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Programme description for the PhD programme in Social Sciences at the University of Oslo

The programme description regulates and describes the PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The PhD programme at the Faculty of Social Sciences is laid down pursuant to the Regulations for the PhD degree at the University of Oslo. The programme description was updated most recently on 10 May 2019.

Please note that the English translations are for information purposes only. For all legal purposes, the original documents in Norwegian are the authoritative versions.

1. PhD programme name, scope, goals and qualification

Name: Programme for the degree of PhD in Social Sciences at the University of Oslo

The PhD programme has a stipulated length of three years of full-time study. Completion of the PhD programme culminates in the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD).

The PhD programme shall educate independent researchers of high international standard in Social Sciences, in accordance with recognized scientific and ethical principles. The education shall qualify candidates for research and other work requiring high levels of scientific insight and analytical thinking.

The PhD degree is awarded on the basis of:

  • completion of the educational component
  • scientific thesis
  • doctoral examination consisting of a trial lecture and a disputation (public defence of the thesis)

Those who have achieved the PhD degree in Social Sciences at the Faculty have the following qualifications, in accordance with the National Qualification Framework for Lifelong Learning (NQF):

KNOWLEDGE – The candidate…

  • is in the forefront of knowledge within his/her academic field and masters the field´s philosophy of science and/or methods.
  • can evaluate the expediency and application of different methods and processes in research and scholarly projects.
  • can contribute to the development of new knowledge, new theories, methods, interpretations and forms of documentation in the field.
  • can position own research within a larger academic and scientific context.

SKILLS – The candidate…

  • can formulate problems, plan and carry out research and scholarly development work.
  • can carry out research and scholarly research work of a high international standard.
  • can handle complex academic issues and challenge established knowledge and practice in the field.
  • can provide qualified feedback on others' contributions within his/her own academic field.


  • can identify new relevant ethical issues in his/her research and the research of others and carry out his/her research with scholarly integrity
  • can manage complex interdisciplinary assignments and projects.
  • can communicate research and development work through recognized Norwegian and international channels and participate in debates in the field in international forums
  • can make well-founded scientific contributions to the Norwegian social debate.
  • can assess the need for, initiate and practice innovation.

2. Admission to the programme

2.1. Admission requirements

Scope of the prior education

The prior education must correspond to 5 years of education at the university level in Norway in a relevant field, With two years (120 credits) at the master's level.

If the scope of the applicant’s education at the master's level is less than two years, the Faculty may make an individual assessment.

Prior education quality requirements

When assessing the quality of the prior education, particular emphasis will be placed on the grades at the master's level.

Applicants with a grade of A or B according to the ECTS scale will be qualified for admission to the PhD programme. Applicants with a grade of C may be assessed individually in relation to the other criteria. Applicants with a D or poorer according to the ECTS scale will not be qualified for admission to the PhD programme.

The master's degree is therefore expected to have an ordinary theoretical focus, and not be a practically-focused master's degree (“experience-based”), which does not offer the level of research preparation required for admission. The education must include relevant education in research methods.

Other required prerequisite knowledge

Good English skills are required for all participants in a doctoral programme. Applicants must document this, based on the following tests with the following results or better:

  • TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language, with a minimum result of 550 on the Paper-based Test (PBT), or 80 on the Internet-Based Test (iBT).
  • IELTS – International English Language Testing Service, with the result 6.0.

The following applicants are exempted from the above requirements:

  • Applicants from member countries of the EU/EEA and/or the European Council / UNESCO-Cepes, and whose first foreign language is English, taken over a period of at minimum 7 years in primary and secondary school. The applicant must provide documentation of this.
  • Applicants who have completed a Bachelors' degree and/or Master's degree in which English was the language of instruction.
  • Applicants with an A-level examination in English.

For applicants from certain African countries, see NOKUT's Web page for details.

For applicants to the programme option in Economics, the GRE General Test is required for applicants with an education from institutions outside of the EEA/EU or Switzerland. Read more about prerequisite knowledge for the programme option in Economics.

The programme options may require that courses have been taken prior to admission or are taken during the admission period (contingent admission). Such requirements must be adopted by the Faculty. If the course requirements are of a general nature, they must be listed or be referred to in the programme description for the programme option in question.

Feasibility and funding requirements.

The funding plan in the application and project proposal must show how the project can be completed during the admission period. Agreement to provide / documentation of the funding must accompany the application. The funding must cover subsistence in Norway and project activities..

