Programme plan for the PhD programme

Legal authority for the PhD programme at the Faculty of Theology can be found in the Regulations for the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Oslo.

NB: The Programme plan is under revision due to the change from a four year to a three year doctoral programme. A new edition will be available soon.

Scope of the PhD programme

The nominal period of study of the PhD programme is 3 years, corresponding to 180 credits.

Basis for awarding a degree

The PhD degree is awarded on the basis of:

  • completed educational component
  • scientific thesis
  • PhD examination

The PhD examination consists of a trial lecture and a public defence of the thesis.

Objectives of the PhD programme

The PhD education at the University of Oslo shall educate independent researchers of high international calibre in accordance with recognized academic and ethical principles. The education will qualify students for research activity and other employment in which the expected standard of scientific insight and analytical thinking is high.

Qualifications upon completion of the programme

Learning outcomes for graduates of the PhD programme at the Faculty of Theology:


  • The candidate will be at the forefront of knowledge in their field, and master the philosophy of science and methods in the field.
  • The candidate will be able to assess the appropriateness and application of different methods and processes in research and academic development projects.
  • The candidate will be able to contribute to the development of new knowledge, new theories, methods, interpretations and forms of documentation in the field.


  • The candidate will be able to formulate issues and plan and conduct research and academic development work.
  • The candidate will be able to conduct research and academic development work of an international calibre.
  • The candidate will be able to handle complex academic questions and challenge the established knowledge and practices in the field.
  • The candidate will be able to understand the requirement of scientific excellence within the field of theology and religious science.

General competence:

  • The candidate will take a competent approach to relevant research ethics issues, and conduct research with ethical awareness and academic integrity.
  • The candidate will be able to make an independent contribution to complex interdisciplinary tasks and projects.
  • The candidate will be able to disseminate research and development work through recognized national and international channels.
  • The candidate will be able to participate in debates in the field in international forums.
  • The candidate will be able to assess the need for, and initiate and conduct relevant and academically-based innovative activities.

The qualification requirements will be met through the training programme, the thesis work (and associated supervision), participation in active research environments and the PhD examination.

Admission to the programme

Admission requirements:
Admission to the PhD programme normally requires a Cand.theol. degree, a Master's degree from one of the programmes of study at the Faculty of Theology, or equivalent competence.

It is essential that the candidate has acquired adequate basic knowledge and skills in previous studies to be able to complete the project in question. The relationship between the first degree, the project and the faculty's research portfolio and supervisory capacity is critical in the faculty’s adjudication of admission applications.

Decisions regarding admission of candidates with external funding are made by the PhD Coordinator. The PhD Coordinator will consult the Dean of Studies regarding supervisory capacity.

Deadline for applying for admission:
Doctoral research fellowships are advertised regularly.

There are normally two annual application deadlines for applicants with other funding: March 15, and September 15.

The starting dates for new PhD candidates are February 1, and September 1.

Project proposal requirements:
The applicant's project proposal must be delivered with the application for admission. The application must show the applicant's ability to conduct research. In the project proposal, the applicant will describe the issue, the choice of method and the progress plan, and provide information about project funding. The project proposal will be about 10 A4 pages long, including footnotes and the bibliography, and must show that the candidate is familiar with the field and its main issues.

Structure and content of the PhD programme

Content of the PhD programme:
The programme consists of an educational component and a thesis. Together with the work on the thesis, the content of the educational component will offer the necessary academic specialization and breadth.

The Faculty of Theology offers one PhD programme. This programme covers all of the faculty's fields of research: Bible science, church history, systematic theology, ethics and professional ethics, practical theology, diaconal studies and religious studies.

The educational component is organized by the PhD Programme Council in close collaboration with the academic environments. The content of the educational component is partly organized through courses, seminars or workshops. The language of instruction is normally a Scandinavian language or English.

The faculty participates in a number of Nordic and international Networks. Through this participation, PhD candidates are affiliated with active research environments and research projects in relevant academic environments. The faculty encourages participation in international seminars and conferences and/or extended stays at a foreign institution.

Content requirements for the educational Component:
The educational component must correspond to at least 30 credits, with at least 20 credits being taken after admission. The educational component will normally be taken at the University of Oslo.

Together with the work on the thesis, the educational component will provide education at a high academic level. The candidates must complete a scientific work, and receive training in academic dissemination and an introduction to research ethics, philosophy of science and scientific method.

The requirement for training in the form of courses is met by the PhD candidate completing and passing approved, credit-bearing research courses at the Faculty of Theology, at other faculties at the University of Oslo, or at external partner institutions. Courses can also be taken at external institutions that do not have a formal collaboration with the faculty. In such cases, the course must be approved by the supervisor and the PhD Coordinator in advance.

The training consists of compulsory and elective courses.

Compulsory courses:
The following courses in the educational component are compulsory:

  • Basic seminar (with a bibliographic course, writing course, research ethics course, philosophy of science and philosophy of science essay): 10 credits.
  • Presentation seminar: 5 credits.

The courses are offered regularly at the Faculty of Theology, and must be taken there. The PhD Coordinator can grant dispensations, following an application that includes a recommendation from the supervisor, to enable specific parts of the courses to be taken at other institutions.

