Research Doctoral Education

Legal framework

University Acts and By-Laws

The following documents are the legal basis of doctoral studies.

As mentioned in the study regulations, the Doctoral Education Agreement (DEA) needs to be signed in the first six months of doctoral studies. This information is found in our legal framework page.

Doctoral Education Agreement (DEA)

The Doctoral Education Agreement (DEA) provides a framework for enrolment in the doctoral programmes at the University of Luxembourg. It is drawn up in accordance with the University Act, the Internal Regulations (Règlement d’Ordre Intérieur), and the Study Regulations (Règlement des Études). The objectives of the DEA are to describe and regulate the rights and obligations of the doctoral candidate and the (co-)supervisor(s). It should be drawn up no more than six months after the start of studies (Study Regulations, art. 47).

The Research and Training Plan (RTP) is an annex to the DEA; it lists the training components and corresponding ECTS, as well as any additional requirements for the doctoral candidate (either research or training components) depending on the doctoral programme. The RTP should be drawn up by the doctoral candidate and the (co-)supervisor(s) no more than six months after candidate’s enrolment on the doctoral programme. It should be updated each year following the candidate’s annual Thesis Supervision Committee meeting. Updates and amendments to the RTP are proposed by the Thesis Supervision Committee and the doctoral candidate following the committee meeting. In their presentation to the Thesis Supervision Committee, candidates should report on the status of their research and their future research plan and outline completed and planned training courses.

At the final meeting, the Thesis Supervision Committee confirms that all the requirements of the RTP have been met, which is a condition for authorisation to defend the thesis.

  • You can download a PDF version of the DEA for information only. Do not complete this PDF.
  • The Office of Doctoral Studies will contact all doctoral candidates 4-6 weeks after enrolment to invite them to complete their DEA.

If you need more information, please contact your supervisor, your Doctoral School secretariat or

Thesis Supervision Committee (CET)

The University Act and the Study Regulations give clear instructions about PhD supervision. For each doctoral candidate and PhD, a Thesis Supervision Committee (CET: Comité d’encadrement de thèse) is appointed by the Rector. The Thesis Supervision Committee meets at least once a year with the doctoral candidate to evaluate the work completed and ensure that the doctoral candidate is making good progress.

The Thesis Supervision Committee consists of three members (four in the event of a cotutelle/joint supervision), all of whom hold a doctoral degree:

  1. Your supervisor;
  2. At least one member who either has an employment contract with the University of Luxembourg and holds doctoral supervision rights (ADR: Autorisation à diriger des recherches) or is an Affiliate Professor;
  3. A third member who may be selected from either the University of Luxembourg or an external organisation.
  • If your doctoral studies are being jointly supervised by a partner institution (a cotutelle arrangement), the number of committee members is four, including the two supervisors.
  • If you are engaged in a project in partnership with a private or public entity, an observer may be invited to the committee meetings in an advisory capacity.
  • If a committee member resigns or is unavailable for an extended period, the Rector appoints a replacement for the remainder of the candidate’s doctoral studies.
  • Some funding programmes may make specific recommendations for the composition of the Thesis Supervision Committee: for FNR-funded projects, recent guidelines mention the inclusion of a member from a foreign institution.

The role of the Thesis Supervision Committee

  1. The Thesis Supervision Committee meets on a regular basis, generally at the end of your first year and second year and partway through your third year and fourth year. Meetings typically last between 1 and a half and 2 hours.
  2. You will always take part in these meetings, which can be held in person or via an online platform.
  3. During the meetings, you will be asked to present your work for about 30-45 minutes, focusing specifically on the findings and outcomes of your research. As one of the committee members may not be an expert in your main thesis topic, you should ensure that your presentation caters for and is accessible to a non-expert audience.
  4. Your presentation should also include a list of publications and conference presentations, a list of courses taken and ECTS gained, as well as planned research and training to cover the period until the next meeting.
  5. The Thesis Supervision Committee evaluates your progress and decides whether you should pursue your doctoral studies. If a doctoral student has not made considerable progress and the committee sees no prospect of future progress, it has the right to terminate the PhD. The University Act (article 37 (5)) states that “in the event of serious shortcomings, the Thesis Supervision Committee may recommend to the Rector that the candidate be prevented from re-enrolling the following academic year”.
  6. As a student you may also request termination of your studies if you realise that completing doctoral studies is no longer something you wish to pursue. For doctoral candidates with an employment contract at the University of Luxembourg or at a research institute, the employment contract will be terminated in parallel.
  7. In the most likely scenario in which the committee recommends the continuation of the PhD, it will suggest avenues for future research, specific further training, publications to be written (mainly for cumulative theses), presentations to be delivered, and other action as necessary.
  8. The Thesis Supervision Committee essentially answers the questions:
    a. What should the student do to present the best possible thesis at the end of their study period?
    b. Are there any weaknesses that the student should work on to improve their abilities?
    c. What are the student’s strengths and how should they be encouraged?
  9. After each committee meeting, a report is drawn up by the supervisor on the dedicated platform. It is then signed by all the committee members and the doctoral student.

    The report covers the following points:
    • Research project
    • Training
    • Dissemination activities
    • Strengths and weaknesses, suggested improvements
    • Overall assessment and decision

  1. We recommend that the third Thesis Supervision Committee meeting should be held after 31 months for non-EU candidates, to leave you enough time to extend your employment contract and residence permit if necessary, and after 34 months for EU candidates;
  2. The final committee report contains the request for authorisation to defend the thesis. This is typically submitted after the committee meeting in the second half of the third or fourth years for full-time students. This final report is prepared on the basis of your preliminary final version of the thesis;
  3. Once you have written a preliminary final version of the thesis, the Thesis Supervision Committee will evaluate the thesis and the plagiarism report and decide whether the thesis is good enough to be defended, i.e. whether it contains sufficient new academic/research/scientific results and is written in a sufficiently clear manner;
  4. This evaluation is made on the basis of a preliminary version of the thesis that contains most of the results and most of the final text;
  5. Once the committee deems the thesis ready for defence, it will submit a final report, including the request for authorisation to defend the thesis;
  6. The Office of Doctoral Studies should receive the final committee report no later than two months prior to the defence date and no later than the last day of studies.

Composition of the Thesis Committee

  1. The Thesis Committee appointed for the thesis defence consists of five members (six in the event of joint supervision).
    The committee must include at least two external members. The members of the Thesis Supervision Committee may be part of the defence committee, although this is not an obligation. All committee members must hold a doctoral degree.
  1. Two experts may also be invited to the defence in an advisory capacity. They do not take part in the discussions and they do not sign and are not named on the defence documents.

Your supervisor plays a key role in your development and success. That is why it is important for you to familiarise yourself with the rights and responsibilities of PhD supervisors.

The supervisor should:

  • Submit an online proposal for members to be appointed to your Thesis Supervision Committee
  • Support you in drawing up your DEA
  • Meet with you regularly to supervise your progress
  • Offer advice on methodology and research approaches
  • Approve your training courses
  • Sign off/validate your ECTS
  • Sign your expenses
  • Give you prompt feedback in an honest and helpful manner
  • Process the request for an extension of your employment contract (if applicable) in a timely manner

The supervisor should not:

  • Ask you to engage in work that is not related to your PhD, or to the obligations you might have as an employee of the University
  • Miss any of your Thesis Supervision Committee meetings or other meetings without notifying you in advance
  • Write or edit your research articles or otherwise take over tasks that might jeopardise the independence of your research
  • Ask you to start research before the official start of your studies/employment contract