Private funding will not be approved as adequate funding for admission to the Faculty's organized research education..

When assessing the project's practical feasibility, other issues may play a part, such as whether the necessary data/laboratories are available, whether there is room in the budget for necessary travel and accommodation expenses (including stays abroad, field work), whether the linguistic prerequisites are present. etc.

The candidate must document adequate contact with the relevant academic environment at the Faculty during the admission period. This includes participation in PhD courses, supervision, seminars, etc.

Academic environment requirements

Documentation of affiliation with the relevant academic environment throughout the admission period shall be enclosed with the application.

Applicants are under an obligation to establish contact with possible/relevant supervisors when applying for admission, and to state the outcome of such contact in the application.

Possible residential requirement

PhD candidates may be required to spend time at the University of Oslo. The scope and details of the requirement shall be stated in the admission contract.

2.2 Application for admission

The application for admission shall include:

  • documentation of prior education
  • a project proposal of normally 5–10 pages
  • documentation of (or granting of) funding of the education
  • a progress plan for completion of the PhD project
  • specification of the necessary infrastructure (resources)
  • proposed academic supervisor(s)
  • documentation of proficiency in English or documentation that one qualifies for exemption from the English proficiency requirement
  • documentation of an academically relevant working environment throughout the entire period

The general rule is that the admission of candidates to the PhD programme in Social Sciences takes place on a rolling basis. The programme options may stipulate their own deadlines.

2.3 Admission decision

Research fellow at the Faculty of Social Sciences

Applicants who are appointed as a research fellow at the Faculty will be automatically admitted if the application satisfies the programme’s ordinary admission requirements and has an approved, individual project proposal.

The admission will be formalized through a supplementary agreement to the PhD candidate's employment contract.

In exceptional cases, a candidate may be admitted to the Faculty's programme plan in general, with an individual curriculum. It is nonetheless a requirement that the candidate submits an application and can be linked to a scientific research environment at the Faculty, regardless of the programme option or whether the candidate has employment outside of the Faculty.

Admission to the PhD programme with external funding

Applicants with external funding must apply for ordinary admission. Application for admission is decided on by the Faculty itself, upon a recommendation by the programme option in question.

Applications may be rejected without an academic assessment if:

  • There is no documentation of the prior education that provides the foundation for the admission, or the prior education obviously does not meet the scope specified in section 2.1.
  • The application lacks an individual project proposal.
  • No information is provided regarding the planned funding for the research education or the funding plan is clearly inadequate (see section 5.1).
  • No supervisor(s) are proposed or the focus of the project is peripheral to or outside the competence of the academic environments at the Faculty, so that the Faculty does not have a relevant, active research environment to offer.

A formal agreement is entered into with the supervisor(s) upon admission.

Admission period

Admission to the PhD programme in Social Sciences corresponds to three full years of study. If compulsory work is involved, the admission may be extended to four years. Candidates with an external employer are under an obligation to ensure that the Faculty is notified of any leaves of absence.

3. Structure and content of the PhD programme

UiO’s rules for the structure and content of the PhD programme are laid down in the Regulations for the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Oslo. The Faculty of Social Sciences has the following programme description:

3.1 Content of the PhD programme

The PhD programme in Social Sciences at the University of Oslo has its own programme descriptions for PhD education in seven programme options (main disciplines at the Faculty).  These programme descriptions have been approved by the Faculty and are available on the Faculty's website.

3.2 Content requirements for the educational component

The educational component corresponds to 30 credits for every programme option, except for Economics. Here the educational component corresponds to 45 credits. The educational component must contain these components:

  • scientific theory
  • training in methods
  • scientific theory specific to the relevant field of study
  • academic dissemination

Each candidate's course plan will be drawn up together with the supervisor from the department. It is the department that approves the study programme for the individual candidate based on the framework that has been set out. The guidelines for the approval of courses that are to be part of the individual candidate's educational plan, including the determination of credit and documentation requirements are described in the Guidelines for approval of doctoral degree courses on the Faculty’s website.

3.3 Progress reporting

All the candidates and supervisors in the PhD programme must submit an annual progress report that accounts for the status and progression of the PhD project. The annual deadline for submission of a progress report is 1 October.

3.4 Half-way evaluation

All the candidates in the PhD programme must complete a half-way evaluation half-way through the PhD programme. The Guidelines for half-way evaluations at the Faculty of Social Sciences and the specific programme options are available on the Faculty’s website.

