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Upon agreement

What do you learn?


The candidate: 

  • is at the forefront of knowledge within his/her field, and thus has a high level of knowledge regarding the field’s philosophy of science, artistic issues and methods.
  • can assess the usefulness and application of different methods and processes in research, and academic and artistic development projects.
  • can contribute to the development of new context-oriented and inter-aesthetic knowledge, theories, methods, interpretations and documentation forms in the arts subjects and in the dynamic field which exists between the arts subjects and other areas relevant to society.
  • can master and discuss context-oriented practice-based/creative issues, those related to the theory of science, and methodological issues within the arts subjects.


The candidate:

  • can formulate thesis statements for, plan and implement research and artistic development work in such a way as to stimulate international interest within his/her own field and across the arts and other disciplines.
  • can manage complex, academic questions and challenge established knowledge and practice in the field.
  • can analyse and critically assess existing theories, methods and interpretations within the field and work independently with context-oriented practical and theoretical development and problem-solving.
  • can supplement existing knowledge and contribute actively to developing and delimiting the interdisciplinary and inter-aesthetic field of study, Art in Context, in Norwegian and international settings.

General competence

The candidate:

  • has the ability to survey, analyse and synthesise arts practice and theory in relation to different contexts.
  • can identify, reflect over, and handle relevant research and professional ethics issues, and practise his or her research with professional integrity.
  • can communicate research and development work through recognised national and international channels with genre awareness and language adapted both to academia and to other kinds of target group.
  • can apply his/her knowledge and skills in the field to plan and implement advanced work assignments and projects, as well as contribute to innovative thought and innovation in general.

Composition of the specialisation

The PhD specialisation Art in Context is thesis-oriented and amounts to 180 study points, shared between the following components:
independent work with the thesis, equivalent to 2½ years or 150 study points
training component equivalent to ½ year or 30 study points

Training component

The training component must include academic and methodological schooling at a high scientific level in order to qualify the candidate for work with the thesis and ensure that the candidate’s academic competence has sufficient breadth and depth. This will contribute to helping the candidate to further develop an independent and reflective relationship to his/her own research and that of others, as well as to the role of researcher in a wider context. It is recommended that the training component be completed early in the PhD study process. The training component is 30 study points, and is comprised of four academic courses:

  1. Theory of Science and Method, 10 study points
  2. Art in Context: Methods, Theory, Aesthetics, 10 study points
  3. Specific academic course (Music in Context / Theatre in Context / Visual Subjects in Context), 5 study points
  4. Elective course, 5 study points

Candidates can, upon application, apply to have other alternative, relevant courses approved from research schools and other doctoral education programmes. The training component for each individual candidate should normally comprise of at least 15 study points from UIA’s own doctoral programme, in order to ensure continuity and integration. Exceptions can be made in the case of extensive periods of time abroad or if other pressing reasons are apparent. For specific stipulations in this regard, see the Detailed Rules for PhD Programmes at the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Thesis component

Work with the thesis shall provide the candidate with theoretical and methodological depth through an independent research project which can also include an artistic, creative/performance-based part. The thesis will take as its starting point the project description which the candidate has delivered in connection with his/her application for admission to take the PhD specialisation. A more comprehensive project description will be prepared after successful admission in consultation with the supervisor, and shall normally be approved by this supervisor within a year of admission.

In his/her work with the thesis, the candidate will receive support 1) through individual supervision, 2) through participation in special thesis seminars and workshops, 3) through becoming a part of the faculty’s arts and research environment, 4) through participating in other relevant national and/or international arts and research environments, as well as 5) through forms academic communication in other contexts.

The thesis can be submitted as:

  1. A combined artistic-academic thesis which comprises of both a written and a practice-based/creative part.
  2. An academic thesis in the form of a monograph or a combination of several smaller pieces of work (“article-based”).

For both of the thesis variants, the following applies: As regards the use of publish works, these cannot be approved as part of the thesis if they are, at the time of admission, more than five (5) years old. The faculty can offer dispensations from this requirement if extraordinary circumstances render this necessary.

Residency abroad

If the supervisor and candidate are in agreement, there is a possibility for residency abroad, as long as this is approved by the PhD committee. The faculty will ensure that the PhD candidate can undertake such a period of foreign residency during the grant period.

