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The PhD education aims at studying methodological, theoretical and substantive issues of relevance to the field in a time characterized by significant changes when it comes to demographic behaviour and migration, digitization and new forms of public-private cooperation, and emphasis on user involvement and knowledge-based practice in various professions. These changes have implications for public services as well as for individuals' and families' everyday life. The interaction between the individual, the society and social change is therefore vital.

The Department of Sociology and Social work is involved in the following research groups:


The applicant must hold a master's degree or equivalent in social work, sociology, social studies or equivalent (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 first year is devoted to coursework and the beginning of the thesis work. The coursework component comprises a core course in professions and professional relations, courses in research methods and one or more elective specialisation courses related to the thesis subject.

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)

Core and specialisation (15 ECTS)


(150 ECTS)

ME-631 Researching Social Sciences: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations  

(10 ECTS)

SO-600 Professions and Professional Relations 
 (5 ECTS)

Elective methods courses (5 ECTS) are subject to the choice of the PhD candidate and the approval of the supervisors.

Elective specialisation courses are subject to the choice of the PhD candidate and the approval of the supervisors.

 SO-601 Reflective Processes in Professional Practice 
(5 ECTS)

Methods and Philosophy of Science courses. 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 (10 ECTS credits) is offered to all candidates at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The purpose of the elective methodology courses is to provide PhD candidates with a solid methodological foundation for the thesis work.

Core courses, mandatory. SO-600 Professions and Professional Relations  (5 ECTS credits)
The course will provide the students with insights into changes and characteristics of the development within the field of professions. In light of societal changes, the course aims to investigate and discuss possible implications and challenges for professional work and relations. The focus is on historical and contextual factors which affect professional understanding and practice. The course will have a broad, research-based approach and include professional-sociological perspectives, philosophical analyses and phenomenological studies of people and relations.

The course is typically offered biannually as a combination of seminar-based instruction on campus with paper and PhD-student presentations.

Specialisation courses, electives. SO-601 Reflective Processes in Professional Practice (5 ECTS credits)
Social work develops within local, national and global contexts. Reflectivity is to see and understand oneself within a context. Through this course students will reflect and theorize social workers’ understanding of her/himself and their practices. Students will reveal their subjectivity related to background, professional position and their current PhD project.

Reflectivity in professional practice will be emphasized through discursive, ethical, narrative and critical processes. The aim of the course is to enable participants to strengthen their critical reflections and to increase understanding of situational and contextual practices. To enhance reflective processes, the course will provide knowledge about ethical dimensions in professional practice, professional discretion, different discourses and narrative approaches.

The course is given in collaboration with the University of Stavanger.

Elective courses are subject to approval from supervisor and the 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.

The coursework component 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.

If applicable, the candidates are encouraged to apply for admission to a research school including PROFRES or others and find relevant courses with these.

Thesis. The thesis project will be initiated in parallel with the coursework, guided by the appointed supervisor(s). Thesis seminars will be arranged to support the candidates in developing their thesis work and will give the opportunity to present and discuss this with other PhD candidates and faculty. The thesis may be a monograph or article-based. An article-based thesis should include a minimum of three articles meeting the standards for publishing in peer review journals, plus an introductory binding text ('kappe') that presents and brings together the various parts of the thesis. This text is expected to discuss issues related to theory, methods or research ethics that are not discussed in-depth in the articles. Co-authorships and book chapters will normally indicate more than three units (articles etc.), and at least one article should be sole authored. 




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