3.5 Supervision requirements

The norm for doctoral supervision at the Faculty is 180 working hours per candidate. The number of hours applies to the entire admission period, and includes preparation and follow-up work by the supervisors.
The rights and obligations of candidates in connection with research education are described on the Faculty’s website.

4. Thesis

4.1 Structure and content of the thesis

The required level of quality of a thesis remains the same, whether it is a monograph or consists of several lesser works (articles). The thesis must be an independent, scientific work that meets international standards in terms of academic level, method and ethical requirements. The thesis shall account for the research ethical and scientific theoretical issues related to the work. It must contribute to the development of new knowledge in the chosen field and must be of such quality as to qualify for publication as a part of the scientific literature in the field, pursuant to section 12 of the Regulations. The articles shall be of such quality as to qualify for publication in recognized scientific publications with peer review.

The supervisor must recommend whether the thesis has the qualities required for submission. The candidate is ultimately responsible for the content, and seeing to it that it is submitted, when applicable.

The Faculty has its own guidelines for article-based theses and the declaration of co-authorship. Bear in mind that certain programme options have additional special recommendations and rules for article-based theses.

4.2 Thesis language

The thesis must be written in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. If the candidate wants to use another language, he/she must apply for this in connection with admission.

5. Adjudication

5.1 Adjudication Committee

The application for adjudication of the thesis, pursuant to section 12 of the Regulations, must be submitted to the Faculty. A qualified adjudication committee will be appointed to assess the thesis and the PhD examination, pursuant to section 13 of the Regulations.

The adjudication committee shall normally be composed so that:

Both genders are represented
At least one of the members has no affiliation with Norwegian institutions
At least one of the other members has no affiliation with the University of Oslo
All the members have a doctorate or equivalent academic qualifications

If there is any deviation from these criteria, the grounds for such must be stated.

5.2. Recommendation of the adjudication committee

The adjudication committee normally has a deadline of three months to deliver its recommendation as to whether the work is worthy of being defended for the doctoral degree. Grounds shall be given for the conclusions in the report and any dissent.

If the adjudication committee finds that the thesis may be defended, the doctoral candidate must receive written notification at least one month prior to the public defence

If the assessment committee finds that the thesis in its present form cannot be approved for public defence, the committee shall recommend how it should be revised.

The committee's recommendation must be specified. If the faculty approves the recommendation, the doctoral candidate will be given a deadline for incorporation of these revisions in the final thesis. This deadline must not exceed six months. The committee will then deliver its final recommendation as to whether the revised thesis is worthy of defence for the PhD degree.

If the adjudication committee finds that the thesis has grave deficiencies and/ or extensive flaws that cannot be corrected in the course of six months' work, it must be rejected.

See also section 14.2 of the Regulations.

6. Doctoral examination

If the thesis is found worthy of public defence for the PhD degree, the education will be completed with a trial lecture on an assigned subject, and a disputation.

6.1 Trial lecture

The trial lecture must show the candidate’s ability to acquire knowledge of matters beyond the topic of the thesis and present this knowledge in the setting of a lecture. The title of the trial lecture will be decided by the adjudication committee, pursuant to section 18.1 of the Regulations.

6.2 Disputation

The disputation (public defence of the thesis) is public, and must take place at the University of Oslo, cf. section 18.2 of the Regulations.

7. Diploma supplement

The diploma supplement is issued by the Faculty, cf. section 20 of the Regulations, and must state:

  • content of the educational component
  • date and title of the trial lecture
  • date of the public defence
  • the title of the thesis
  • any cooperation with other institutions

The diploma supplement must contain information regarding the programme option/unit the doctoral candidate was affiliated with upon admission, and any affiliation with research schools.

8. Quality assurance

8.1 Evaluation scheme associated with the PhD programme

The University of Oslo has developed a quality assurance system to contribute to the completion of theses of high academic quality by doctoral candidates, and to the completion of their education with as little extension beyond the nominal time as possible. The system will also contribute to doctoral theses from the University of Oslo following good research practice and current rules.

This system is continued in the Faculty's quality assurance programme  with specification of areas of responsibility and rolling reporting and follow-up procedures in order to improve the organized research education. This programme includes feedback through the annual progress reports (see section 3.3.2) and meetings with candidates and those responsible for the education in each programme option, and is summarized in the faculty's annual reports and followed up as measures in the Faculty's annual plans


Published July 3, 2017 2:43 PM - Last modified May 10, 2019 2:23 PM