Admissions requirements

A relevant master’s degree, thesis at second degree level, or equivalent higher education degree in the field of music, theatre of visual subjects or inter-aesthetic studies, or alternatively prior learning which the faculty considers to be of equal calibre. The relevance of the master’s degree (or equivalent) will be considered by the faculty in relation to the applicant’s concrete PhD project.

For other details, see the Detailed Rules for PhD Programmes at the Faculty of Fine Arts:

together with Part II of the Regulations for the Degree of Doctor Philosophiae (PhD) at the University of Agder:

About the study

Art in Context (KIK) is an interdisciplinary and inter-aesthetic PhD specialisation. It is anchored academically in the three arts subjects: music, theatre and the visual arts. The term signalises the specialisation’s particular defining characteristic: contextual thinking. The aim is to train researchers who are able to design and implement fine arts projects in which the subjects are practiced, understood and analysed in relation to complex artistic, social and practice-related/creative contexts. The collective focus for the specialisation is on research questions directed at the contexts of which art forms a part and works in connection with. These contexts are diverse, and this specialisation therefore operates with an open and dynamic context definition. In order to outline the breadth inherent in the context approach, it is necessary to separate between different types of context which, in practice, will often overlap:

  • Arts subject context, for example the relationship between the different branches of art, between work and audience, arts didactic theory and practice both inside and outside the educational institutions, as well as artistic practice and art theory.
  • Social contexts, for example art and social intervention, art and health, art and democratic freedom of information, art and new audiences, artistic practice and the arts institutions.
  • Performing/creative contexts, for example the production and performance of one’s own work and that of others, the relationship between artists and their audiences, collaboration across different art media, collective working methods, and artistic practices from a historical perspective.

The candidate can choose between two different thesis formats: a combined artistic-academic thesis which comprises both a written part and a performance-based/creative one, or alternatively an academic thesis alone. This last variant can also be a monograph or a combination of several smaller pieces of work (an “article-based variant”).


The KIK specialisation’s aims can be summarised in this way:

  • To train context-conscious and inter-aesthetic-oriented researchers within music, theatre and the visual arts, who can navigate the present time’s complex artistic and social realities.
  • To contribute to the development of context-oriented methods for both research and performance-based/creative research within the arts subjects, music, theatre and the visual arts.
  • To contribute to the development and dissemination of research-based knowledge with a connection to vocational experience within the arts subjects, music, theatre and the visual arts, and the combination of these arts subjects and other fields of study.
  • To contribute to increasing recruitment to academic positions in higher education with a particular focus on the arts subjects, music, theatre and the visual arts.


The specialisation’s content will be focused upon three main components: the candidate’s independent work with his/her own PhD project, the individual supervision of candidates, and a joint thesis seminar for all KIK candidates. Hitherto, participation in the different courses has been connected to the training part, together with the development of academic networks through participation in conferences and so on, as well as potential residence at another institution in Norway or abroad.

The aim is that the candidate should work inter-aesthetically and with an awareness of context in the sense that, throughout the whole period of study, they are presented with different ways of gaining access to, and perspectives on, their projects. Furthermore, they should achieve this through cooperation with relevant research institutions and others in society more generally.

It is expected that PhD candidates will become a part of the faculty’s research and work environment, not least through active participation in established research groups. The PhD study is supervised research training. This involves the assumption that the candidate should be present at the university for a significant proportion of the actual research educational time, unless specific circumstances render this impossible. For more details, refer to the Detailed Rules for PhD Programmes at the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Working/assessment methods

The training component

The teaching on the individual courses is organised in the form of two to four sessions per course, where each session will as a general rule take place on one or two days (see the course descriptions for more detailed information). The sessions will be a combination of lectures, seminar discussions, workshops, and the presentation and discussion of papers and/or artistic development work. Before each session, the participants will prepare, partly through thorough reading of the syllabus, and partly through the preparation of possible oral contributions to the sessions, displays of their own work, or similar.

