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Guidelines for applicants for PhD positions

Guidelines for applicants for PhD positions at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen.

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Eivind Senneset

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Below please find information which is relevant for applicants for PhD positions, and anyone else applying for admission to the Faculty of Law’s PhD programme.

1. Application format and content

If you are applying for a PhD position you must use the electronic application form in Jobbnorge. Applications must include information about: personal data, education, work experience and any academic activities, teaching experience and administrative experience.

Advertisements may be either be open ("PhD position in law") or aimed at a specific academic field (e.g. “competition law”) or linked to a specific research project. Forthe latter two, the project specification must be consistent with the requirements listed in the job advertisement.

For admission, a five-year Master's degree or equivalent is required, in accordance with the descriptions in the second cycle of the qualification framework. The Faculty may, following a separate assessment, approve another equivalent education asbasis for admission.

Applicants are to provide documentation  of an academic level which is high enough to qualify them for undertaking a PhD project within the framework provided by the applicable governing regulations and Faculty guidelines. Their project plan must demonstrate that their PhD project canbe completed within three years. If the project plan is to last longerit will require special approval, e.g. in connection with employment in a teaching position/admission to the programme. Further detailed guidelines on the general qualification requirements and the criteria for approving other equivalent education are availablein the guidelines for the committee which assesses applicants to the programme.

The Faculty of Law’s PhD education normally provides for tuition in the field of law. The project for which an applicant is admitted must therefore bewithin the recognised definition of law.. Projects may contain substantial interdisciplinary elements and perspectives. Anyone applying for admission on the basis of non-traditional projects that are not of  a legal-dogmaticmay be regarded as being qualified for undertaking the project without having a degree in law. The specific assessment of an applicant’s qualifications are linked to the assessment of their ability to undertake a specific research project. These assessments are madewhen the faculty makes its decision regarding employment and/or admission to the PhD programme. 

A good command of English is expected for applicants without a knowledge of Norwegian or another Scandinavian language. Language qualifications will be tested in writing and orally.

Applications must be accompanied by the following appendices:

  • the application form 
  • project description
  • CV
  • academic productions (articles and monographs), max. 10
  • Master’s thesis or equivalent independent work carrying a minimum of 30 credits (if this has been published online it is sufficient to provide a link)
  • certificates and transcript of grades. Applicants who have been educated outside Scandinavia must attach NOKUT accreditation of their qualifications, a certified translation in English or a Scandinavian language, official documentation showing which marks on their certificate are equivalent to a high academic level, and the criteria which form the basis of such assessment.
  • As regards co-authorship, applicants must submit a co-authorship statement which specifies how the authors have collaborated and if necessary which parts of the work have been written by either or the authors. Sole authorship or first authorship will generally count for more than second authorship. If an applicant co-authors work with a highly experienced researcher, any work in which the parties’ individual contributions cannot be identified will be slightly marked lower, if the quality derived from the applicant cannot be identified.

Diplomas and certificates in languages other than Scandinavian languages or English must be translated by an authorised translator.

If the applicant has academic work in the form of articles or monographs, these must be enclosed, cf. 3 a) below. If the applicant has more than 10 such works, a selection must be made.

If an applicant wishes to be included in the PhD programme without applying for a fellowship at the Faculty, a separate agreement between the Faculty and the candidate’s employer will be required which covers funding the education, etc. This agreement does not need to be attached to the application, but the application will not be processed until such an agreement has been entered into.

 

2. Project description

2.1 Preparation of project descriptions

Applicants shall enclose a project description. If no such description is enclosed or if it contains obvious deficiencies, the applicant will be judged as being unqualified.

At some faculties, project descriptions are written by the applicants themselves, without any input from potential future supervisors. At other faculties, supervisors and others in the research group are involved in drawing up project descriptions. The latter cases will usually be most common in tightly integrated research projects. The contents of project descriptions can be discussed with professionals at the Faculty or other academic institutions, but project descriptions must be independent pieces of work. The Faculty does not pay for professionals providingguidance in connection with the application process.

