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 with 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 syllabus and reading list

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. This year the candidates are challenged to grapple with digital humanities through workshop and discussions. 

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:

- This is a 5-day course. It will start at 09.00 on Monday, March 2, and end at 14.00 on Friday, March 6. 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.

- The sessions on Digital humanities for historians on Thursday will be in Norwegian due to the language of sources in databasis we will use. If we have participants who do not speak Norwegian, please let us know and we will try to accomodate this as best we can.

- Credits: 5 ECTS

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

Mandatory Writing: 

Essay: The essay of 6-8 pages and not more (2400-3200 words, excl. references) should discuss a methodological and/or theoretical problem. The specific problem shall be clearly identified and be the center of the discussion. The essay should be analytically advanced and situated in the relevant literature, with full references. Please note that it should be shaped as a standalone piece, and that a draft introduction for your PhD will not be acceptable. The draft essay will be discussed as part of the course, and each participant will serve as a main commentator for one essay as will one of the teachers. The essay should be uploaded to the learning platform three weeks before the workshop. 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: appr. ½-1 page reading response for each of the seminars. The response should be uploaded to the relevant seminar folder at the latest 1 week prior to the workshop. You are expected to make one or a set of observations that you think are worth taking particularly note of, building on the readings provided for that particular seminar. If relevant, include one paragraph where you this observation in the context of your own project. The teachers may refer to and show submitted reading responses in full or in part during their seminar.


Deadline for application is January 20, but candidates may be accepted after this date if the course is not fully booked. THE COURSE IS NOW FULLY BOOKED. NEXT OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND THE COURSE WILL BE 1-5 MARCH 2021.

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 15. 

Revised essays must be resubmitted by April 1st. 

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 Research School in History who do not live in the Oslo area will have their accommodations for Monday through Thursday paid for. The Research 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 Research 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 Nov. 20, 2019 3:55 PM - Last modified Sep. 9, 2020 5:42 PM