A PhD corresponds to the third level of the University studies. This means that it is the highest official qualification, and it is valid nationwide.
The University of Málaga offers a wide range of PhD programmes, covering all fields of knowledge and a wide range of research areas. All these programmes are endorsed by prestigious lecturers and research fellows, and have successfully passed a rigorous verification process, carried out by the relevant Quality Control and Certification national agencies.
The latest rules which regulate the University of Málaga PhD studies are according to Royal Decree 99/2011 and 195/2016, which aims at achieving a more productive model in which doctors become the key players in the realization of high-quality R&D, technological transfer to industry, and social development. Far from the now outdated concept of PhD studies as being solely focused on a career in lecturing or research in the university sphere, nowadays doctors are expected to play an important role in all institutions implicated in innovation and research, both public and private.
Moreover, the doctorates of the new programmes enjoy numerous advantages in their training; in fact they are no longer considered as simply students but rather as trainee researchers with all the benefits and rights that this affords them. These are recognised in the Statute of Research Personnel in Training, approved by Royal Decree 63/2006 dated January 27, 2006.
The students who are accepted onto a PhD programme can count on a close assessment and monitoring of their work and research activities, by qualified lecturers and research fellows. They also have the opportunity to participate in training activities to help them develop their communication skills with the academic and scientific communities, as well as with the wider society. They should be able to transmit their knowledge in their areas of expertise, in the mode and languages commonly used in the international scientific community. The students also learn to work both autonomously and, more importantly, as part of a team, in an international and multidisciplinary setting. Furthermore, they have the possibility to add an additional value to their PhD degree, by elaborating a degree with International Mention or even complete a jointly-supervised degree in collaboration with a university abroad.
In June 2012, the University of Málaga founded the Doctoral School of the University of Málaga (ED-UMA), to which all the PhD programmes offered by the university are affiliated. ED-UMA was created with a clearly international dimension, and in the spirit of collaboration with other organisations, centres and institutions. The intention of setting up such a Doctoral School was to be able to offer a complete network of professional research, able to respond to the highest scientific and professional standards, creating a system, fundamentally based on knowledge, innovation and research, which helps future doctors to integrate in the scientific community and/or the job market. To satisfy this goal, the School actively promotes ties with strong research groups, corporate structures committed to high quality training, and institutions and other organisations dedicated to R&D activities. The School also provides cross-cutting training, creating synergies between distinct PhD programmes and organizing complementary activities.
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PhD Programmes are managed by a Coordinator and an Academic Committee. The Coordinator is the Academic Officer of the PhD Programme, while the Academic Committee is in charge of the programme's definition, update, quality and coordination, as well as the research and training development, and the authorization of the public thesis defense.
PhD Programmes at the University of Málaga are structured according to lines of research, representing the focus of leading research groups in their corresponding fields. Lines of research are at the core of research and training activities of these programmes. A line of research may be the focus of more than one research group. Each group comprises programme teachers, who are also experienced researchers in the field and in supervising research projects, dissertations, and publication in high impact international journals.
- Quality assurance
All PhD Programmes of the University of Málaga have a Quality Committee and a Quality System, established in accordance with the norm of Quality Assurance System for PhD Programmes of the University of Málaga. The Quality Assurance System is based on the analysis of research productivity indicators, knowledge transfer results and employment success, among others. Likewise, evaluation mechanisms aimed at students' progress have been established for each programme.
UMA's School for PhD Studies releases a yearly report on the quality of its PhD Programmes, based on the quality indicators established for each.
- Norms and regulations
The regulatory framework for UMA's PhD Studies is available at http://www.uma.es/doctorado/cms/menu/normativa/?set_language=en
There are four documents under this framework which require the knowledge and compliance of tutors, supervisors, and PhD candidates at the University of Málaga.
- Firstly, the PhD Regulations of the University of Málaga sets the norms regulating all procedures related to PhD Studies, including admissions, public defence, etc.
- The Guide to Good Practice under UMA's PhD Programmes offers a series of basic recommendations on the supervision and monitoring of training activities and thesis development. This document serves as a common benchmark for all PhD Programmes.
- The rights and duties of tutors, supervisors, and PhD candidates, as well as the norms regulating such relations established by a Supervisory Agreement signed by the concerned parties at the beginning of the supervision process.
- Lastly, the Quality Assurance System for UMA's PhD Programmes comprises the mechanisms, procedures and quality assurance tools shared by all programmes.
- Specific mentoring
There are two different functions defined in the new PhD system. PhD Tutor is the person responsible for the orientation and monitoring of the academic formation of the student. PhD supervisor is the person responsible for the research activity of the student. Tutor and supervisor functions can be performed by the same person, but the tutor must always belong to the PhD program. Thus, the supervisor function will be separated from the tutorial monitoring when the supervisor is external to the PhD program. This system warrants that a person belonging to the PhD program is always responsible for the academic progress of the PhD student. As an additional guarantee of quality in the monitoring, the tutor and supervisor functions can only be performed by researchers who fulfill a number of requirements, demonstrating a minimum level of scientific productivity and experience. All the tutors and supervisors need to be authorized by the Posgraduate Committee of the University of Málaga, after an assessment of the achievements of the candidate.
A Supervisory Agreement should be signed by the doctorate, the supervisor and tutor. This document sets out the rights and duties of all the parties concerned with the thesis.
- Evaluation follow-up of the PhD program
All the PhD students are evaluated every year by a Committee designed by the program. This Committee assesses two documents prepared by the PhD student, the Research Plan (describing the progress of the research) and the Activity Report (describing the training activities performed), together with the yearly reports from the tutor and supervisor. Additionally, the Committee can require the student attend a personal interview. The result of this evaluation can be positive, positive with recommendations or negative. In the case of a negative evaluation, the student will have a second chance after six months to get a positive evaluation. If the evaluation is again negative, the student will be excluded from the PhD program. All this process is performed through an on-line system where the students maintain a register of their activities. The evaluation criteria used will be public and will be published on the website of the program.