Project descriptions should be8-10 pages long, 12 pages maximum. They must bein a Scandinavian language or in English.

These are items which you should place emphasis on in connection with a project description if you write one yourself, if you are involved in preparing one, or if you areto assess one in connection with employment. 

 

2.2 Academic content of project descriptions

• The project’s overall topic and hypotheses/approaches to the problem at hand must be clearly explained. The project description should identify a theme which is adequately specific and limited to qualify it for being processed in a PhD project.

• The reasoning behind and justification for the project must be explained. The applicant must show that the project will contribute towards providing new knowledge in the subject area and that the knowledge which is included will form the basis for further research.

• A good knowledge of the relevant national and international fields of research must be documented, along with how the project relates to existing research.

• The applicant must show that the project’s theory and method can be applied to the approach to the problem at hand or that good opportunities exist for developing suitable methods and theories during the course of the research project. The analysis methods must be described.

• The risks associated with the project must be addressed: the applicant should explain which aspects of the project are particularly challenging and which could potentially cause problems during the execution of the project. The applicant should also explain how he/she is planning to handle such challenges.

• Any possible ethical observations concerning the research project must be presented.

• Any restrictions relating to intellectual property rights must be notified in order to protect the rights of others.

 

2.3 Implementation plan

• The project description must contain a progress plan relating to the various aspects of the research work.

• It must be clearly shown that the project can be completed within the normal timeframe and the given funding framework. The normal timeframe is three years, or four years including teaching duties. Completing the PhD programme at a rate of progress that leads to a course of study that is longer than six years is not permitted,

• Documentation of special needs relating to academic and material resources must be presented.

• Any plans for staying at another research institution or enterprise should be presented.

• A draft plan describing the  implementation of the  training component of the PhD programme should be submitted. (link)

• Association with any other relevant research environments must be documented when applying for PhD positions at the Faculty.

2.4 Brief information about the position and the employment process.

Once the application deadline has expired, the Dean will appoint an expert committee which normally comprises two or three people. These people then make recommendations that indicate which applicants are generally qualified for a PhD position and rank the best applicants. Their recommendations are sent to the applicants for any comments which are to be submitted within 10 days. The appointment is made when the case is processed by the Faculty’s Research Committee which makes recommendations to the Appointments Committee which in turn makes the actual appointment. Applicants must also be included in the PhD programme, and this is subject to a separate decision which is often made when the Research Committee makes its appointment recommendations. The Research Committee also makes decisions about who is to be appointed as a project supervisor/supervisors.

PhD positions are time-limited (fixed-term appointments). The fixed term is three years, with six months constituting the education element, while the remaining time is reserved for writing a dissertation. PhD position terms can be extended to four years following an assessment of the fellow's expertise in exchange for the fellow undertaking 25% teaching duties. Such decisions are made by the Appointments Committee. If an applicant wants a 1-year teaching position, thus extending the PhD term to 4 years, a separate interview with the Faculty management may be required. This takes place once the Research Committee has made its recommendations and before the Appointments Committee makes its final appointment decision.

Applicants do not need to have obtained a supervisor for their projects before they submit their applications.

 

3. Qualifications for assessment

Generally speaking, when assessing which candidates are best qualified, emphasis is placed on education, experience and personal suitability. As regards PhD positions, applicants shall be assessed in particular by their ability to complete a doctorate within the framework provided for the position. Consequently applicants will be assessed to see if they display any potential for producing academic work in accordance with the description of standards which applies to legal doctorates within a timeframe of three years (or four years if teaching duties are included).

Please refer to the more detailed guidelines on the assessment of applicants for PhD positions here.

For applicants who only want to be admitted to PhD programme in law at the Faculty of Law in Bergen, the Research Committee undertakes its assessment in response to the recommendations received from the Research Committee’s Secretariat for Research Education, where emphasis will be placed on the same qualifications.

Adopted by the Faculty Board on 12 March 2019