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Upon agreement


General information about application and funding

General requirement: Applicants who have at least a master´s degree or equivalent in a relevant area of study will be considered for admission. In addition, there is a requirement for at least 90 ECTS credits (one and a half years of study) in subjects related to information systems, where 30 of these credits are from the 4th and 5th year of study.

Compensatory course work: Applicants with a master´s degree or equivalent, but who do not have sufficient knowledge in information systems, will be requested to take additional courses at the master´s level before being formally accepted into the specialisation. A PhD Committee will decide on an individual basis which/how many additional courses at the master´s level will be required.

Grade requirement: Average of B (or equivalent) or better.

See also Supplementary regulations for the PhD degree at the Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Agder, § 5.1 Conditions for admission.


The PhD specialisation in Information Systems consists of four components: core courses, methods courses, specialisation courses, and a dissertation. The coursework aims to provide the candidates with a) a thorough grounding in literature in Information Systems, b) a solid methodological foundation, and c) an opportunity for in-depth focus in areas relevant to Information Systems in which a candidate has specific interest. In addition to the courses offered by UiA, candidates will be allowed to take, subject to approval, doctoral courses offered by other national and international academic institutions.

The four components of the specialisation are:

Core course (10 ECTS)

Methods courses (15 ECTS)

Specialisation courses (5 ECTS)

Dissertation (150 ECTS)

In total, the coursework consists of 30 ECTS. The coursework will normally be completed through the first 2-3 semesters of the PhD specialisation. The dissertation project will be initiated in parallel with the coursework, guided by the appointed supervisor(s).  Dissertation seminars will be arranged to support the candidates in developing their dissertation work, and will give the opportunity to present and discuss this with other PhD candidates and faculty.


First semester

Second semester


Coursework and appointment of supervisor(s)

Coursework and beginning of dissertation work


Coursework and dissertation work

Dissertation work


Dissertation work

Completion of dissertation and dissertation defence


In the following, each of the course modules of the specialisation are described further.

Core course: The course titled Theoretical Foundations of Information Systems will provide the students with an understanding of core concepts and theories prevailing in information systems research.

Philosophy of science and methodology courses: The purpose of these courses is to provide candidates with a solid philosophical and methodological foundation, a minimum of 15 ECTS are required. The Researching Social Sciences (10 ECTS) course is compulsory for all candidates at the faculty.

Specialisation courses. The specialisation courses go into depth in specific topics currently on the research agenda in the information systems area. These courses are intended to give the PhD candidate sufficient knowledge within a subfield of information systems and to start producing research in this field. Examples of specialisation courses (all 2,5 ECTS) that have been given by the Department of Information Systems include:

  • Research issues on eGovernment
  • Research issues on Enterprise Systems
  • Research issues on ICT for Development

In addition, the candidates will be encouraged to take specialisation courses offered by other universities in Norway and abroad. As part of this category of coursework, participation in research seminars and conferences may also give course credits, subject to approval by the PhD Programme Committee. It will also be possible to arrange readings courses tailor-made for individual candidates in specialised areas of interest and competence, where the completion of such courses will require writing a scientific paper. The content of such courses is subject to approval by the PhD Committee.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the proposed PhD specialisation in Information Systems, candidates should have the knowledge, skills and the general competence needed to be at the research frontier of the field.

The candidate should be able to:

  • list, describe and discuss the theories that are central and at the core of the information research literature
  • list, describe and evaluate the research methods, approaches and paradigms that are used in information systems research
  • list and discuss the seminal research papers and list the relevant outlets to publish their research

The candidate should be able to:

  • select, integrate and apply a broad range of skills and techniques, tools and practices useful in the study of organisational and societal aspects of information systems development and application.
  • develop new knowledge, theory, methods, interpretations and forms of documentation within the field of information systems
  • evaluate and judge the adequacy of using different theories and methods in the research process
  • formulate research questions, plan and conduct research at the research frontier within information systems
  • write different scholarly texts within the field of information systems and reflect on the research and writing process
  • critically evaluate and pass constructive judgment on scholarly work within information systems and related disciplines
  • establish and maintain scholarly networks

General competences
The candidate should be able to:

  • identify and reflect on relevant ethical questions in the research process and conduct own research according to established ethical standards
  • contextualise scholarly phenomena historically, institutionally and culturally
  • present own and others scholarly work in relevant forums
  • develop further skills and practices useful for their particular type of investigation

describe the process of conducting research for practice, and how research meets the needs of IS practitioners and general managers concerned with IT management.

Teaching methods

The courses will be run as seminars including reading assignments, class discussion and presentation of term papers.


The assessment is based on term papers graded as pass or fail, where pass is equivalent to a grade B or better.


The PhD degree in Information Systems will qualify for careers both in private and public sector, as well as academia.


The programme leads to a PhD degree in Social Sciences, with a specialisation in Information Systems.

Questions about this programme?

Studies offered by

Faculty of Social Sciences