Methodological and theoretical problems in history

Every PhD thesis needs to explicitly grapple with issues of theory and methods. This PhD course grabs the bull by the horns and challenges participants to seriously engage foundational problems in history.

This 5 ECTS course addresses foundational problems related to theory (ideas/principles to explain a practice or account for a situation) and method (planned procedure to pursue knowledge), and highlights the connections between them.

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Link to program and syllabus

The aim of the course is to facilitate thorough discussions on a broad range of theoretical and methodological problems, including scientific theory and ethical issues. Topics will change from year to year, and the course will introduce current debates in international historiography in relation to them.

The course has a core syllabus that all participants are expected to have read and reflected upon before the course begins. There will be additional recommended reading lists on issues related to and beyond those dealt with in the course.

The course will be conducted in English.The students are expected to contribute actively in all parts of the course. It is recommended to take this course early in the PhD-education. Even though tailored for first-year doctoral candidates, it is open for everyone who workes on a dissertation using historical methods and approaches. 

Essential Information:

- Submission of an essay of no more than 15 pages is required. The essay should discuss (aspects of) your own PhD project in light of one or several theoretical and/or methodological problems. It may address other core problems than the ones that are taught in the course. The essay will be discussed as part of the course, and each participant will serve as a main commentator for one essay. At the end of the course, the essay is to be revised and resubmitted. The grading will be pass/fail.

- This is a 3-day course. It will start at 09.00 on Monday, June 18, and end at 18.00 on Wedensday, June 20. All days will start at 09.00 and end at 18.00. Monday through Wednesday, the course will be held at the UiO campus.

- Participation in all course activities every day, including dinners on Monday and Wednesday, is mandatory.

- Active participation in discussions of all papers and seminars is required.

- The course language is English, but essays may be written in English or in one of the Scandinavian languages. The latter may be discussed in Scandinavian.

- Credits: 5 ECTS

- The syllabus (max. 500 pages) and the recommended reading list can be found via the link above.


Deadline for applications was May 1, 2018. The application should include the title of the PhD project and a brief abstract of the essay (no more than half a page). The abstract needs to clearly state which foundational problem(s) will be addressed.

Students from partner institutions will have priority. Participation from other institutions will be considered if there are available spots.

Notice of admission will be given no later than May 4th.

Deadline for the submission of the essay is June 1, 2018. The essay must be submitted in Fronter:

Revised essays must be resubmitted by August 10.

To apply, please fill out the application form.

Questions ca be sent to: 

Hanne Hagtvedt Vik,, with a copy to

Ragnar Holst Larsen,


All participants must organize and pay for their own travel.

Participants from the partner institutions of the Norwegian Graduate School in History who do not live in the Oslo area will have their accommodations for Monday through Thursday paid for. The Graduate School will book accommodations.

There will be a lunch served every day and also a dinner for all participants on Monday and Wednesday.

External participants must expect to pay a substantial fee (tbd) to participate.


Partner institutions of the Norwegian Graduate School in History are:

Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet (NTNU) - Det humanistiske fakultet

Universitetet i Agder - Institutt for religion, filosofi og historie

Universitetet i Bergen - Institutt for arkeologi, historie, kultur- og religionsvitskap

Universitetet i Oslo - Institutt for arkeologi, konservering og historie, Universitetet i Oslo

Universitetet i Tromsø - Institutt for arkeologi, historie, religionsvitenskap og teologi

Nord Universitet - Fakultet for samfunnsvitenskap

Høgskulen i Volda - Samfunnsfag og historie

Handelshøyskolen BI - Institutt for rettsvitenskap og styring

Published Sep. 10, 2018 1:23 PM - Last modified Sep. 9, 2020 5:43 PM