Department of Philosophy

PhD in Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy in Bergen seeks to offer a PhD at a high international level, attracting promising students and providing them with the tools they need to become professional philosophers. The quality of PhD training provided at the Department is also critical in helping our doctoral students obtain relevant employment after completing the programme. To realize these ends, the PhD programme in Bergen consists of several activities in addition to the task of completing one’s dissertation.

PhD diplom liggende ved en bunke eldre bøker


The PhD programme comprises several requirements. Some of these result in academic credit (SP: study points) required for completion of the programme, while other obligatory activities are part of the training that do not result in academic credit. There are further activities that, though strongly recommended, are not required for completion of the degree.

The defining document for the training and activities offered to our PhD students in philosophy is the Faculty of Humanities PhD Programme (Programme plan - PhD at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Bergen”), to which the text below refers; for clarifications, please confer this document. 

SP earning requirements:

Non SP earning obligatory requirements:

Non SP earning activities that are recommended but not formally required:


PhD Courses

PhD courses may vary in size. Typically, a 3 SP PhD course will have a scope corresponding to 10 double hours of lecture/seminar with course syllabus and a written essay. Courses offered will normally consist of (1) advanced studies in various subject areas useful for several doctoral students. Courses may be external, local, or organized in collaboration with other institutions.

In addition to covering subject areas in philosophy, approved courses may also include such areas as career training concerning various aspects of the publishing process (this topic may also fall under the rubric of PhD Seminars if appropriate), or information about the job market, the application process, interview training, and writing project applications (learning about positions both in and outside of academia falls under this rubric).

Individualized PhD Courses

In order to develop each PhD student’s appreciation of the intellectual resources provided by different fields and traditions in philosophy, to make sure that each doctoral student who finishes the programme has competence in areas of philosophy outside the focus of the dissertation, and to foster greater social cohesion between our PhD students who work in widely diverse areas, the department also offers Individualized PhD Courses. The core of these courses consists in composing an essay on a topic outside that of the dissertation. A 3 SP essay might typically be 4-6 000 words long. The department has assembled reading lists, and students are expected to familiarize themselves with the material included in the relevant reading list in their preparations for writing the essay.  

The PhD student chooses an area-specific list for each essay and reserves enough time to go through the readings before the essay topic is handed out by the PhD coordinator in consultation with members of the faculty with expertise in the relevant area. The essay topic should be of obvious relevance to the chosen reading list. On the basis of her or his reading, the PhD student writes an essay to be evaluated on a pass/not pass basis by a member of the faculty with expertise in the area. The PhD student will normally be given 1 week to write the essay; the deadline given is not to be exceeded without good reason, and delays require approval by the PhD coordinator. Along with the no/ pass conclusion, the student will be given detailed written comments by an expert in the field. Typically, the PhD student and expert meet face to face to discuss the essay and comments. Students whose essays receive a mark of “not pass” will be required to revise their work according to a time frame determined by the PhD coordinator. The second round will also be accompanied by a new set of written comments by the expert. If a third revised version is still judged to be a “not pass”, the student will not be able to complete an Individualized PhD Course in that specific area. The student may choose a particular field of philosophy for an Individualized PhD Course only once.

PhD Seminars

The Department will arrange seminars at least twice per semester for its PhD students. These meetings, which are intended to serve both an educational and social function, will include training in giving and receiving constructive criticism in a forum that will also ensure that the Department’s PhD students are familiar with each other’s projects. As far as the discipline goes, the main goal is to provide practice in skills such as clarification, defining and presenting problems, and arguing for claims. 

The primary vehicle for developing and maintaining a rich and open disciplinary environment will be a 10-40 page essay distributed by one of the participants 1 week in advance of each seminar. All participants read the text in advance of the meeting. At the seminar, the student will not present her or his text but merely give a brief summary of its intended function and context (e.g. as a chapter in the dissertation or as a free-standing publication). One of the other PhD students will then have approximately 10 minutes to provide constructive commentary, after which other participants are expected to offer their comments as well.

The aim of the comments is to provide the PhD student with constructive help in improving the text. Accordingly, the author should not devote much time during the seminar to “defending her position”.

Mentoring and Student Teaching

For teaching that is not part of the ExPhil system (which has its own mentoring responsibilities), it is possible for the PhD student to ask that a faculty member serve as mentor for the PhD student’s teaching component. The core of this cooperation are discussions between the PhD student and the mentor (appointed by the PhD coordinator), where the PhD student, before or after the teaching assignment, describes plans, structure and completion and can receive comments and tips from the mentor. Possible further measures, such as the presence of the mentor during the student’s teaching, can be carried out on the basis of an agreement between the student and mentor.

External Presentations

Presentations at national and international philosophy conferences and similar venues are considered to be a natural part of the student’s activity during his or her time in the programme. The student is expected to finance participation in such activities primarily with the yearly personal discretionary funds available in connection with the PhD grant. Any financing by the department of travel, conference fees, and research stays requires prior approval.

Exchange with other Institutions

An extended research stay at a different institution, usually abroad, should be the norm for the department’s PhD students and is strongly encouraged. In order that the research stay benefits the PhD student, both with regard to progress with the dissertation project and with regard to future contacts in the field, the choice of host institution and planning of the stay should be done early on.