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Supervisor and the assessment committee

As a main supervisor you will be asked to submit a proposal for the composition of the assessment committee five months before the PhD student submits his/her PhD dissertation.

It is the main supervisor's responsibility to make sure that all suggested members have agreed to participate in accordance with the schedule and to inform the proposed persons about the scope of the task and the conditions associated with it (deadlines for submission, payment of honorarium, travel rules etc.).

The proposal is approved by the PhD Committee. It is expected that the proposed persons are aware that the composition of the committee may be changed upon the processing by the PhD committee and graduate school.

Find the requirements for the composition of the assessment committee below and the form for suggesting an assessment committee in the right sidebar.

Composition of the assessment committee

Requirements to the composition

The requirements for the composition of the committee are as follows:

  • The assessment committee needs to consist of three renowned researchers within the academic area in question
  • The members should be scientifically active. This should be documented via publications in internationally recognized journals and conference proceedings with peer-review produced within the last five years
  • The members should have experience with teaching and/or supervision at PhD level.
  • The members of the committee should be at associate professor level or higher
  • One member needs to be employed at Health and act as the chair of the committee
  • Two of the members need to be employed at another institution than Aarhus University
  • At least one of the members need to be from abroad
  • In connection with industrial PhDs, at least one of the members need to have business-related research experience.
  • Preferably, the members of the committee should represent both genders
  • The main supervisor assists the assessment committee without voting rights


Satisfactory reasoning

Satisfactory reasoning should be provided for each of the proposed members, which form the basis for the PhD committee’s decision for the appointment of the committee.

It is possible, for academic reasons, to deviate from the requirement that at least one assessor must be foreign and/or the wish for both genders to be represented. It must be stated clearly in the reasoning if this is the case.

Special rules on disqualification

Special rules on disqualification

Part 2 of the Danish Public Administration Act (Forvaltningsloven) contains provisions on the disqualification of persons employed by or acting on behalf of a public administration body. These provisions therefore also apply to members of expert assessment committees.

The purpose of the provisions on disqualification is to prevent a person employed by or acting on behalf of a public authority from taking part in the consideration of a case if the person in question is related to the case and/or the parties involved in such a way that there are doubts as to whether he/she will be able to ensure an impartial assessment of the case (without letting subjective or irrelevant considerations become more or less decisive in the decision-making).

According to a statement from the ombudsman, it should also be taken into account when determining the scope of the provisions that the purpose of the rules on disqualification is not only to ensure that the individual case is handled correctly, but to prevent a weakening of the confidence in the public administration.

Examples of situations where greater attention should be paid to possible disqualification:

  1. Particular personal interest in the outcome of the case
    a. Collaboration on the scientific research forming the basis of the dissertation 
    b. Co-authorship of the articles included in the dissertation 
    c. Have recently (within the last three years) published material together with the main supervisor or the student 
    d. Professional or job related dependency between a proposed assessor and the main supervisor and/or PhD student
    e. Other conditions, e.g. if the proposed assessor and the main supervisor are close colleagues, which may lead to the common practice of assessing dissertations by each other’s PhD students 
  2. Marriage and family relationship etc. 
    a. It is clear that a person is disqualified from assessing a dissertation submitted by his or her spouse, children, siblings, nieces or nephews. The same should apply to ‘other relatives’, including cohabitants or foster family members. In the case of ‘other relatives’ who are not immediate family, a concrete and individual assessment should always be made of whether such relationships are a matter of disqualification. 
  3. Friendship/enmity 
    a. A particularly close friendship or distinct enmity can lead to disqualification. Normally, disqualification should only be assumed to be an issue if the friendship or enmity is obvious and is not insignificant. However, a mutual sense of conflict is a precondition for being disqualified on account of enmity. A party cannot cause somebody to be disqualified by claiming that a personal conflict exists or by trying to spark off a conflict. General collegial incompatibility cannot lead to the disqualification of a person. Nor can academic differences of opinion within the framework of academic practice.

Decision on disqualification


Everyone is obliged to notify the graduate school of any circumstances in which there are doubts about the impartiality of a person who is being suggested as a member of an expert assessment committee.

