psychology provides students with training in the application of scientific methods, and skills for acquiring and communicating new knowledge. In order to complete the PhD program students must as a minimum:

  • Possess a range of general and specialised knowledge within the scientific field of their studies (knowledge).
  • Apply advanced scientific methods and procedures to substantive research questions within their field of studies (skills).
  • Apply knowledge and skills acquired during their studies to advance the relevant profession and/or in the context of teaching or further studies (competencies).
  • Make an original and substantial contribution to knowledge (contribution).

Further details regarding knowledge, skills, and competencies required of PhD students can be found in the National Qualification Framework for Higher Education at

Structure and Progress. The program of PhD Studies in Psychology comprises 240 ECTS units of formal study, normally completed in 4 years (or the equivalent part-time). In exceptional cases, PhD Studies may be completed in less than 4 years, but never less than 2 years and only then in such instances where credit not exceeding 2 years (120 ECTS) has been granted for prior work of a suitable standard completed by the student in the field of research that is the subject of the student's PhD studies. The time to completion may be extended beyond 4 years (or the equivalent part-time) subject to approval following application to the PRC, stating the length (not exceeding 12 months) of the extension requested and reasons for the extension. Need for extension beyond the period initially requested is subject to further similar application and approval.

PhD students are required to submit for approval to the Thesis Committee a Research Proposal (see Article 7 herein). In addition, an Annual Progress Report is required for each year of study, detailing the progress to date and plans for subsequent steps.

Students may apply for intermission (authorised absence) from their studies for specified medical or non-medical reasons (e.g., parental leave, challenging domestic circumstances, or caring for a sick relative). There is no specified permitted maximum term for authorised absence, although the period should not be such as to undermine the viability and integrity of the PhD studies.

Seminar Attendance. PhD students are required to deliver at least two seminars prior to the PhD examination. The first presentation should be made no later than three months after the approval of the Research Proposal. Additionally, students are expected to regularly attend, and to be active participants in, seminars delivered by fellow students and other seminars as may be announced by the Department of Psychology.

Coursework. PhD students are required to take courses equivalent to a minimum of 30 ECTS. All such courses of study require the prior approval of the Principal Supervisor. Students may substitute presentations at international scientific conferences (or similar activity as approved by the PRC) for ECTS credits up to a total of 6 ECTS units. Each such presentation is the equivalent of 1 ECTS unit for a poster presentation or 2 ECTS units for an oral presentation. Students may also substitute other work of suitable scholarly content (e.g., seminar series, summer school, reading course, online course) and/or practical relevance (e.g., placement in research or clinical setting) that materially benefits their PhD studies. Each hour of such work, which may include scheduled contact, home assignments, and examinations, is credited according to policy determined by the Department of Psychology.

4 Application Procedure

Applications for admission to the PhD program require the agreement of a proposed Supervisor, and may be submitted at any time. Applications and supportive documentation (e.g., curriculum vitae) must be submitted in English. The following documents shall accompany the application:

  • Transcripts of the applicant's university degrees and diplomas.
  • A curriculum vitae and list of publications.
  • The names of three referees who may be contacted for a reference.
  • A brief description of the subject of the proposed doctoral research.
  • Name of the proposed primary Supervisor.
  • Information about how the PhD student will finance his/her studies.

Only persons who have completed master's degrees at university level or comparable studies may enrol in PhD Studies in the Department of Psychology. All applications are reviewed by the PRC, which will evaluate the application before making a recommendation to the Chair of Department.

The Chair of Department is responsible for formally approving the applicant's registration for PhD studies in Psychology. If specific terms (e.g., self-financing arrangements) need to be formalised, a contract may be prepared between the PhD student and the Department of Psychology. Prospective students may register for PhD Studies in Psychology only after having their eligibility and specific terms (if any) approved in writing by the Chair of Department or nominee.

5 Supervisor/s

The Chair of the Department of Psychology shall appoint a Principal Supervisor for each PhD student. Appointment of a Secondary Supervisor is optional. The role of supervisors is to advise PhD students in their studies and research, track their progress, ensure compliance with all relevant ethical standards and guidelines, and monitor the quality of all aspects of the work. Supervisors are responsible to the Department of Psychology for compliance with the Rules for PhD Studies. The Principal Supervisor is a member the Thesis Committee and usually acts in the role of Chair at meetings of the Thesis Committee (see Article 6).

