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The focus in the PhD specialisation in Public Administration is the study of public governance processes and the role of institutions. The program has a particular European focus, notably on boundary crossing processes in European public policy and administration. Boundary crossing activities imply that public policy and administration span policy areas and/or levels of government (local, national and international levels); thereby creating new complex administrative orders. The program aims to examine and explain contemporary developments, and thereby understanding how to cope with contemporary public problems and values.

Two empirical laboratories:
The coursework component offered in this PhD specialisation is theoretically focused on institutional and organisational theories. The empirical domain is centred on two empirical laboratories:

  • International organisations, notably the role of international public administration such as the European Commission
  • Regional and local government and governance

The focus of the specialisation is thus two-fold. First, focus is on the complex set of governance dynamics embedded in administrative systems. Second, focus is on how the public administration of international executive institutions and regional and local administrations are interlinked, intermeshed and intertwined.

Admission requirements

The applicant must hold a master's degree or equivalent in political science, public policy and administration, public management, public governance, or equivalent political science (sub-) disciplines. The degree must normally comprise a minimum of 90 ECTS credits in subjects related to the (sub-)disciplines mentioned above, 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 coursework component comprises a core course in public administration, courses in research methods and one or more elective specialisation courses related to the thesis subject.

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


Methods and Philosophy of Science
 (15 ECTS)

Core and specialisation courses
 (15 ECTS)


(150 ECTS)

ME-631 Researching Social Sciences: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations  

(10 ECTS)

Mandatory methods course

ST-600 Political Systems and Political Governance (10 ECTS)

Mandatory core course

Elective methods courses (5 ECTS).

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

Elective specialisation courses (5 ECTS).

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

Core course, mandatory. The core course ST-600 Political Systems and Political Governance (10 ECTS credits) offers the PhD candidates a thorough grounding in the key literature of public administration, institutionalism, organisation theory, and contemporary developments in public policy and administration.

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).

Specialisation course, elective(s). The specialisation courses (5 ECTS credits) go into depth in a limited number of specific issues covered in the core course. Specialisation courses will help the PhD candidate to achieve sufficient knowledge within a narrow subfield of public administration and to start producing research in this field.

It will also be possible to arrange reading courses tailor-made for individual PhD 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. Participation in research seminars and conferences may also give course credits, subject to approval by the PhD committee.

The 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 shorter papers. If the thesis consists of several shorter papers, they should number between three and four, where a minimum of two papers are written by the candidate alone. If papers are co-written, the candidate must be the principal author. Letters of co-authorship must be attached. It is expected that the PhD candidate works on the thesis throughout the whole three-year period. During this period, the PhD candidate should strive to spend some time at collaborating institutions abroad.




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