Doctoral Programme in Resource-Efficient Built Environments

Information and guidance for doctoral students and supervisors

This doctoral programme focuses on energy systems with primary application in the built environment. Students will work to find technical energy solutions at different system levels where energy use in buildings has a central role in system design.  

The Doctoral (Third Cycle) Subject Energy Systems in the Built Environment

This programme leads to a Degree of Licentiate or a Degree of Doctor in Energy Systems in the Built Environment. In addition to energy technology solutions, the concept of energy includes efficient energy use from a resource perspective on raw material use (primary energy) and environmental impact (for example, local and global emissions). Energy as a resource in buildings is seen from a life-cycle perspective in the design of energy system solutions that are sustainable in the long term. The impact of energy systems on the indoor climate in a building can be an important study component. In the subject, emphasis is on energy technology installations located in the built environment, which includes solar energy installations, installations for heating/cooling and electricity, and energy transfer in local distribution networks. The subject has a special profile in solar energy technology solutions integrated into the energy systems of buildings.

The built environment refers to construction in the form of residential buildings and premises and can in certain special applications refer to industry and energy facilities where the subject profile and knowledge within the research area can be applied. This may apply to, for example, energy solutions for process heating/cooling.

Research Area - Resource Efficient Built Environment

In addition to energy, the research area Resource Efficient Built Environment includes research on resources, materials and the environment in the built environment: resource-efficient use of materials in construction, operation and demolition, healthy indoor climates, and low environmental impact from a life-cycle perspective on construction.

As well as buildings, central to the concept of a built environment are spatial structures with infrastructure and functions for people’s lives and activities in an area, with a basis in research on spatial planning. The research area as a whole aims to build knowledge so as to develop sustainable civil planning and construction. It therefore has an interdisciplinary character where doctoral studies can include elements of a sociotechnical or techno-economic nature in projects in collaboration with social planners, social scientists and economists.

Learning Outcomes

The aim of this doctoral programme is to educate researchers who can develop knowledge about energy systems in the built environment and their role in society and who can also continue working within academia or heading development within companies.


Positions are advertised. The University may also admit an applicant funded by another employer if the University deems that the funding can be secured throughout the duration of the programme and that the applicant can devote enough time to the programme that will allow them to complete it within four years in the case of a Degree of Licentiate or eight years in the case of a Degree of Doctor.


There is a clear time frame for how long a doctoral student can hold their post. A doctoral post is fixed-term and is regulated by the Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 5. The period of employment is four years full-time for studies leading to a Degree of Doctor and two years full-time for a Degree of Licentiate. Doctoral students employed by the University will normally spend 80 percent of their time on their studies and 20 percent on departmental duties.

Here are some practical tips for doctoral students at Dalarna University:

Anställning som doktorand (Swedish webpage)

General Syllabus and Individual Study Plan (ISP)

Programme requirements, structure and examination are governed by the General Syllabus. In addition, each doctoral student has their own ISP. This is approved by the Head of School no later than three months after the start date of the programme. The ISP includes a research plan for the thesis work, a description of how supervision will be organised for the upcoming year, a plan showing which doctoral courses are to be included, and the planned degree of activity for the entire programme.

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Compulsory and Elective Courses

The courses and thesis work should be carried out in parallel. The compulsory courses are mainly campus-based and are taught in English.

The Degree of Doctor has a course component comprising 45 credits. The compulsory course component of 20 credits for a Degree of Doctor according to the General Syllabus 2022-06-23 is made up of the following courses:

  • General Principles of Scientific Work: Introductory Course, 7.5 credits
  • Science Communication, 4.5 credits
  • Energy and Resource Use in the Built Environment Part 1, 5 credits

Applications can be made to the compulsory courses when they open for application. An application form is sent to all doctoral students when it is time to apply.

In addition to compulsory courses, elective courses of 25 credits for a Degree of Doctor or 5 credits for a Degree of Licentiate are required. The aim of the elective courses is for doctoral students to deepen their knowledge and abilities in central parts of the thesis in terms of content, theory and/or methodology. The doctoral student selects their courses in consultation with the supervisor. Credit transfer can be sought for courses taken at another higher education institution.

Form: Application for Credit Transfer for Courses at Doctoral Level (pdf)

Mid-Way Review/Seminar

A mid-way review/seminar will be held after the doctoral student has reached about half their study time in the programme. The purpose is to review the work to date and the plan for continuation until the time of the defence. At the seminar, an external reviewer discusses the completed thesis work and the plan for continued studies with the doctoral student. The licentiate seminar is instead of a mid-way review in cases where the Degree of Licentiate is part of the education towards a Degree of Doctor.

Licentiate Seminar and Public Defence

The doctoral thesis should consist of at least four scientific articles with a short summarising text that also serves as an introduction to the subject of the thesis; note, it is the academic quality and the independent contributions of the doctoral student to the development of knowledge that are assessed, not just the number of articles in the thesis. The doctoral student should be the first author of at least three articles. At least three should have been either published or accepted for publication in an international scholarly journal with a peer review procedure.

The design of the licentiate thesis is such that it has two academic articles with a short summarising text that also serves as an introduction to the subject of the thesis. The doctoral student should be the first author of at least one article. At least one should have been accepted for publication or have been published in an international scholarly journal with a peer review procedure. In some cases, the licentiate thesis can be designed as a monograph.

A selection of the academic articles in a compilation thesis and the summarising text should have been discussed at seminars on a continuous basis during the doctoral programme within the framework for the Doctoral Seminar course. Articles consisting of conference papers should have been presented at a conference by the doctoral student.

Normally, the doctoral student writes their doctoral thesis/licentiate thesis in English. 

Form: Application and Decision Regarding Public Defence of a Doctoral Thesis

Form: Application and Decision Regarding Licentiate Seminar

Support and Assistance for Doctoral Students

The doctoral programme involves four years of full-time study for a Degree of Doctor and two years of full-time study for a Degree of Licentiate. During that time, students will be busy working on projects and working with others as they pursue their studies. To support doctoral students and supervisors in their work, a pamphlet with guidance (Samarbetsverktygsee below) has been developed for their use. The principal supervisor and the co-supervisor may change over the course of the programme. Doctoral students can also make use of research support services at the University.

Samarbetsverktyg doktorand och handledare.pdf (in Swedish)

Last reviewed:
Xingxing Zhang
Professor Energy Engineering
Director of studies for the doctoral program
Doctoral Programmes Coordinator
Last reviewed: