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 adresses 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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Draft program will be available here.

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 in order to help students integrate theoretical, methodological and ethical reasonning at every stage of their project, but it is open for everyone who workes on a dissertation using historical methods and approaches. 

Essential Information:

- Submission of an essay of 8-10 pages (and not more) is required. The essay should discuss a theoretical and/or methodological problem related to your PhD project. The problem should be clearly identified and remain at the core of the discussion. The essay should be analytically advanced and be situated in relevant literature, with full references. You may address other core problemst than the ones that are taught in the course. Please note that submitting a draft introduction for your PhD is not acceptable. The draft essay will be discussed during the course and each participant will serve as main commentator for one essay as will one of the teachers. The main commentators will prepare written comments which will be shared with the author after her/his seminar. After the course, the essay is to be revised and resubmitted. Revised essays must be resubmitted by April 1st. The grading will be pass/fail.

- Reading responses: ½-1 page reading response for each of the seminars/lectures. The response should be uploaded to the relevant seminar folder at the latest 1 week prior to the workshop. Please consult the detailed course program and also the Microsoft Teams page for instructions re the individual seminars as some of the teachers may post questions there they would like you to address. If no instruction is provided by December 1st, you are expected to make one or a set of observations which you think are worth taking particularly note of, which cuts across all the mandatory readings provided for that particular seminar. Include one paragraph at the end where you discuss whether this observation has any relevance in the context of your own project.

Any writing submitted to the course may be used by teachers as illustrations for how to convey your ideas as effectively as possible.

- This is a 4-day course. It will start at 09.15 on Monday, March 4, and end at 17.00 on Thursday, March 7. All days will start at 09.15 and end at 17.00. Monday through Wednesday, the course will be held at the UiO campus.

- Participation in all course activities every day, including dinners on Monday (18:00) and Wednesday (17:00), 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

- Information about the syllabus (max. 500 pages) and the recommended reading list will be given at a later date. 


Deadline for applications was November 1, 2018, but we will accept applications until 15 Januare and will fill spaces on a rolling basis until all spots are taken. To apply, please fill out the application form.

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.

Deadline for the submission of the essay is February 16, 2019.

Deadline for the submission of reading responses is February 22, 2019

The essay and reading responses must be submitted in Microsoft Teams:


Revised essays must be resubmitted by April 1, 2019. Assessment deadline is April 24. 

Questions can 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 fee (tbd) to participate. External participants will not get their accomodation covered by the Norwegian Graduate School in History. 


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 Oct. 10, 2018 1:54 PM - Last modified Sep. 9, 2020 5:28 PM