Faculty of Law

Description of the PhD programme at the Faculty of Law

Description of the PhD programme at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen. The PhD programme at the Faculty of Law leads to the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD).

Main content

Adopted by the Faculty Board 5.2.2019 and the University Board 11.4.2019. Revised 24 October 2019 (FU).

Name, objectives, and qualification of the programme


The PhD programme at the Faculty of Law leads to the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD).

The PhD programme at the Faculty of Law is authorised by the Regulation for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the University of Bergen.

Description of learning outcomes


The candidate shall

  • have knowledge of the theoretical premise of legal science as a scientific discipline, its methods and the various theoretical approaches to legal science
  • have knowledge of key questions, positions and discussions in the relevant field of study
  • be at the forefront of knowledge in his/hers field of study


The candidate shall

  • be able to conduct research and dissemination with academic integrity and in accordance with approved scientific and ethical principles
  • have developed the ability to formulate legal scientific research questions and plan and conduct research related to these questions at a high international level
  • be able to address complex legal science questions, critically assess established perspectives and theories, and challenge established knowledge and practice in his/hers field of study
  • contribute to the development of new knowledge, methods, interpretations and/or forms of documentation within legal science
  • have experience with and be able to provide constructive and critical feedback on the academic work of others, both orally and in writing

General competence

The candidate shall

  • be able to identify relevant ethical questions concerning own research work as well as others’ research work
  • be able to conduct research, including managing complex assignments and projects, and be able to identify potential interdisciplinary projects
  • be able to make qualified and informed decisions concerning his/hers methodological position, and concerning potential theoretical approaches and research questions
  • be able to disseminate research and subject-related development projects through recognised national and international channels
  • be able to participate in debates on legal science and legal policy both nationally and internationally
  • be able to assess the need for and carry out innovative activities concerning legal science



In order to become eligible for admission and enrol as a PhD candidate, you must have secured funding that covers both living costs and the costs relating to the research project for the entire doctoral training period. This could be an university fellowship of three or four years, a three-year scholarship from the Research Council of Norway or another external funding source.

At the Faculty of Law most PhD candidates hold positions as PhD fellows ("stipendiat") during their doctoral training period. When a position is available it will be advertised on our website www.uib.no/jur. To submit an application to an advertised position you must provide all the required information via the website JobbNorge (there will be a link in the advert).

Admission requirements

A 5-year Master’s degree or an equivalent university or university college degree is required for admission to the PhD programme, in accordance with the qualification framework. The Faculty may, after special consideration, approve a different education than the ones mentioned above as an equal basis for admission to the programme.

Applicants shall provide documentary evidence that they possess an academic level which is high enough to qualify them for undertaking a PhD project within the framework provided by the governing regulations and guidelines set by the Faculty at any given time. Applicants shall have a project plan which must demonstrate that their PhD project could be completed within 3 years. If the duration of the project plan is more extensive than 3 years, it is subject to special consideration and approval. Detailed guidelines on the qualification requirements and criterias for approving another education than a Master’s degree, are laid down in the guidelines for the assessment committee for applicants to the programme.

The PhD programme at the Faculty of Law provides training in legal science. The project for which an applicant is admitted must therefore fall within the recognised definition of this academic field which applies at any given time. 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-dogmatic nature may be regarded as being qualified for undertaking the project without having an education in law. The specific assessment of an applicant’s qualifications will be tied to the decision concerning employment and/or admission to the PhD-programme, and will be based on the applicant’s ability to undertake the research project in question.

Applicants without knowledge of Norwegian or any other Scandinavian language are expected to have satisfactory knowledge of English. Language qualifications will be tested both orally and in writing.

Applications must be accompanied by the following attachments:

  • Application form (link to application form) (only for external candidates who do not apply for a position as a doctoral research fellow at the Faculty)
  • Project description
  • CV
  • Previous academic projects (articles and monographs), maximum 10
  • Master’s thesis or another equivalent independent project of minimum 30 credits
  • Certificates and transcript of grades. Applicants educated outside Scandinavia must attach NOKUT accreditation of their qualifications, a certified translation in English or a Scandinavian language, in addition to official documentation showing which grades on their certificate are equivalent to a high academic level, and the criteria which form the basis of such assessment. If an applicant wishes to be admitted to the PhD programme without applying for a research fellow position at the Faculty, a separate agreement between the Faculty and the candidate’s employer will be required concerning the financing of the education, etc. The agreement does not need to be attached to the application, but the application will not be processed until such an agreement has been reached.

See instructions for applicants to the PhD programme

Agreement period

The agreement period and terms for extension of the PhD programme are determined in accordance with section 5-3 of the regulation.

Structure and content of the programme

Academic supervision

Applicants may contact employees at the Faculty for assistance concerning the application process, but the Faculty does not provide academic guidance concerning writing the project proposal. The applicant shall have the main responsibility for the project design.

PhD candidates shall be supervised individually while working with the thesis. The supervisor(s) is assigned on admission. At least one of the supervisors should be employed in a permanent position at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen. The academic supervisor(s) must have a doctoral degree or an equivalent academic competence in the relevant field of study.

The academic supervisor(s) is appointed by the Research Committee (FU) or by the chair of the Research Committee by authorisation of FU.

