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Half-time Review

The half-time review consists of an essay and a seminar in which the doctoral student presents the essay. An opponent examines the essay and leads the discussion with the doctoral student during the seminar. The half-time review is an opportunity for the doctoral student to get an overview of the literature, to put the research task in relation to the research field, and to reflect on the research methodology, possible results and the next steps in the thesis project. It also provides training in scientific writing, presenting research, and responding to questions and criticism from an opponent.

The half-time review is mandatory and must take place halfway through the study period, at the latest after two years and four months of full-time studies. The half-time review corresponds to 15 credits and is examined by the department representative.

The essay

Being well-oriented in the literature within the research field is fundamental to being able to conduct research of high quality and relevance. Therefore, as a doctoral student, you should get an overview of the literature early on in your doctoral education.

The essay should put the doctoral student's research in perspective to the research area as a whole and define the central questions and hypotheses. The essay should show that the doctoral student is familiar with the research work through planning, implementation, evaluation and analysis. The essay should also contain reflection on methodology, results achieved so far and the next steps in the dissertation project. The essay should be of such extent that it demonstrates that the doctoral student understands the theoretical foundations of the field, its scientific challenges and most important research fronts and the methods and approaches used. We can think of the half-time essay as a seed for the future dissertation (kappan). The outcomes defined below, under Examination, should be guiding for how the doctoral student writes the essay, for the opponent's assignment and the departmental representative's evaluation and feedback.

A rough indication of the essay's extent is 20 pages.

Any publications, manuscripts and preliminary results by the doctoral student should be attached. Dissertation projects differ greatly, and it is not possible in all projects to produce results in the first two years that can form the basis of a complete manuscript. Thus, the content of the essay may vary, even if the purpose and goals of the half-time evaluation are the same for all doctoral students. What the essay should contain for each doctoral student should be made clear in advance in discussion with the department representative.

The seminar

The departmental representative acts as chairman and announces the half-time seminar, which is open to everyone in the department. The departmental representative also appoints an opponent, who should be competent as a docent and preferably active at Lund University. The opponent and the departmental representative should receive the essay at least one week before the seminar.

The doctoral student gives a presentation of the half-time essay for 20-30 minutes. The opponent asks questions and leads the discussion with the doctoral student. At the end, the floor is open to questions from the audience. The supervisors are not active during the seminar.


The half-time review evaluates the progress of the postgraduate education. The objectives for the essay and the seminar are therefore chosen to show progression towards the learning outcomes of the thesis as described in the General Study Plan (also see the page about the public defence of the doctoral thesis and PhD degree). The outcomes of the half-time review are to:

  • demonstrate reasonable progress towards having up-to-date specialized knowledge and a broad and advanced understanding of the research field,
  • demonstrate reasonable progress towards the ability to place the thesis into a broader theoretical and scientific context,
  • state clear goals of the thesis project and its most important hypotheses and research questions,
  • demonstrate familiarity with the methods and analytical tools used within the research field.

The seminar tests the doctoral student's ability to orally present and explain the thesis work, and the doctoral student's ability to independently and expertly answer questions and comments with a reasonable degree of scientific maturity. Together, the essay and the seminar should demonstrate that the doctoral student has made sufficient progress and has the ability to pursue the education successfully toward the degree. It is the departmental representative who, after discussion with the opponent and supervisor, assesses whether the half-time review should be approved.

  • To read the essay and provide constructive comments on the text. 
  • To ask questions and lead the discussion with the doctoral student during the seminar.
  • Based on their expertise, discuss with the departmental representative the extent to which the essay 

  • To clarify for the doctoral student what is reasonable for the half-time essay to contain in the individual case, especially regarding any attached scripts and preliminary results.
  • To appoint an opponent, advertise and chair the seminar.
  • To examine the half-time review and to collect and deliver feedback to the doctoral student. If additions/revisions are required for the mid-term review to be approved, the departmental representative should set a deadline for this.

If the half-time review is not approved, the doctoral student has up to two opportunities within the following 6 months to complement/revise the essay and/or hold another seminar. If the half-time review is still not approved, the department will conduct a special investigation.

The result of the half-time evaluation is reported by the departmental representative on the web form Resultat av halvtidsutvärdering (in Swedish on our Swedish internal website) In connection with the completion of the half-time review, the departmental representative

Directors of Postgraduate Studies

Emma Kritzberg
Aquatic Ecology

Telephone: +46 46 222 40 79
E-mail: Emma [dot] Kritzberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Klas Flärdh
Molecular Cell Biology

Telephone: +46 46 222 85 84
E-mail: Klas [dot] Flardh [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Biology Doctoral Students Council

BDR – Biology Doctoral Students Council

Graduate School

Geneco graduate school on our external website.

Archiving PhD studies

Charlotta Thomaeus
Financial administrator
Department of Biology

Telephone: +46 46-222 45 98
E-mail: Charlotta [dot] Thomaeus [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se