The thesis component

  1. Supervision
    Supervision will be given by a main and, in some cases, co-supervisor. The main supervisor will normally be a researcher (professor or associate professor) connected to the KIK research platform at the Faculty of Fine Arts. If practical, the co-supervisor can come from another environment or another institution. The PhD agreement entered into upon admission to the programme regulates rights and responsibilities in relation to supervision. For more information, see Detailed rules for PhD programmes at the Factulty of Fine Arts.
  2. Thesis seminars and workshops
    As a support to the development of the PhD project, thesis seminars and/or workshops are arranged once or twice each semester. The sessions are designed to provide the opportunity for discussion and reflection on theoretical or methodological texts and artistic works which are meaningful for – or a part of – the participants’ PhD projects. The participants choose essays and artwork themselves. The candidate should both present and act as an opponent addressing the presentations of others. A concluding seminar for the individual candidate (the so-called 90% seminar) is delivered when around 90% of the doctoral grant period has been completed.
  3. Active participation in the KIK research platform at the faculty 
    The KIK research platform arranges regular thematic seminars with contributions from participating researchers and PhD candidates. In addition, national and international guest researchers and/or artists are invited to participate. PhD candidates are expected to become important participants in the milieu’s research groups and activities, in particular in activities which are relevant to the thesis work and the candidate’s development as a researcher.
  4. Active participation in other relevant national and/or international arts and research environments 
    Good networks are generally viewed as important for a future career as a researcher. During the course of the study, it is expected that the candidates therefore participate in relevant networks, research groups and the like, nationally as well as internationally. The candidate will, in such cases, have the opportunity to present, discuss and receive feedback on particular themes and issues connected to the thesis work. All candidates, if possible, are encouraged to apply for guest residency periods at foreign universities as part of the thesis work.
  5. Academic dissemination
    PhD candidates are expected to routinely communicate their research to colleagues as well as those outside the KIK environment. Dissemination to other researchers will, as already mentioned, occur through workshops, seminars and conferences as well as PhD courses. Furthermore, it is hoped that the candidates will communicate their research to bachelor’s and master’s students at the Faculty of Fine Arts and to a broader public.

Assessment forms

The training component

The examination connected to all three courses (1. Scientific Theory and Method, 2. Art in Context: Methods, Theory, Aesthetics and 3. a specific academic course), will be assessed as a pass or fail, in which context pass means that performance is of a high standard. As is apparent from the descriptions of the individual courses, performance is assessed on the basis of a paper or oral presentation which the student has worked on following active participation on the course. Both the paper and the oral presentation may include a performance-based/creative element. The faculty will handle applications concerning the approval of forms of academic communication or external courses as part of the training component. Examinations which, at the time of admission, are more than five years old, can normally not be accepted as part of the training component. It is presupposed that courses which are part of the training part are not simultaneously part of the admissions basis or form part of previously completed education units.

If the candidate does not pass one of the tests from the training component, reasons for this must be given, together with advice as to how to improve, and a new admissions deadline set. The same applies if any previous knowledge requirements are not met, or if the expanded project description cannot be approved. For more information, see Detailed Rules for PhD Programmes at the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Thesis component

The training component must be completed and passed in all parts before the candidate can apply to the faculty to have the thesis assessed. The assessment will be undertaken by an expert committee.

  1. For a combined artistic-academic thesis that includes both a written and a performance-based/creative part, the PhD degree is thus awarded on the basis of: completed training component, approved academic thesis, approved public presentation/performance of a performing/creative work, approved documentation of performing/creative work, approved trial lecture on a given theme, and approved public defence of the thesis (disputation).
  2. For an academic thesis, the PhD degree is thus awarded on the basis of: completed training component, approved academic thesis, approved trial lecture on a given theme, approved public defence of the thesis (disputation).

The faculty itself will nominate an expert committee comprising at least three members who will assess the thesis, trial lecture, possible presentation and documentation of performing/creative work, as well as the concluding disputation. Further comments regarding assessment can be gleaned from Part IV of the Regulations for the Degree of Doctor Philosophiae (PhD) at the University of Agder.

Career possibilities

After the completion of this educational pathway, the candidate will have acquired the requisite competence for employment in and/or work with:

  • Academic positions in higher education with a particular focus on the arts subjects and art dissemination
  • Positions where dual competency is desirable within practice-based/creative and academic work
  • Positions such as communicators, producers, leaders, curators and artists at arts institutions
  • Consultancy for the public regarding cultural questions which apply to the development of new arts and cultural projects with high demands for quality, diversity and critical reflection, together with administrative assignments and development work which initiate and put into effect research, investigative and evaluative projects.
  • The realisation of art and cultural life objectives about reaching out to as many people as possible as well as to new places and new arenas, and initiating collaboration across different arts subjects and forms of artistic expression.
  • Development work which aims to lead the professions into new areas of operation where workplaces are created, both for themselves and others.


The programme leads to the award of a PhD, with Art in Context as its specialisation.

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