During the period of supervision both the candidate and the supervisor(s) have responsibilities and duties concerning the PhD project. The method of communication and working interaction between the candidate and the supervisor(s), and between the main- and the co-supervisors, should be clarified at an early stage.  As soon as possible, and no later than one month after admission, the PhD candidate and the main supervisor shall collectively review the project description and consider potential needs for adjustments.

The primary responsibilities and duties of the academic supervisor(s) are to ensure that the project has an acceptable and sustainable progress at all times. The supervisor(s) responsibilities also include helping the candidate develop a contact network and establish himself/herself in the relevant academic communities, both at the Faculty and externally. The candidate has the main responsibility for the progression of the project. The candidate shall, within the agreed deadlines, produce text and provide material so that the supervisor(s) can assess the project's development and advice on further progress. The candidate and supervisor(s) should communicate frequently. Both parties, but especially the candidate, are responsible for ensuring that the project develops in a way that results in the completion of the compulsory parts of the PhD programme and the mid-way evaluation, and that the project is delivered by the final deadline. The scope of the supervision time constitutes a specific hourly rate, as established by the Faculty.

A change of supervisor is possible when the collaboration between candidate and supervisor is not working, or when the project is gravitating towards a somewhat different field of study which suggests that a change of supervisor would be natural.

Mid-way evaluation

The primary purpose of the mid-way evaluation is to ensure and improve the quality of the PhD project and to ensure sufficient progress during the remaining time.

The mid-way evaluation shall result in an evaluation report describing the status of the PhD project, along with specified recommendations on the strategy moving forward towards completion of the project. For candidates who clearly do not have the expected progression or for any other reason are facing major challenges related to the completion of the project, the evaluation report should include a time-limited follow-up plan.

The mid-way evaluation is to be conducted when the candidate is half way through the course of their PhD education. The mid-way evaluation cannot be substituted by some other kind of project presentation.

The mid-way evaluation is carried out as a seminar where the PhD candidate presents the project as subject to discussion. No later than four weeks prior to the mid-way evaluation, the candidate shall send a text material to all seminar participants.

If the candidate is writing a dissertation in the format of a monograph, the text material shall consist of a manuscript, including a table of contents or outline, of 25 000 - 40 000 words, as well as an additional text of no more than 3 pages. This additional text should offer an overview of the project. It should also contextualize the excerpt, explain the reason why this particular text was selected as material for the evaluation, and mention what other text material that has been produced so far.  

If the candidate is writing an article-based dissertation, the text material for the midway evaluation shall consist of an article that has been sent to a publisher, a draft of a second article, and a revised project description of 15-20 pages that offers a revised description of the project as a whole.

The seminar discussion will provide the basis for evaluating the progression of the PhD project and of the training component included in the PhD programme. An appointed commentator shall assure the quality of the discussion and evaluation through being given main responsibility for reviewing and assessing the presented material. The commentator must have a doctoral degree in law. Other participants in the seminar are normally the PhD candidate, the supervisor(s) and the moderator.

Progress reporting

Both candidate and main supervisor are obliged to submit an annual progress report. The Dean of Research has main responsibility for following up the reports through appraisal interviews and/or follow-up interviews with the candidate.

Coursework component

The training component (30 credits) consists of a compulsory part and an open part.

Compulsory topics (20 credits):

  • Introduction to legal science and writing a thesis (3 credits)
  • Legal sources and the methodological pluralism of legal science (3 credits)
  • Introduction to legal theory (3 credits)
  • Empirical perspectives in legal science (3 credits)
  • Text quality (3 credits)
  • Dissemination of legal research (2 credits)
  • Role understanding and project development (3 credits)

Open part (10 credits):

The candidate shall choose external subjects, attend seminars and/or conferences corresponding to 10 credits.

Relevant courses, seminars and conferences are announced on this website, via supervisors or through other channels. As a consequence of a continuously changing variety of relevant activities, the Faculty of Law have not compiled them into a list. As a PhD candidate you must therefore ensure to keep yourself updated through different forums on what is relevant in your field of research.

See course descriptions and more information on the open part on our website.

Education completed five years prior or less may be included in the PhD degree. Such incorporation of previous education is subject to application.


See requirements for the thesis in the Regulations for the Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) degree at the University of Bergen and in the qualification document for legal PhD theses.

Candidates may choose between writing a monograph or an article collection. The choice should be made at an early stage in the project and after consultation with the supervisor(s). Guidelines for artcile based dissertations can be found here.

The thesis shall be written in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.


About three months before the estimated date of submission, the candidate should notify the Faculty of the tentative title and submit about half a page of text describing the subject of the thesis so that the process of finding an assessment committee can be initiated.


The candidate must submit an application for assessment to the Faculty, which consists of an abstract in English of 1-2 pages and the thesis. In the application the candidate shall declare that the thesis is submitted for the first or second time, and that the thesis has not been submitted for assessment to any other institution.

The assessment shall be released no later than three months after the committee received the thesis and no later than six weeks before any tentative date for the public defence.

No later than three weeks before the public defence, the candidate will deliver a press release together with a portrait photo to the Faculty. The press release should be in Norwegian and adhere to UiB's press release guide.

See separate description of process and procedures for submission and public defence (link).

Quality assurance

Evaluation system for the PhD programme

The PhD programme at the Faculty of Law will be evaluated every five years.