Palliative Care

The description of the PhD programme in Palliative Care is founded on the regulations concerning the philosophiae doctor degree (PhD) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), passed by the Board of NTNU.

The PhD programme in Palliative Care will be provided by the Faculty of Medicine at NTNU, and the education programme will have a prescribed duration of three years of full-time study (180 credits). Details for each PhD candidate will be prepared in collaboration between the supervisors and the candidate.

The European Palliative Care Research Centre (PRC), NTNU initiated the establishment of the PhD programme in palliative care. PRC will promote palliative care research at local, national and international levels. PRC is a collaborative of 13 different universities and research institutions throughout Europe, involving also research groups in Australia and Canada. These research groups are able to provide supervisors and lecturers, as well as give courses. PhD projects in this programme can be generated as a joint venture between NTNU and a core collaborating center within the PRC. The candidates will benefit from being part of this large scientific research network.


Fields of research

Palliative care is a broad field and comprises research related to various clinical issues, social sciences, health care sciences as well as basic/translational research related to genetics and prognostication. The overall aim of palliative research is to improve treatment and care for patients with advanced life-threatening diseases, and thus quality of life of patients and their families. The international scientific collaboration within the PRC conducts clinical research based on the need of the patients, their families and the society.

Specific research areas in focus include:

  • Assessment, classification and treatment of common symptoms in cancer patients
  • Development and testing of new treatments in international randomised clinical studies
  • Late side effects after anti-cancer treatment
  • Development, implementation and evaluation of guidelines for symptom management
  • Improvement of health care services by implementation of evidence-based research findings into clinical practice

The variety of scientific focus at the collaborating institutions can contribute to giving a broad scientific content of this PhD programme.

Educational objectives

The PhD programme aims at developing the qualifications of the candidates and enabling them to become independent researchers. The main part of the education is to perform research at a high scientific level. The organized academic training will provide knowledge that will help the candidate develop an independent and reflected view of his/her own research as well as the research of others, and understand the role of research in general and in a larger context. This is a PhD programme with an international profile, and several European universities can collaborate on providing supervisors.

Application and admission

The applicant must have a Master's degree or equivalent education within a relevant field like medicine, genetics, pharmacology, physiology, health science, social sciences or others. The applicant must have a weighted average grade of his/her Master's or equivalent education of B or higher, in accordance with NTNU’s grading system. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may only be admitted if they can document that they are suitable candidates for the PhD education. In special cases, applicants with other backgrounds may be admitted to the PhD programme. Applicants may be requested to take specific courses and/or pass specified tests prior to admission.

Application requirements

Applications for admission must be made using the application form. The requirements the application needs to fulfil are described in the PhD regulations. The PhD plan, including the project description, is to be completed in cooperation with the main supervisor.


The application should be sent to the programme council for the PhD in palliative care. This council will evaluate the application as well as the applicant, and if the scientific quality of the project and the qualifications of the candidate are good enough, the council will make a recommendation that is sent to the department where the supervisor employed by NTNU has his/her belonging. The department will make a recommendation and send it to the Dean at the Faculty of Medicine for a final evaluation and approval or rejection.

The decision concerning admission is based on a collective evaluation of the application. Admission to the PhD programme is formalised by a written contract, in accordance with §6 of the PhD regulations.

Cotutelle agreements

All candidates in this PhD programme will have to be admitted at NTNU. However, the candidates may in addition be admitted at a collaborating university, and a cotutelle agreement might be established between the two universities. Students with a cotutelle agreement will have their diploma from both NTNU and the collaborating university.

Project description

The PhD plan must contain a project description, which should be 3–6 pages. In the project description it should be specified which topics and research questions that will be investigated in the PhD project, as well as which methods will be used. The planned project should be based on updated relevant theory and ongoing research.

Funding plan

For admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Medicine, it is not an absolute requirement for the candidate to have funding for the doctoral programme. In the application, the candidate must describe the funding plan. Candidates without funding should describe the plan for completion of the programme without funding. This will be assessed for the individual candidate in connection with the admission process.

Residency requirement

The main purpose of the residency duty is to facilitate the candidate's contribution to a research environment at NTNU or in affiliation with NTNU. If this purpose is fulfilled, the residency duty can be accomplished at any of the collaborating institutions that are a part of PRC, as the main intention of the duty will be asserted for both parties. This must be explained in the application and will be considered individually for each candidate.


Each candidate will have at least two supervisors, one of whom is the principal supervisor. All supervisors must be clarified before submitting the PhD application.  At least one supervisor must be a scientific employee at NTNU, and at least one must have previous experience or training in supervision of PhD candidates (short CV with info about this should be attached to PhD admission application).

Participation in active research groups in Norway and internationally

It is expected and encouraged that PhD candidates participate at international conferences and present their results there. It is requested that the candidates present their results regularly during their study in smaller, local arrangements for other PhD candidates following this PhD programme as well as for others in their research group.


The candidate and supervisors must deliver progress reports, including midway reports, to the Faculty according to the PhD regulations.

Organised academic training

The organised academic training in the PhD education is to provide scientific and methodological training.
In the application, the candidate and supervisors should agree upon a plan for the organised academic courses. The academic training should cover a total of 30 credits (ECTS), equal to six months of full-time study. PhD courses could be taken at other institutions. The scientific content, level and relevance of the courses will be evaluated by the international PhD programme council.

The PhD course PALC8001 Palliative Care Research - Theoretical, Practical, Ethical and Methodological Aspects, 7.5 ECTS credits, is mandatory for all candidates.

Recommended courses

SMED8004 Introduction to research - 5 ECTS credits
SMED8005 Communication of Science - 3 ECTS credits


Requirements for the thesis and rules for evaluation are given in the PhD regulations at NTNU.

The thesis is to be written in English.

Appointment of an adjudication committee

The research groups being responsible for the PhD candidate should propose one member each to the committee. These must be recruited from research institutions outside both NTNU and the other collaborating institution. The committee must have at least one international member (not from Norway).

Trial lecture and public defence

A trial lecture on a prescribed subject must be given, preferably on the same day as the public defence.

Contact info

+47 728 26486


Visiting adress:
Olav Kyrres gt. 13
St.Olavs Hospital

Postal address:
PRC, Department of Cancer
Research and Molecular Medicine

NTNU, Faculty of Medicine