Doctoral degree
Full time
Animal and Aquacultural Sciences

The PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences at the Faculty of Biosciences.

This program is no longer accepting new students, it has been replaced by the PhD programme in Biosciences.

Start of Studies:


Bente Aspeholen Åby på IHA gjorde sin doktorgrad på ulike egenskaper hos ammekyr.
The PhD candidate will assess the impact of novel feeds in monogastric animals like pigs.

The objective of the PhD education is to give candidates knowledge, skills and expertise in line with the Norwegian qualifications framework.

Career opportunities

The PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences shall qualify candidates for research of international standard within the department’s subject areas, and for other work in society where there are high demands on scientific insight and analytical thinking, in accordance with recognised principles of academic and research ethics.


    • On completion of the PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, new doctors are expected to:
    • Have in-depth knowledge in the chosen subject area within the phd programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, and to be at the forefront of knowledge in their field of expertise within this subject area.
    • Have in-depth knowledge about scientific theories and methods associated with the field.
    • Be able to assess and analyse different theories, methods and processes in research and academic development projects - also from an international perspective.
    • Contribute to the development of new knowledge, new theories and methods in the field.


    On completion of the PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, new doctors are expected to:

    • Be able to formulate research issues, and to plan and conduct research and academic development work of high international calibre within their field.
    • Know how to use the scientific equipment, instruments and analysis tools of their field of specialisation, and be familiar with equipment researchers normally use.
    • Master relevant statistical methods and be able to assess the utility and limitations of different statistical methods.
    • Have conducted original research that has led to new knowledge that can be published in the form of at least three scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals.
    • Be able to handle complexity, create an overview, and synthesise scientific information.
    • Be able to perform critical assessments and give constructive criticism on scientific work in their field.


    On completion of the PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, new doctors are expected to:

    • Be able to conduct their research with professional and ethical integrity, to assess concerns related to animal welfare and environmental issues, and be able to identify new and relevant ethical issues.
    • Be able to participate in complex interdisciplinary tasks and projects.
    • Be able to disseminate research and development work through recognised national and international channels, and to participate in scientific debates in international forums.
    • Be able to disseminate research findings to the animal or aqua cultural industry, to the authorities and public administration, and to the general public through contact with the media.
    • Be able to teach students within their subject area or field of specialisation.
    • Be able to place own research in broad academic and societal contexts.
    • Be able to assess the need for and, if required, stimulate innovation in the field.
  • NMBU facilitates national and international exchanges. Part of the doctoral work or doctoral courses may be taken at other Norwegian or foreign academic institutions when it can be incorporated into the plans, and funding has been secured.
  • PhD students shall apply for approval of their PhD education plan as soon as possible after admission, and at the latest within 6 months. Courses that make up the required coursework must total at least 35 credits, including a compulsory course in research ethics of at least 5 credits: PHI401 or the equivalent. The required coursework must be seen in the context of the research plan, so that the PhD programme of study as a whole gives the student adequate academic breadth, depth, and internal scientific context. The research education committee at IHA must approve the required coursework and ensure that the courses are relevant and as a whole offer a cohesive education at an adequate level.

    The required coursework is specific to each subject area and consists of a combination of different courses in this field. It will be adapted to the PhD student's individual specialisation in the subject area, based on his/her master's-level competence. No courses are therefore formally compulsory. Students are free to take the courses in the order that best suits their timeline of activities.

    The department offers five courses on the PhD level that can be incorporated into the programme description if relevant:

    • Quantitative genetics (HFA400)
    • Biometrical methods in animal breeding (HFA401)
    • Lipid metabolism (HFE400)
    • Nutritional biochemistry and physiology (HFX400),
    • Individual PhD course in ethology (HET401)

    It is particularly recommended to incorporate courses from the NOVA Postgraduate School. These PhD courses are the result of collaboration among the Nordic agricultural universities. Advanced courses in statistics and research methods are also recommended. Some master's-level courses are permitted, if they fit the overall profile of the plan. The PhD student may carry out supervised self-study in areas in which there are no relevant courses (individual course). All courses and individual courses that are part of the required coursework must have a lecturer/supervisor in charge, and an external examiner must evaluate the courses

    The PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences is based at the Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences at NMBU. The programme is based on the general description of the PhD education at NMBU and is regulated by the Regulations for the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

    The department has a broad subject profile and extensive research activity within biological disciplines and applied subjects related to production animals, including fish: nutrition and feed technology, physiology, animal breeding and genetics, molecular genetics, bioinformatics, product quality, as well as ethology and animal welfare.

