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The PhD specialisation integrates research on contemporary challenges connected to development and planning processes across local and global scales. The programme focuses on how the intertwined processes of development and planning influence, and are influenced by, political, judicial, socio-economic, cultural and communicative forces.

Within the broad theme of development, planning and communication, the PhD coursework offered centres around the department´s interdisciplinary approach to the social sciences, reflected in the following empirical and theoretical themes and research groups:

Admission requirements

The applicant must hold a master's degree or equivalent in social science or a relevant area of study.  The degree must normally comprise a minimum of 90 ECTS credits in subjects related to development, planning and/or communication, of which 30 ECTS credits must be from the 4th or 5th year of study. Previous knowledge in social science methodology must be documented.

See also Supplementary regulations for the PhD degree at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Programme components

The PhD specialisation is organised to be completed in a three-year period. The first year is devoted to coursework and the beginning of the thesis work. The coursework component comprises a core course in development, planning and communication, courses in research methods and a substantive specialisation course.

The coursework is divided into two main areas (presented below). In total, the coursework component consists of 30 ECTS credits, in addition the thesis comprises a total of 150 ECTS credits.


Methods and Philosophy of Science
 (15 ECTS)

Specialisation courses
 (15 ECTS)


(150 ECTS)

ME-631 Researching Social Sciences: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations  (10 ECTS)

UT-601 Development, Planning and Communication
(10 ECTS)

Elective methods courses (5 ECTS).

Subject to the choice of the PhD candidate and the approval by the supervisors.

Elective specialisation courses (5 ECTS).

Subject to the choice of the PhD candidate and the approval by the supervisors.


Core course, mandatory. UT-601 Development, Planning and Communication. The course will provide the students with state-of-the-art insights in research on global development, planning, and related development, planning and communication studies. Students will acquire field-specific insights, with an emphasis on cross-cutting themes and global issues. This core course is typically offered bi-annually as a combination of seminar-based instruction on campus with paper and PhD-student presentations.

Specialisation courses, elective(s). Elective courses are subject to approval from supervisors and PhD committee. Specialisation coursework is provided both internally and in collaboration with other PhD programmes at UiA as well as PhD-networks nationally and internationally. When relevant, it will be possible to arrange independent readings courses for individual candidates in specialised areas of interest and competence. Course completion will require writing a scientific paper, with a pass grade.

The coursework will normally be completed in the first 2-3 semesters of the PhD programme. In addition to courses offered at UiA, one may choose courses from other institutions, subject to approval from supervisors and the PhD committee.

Methods courses. The purpose of the methods courses is to provide PhD candidates with a solid methodological foundation. A minimum of 15 ECTS credits are required in research methods and theory of science. The mandatory course ME-631 Researching Social Sciences: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations is offered by the Faculty of Social Sciences to all PhD candidates at the faculty. The choice of elective courses in research methods is subject to the choice of the PhD candidates, but subject to approval by the supervisor(s).

PhD thesis. The PhD thesis should be an independent piece of academic work that meets international academic standards and methods in the subject area. It must contribute to the development of new scholarly knowledge and must achieve a level meriting publication as part of the literature in its field. The thesis may consist of a monograph or a compendium of several scientific articles. The article-based thesis, excluding the introductory section, should typically be equivalent of three journal articles of normal length, with the candidate as sole author. If there are co-authors for one or more articles, the candidate should consider an increase in the number of articles so that the independent contribution and comprehensive effort of the PhD candidate is evident.

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