Obligatory hours

How many hours?

Typically, as a condition of employment, PhD students employed at Aarhus University (5+3) are obligated to deliver what corresponds to 840 working hours at the department during their PhD study according to the official PhD regulations. PhD students enrolled in 3+5 or 4+4 programmes are obligated to deliver 280 working hours per year at the department during part B of their study programme. However, all PhD students employed at GSTS are automatically granted one semester’s (140 hours) exemption from the obligatory hours with no reduction in pay.

Please notice that if you end up with more than the maximum stated number of hours, this will not grant you any additional pay aside from your PhD salary.

PhD students that are enrolled but not employed at Aarhus University are not obligated to deliver 840 hours, but they must still meet the dissemination requirement that is a mandatory part of the PhD programme. See the corresponding state on web page of the Ministry of Research and Education (link).

Distribution of tasks

In order to ensure a fair distribution of teaching assignments for PhD students, and that the PhD students get a broad exposure to different kinds of dissemination-related tasks, the following principles will be implemented for the PhD students enrolled under engineering:

  1. The PhD student must deliver a certain number of obligatory hours to the Department during their PhD study. The exact number of hours is specified in each student's employment contract with the graduate school as well as in their SharePoint spreadsheet prepared by the Department. It is recommended that these responsibilities are more dominant at the beginning of the PhD study.
  2. The main PhD supervisor for each PhD student has the overall responsibility for ensuring that the PhD student completes a fair amount of teaching activities, which are either relevant for the subject of the PhD student or basic knowledge, where the PhD student does not need to spend too much time getting familiar with the content.
  3. In addition, the main PhD supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the PhD student gets experience with different kinds of teaching-related tasks, e.g., supervision, lectures, design and correction of exercises, workshops, assessment and peer-reviewing. This is essential in order to give the PhD student the proper knowledge to decide upon the future career path after completing the PhD study. PhD students should never be given full responsibility for a course unless they have had the necessary didactic training.
  4. The Department’s PhD Committee regularly reviews the PhD students’ obligatory hours and activities as stated in their SharePoint spreadsheets.
  5. The PhD student and the main supervisor discuss plans for teaching and dissemination activities, one of the goals being that the PhD student tries different types of tasks during their PhD study. The PhD student can state preferences concerning teaching assignments in their SharePoint spreadsheet under “Planned teaching activities”.

Types of activities

In general, dissemination can be viewed as different activities meant to communicate different disciplinary material to stakeholders at different levels of experience. The activities that can be included under dissemination are:

  • Help prepare a course or a lecture (of different sizes).
  • Giving dedicated lectures in (different) courses under supervision by the course responsible.
  • Preparing exercises or other materials for a course.
  • Correcting exercises for a course and giving written or oral feedback to the students.
  • Assisting students with exercises or with lab work as course instructor.
  • Co-supervisor for group work at different semesters.
  • Co-supervisor for BEng, BSc and MSc theses.
  • Creation of web pages, book chapters or manuals communicating disciplinary material.
  • Preparation and delivery of presentations and posters.
  • Internal coordination in connection with the Department’s PhD Committee, the yearly PhD Day, or organising academic activities in one’s research group.
  • Writing texts for patent applications.
  • Communication with media stakeholders such as journalists.
  • Presentation of research results internally and externally to companies or at conferences.
  • Assistance in research activities that are not directly relevant for the PhD research, for example in a project.
  • Deliverables or project applications.
  • General marketing activities towards young students, e.g., as a part of AU activities at high schools (“Det Rullende Universitet”).

The number of hours spent on each type of activity needs to be balanced, and this will be determined by the members of the Department's PhD Committee. Note that a factor is used for preparation for giving lectures (factor 5) and for assisting with exercises (factor 3).

Be aware that the actual writing of articles is not considered dissemination. It is a part of the research itself.

PhD students with external funding

If a PhD student is fully (or mostly) sponsored by external funds, the supervisor is allowed to use the PhD student for more activities related to the funding agency (typically a project), but the PhD student still has to have diversity in their activities.


The graduate school grants exemptions from the obligatory hours for stays abroad that overlap with teaching periods.

Industrial PhDs are exempted from obligatory hours.