Elective courses:
Discipline and thesis-specific courses are worth 15 credits, and can be taken at the Faculty of Theology, at other faculties at the University of Oslo or at external institutions.

Doctoral research fellows can choose to take a university pedagogical module (Uniped) worth 5 credits within these 15 credits.

Approval of courses:
The following procedure applies to approval of courses outside the Faculty of Theology:

Candidates are responsible for proposing courses.

The supervisor will approve the proposal, and the candidate and the supervisor will jointly determine how heavy a work load the course should be, the literature it will cover, and whether a presentation or such should be written. The proposal from the candidate and the supervisor will then be presented to the PhD Coordinator for approval.

The PhD Coordinator will notify the PhD Programme Committee of his/her decision.

The PhD Coordinator is responsible for approving the total credit once the quota has been met.

Follow-up of PhD candidates:
The annual progress reports are followed up by the PhD Coordinator inviting each PhD candidate to a follow-up meeting.

When a new candidate begins their PhD studies, they will be invited to an introductory meeting between the PhD Coordinator, the candidate and the supervisor(s). The meeting will focus on the learning outcomes in the Norwegian Qualifications Framework. The candidate's progress in terms of the Framework will be followed up in a midway meeting between the PhD Coordinator, the candidate and the supervisor(s).

Academic environment:
All candidates must be affiliated with an active research environment. The Faculty of Theology is organized into research groups. The programme expects candidates to participate actively in a research group at or outside the faculty. When this is not possible, corresponding activities will be facilitated by the supervisor and the programme. The supervisor has particular responsibility for ensuring that PhD candidates are integrated into an active academic environment, and are introduced to national and international networks.

Supervision requirements:
The PhD education will be conducted under individual supervision. The supervisor (main supervisor) is usually employed by the University of Oslo. The supervisor shares responsibility for ensuring that the project has a foundation in the faculty's academic environment and in relevant Nordic and international environments. The supervisor also shares responsibility for compliance with research ethics regulations and principles, and for ensuring that completion of the PhD education is possible within the nominal length of study. The supervisor will also monitor the candidate's compliance of the learning outcomes in the Norwegian Qualifications Framework.

Supervisors are appointed by the PhD Coordinator in consultation with the Dean of Studies, and the supervision is regulated by the PhD agreement. A co-supervisor is appointed at the Faculty of Theology when there are academic reasons to do so. PhD candidates are not entitled to supervision outside the admission period.

The form and content of the thesis

The thesis must be an independent, scientific work that meets international standards in terms of academic level, method and ethical requirements. It must contribute to the development of new knowledge in the chosen field and must be of such quality as to qualify for publication as a part of the scientific literature in the field.

A thesis can be submitted as a monograph or a collection of articles. The required level of quality of a thesis remains the same, whether it is a monograph or consists of several shorter works. The scope of the thesis must allow it to be submitted within the nominal period of study, corresponding to 2.5 years or 150 credits. This normally means that a thesis is 200–250 pages long.

A thesis based on several shorter works should normally consist of at least 2–4 works. Article-based theses have an abstract that collates and summarizes the issues and conclusions presented in the articles, provides an overall perspective, and thus documents the relationship between them in the thesis. Also see the "Guidelines for doctoral theses consisting of several shorter works (Article-based theses)".

The thesis is normally written in Norwegian or English. You can apply to the faculty to write it in a different language.


The application to have the thesis adjudicated must be sent to the faculty. An expert adjudication committee will be appointed to assess the thesis and adjudicate at the PhD examination.

The PhD examination

The trial lecture:
The trial lecture will test the candidate's ability to acquire knowledge beyond the topic of the thesis, and the ability to disseminate it in a lecture situation. The title of the trial lecture will be set by the adjudication Committee.

Public defence:
The public defence of the thesis will take place at the University of Oslo. At the Faculty of Theology, the first ordinary opponent presents the purpose and the results of the scientific study.

Quality assurance

The University of Oslo has developed a quality system that also covers the PhD education. The quality system will help doctoral candidates to produce theses of a high academic quality, and the education to be completed in as close to the nominal period of study as possible. The system will also contribute to doctoral theses from the University of Oslo following good research practice and current rules. Doctoral candidates and supervisors must submit separate progress reports for the doctoral project every year. They must also participate in evaluations of the doctoral programmes, which are conducted every five years, and evaluations of the academic environment, which are conducted every three years.

The faculties and units’ annual plan and report must also provide a brief account of planned and executed measures and improvements to the quality procedures.

Regular evaluation at the Faculty of Theology is generally performed as follows:

  • The faculty's PhD Programme Council regularly follows up the quality of the education.
  • Regular evaluation takes place during the meetings between the supervisor and the PhD candidate.
  • Annual meetings between the doctoral research fellow and the management of the academic programme will evaluate the quality of and adaptation of required duties.
  • Annual meetings between the PhD candidate and PhD Coordinator will follow up candidates' progress, evaluate the quality of and execution of courses in the educational component, and address questions related to evaluation of the supervision.
  • Following attendance of courses that are part of the educational component, the participants will give the PhD Coordinator a short evaluation.


Published Sep. 10, 2015 9:36 AM - Last modified June 21, 2017 3:11 PM