    The PhD programme in Animal and Aquacultural Sciences is a doctoral programme that will educate independent researchers of international calibre in conjunction with national and international research communities. The PhD programme will qualify candidates for research work and for other work where there are high demands on scientific insight. The PhD programme seeks to meet the current and future needs for competence in order to conduct research, development and dissemination at universities and at other public and private institutions, enterprises and organisations. The PhD student will complete an education that offers deeper and broader competence, based on a relevant master's degree. He/she will carry out an independent work of research that will lead to a scientific thesis of high academic quality. The PhD student must learn critical thinking skills, how to disseminate knowledge, and academic collaboration. He/she is assigned a principal supervisor and one or more academic co-supervisors. Students are recommended to form networks that include highly competent co-supervisors from foreign universities.

    The Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences has its own research education committee, led by the head of research education, and also a research education officer/PhD contact person. The research committee manages, gives advice on and performs quality assurance of the admission process, programme description and progress of the doctoral studies.

    All PhD students must take part in three regular seminars at the department, see PhD regulations section 9.1: an introductory seminar prior to submission of the application for approval of the programme description, a midway assessment seminar after approximately 1.5-2 years and a final seminar approximately 6 months before submitting the doctoral thesis. The midway assessment seminar must be carried out in accordance with section 9.2. The seminars are considered to be part of the required coursework and quality assurance of the PhD programme, and will give the students useful feedback for the work ahead.

    PhD students must submit annual progress reports on a standard form by 15 January every year. Deviations from the plan must be explained. The requirement of a progress report is set out in section 9.1. PhD students and supervisors share responsibility for progress.


    PhD students' principal supervisors are normally appointed from among the department's associate professors and professors (including adjunct positions). Other researchers with relevant expertise can be appointed as co-supervisors, also from other national or international institutions. All supervisors must have a doctoral degree or the equivalent.

    The principal supervisor must be at the associate professor level or professor level, if relevant in an adjunct position (adjunct associate professor, adjunct professor). In special circumstances permanent employees in research positions at the associate professor level or above can be principal supervisors. The department does not as yet require formal supervisor competence, but all (recent) associate professors and professors who are permanent employees must have completed pedagogical training.


    The research work shall be an independent, scientific work that fulfils international standards and is of high academic quality (section 10 of the PhD Regulations). The work will be planned and carried out in consultation with the supervisors and any external partners. A realistic milestone plan must be drawn up, so that the work can be completed, and the thesis submitted by the end of the contract period. The principal supervisor has general responsibility for ensuring that the plan is realistic.

    The progress of the research work must be reported in the annual progress report.


    The thesis shall be an independent, scientific work that fulfils international standards and is of high academic quality in terms of the formulation of research questions, the specification of concepts, the methodological, theoretical and empirical basis, documentation, the use of literature and the form of presentation. The thesis shall contribute to the development of new knowledge in the chosen field and must be of such quality as to qualify for publication as a part of the scientific literature in the field (section 10 of NMBU's PhD Regulations).

    The doctoral thesis must consist of at least three academic articles that can be published in scientific journals. The articles should be published or accepted for publication before submitting the thesis, but this often is not realistic within a three-year period. However, the articles must at minimum be of the same standard as a manuscript that is submitted to a journal for the first time. The PhD candidate must be the lead author of at least two of the articles. In addition, an introductory chapter must also be written, in which the PhD candidate displays thorough knowledge of the field, and an ability to synthesise scientific findings and discussions from different articles. The PhD candidate shall write this section on his/her own. The thesis must also be written and submitted in accordance with the rules in PhD regulations sections 10 and 13.1, and authorship declarations must be enclosed for each scientific article.

