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Admission requirements

Admissions requirements

In order to be admitted to this PhD programme, the applicant must have completed the examination of a higher degree in religion, theology, sociology, philosophy, ethics or history, or alternatively have completed education which the faculty considers to be of equal calibre. 

About the study

The aim for the specialisation is to further develop the candidate’s qualifications for research and other work in the fields of religion, ethics and history in a social and humanist context. The PhD programme has three in-depth studies: religion, ethics and history.

In-depth studies in religion and ethics

The candidates will take an in-depth study within contemporary religion or ethics, or a combination of these. Religion and/or ethics will be studied in a societal context. The candidates will be familiarised with both systematic-normative and empirical-social sciences theories and methods, and with the relationship between theological and social scientific approaches to the study of religion and/or ethics. The candidates will develop academic insight and an awareness of methods at a high level.

Candidates taking the religion and ethics path will develop their theoretical and methodological in-depth study through an independent piece of research which will be carried out under supervision. The thesis shall have a component of independent empirical research, and should have religion, ethics, or a combination of the two as its main object. The empirical data can be collected with the help of quantitative or qualitative methods, or a combination of these. The data basis can also be written material. The empirical survey can be guided further in ethical or theological reflection.

In-depth studies in history

The candidate will develop historical insights, an awareness of method and historical reflection at a high level. The candidate will develop both wide-ranging and specialised skills in the scientific handling of historical source material, and of historical texts of different kinds. The work with theses in history should provide theoretical and methodological depth through independent research work carried out under supervision. The thesis should be an independent piece of research into historic or historiographic material. The thesis should be based on a thesis statement, be analytical and relate to relevant theory in the research field. The thesis shall be presented in accordance with the norms in the field of history for academic texts.

Course structure

The PhD degree is awarded on the basis of

  • A completed and approved training component
  • An academic thesis
  • A doctoral degree trial (a trial lecture and a disputation)

The specialisation is set at three years’ work as standard. Of this, the training component makes up at least 30 credits, which is equivalent to half a year’s work. The training component is designed to run parallel to the thesis work throughout the whole contract period. The courses will be given regularly, and are normally taught in Norwegian/Scandinavian or English, according to the teachers’ and PhD students’ requirements. The choice of courses will be made in collaboration with the supervisor.

For the training component, the following courses are offered:

Obligatory courses:

  • Scientific Theory, Method and Research Ethics, 10 credits (HP-600)
  • Communication, 5 credits (HP-601)

Elective courses, religion:

  • Religious-Sociological Theory 5 credits (REL 603)
  • Contemporary Theology 5 credits (REL602)

Elective courses, ethics:

  • Social Ethics, 5 credits (REL601)
  • Contemporary Theology 5 credits (REL602)

Elective courses, history:

  • Historical, Basic Problems, 5 credits (HI-600)
  • Historical Text and Reading Competency, 5 credits (HI-601)

Students can, on application, have alternative relevant themes approved from researcher schools and other doctoral degree programmes. The training component for each student will normally comprise of at least 20 credits from UIA’s own doctoral degree programme, in order to ensure continuity and integration. This requirement can be relaxed in the case of a longer period of time abroad, or in other pressing circumstances.

Participation in the PhD specialisation’s debate seminar is obligatory for students, in which students present their own work and comment on that of others. Seminars are normally held three or four times each semester.

Possible residency abroad

Periods of residency abroad are not an obligatory part of the PhD specialisation. There are, however, opportunities for such periods should the candidate and supervisor agree on this, and the residency period by approved by the PhD committee.

Learning outcomes

Candidates who have completed their PhD education in religion, ethics, society and history, shall have attained the following learning outcomes after having completed their training and delivered their thesis:


The candidate

  • is at the forefront of knowledge within the fields of religion, ethics, or history, and masters the field’s theory of science and methods
  • is able to assess the usefulness and application of different methods and processes in research, and specialist development projects within the fields of religion, ethics, or history
  • is able to contribute to the development of new knowledge, theories, methods, interpretations and forms of documentation within the fields of religion, ethics, or history



The candidate

  • is able to formulate academic problems, and plan and implement research and academic development work within the fields of religion, ethics, or history 
  • is able to carry out research and academic development work in the fields of religion, ethics, or history, at a higher, international level
  • is able to deal with complex, subject-specific questions, and challenge established knowledge and practice in the fields of religion, ethics, or history


General competence

The candidate

  • is able to identify new, relevant ethical issues and carry out his/her research with academic integrity
  • is able to run complex, multi-disciplinary work assignments and projects
  • is able to disseminate research and development work through recognised national and international channels
  • is able to take part in debates within the field in international fora
  • is able to assess the need for, take initiative towards, and be a prime mover for, innovation 

Form of work/assessment

During the courses, student-active learning methods – seminars, practical exercises, the writing of papers, and discussions – will be utilised.

The thesis

The most demanding and challenging part of the doctoral degree education is writing the thesis. The thesis is to be an independent piece of research of an international standard. The thesis shall present new subject-specific knowledge and be of a sufficient calibre that it can be published as part of the field’s academic body of literature.

The thesis can take the form of a monography, or alternatively an article-based collection. The scope of a monography is normally between 100 000 and 125 000 words. An article-based thesis should normally include at least three separate pieces of work (articles). At least one article ought to be accepted for publication, preferably in an international, peer-reviewed periodical. Joint authorship can justify a higher number of separate pieces of work. In addition to the individual parts, an introduction and possible epilogue ought to be prepared – a so-called “cap” – which gives an account of the whole thesis. Such a “cap” can also address themes which are otherwise not easy to place in the articles. The scope of this cap is around 40-70 pages.

Every PhD will be assigned a main supervisor and a co-supervisor. The supervisor’s most important task is to support the thesis work, but they ought also to encourage the candidate to take part in national and international conferences, periods of residency abroad etc. The main supervisor is normally selected internally from the institution, whilst the co-supervisor can be an external choice if this is desirable from the point of view of relevant competence.

Career opportunities

A PhD with this specialisation will provide qualifications suitable for work within research and higher education, and in other parts of the educational system. Other potential workplaces are dependent on the particular in-depth study chosen. Historians may, for example, find work in museums and in historical assignment research; an in-depth study in religion might qualify one for positions in religious institutions and charitable organisations, whilst an in-depth study in ethics might strengthen the available competence in health institutions and other private and public enterprises.


The programme leads to the awarding of the degree PhD: specialisation in religion, ethics, history and society.

Questions about this programme?

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