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Guide to internal doctoral studies at the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology

This document summarises the nature of PhD study in the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology and is an essential practical guide to all important aspects of being a PhD student in the Department. It should involve the answers to the most common questions asked by PhD students. It does not replace official documents such as the requirements of the Study board, the Individual Study Plan, etc. It should be stressed that in terms of the content of PhD studies, the main document is the individual study plan, which every PhD student should follow. PhD students are members of the department and have an important position in the scientific activities of the department, they are also involved in teaching activities.


1) Where should PhD studies be oriented?

The main task of a PhD student is to substantially contribute to scientific knowledge in the field at an international level. This is what is ultimately evaluated by the committee when defending the PhD thesis. The knowledge gained should also be properly published.

2) Study obligations during the PhD studies

The study obligations are defined in the study plan. Typically, these include passing 2-3 study courses, completing the Geographical Colloquium, the General and regional physical geography sub-examination, the State Final Exam (Physical Geography and Geoecology exam) and the PhD thesis defence. A precise specification of the duties required by the Study board is provided in this document.

3) Major milestones during the PhD studies








1st year, winter semester (November)

Presentation of the objectives and methodology of the doctoral thesis at the departmental seminar

Presentation at the seminar presenting the aims, hypotheses, research gaps that the thesis will fill, and the methodological approach of the PhD thesis (ca. 10 min) + discussion (in English)

1st year (June)

Presentation of the progress on the PhD thesis

Seminar presentation (approx. 15-20 min) + discussion (in English)

1st-2nd year

Completing the course General physical geography (seminar paper)

A written paper explaining the setting of the topic of the PhD thesis in the discipline of physical geography - see here for the exact specification.

2nd year (or start of 3rd year)

The State doctoral exam consisting of: general questions within the field of physical geography, questions within the specialisation area and a presentation of the PhD thesis proposal

The PhD thesis proposal shows how the methodology of the dissertation is linked to the aims and hypotheses. The student must defend that the process followed so far leads to the fulfilment of the aims - the exact specification is here.

2nd-3rd year

Publication of the first paper


3rd year

Presentation at a departmental seminar with selected major results of the dissertation

Keynote speech at the departmental seminar (approx. 20-25 min) + discussion (in English)

3rd-4th year

Publication of the 2nd paper


4th-5th year

Submission of the 3rd and 4th paper related to the dissertation


4th-5th year

Dissertation defence

Presentation and discussion before a usually international committee (usually in English)


4) Publication strategy

The achieved knowledge needs to be published to bring your results to the scientific community. Not published results do not exist. Good research should preferentially be placed in the most widely read and cited journals to maximize its impact. The supervisor will help with the choice of journal, a rough measure may be e.g., impact factor (IF) or the relative ranking of the journal among other journals in the field. In any discipline, it is known which journals are the most prestigious and which are less read in the community. We try to aim to publish our results mainly in those prestigious (read, cited) journals. It is important to remember that publication record is what graduates will eventually be judged on when applying for jobs in academic, scientific settings after their PhD. In addition to the publication of major findings in international journals, publications in Czech (typically review articles) and especially popularization articles are also important for the development of the field. However, these types of publications do not replace the required publications for the dissertation.

Publication activity is reflected in the funding of the Department and, consequently, of the doctoral studies. To this end, publication activity must be recorded, which is what the OBD database is used for. All publications must be entered in it.

5) What should a doctoral thesis look like?

The doctoral thesis is the main output of the doctoral studies. The preferred form is a set of articles with a linking introduction and conclusion. The articles should represent the different parts of the dissertation, cover the topic of the doctoral thesis, and the doctoral student must have substantial authorship in them. They should be in prestigious journals, two articles must be accepted, two can only be in peer review. At least two of the articles must be first-authored, at least one of them in an international IF journal. It is recommended that at least one article (but more likely) be in journals with an IF above the median of the field (this is roughly in the range of 2.2-2.6 for physical geography). The dissertation may also be submitted as a monograph. The exact wording of the dissertation requirements is published under the Requirements of the discipline board here. Officially, the student follows the requirements of the discipline council when entering the PhD program. These requirements have changed over time, so students who are now in Year 7 have had different guidelines than currently entering students. However, in principle, as long as the PhD student meets the current (current) requirements when submitting the thesis, it is fine with the discipline board (e.g. in the past there were stricter requirements in terms of number of articles). If there is any ambiguity, consult with the supervisor or the chair of the departmental board.