Principal Supervisors shall meet the following academic requirements:

  • Have a PhD degree.
  • Be a permanent faculty member of the Department of Psychology, with a substantial research record and experience of publication in internationally recognised outlets.
  • Have specialist knowledge in the subject field of the PhD student's research topic.
  • Be an active participant in the research community and a recognised expert in his or her field. Assessment of this qualification shall take account of published articles in peer-reviewed journals, experience of international research cooperation, and funding for research projects.

A Secondary Supervisor may be appointed, and shall have a PhD degree but need not fulfil other requirements listed above.

In the event of the Principal Supervisor ceasing to be a permanent employee of Reykjavik University, a replacement Supervisor must be appointed from among the permanent faculty of the Department of Psychology.

6 Thesis Committee

A Thesis Committee shall be appointed no later than one month before the PhD student's Research Proposal is due (see Article 7). The Thesis Committee shall consist of at least 3 persons. If there is a Secondary Supervisor, the Thesis Committee shall be made up of the Principal Supervisor, the Secondary Supervisor, and at least one additional member. If there is no Secondary Supervisor, the Thesis Committee shall be made up of the Principal Supervisor and at least two additional members. At least one of the Thesis Committee members shall not be a faculty member of Reykjavík University. The Principal Supervisor is responsible for reporting to the PRC the name and affiliation of each Thesis Committee member.

The Thesis Committee members shall review the PhD Research Proposal and must convey in writing (which may take the form of email) their separate opinions, comments, and approval to the Supervisor. Similarly, in tracking progress of the PhD studies, including reviewing and approving annual progress reports, Thesis Committee members shall convey in writing their separate opinions, comments, and approval to the Supervisor. Likewise, the Thesis Committee shall determine when the PhD thesis is ready for examination.

7 Research Proposal

No later than 9 months after admission to the PhD program, students shall submit a completed Research Proposal to the Thesis Committee. The Research Proposal serves as the foundation for the doctoral work. It shall include:

  • Delineation of the field of study.
  • A concise review of the state of the art in the field of study.
  • Scholarly questions that the research proposes to examine.
  • A written research proposal delineating methodology relevant to the research questions.
  •  A proposed schedule for progress of the studies.
  • An overview of planned coursework, as well as any that may already have been completed.

After the Research Proposal has been approved by the Thesis Committee and the Supervisor has submitted the proposal to the PRC, final approval must be obtained from the PRC (see article 2).

8 Thesis and Academic Papers

A PhD student's research is completed with a doctoral thesis, which constitutes independent scientific work of a high academic calibre such as is required to satisfy relevant international publication standards. The thesis must be written in English.

The doctoral thesis incorporates at least three papers, which in the opinion of the Thesis Committee, and subsequently the Examiners, are acceptable for publication in internationally recognised peer-reviewed journals. Prior to submitting the thesis for examination, the PhD student shall submit a minimum of three papers for consideration for publication in internationally recognised peer-reviewed journals, and must be first author on at least two of the papers.

Declarations shall be obtained from all co-authors of papers included in the thesis to confirm the contribution of the doctoral student. Under normal circumstances, only work published during the past five years prior to submission of a thesis may be included as part of the thesis.

The written thesis shall be an integrated treatment of the research work submitted for examination. It shall be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 500 words. In broad structure, the written thesis shall consist of three main “parts”: introduction, original research, and discussion. The introduction shall include a substantive review of relevant literature and a statement of the key research question/s, with the whole presented as either a single chapter or multiple chapters containing relevant subheadings. The original research shall contain detailed accounts of methods and results comprising the equivalent of at least three separate peer-reviewed publishable papers. The discussion shall include a substantive interpretation of findings, presented as either a single chapter or multiple chapters containing relevant subheadings. Any published works that have arisen from the thesis shall be appended.

Following the granting of the PhD degree, a print version of the thesis shall be lodged with the Library, and a digital copy lodged with the digital archive advised by the Library. The general public shall have access to the thesis.

9 External Examiners

About six months prior to the planned examination date, two External Examiners shall be appointed. External Examiners shall meet the following academic requirements:

  • Have a PhD degree.
  • Have expert knowledge of the PhD student's field of study.
  • Be active in the research community and recognised as an expert in the relevant field. Assessment of this qualification shall take particular account of published articles in peer-reviewed journals, while also considering experience of international research cooperation, and funding for research projects.

Thesis Committee members cannot serve as External Examiners. External Examiners shall not have been involved in any research collaboration with Thesis Committee members or the PhD student in the preceding five years, including, but not limited to, co-authorship of conference/journal papers, collaboration on research projects, or collaboration on applying for research grants. The selection process for External Examiners shall involve the details of two or more prospective examiners being submitted by the Supervisor to the PRC for consideration. Final appointment of External Examiners is by approval of the Chair of the Department of Psychology.

