Methodological and theoretical problems in history (online course)

Update 13/01/2021: Due to the uncertainty of the covid-19 restrictions moving forward, we have decided to move this course online. The course will be held on the original dates, but the program will reflect the new format (please take a look at the draft proram at this webpage). 

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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The course facilitates 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 works on a dissertation using historical methods and approaches. 

Confirmed teachers:


Draft program

Essential Information:

- This is a 5-day course. It will start at  9.00 on Monday, March 1, and end at  at the latest on 16.00 on Friday, March 5. The course will be digital due to the Covid-19 situation.

- Participation in all course activities every day, including social event which will most likely be on Wednesday evening, is mandatory.

- Active participation in discussions of all papers and seminars is required. It is possible to audit the course rather than take it for credits, and in than case you will not do the mandatory writings.  

- 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 is max. 500 pages. 

Mandatory Writing: 

Essay: The essay of 2400-3200 words, excl. references, should discuss a specific methodological and/or theoretical problem. The 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 a standalone piece, and that a draft introduction for your PhD will not be acceptable. The 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: 400-600 words 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. Applicants who are based at NRSH partner institutions will have priority and will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Accepted students will be given access to Teams folder with all the course readings and other information.

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,


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. 5, 2020 8:33 AM - Last modified Jan. 15, 2021 10:50 AM