The question of the potential disqualification of a person is assessed by the PhD committee, who makes its recommendation to the graduate school who has the final say in the matter.

The person in question must not be involved in the processing and determination of the disqualification issue.

As a rule, a decision is invalid if a disqualified person has been involved in the processing of the case.

Role of the chair and the committee

The assessment committee assesses the academic quality of the PhD dissertation, draws up a preliminary assessment and participates in the defence.

The chair directs the work of the committee and should provide guidance to the other members to ensure the following:

  • That the provisions laid down in the PhD Order are followed,
  • That the wording of the preliminary assessment indicates that the graduate school's requirements of international standard are met
  • That a high academic level is maintained to provide the best possible basis for award of the PhD degree.

The chair must therefore:

  • Contact the other members immediately after receipt of the dissertation to distribute the responsibilities in the committee
  • Ensure that the preliminary assessment drawn up by the committee appears as a cohesive and harmonic whole in terms of linguistic, stylistic and graphical consistency, and that the wording is accepted by all members of the committee. For this reason appendices to the assessment will not be accepted
  • Ensure that the committee will meet in case of disagreements
  • Contact the graduate school if practical or formal problems emerge in relation to the assessment
  • Ensure that the other members of the assessment committee are provided with the necessary knowledge of how the defence will be conducted
  • Supervise the other members of the assessment committee regarding the required academic level and the practical issues concerning the defence, including providing guidance to non-Danish members on travel, stay, hotel, etc.
  • Ensure that the documents required for assessment and defence are signed and returned to the graudate school

Hosting at Health


Make sure to arrange where, when and how you and the assessor will meet for the first time. Let the assessor know where to find your physical workplace/where you can meet and how to get in touch with each other.

Entertainment expenses

According to the AU guidelines for entertainment expenses, committee work in relation to a PhD or a doctoral dissertation/defence can be concluded with a lunch or a dinner.

The maximum amount for lunch/dinner can be found in the AU guidelines for entertainment expenses. The graduate school will defray all expenses for assessors and main supervisor in relation to a lunch, as well as the two external assessors’ expenses in relation to a dinner.

The Graduate school of Health covers the expenses for the entire assessment committee when the dissertation has been concluded with a lunch.

The Graduate School of Health only covers the expenses for the two external assessors when the dissertation is concluded with a dinner.

An invoice for the expenses can be send to EAN: 5798000418370, please note: PhD Dissertation + student name on the invoice. You must include the full name and affiliations of the participants. If this is not attached the invoice will be rejected per default. 

If the expenses has been paid personally by the main supervisor, they must be accounted for via RejsUd, please contact phd.travel@au.dk for accounting numbers.

Let colleagues and others interested parties benefit from the presence of an academic expert

Benefit from the assessor’s presence and expert knowledge, e.g. by including the assessor in the department activities such as lectures or meetings with relevant groups at the department. If relevant, make sure to arrange in which activities you would like to include the assessor when you establish the assessment committee.  

Provide guidance in relation to hotel and transportation – prior to the visit


Refer the assessor to hotels near Aarhus University (see AU hotel arrangements) and share information about public transportation to/from the airport (see Billund Airport and Aarhus Airport) as well as to/from the university.

Legal basis

The professional qualifications of the committee members and their affiliation with the faculty are regulated by §16 of the PhD order.

Deadlines for submission of the preliminary assessment of the PhD dissertation and the defence are regulated by §18-20 of the PhD order.

It is stated in the PhD order that within two months of submission of the PhD dissertation, the assessment committee makes its recommendation to the university as to whether the PhD dissertation can be accepted for defence.

The recommendation must be reasoned, and in the event of disagreement, the majority will prevail. If the recommendation is not favourable, the university may decide that the PhD dissertation may be resubmitted in a revised version within a deadline of at least three months.

The PhD defence is public and must be held, at the earliest, two weeks after the assessment committee has made its recommendation and, at the latest, three months after submission of the PhD dissertation. The date and time must be agreed with the PhD student.

According to Aarhus University’s rules on the PhD programme, the faculty lays down the rules on the appointment of assessment committees and the conducting of the defence (PhD programme (AU rules) in Danish)