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Programme Structure


The SUSFOR doctoral programme is organized within the European Bologna system (3rd cycle degree) and is accredited by the Portuguese Accreditation Agency (A3ES) as a doctoral degree. It is a research-centered formation that requires:

  • An original research work presented in the form of a dissertation (Ph.D. thesis);
  • A complementary curricular advanced training with mandatory total 30 credits (ECTS).

The programme has the underlying concept of being oriented towards the doctoral student, helping him/her to gather skills and competencies that will build up a successful researcher or professional career. The background framework is characterized by: a) flexibility and diversity; b) tailored to the specific doctoral student background and objectives; c) fostering multidisciplinarity and contact with multiple scientific areas; d) combining personal development in various domains.

Of the total 30 credits of the curricular part, 15 credits are mandatory (as below), while the other 15 credits are optional to be selected by the doctoral student. The selection may be made within the doctoral advanced courses offered by the programme (to be publicized each year, examples are given below), as well as from other courses offered in ISA or in other faculties. The doctoral student may attend additional advanced courses over the mandatory 30 credits.

The mandatory curricular courses include:

  • Scientific Motivation Seminar (6 credits)
  • Research Project Presentation week (6 credits)
  • Advanced course on Statistical and mathematical tools for ecological data analysis (6 credits)

Examples of some of the optional advanced courses to be offered along the SUSFOR programme:

  • Scientific methods for ecological research
  • Landscape ecology and dynamics
  • Vegetation management and disturbances
  • Biodiversity and wild life management
  • Arboriculture and urban forestry
  • Land use and water management
  • Modelling forest dynamics; from empirical models to process based models
  • Multiple criteria decision methods for forest management and land use planning
  • Biomimicry: Design systems emulating nature
  • Non wood forest products: a global perspective
  • Forest-based biorefineries for chemicals, products and energy
  • The creative and effective researcher: developing personal skills

The student's research work i.e. PhD thesis, is supervised by a scientific supervisor but joint or co-supervision are encouraged. SUSFOR has requirements for supervision: the supervisor must have experience in advanced training, including at doctoral level, and in research, including a record of scientific outputs at international level.

The duration of the PhD program is 4 years.


Mobility of doctoral students between partnership institutions will be a key feature of the the doctoral programs. The SUSFOR doctoral students will have a mandatory 6-month work experience at external cooperating institutions. Depending on the specific case this mobility may take place at various points along the doctoral chronogram.
International students are encouraged to link to their national universities and laboratories, and to pursue research topics that are of relevance to them.

The doctoral students will also be encouraged to disseminate their results in workshops and conferences, as a training tool for their development. A minimum of three participations in external scientific events are expected for each doctoral student.

The students’ travelling and maintenance abroad will be supported by the FCT grants.


The official language of the SUSFOR programme is English.