6) Doctoral student funding

Internal PhD students receive a study grant.The Student Research Project (SRP) provides students with operating funds for research (fieldwork, laboratory analysis, small materials, publication fees ...). From the SVV, scholarships are also increased for internal students in 1st and 2nd year and for internal students in 3rd and 4th year working towards the defence of a thesis in 4th year (see conditions below). At the same time, students are rewarded for publication output at the end of the year; these performance awards are a major part of the SVV scholarships. The distribution of performance awards is based on journal metrics, author share and affiliations.

Another important source of funding for student research is the internal grant agency (GA UK). If the PhD thesis is not fully covered by grant funding, the student is expected to submit a project proposal to the UK GA in the first year.

Supervisors' grant funds are essential to both draw down operational funds and increase the stipend. In other words, it is advisable to be part of the research project of the supervisor or group where the PhD student is working.


Rules for permanent SVV fellowships:

- A small part of the SVV scholarship is used to increase (1500 CZK per month) the basic scholarships of internal students in the 1st year (if recommended by the supervisor), internal students in the 2nd year (all those with an "A" grade and the scholarship recommended by the supervisor), and so on:

- students in their 3rd year who: have an A grade, have been recommended by the supervisor and the departmental board, have been awarded GAUK, have at least 1 dissertation publication (even co-authored, where they are not ranked 1st) in a journal with an IF at least at the median level of the field

- students in the 4th year who: have an A grade, have been recommended by the supervisor and the departmental board, have obtained GAUK in their study history, have at least 1 first-authored dissertation publication in a journal with an IF of at least ca. the median level of the field, in addition to the 3rd year publication.

If a student does not meet the requirements and this changes during the year, he/she will be included among the "fellows". Conversely, especially for first and second year students, the increase in the stipend may be withdrawn if serious deficiencies in the preparation of the doctoral thesis are found. Presentations in seminars, thesis defense, and the written text for the General Physical Geography examination are used to check the progress of the doctoral thesis preparation. The permanent increase of the SVV scholarship does not apply to students who are already funded by other joint sources of the Faculty of Science (STARS, UNCE).


7) Involvement in teaching

The involvement of students in teaching, especially in tutorials, field exercises and excursions, is most welcome from the Department. It is a good practice for the Ph.D. student to capitalize on in his/her future career. Participation in teaching develops the PhD student professionally. Doctoral students, in cooperation with course supervisors and supervisees, will be approached to actively participate in teaching activities. The Department seeks to financially reward student teaching activities each year. In addition, doctoral students may oppose or supervise undergraduate theses.

8) Help with popularization

Doctoral students participate in popularization events within the faculty (Open Days, Geography Days, contributions to Přírodovědci.cz, participation in Spaniel rides, contributions to the popularization section of the faculty website). Popularization articles or contributions to the departmental Facebook are very welcome. We also support independent student activity aimed at popularizing the field and strengthening the field community (field seminars, clubs ...).

9) Background

The department offers each internal PhD student a place to sit in two large offices in the Legerova building. The presence of PhD students here helps to create a student community, to discuss problems and find solutions. The offices are equipped with solid computers, office equipment.

10) Departmental Seminar

Seminar is an important platform for scholarly communication within the department. Attendance is compulsory for all PhD students, active participation in the discussion is desirable. Do not be afraid to ask questions! During the seminar, PhD students give several presentations on different stages of their work, the aim of these presentations is to get feedback, to get new impulses for the PhD work.

11) Geographical Colloquium

The Geographical Colloquium is a compulsory course that students enroll in the 1st year. The prerequisites for it are as follows: (a) attendance at the departmental seminar, (b) presentation of the PhD thesis, (c) presentation of the progress of the PhD thesis at the end of the first year.

12) Internships abroad

An internship at a quality foreign institution will broaden the student's horizons, provide contacts, and expose the student to different working styles and methods of scientific work. The minimum duration of the internship is 1 month. The internship is compulsory within the curriculum, however, in justified cases (health reasons, family reasons, epidemic situation) it can be waived by the departmental board. There are a number of possible sources of funding for internships, such as the 4EU project of the Department (Heidelberg University, Milan University), the UK Mobility Fund, Erasmus Plus, CEEPUS, Fulbright scholarship and others. It is also possible to have a double supervision of a doctoral thesis, i.e. to have a supervisor from the Department and a supervisor from a partner foreign university.

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