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Lund University

Generic knowledge and skills (Portfolio) 12 hp MEPO003



The principal objective of the course Generic knowledge and skills (taught and examined through a portfolio) is for you to, through continuous documentation and reflection, gain insight into your learning and the extent to which you progress towards the learning outcomes for the PhD degree - with a focus on generic knowledge and skills. The portfolio also forms the basis for examination of your achievement of the learning outcomes at the end of the PhD programme. At the time of your admittance to PhD studies, you are also admitted to “Generic knowledge and skills”. You are then expected to work independently with the course (ie your portfolio) throughout the programme. “Generic knowledge and skills” is compulsory for doctoral students admitted after 2008-06-01. For those admitted before 2012-01-01, please see more information at the bottom of this page.

Under the link below you will find a talk given as part of the digital Introductory course for PhD students, and gives a brief description of the purpose and structure of the course.


Olga Göransson, Course director                                          

Purposes and course goals


1. A support to achieve the learning outcomes of the PhD degree

The learning outcomes for the PhD degree can be found below.

Several of these goals are not necessarily practiced through your thesis work, and are often not examined at the public defense of your doctoral thesis.

 Examples of such learning outcomes are:

- “demonstrate an ability to identify the need for further knowledge”

- “demonstrate the ability in both national and international contexts to pres1ent and discuss research and research findings authoritatively in speech and writing and in dialogue with the academic community and society in general”

- “demonstrate the capacity to contribute to social development and support the learning of others both through research and education and in some other qualified professional capacity”

- “demonstrate specialised insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used.”

The portfolio helps you to keep track of your progress towards the different goals, and to identify what more you need to do to reach them.A concrete and important way in which the portfolio can be used is therefore as a basis for the discussion when you and your supervisor review the individual study plan, which is to be done at least once per year. In this way, the reflections you have made in the portfolio will result in a better study plan and higher quality in your research studies.

Another reason to keep a portfolio is for pure documentation purposes– regardless of the PhD degree. To document experiences and impact is important for professional development in general, for example in future applications for employments or grants.

2. A tool to demonstrate progress and achievement.

The portfolio is your tool to demonstrate progress during the PhD programme, for example at the half-time seminar. Finally, when you approach the dissertation, the portfolio is your way to support that you have achieved goals of the PhD degree that are often not examined by writing and defending a thesis. Ie, the portfolio is an important instrument in the examination of your research studies.



The course goals, defined in the syllabus (below), are tightly linked to the goals for the PhD degree as a whole. How the goals are linked to each other is shown here (in Swedish and English respectively):

Compared to the PhD degree goals, course goals are: 

- more focused on generic knowledge and skills

- adapted to PhD students at a medical faculty

- more concrete

- easier to examine

When it is time for you to be examined on the Generic knowledge and skills course, it is your achievement of the course goals that will be assessed.

Working with the portfolio

Documentation and reflection within twelve areas.

Working on your portfolio means continuously documenting your experiences within various areas of your PhD studies and using them as starting point for reflection. The portfolio is a personal tool for documentation AND reflection. Your reflections can focus on things like: what you learnt as a result of an activity, how you used new knowledge, shortcomings or strengths that you have identified, suggested measures for improvement, etc. It is your experiences, together with your ability to reflect on them, which help you to achieve the learning outcomes and which form the basis for examination. The document “Guide to your portfolio work in twelve categories” gives a lot of examples of what to document on I each category and what to reflect on.

The areas that you are expected to reflect on are shown in the schematic picture below. The same areas/headings are found in your Individual study plan.

The picture also gives an overview of the support you can get and when/how your portfolio is assessed. See also Workshops & support.

PhD students admitted before 2012

We recommend that all doctoral students work with the portfolio on the basis of the twelve categories listed above, but for doctoral students admitted before 1 January 2012, reflections within only the seven categories described in the document “Guide - admitted before 2012-01-01”, is accepted. The credit value is then 9 credits.