10 Thesis Examination and Public Seminar

The Thesis Committee shall review the thesis and form an opinion regarding its suitability for examination no more than 2 months after submission. Prior to examination, the Thesis Committee shall return a consensus opinion that the thesis is ready for examination, requires minor revisions before being ready for examination, requires major revisions before being ready for examination, or is not suitable for examination. In all instances, the Thesis Committee shall submit written feedback to the PhD student. The PhD student can submit a thesis for review by the Thesis Committee no more than twice.

When the Thesis Committee has deemed that the thesis is ready for examination, the thesis shall be sent to the External Examiners and a date shall be set for the examination about two months later. After the thesis has been sent to the External Examiners, there shall be no communication between the Thesis Committee and the External Examiners up to the time of the examination.

The oral examination begins with a 20-minute presentation of the research by the PhD student. This is followed by the External Examiners separately and jointly discussing and examining the thesis with the student. The examination shall be chaired by the Chair of Psychology (or nominee, who may be a member of the PRC) serving in an administrative capacity without participating as an examiner. The Principal Supervisor also attends the oral examination, as an observer and without participating as an examiner.

The External Examiners shall endeavour to reach a consensus agreement, including an opinion about whether the thesis includes work suitable for publication in internationally recognised peer-reviewed journals. As joint signatories, the External Examiners forward their written opinion to the Chair of the Department of Psychology, recommending from among the following options:

  • Pass without revision.
  • Pass contingent on satisfying stated revisions, which may be minor (requiring up to 2 months to complete).
  • Pass contingent on satisfying stated major revisions (requiring more than 2 months but not more than 12 months to complete).
  • Fail.

In instances where revisions are stated, the Examiners shall specify in their written opinion whether the revisions when submitted require approval from the Examiners. Where such approval is not required, revisions shall be completed to the satisfaction of the Principal Supervisor.

Upon conclusion of the oral examination, there is discussion between the External Examiners who decide the outcome of the examination without the PhD student being present. When the outcome is decided, the examining committee (comprised of the Chair, External Examiners, and Supervisor) inform the student in person of the examination result. If disagreement prevents a consensus being reached during any stage of the examination of a PhD thesis, or if any individual among the relevant parties (External Examiners, Supervisor, and PhD student) feels unable to accept the consensus opinion, Article 11 applies.

Only after the decision has been made to grant the degree, will a date be set for a public seminar at which the PhD student presents the research. The presentation provides an overview as well as coverage of particular highlights. The public seminar is scheduled to last approximately 60 minutes, inclusive of approximately 40 minutes for the presentation and 20 minutes for questions and answers. Advance notice of the public seminar is circulated within the University and posted on the University's Website. The seminar is open to the general public, and is a necessary requirement for the award of the PhD degree.

In the instance where no revisions to the thesis are requested by the Examiners, the public seminar shall be convened not less than two weeks after the formal examination. In the instance where revisions are requested that do not require the approval of the Examiners (as determined at the time of examination), the public seminar shall be convened not less than two weeks after the relevant revisions have been completed with written approval by the Principal Supervisor. In the instance where revisions requiring the approval of the Examiners (as determined at the time of examination), the public seminar shall be convened not less than two weeks after formal approval of the revisions by the Examiners.

11 Resolution of Disagreements

It is acknowledged that differences of opinion and disagreements are inherent to scholarship, and may occur in the context of PhD studies between members of the Thesis Committee, between the External Examiners and the Thesis Committee collectively and individually, between External Examiners, and between the PhD student and Thesis Committee members and External Examiners. It is acknowledged that disagreements may occur at any time during the tenure of an individual PhD student.

In general, disagreements are likely to be satisfactorily resolved following detailed discussion, deliberation, and analysis amongst the parties concerned. When such actions do not succeed in producing a timely resolution, the disagreement shall be brought to the attention of the Chair of the Department of Psychology.

When notified of a disagreement, the Chair may refer the matter to the PRC, which shall provide a recommendation within one month. The PRC may seek further clarification from any of the relevant parties. When disagreements occur as part of the examination of the PhD thesis, the Chair may appoint one or more additional External Examiners to provide independent evaluations of the thesis. Irrespective of the nature of the disagreement, the final decision shall reside with the Chair of the Department of Psychology.

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