    The public defence will begin with a trial lecture on a topic that is assigned to the PhD candidate 10 working days in advance. The lecture must last 45 minutes, and be of a standard that corresponds to a lecture for master's degree students in the subject. Two external opponents will then critically review the thesis, and assess the candidate's responses. The evaluation and the work of the evaluation committee must comply with the rules in sections 12 and 15 of NMBU's PhD Regulations.


    The Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences has its own head of research education, who is appointed from among the department's permanent academic staff. He/she chairs the research education committee (FUU), which reviews applications for admission, programme descriptions, proposals for evaluation committees, and monitors the quality and progress of each student's PhD education. The department¿s research education officer, who is also secretary of the research education committee, carries out the day-to-day administrative functions in relation to PhD students and advises them on practical and formal matters.

    IHA has its own intranet pages in Norwegian and English for the PhD programme. These provide a step-by-step overview of the whole process from the admission application up to the completion of the defence of the thesis, with the applicable rules, forms, and practical advice. Here you will also find a checklist of the final phase of the PhD programme with a description of the responsibilities of the PhD student, the principal supervisor, the internal member of the evaluation committee, the research education officer/ PhD contact person and the chair of the disputation (normally the head of the department).

    IHA's IT staff will buy computers for the PhD students, offer support, and provide access to software, printers and the Internet.

    PhD students are allocated office space at IHA, with usually 2-3 students sharing each office. The principal supervisor will arrange for space in the laboratory when this is required.

    • Level 8, philosophiae doctor (PhD)

      The PhD programme has a nominal duration of three years' full-time study, divided into a minimum of 35 credits for the PhD education and at least 2.5 years for the research work. Some candidates have a four-year employment contract, which gives additional time for the research component.

      The PhD student will complete an education that offers deeper and broader competence, based on a relevant master's degree. He/she will carry out an independent work of research that will lead to a scientific thesis of high academic quality. The PhD student must learn critical thinking skills, how to disseminate knowledge, and academic collaboration.


      • The required coursework of at least 35 credits, which offers comprehensive in-depth competence. The required coursework includes at least 5 credits of research ethics.
      • Reading and keeping updated on literature within their field of specialisation.
      • The research work.
      • Work on the introductory chapter of the thesis, where the candidate has independently written an introduction that provides a theoretical and practical background for the research work, discusses and justifies the choice and use of research methods, and puts his/her findings as a whole in an international perspective.


      • Participating in planning and shaping the PhD project in detail, and in planning new project applications, if relevant.
      • Supervision and own research work, where the PhD student actively benefits from the competence of the supervisory team.
      • Developing his/her own academic network outside the supervisory team.
      • Attending courses on research methods and writing when relevant.
      • Working on publications, submission to journals and handling comments from referees.
      • Working on the thesis.
      • Taking part in peer reviews of scientific manuscripts, giving feedback on colleagues' manuscripts.
      • Attending seminars where other PhD students' and researchers' ideas and results are discussed.


      • Taking a course on research ethics with a scope of at least 5 credits.
      • Supervision and own research
      • Working on publications and on the thesis.
      • The trial lecture. The trial lecture requires familiarisation with a specified topic quickly, good time management, searching for / selecting / evaluating / processing information, and giving an oral presentation.
      • Presenting own research findings at national and international scientific conferences.
      • Giving four hours of lectures to students per year within his/her area of competence.
      • Giving lectures at the Norwegian Animal Science Conference, the Norwegian Aquacultural Conference, and other scientific conferences
      • Interviews on radio and TV, in newspapers and other journals or on web pages.
    • The degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD) is conferred on the basis of:

      • Approved completion of the required coursework
      • An approved doctoral thesis
      • An approved trial lecture on a specified topic
      • An approved public defence of the doctoral thesis (disputation)

      See Regulations for the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences section 12.


      The required coursework is evaluated using different forms of evaluation, such as an oral or written examination, submitting assignments or a term paper. The research education committee approves the content of the doctoral work and the required coursework, and the committee monitors progress by means of annual progress reports and the compulsory seminars (introductory seminar, midway assessment seminar and final seminar). Other input to learning outcomes does not need to be evaluated, but the principal supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the objectives are met through relevant measures, academic discussions and steps towards dissemination work within the time frame of the doctoral work.

Study advisor(s):

Anna Mazzarella

Anna Mazzarella

Senior Advisor