Student Pages
PhD course

Literature review at ph.d-level

  • ECTS credits3
  • Teaching semesterSpring, Autumn
  • Course codeWNGERII900
  • Resources

Main content

Course description

Course content

Writing literature review at Ph.D level:

  • Different review types and purposes
  • Research design
  • Databases
  • Search methods
  • Analysis
  • Tools
  • Presentation of findings


Main learning objectives

The main course goal is to introduce Phd students to the genre of literature review in academic writing, and show how to complete a traditional/narrative literature review for a doctoral thesis. Throughout the course the Phd students will develop their understanding of different types of literature reviews and what purposes these can have in their own research. In addition, the course aims to develop the Phd students¿ abilities and knowledge for designing and completing their own literature review through familiarizing them with different kinds of research design, databases, search methods, analysis, and ways of presenting their findings.


After completing the course, the Phd students will have general knowledge about:


  • Different types and purposes about literature review
  • Relevant databases within social science research
  • Search methods for database searches to locate and collect literature in a systematic and transparent way
  • Methods for analysis and tools for organizing collected literature
  • Ways of presenting findings


After completing the course, the Phd student will have specific knowledge about:


  • How to develop an original problem statement for completing their own literature review
  • What types of literature review and research design will fit their own project
  • Using different searching methods and techniques in various databases for collecting relevant literature
  • How to interpret, code, and categorize collected literature through different methods of analysis

How to present findings in text and visually at a high academic level

Learning outcomes

By completing the course the Phd students will have completed the following learning aims, which are here defined as knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The student will have knowledge about different types of literature review, what purposes these have in research, and which research design that should be used when planning a literature review. The student will be familiar with relevant databases within social science research, and how to use these. The student will be familiar with various methods of analysis and tools for assessing, sorting, and presenting the collected literature from database searches.


The student will be able to use different databases for social science research for performing database searches using various search methods in an independent way.


General competence:

The student will be able to develop an original problem statement, and use the problem statement to complete and present a literature review on a high academic level.

Credits (ECTS)

3 ECTS Credits (80% attendance during lectures and academic paper)

1 ECTS Credits (80% attendance during lectures )

Specific terms

Form of assessment

The assessment criteria at the Faculty of Psychology will be used. Pass or fail

3 ECTS Credits: Pass included 80 % attendance during lectures and approval of academic paper (2500-3000 words) where the PhD student demonstrates how he or she can carry out a literature review in his or her doctoral thesis. The paper will be assessed (approved/revise and resubmit) by the course coordinator or instructor. The workload for the paper is estimated to be 2 weeks. The PhD student should set aside enough time for work with the prescribed course texts and the paper before the set submission deadline.

1 ECTS Credits: 80% attendance during lectures.

Who may participate

The course is primarily for PH-D candidates. Others can apply to attend.

Studypoints will be given candidates that are enrolled at the doctoral program at UiB

Addtional information

Supplementary course information

Teaching will be organized as lectures and cases at the University of Bergen. Also, databases, search engines, and tools will be demonstrated. In addition, the course will have digital elements integrated in the course design (e.g. ¿flipped classroom¿).

The Phd students¿ project descriptions will form the basis for further discussion regarding the use of literature reviews in light of project foci and research questions. The Phd students will become aware of the role that the literature review can have in their own projects.


Rune Johan Krumsvik


Phone: 555 84 807

Academic responsibility

Professor Rune Johan Krumsvik

Reading list

Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32.

Barnett-Page, E., & Thomas, J. (2009). Methods for the synthesis of qualitative research: a critical review. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 9(1), 1-11.

Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2012). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review.

London: Sage.

Boote, D. N., & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.

Cronin, P., Ryan, F., & Coughlan, M. (2008). Undertaking a literature review: a step-by-step approach. British Journal of Nursing, 17(1), 38-43.

Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 59(2), 661-686.

Gough, D., Oliver, S., & Thomas, J. (2013). Learning from research: Systematic reviews for informing policy decisions: A quick guide. A paper for the Alliance for Useful Evidence. London: NESTA.

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108.

Jesson, J. K., Matheson, L., & Lacey, F. M. (2011). Doing your literature review: traditional and systematic techniques. London: Sage.

Krumsvik, R. J., & Røkenes, F. M. (2016). Litteraturreview i ph.d-avhandlingen. I: R.J. Krumsvik (red.), En doktorgradsutdanning i endring. Et fokus på den artikkelbaserte ph.d-avhandlingen (s. 51-91). Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Maxwell, J. A. (2006). Literature reviews of, and for, educational research: A commentary on Boote and Beile¿s ¿Scholars before researchers¿. Educational Researcher, 35(9), 28-31.

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Literature reviews: Finding and critiquing evidence. In D. F. Polit & C. T. Beck (Eds.), Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice (10 ed., pp. 87- 116). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

Course location

Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen