Course syllabi and course occasions for doctoral courses

Denna sida på svenska

All doctoral courses at Karolinska Institutet must have an officially established syllabus. Once a syllabus is established, a course code is also created in our Ladok administration system, so that the course results can be registered after completion of the course.

From syllabus proposal to advertising in the course catalogue

Before a new syllabus is created in the syllabus database KIWAS, financing should be decided and a needs’ analysis performed, which in most cases should be done in consultation with an appropriate doctoral programme. The pedagogically responsible within the doctoral programme should also preview the syllabus proposal. 

The process for establishing a syllabus and advertising the course in the course catalogue, looks as follows:

  1. A proposed syllabus is submitted via KIWAS (after having been reviewed by a suitable doctoral programme).
  2. New and revised syllabi are reviewed centrally and any feedback is given before the syllabus is officially established.
  3. When the syllabus is established, after a decision by the Course and programme committee, an automatic e-mail confirmation is sent to the course organiser from KIWAS.
  4. If the course is to be advertised in the course catalogue (which applies to all courses except for those given within research schools), a course occasion has to be created in KIWAS before the current deadline. This has to be done even though the decision regarding granting of funding (if applied for) has not yet been notifiied.
  5. When a course occasion has been approved by a programme coordinator or central administrative officer, and has been published in KIWAS, an automatic e-mail confirmation is sent from KIWAS to the course organiser.
Would you like to improve your skills in course design?
Take part of this 30 minute online workshop.
See also the course Designing doctoral courses if you are planning a course or if you already are a course director of doctoral courses.

Course syllabus

Every doctoral course at Karolinska Institutet must have an established syllabus.

The syllabus covers the content, purpose, intended learning outcomes, learning activities and examination for the course. See other syllabi in the syllabus database.

The syllabus must be entered into the KIWAS course database and may be reviewed at any time during the year, however not later than before the deadline for next course catalogue. The new or revised syllabus is reviewed and established by the Course and programme committee. For the course to be included in the catalogue, the syllabus must be submitted through KIWAS before the deadline and a course occasion created in the system.

Don’t forget to write the syllabus in the language that the course will be taught in.

Keep in mind that only course content can be revised. If you want to change the title, the number of credits or the responsible KI department for the course, you must create a new syllabus.

Deadline for submitting the syllabus prior to publication of next course catalogue.

The final syllabus is linked to a course occasion.

Purpose of the course

The purpose of the course gives an overarching description of why the course is offered. By reading the purpose of the course, a potential participant should be able to quickly understand what the course aims at and why they might want to participate. Instead of detailing the knowledge and skills that will be developed and assessed during the course, as done in the intended learning outcomes, the purpose of the course should be general enough to cover all competencies the course helps a participant to develop, even those that may not be fully achieved during the course nor summatively assessed.

A purpose of the course statement should be fairly brief and inspiring!

Some examples of how purpose of the course statements might be written:

  • “The purpose of the course is to give doctoral students a basic understanding of statistical methods and the fundamental principles of statistical inference and to develop their skills of using statistical software for data analysis.”
  • “The course aims to provide participants with a fresh perspective on the cell cycle and advanced approaches that researchers are taking to study this fascinating topic, to stimulate your curiosity and to inspire your own research. The purpose is also to help you practice key academic skills that you will need throughout your career, such as learning from scientific presentations, proposing experiments, and providing constructive criticism.”
  • “This course is given to show students how to get inspiration from several different disciplines and techniques and apply it to their own infection biology research. Through examples of cutting edge technologies and their applications across a broad range of infection biology fields, students are encouraged to think about how such techniques can be translated into new applications. The course will also teach participants to critically appraise presentations, to ask and answer questions in orally.”

The above examples are modified from actual syllabi and intended only as examples.

This section of the syllabus is new from 2016. Please see Purpose vs Intended Learning Outcomes for guidance.

Intended learning outcomes

Intended learning outcomes are to be written from a doctoral student’s point of view. A useful method is to introduce the intended learning outcomes with: “After the course, a doctoral student shall...”, followed by bullet points specifying the knowledge, skills, evaluation abilities and approach that a student is to possess after completing the course.

You can learn more about how the intended learning outcomes for doctoral course syllabi may be worded in accordance with Bologna, as well as how examinations and assessments are affected by performance-oriented instruction, through an online workshop (takes approximately 30 minutes).

Learning outcomes, learning activities and examination must be related and coherent. They also have to be designed in such a way that meaningful learning is facilitated. This is called "constructive alignment" (Biggs, 2003). You can read more about constructive alignment in:

  • Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. (2nd Ed.) Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Financing and coordination

Most doctoral courses are held within the framework of a doctoral programme. When designing a new course you should consider which programme (or programmes) could be suitable and contact the programme coordinators as early as possible. See more information about doctoral programmes.

A few courses, mainly within general science, are financed by the Course and programme committee.

Course occasion

The course occasion includes information such as date and time, location, specially invited lectures, selection criteria, etc. A link to the latest course evaluation report (short version) is also added. The text for the course occasion is to be written in the language that the course will be taught in.

A course occasion created in KIWAS results in the course being published in the next course catalogue. The catalogue text is a combination of the course syllabus and the information in the course occasion.

A quick reference guide can be found in KIWAS in the left hand menu under the heading Help (in English or Swedish depending on the preferred language for the web site). 

Deadline for entering a course occasion into KIWAS for publication in next course catalogue.

Missed the deadline for the catalogue?

A course should primarily be advertised in the course catalogue. If you have missed the deadline and still want to advertise course vacancies after the course catalogue has been published or after the application deadline, you can do so via our website Vacancies on doctoral courses. Please note, though, that both the admission process and the registration (admission) in Ladok will be manual. 

To ensure that you get the information from applicants that you need to make your selection for the course we recommend that you use a survey template in KI survey. The template name is Application for KI course at doctoral level after deadline. Please follow the Application template instructions for KI Survey

Send the survey link to to have it published on the web page for course vacancies.

Course vacancies

If you have vacancies left on a course after the end of the application period, you may advertise the course further through the website Vacancies on doctoral courses

If you expect a large number of applications we recommend you to create a survey (see guidelines in the above section Missed the deadline for the catalogue?) to ensure that you receive the information from the applicants that you need to make a proper selection. Then send this link to

If there is only need for a few applicants in order to fill a course, you can receive the applications via email. Send an email to with the course number, title and email address to the person to which applications should be sent.

Please note, though, that both the admission process  for these additional appliants and the registration (admission) in Ladok of those will be manual. 


Administrative officer

Anna Gustafsson

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 860 18

Chair of the Course and programme committee

Erika Franzén

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 888 78

Vice chair of the Course and programme committee

Lena Von Koch

Phone: +46-(0)70-786 93 86

Coordinator of doctoral education

Ingeborg van der Ploeg

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 867 00

Doctoral educationDoctoral programmes