Faculty of Social Sciences

The thesis

Working on a thesis is the main part of the doctoral education, normally 2.5 years of the standard period of study of three years. The thesis will be assessed by an evaluation committee and will be defended at a public defence.

The thesis must be an independent scientific work of a high professional standard. It must help develop new academic knowledge, meet international standards within the field and must be publishable as a part of the scientific literature within the field of research. The thesis may be a separate work or a continuation of earlier academic work.

The level of skills must be the same as for the degree of PhD and Doctor Philosophiae. This principle refers to the academic and professional level and quality, not to the extent of the thesis. If no organized training has been attended at the level of Doctor Philosophiae, one’s work on the thesis should be somewhat more extensive.

No matter the degree, the doctoral candidate must satisfy the same minimum requirements as far as research skills are concerned and the formulation of the problem, precision and logical stringency, originality, mastery of the analytical methods employed and reflection on their possibilities and limitations and an overview and understanding of and a reflected stance vis-à-vis other research in the field.

When the thesis is being assessed, special emphasis will be placed on whether it is an independent and coherent scientific work of a high professional and academic standard in terms of the formulation of the problems, the methodical, theoretical and empirical basis, documentation, the way in which literature has been treated, and rendering. In particular, whether the material and methods suit the questions posed in the thesis will be assessed as will whether the arguments and conclusions presented hold water.

Guidelines for the Evaluation of Candidates for Norwegian Doctoral Degrees from The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions will be sent to the expert committee’s members and will form the basis for assessing whether the thesis meets the standards required of a Norwegian doctorate.

The thesis may be a monograph or compilation of several shorter works whose contents form a whole. There must be an English summary (1-3 pages). The thesis or parts of it do not have to have been published beforehand. The expert committee assesses whether the contribution is of a standard high enough to be published in periodicals with referees or by a recognized publishing house.

The University of Bergen and our printer have drawn up simple and useful guidelines and templates which should be perused early on in the writing process. 

As you approach the last stages of working on your thesis you must inform your deparment of the forthcoming submission. This will help your department in finding an evaluation committee in due time.

The thesis – or parts of it – do not need to have been published before.



Joint work

Joint work may be submitted for assessment if the candidate’s contribution represents independent work identifiable to the extent necessary for assessment. In such cases, declarations must be obtained from the co-authors clarifying the extent of co-authorship in the work.

If the thesis is a monograph, the candidate must normally be the sole author. A thesis in its entirety can only occasionally be joint work between two candidates. In such cases, the extent of the thesis must be equivalent to two standard doctoral theses. Each candidate’s independent work must be clearly defined and consist of approximately half of the scientific work.

Article-based theses

The rules for the degree of PhD at the University of Bergen state the following concerning theses based on articles:

Section 10.1 Thesis requirements (summary):

Several works may be approved as portions of a thesis if their content constitutes a whole. In addition to the individual parts, an abstract accounting for the thesis as a whole must then be prepared.

Section 10.2 Joint work

Joint work is accepted for assessment (including as one of several works, cf. Section 10.1), provided the PhD candidate's contribution represents an independent effort that can be identified to the extent necessary for the assessment. In such cases, statements must be obtained from the other authors, or their central representatives, and possibly from others involved in the work, in order to identify the contribution made by the doctoral candidate. Joint work should, as far as possible, be agreed upon in advance.

If a written work has been produced in collaboration with other authors, the PhD candidate must follow the norms for co-authorship that are generally accepted in their academic community and in accordance with international standards.

In theses that include work with multiple authors, a signed declaration that describes the PhD candidate's input in each work must be enclosed.


Number of articles

A thesis should in addition to the summary comprise of at least 3 articles of standard length with the candidate as sole or main author. If this condition is not met the candidate should increase the number of articles. The candidate must be the sole author of the summary.

It is the evaluation committee that makes the final assessment as to whether the independent efforts of a PhD candidate are of sufficient extent and satisfactory quality for the thesis to be publicly defended.


If the thesis has been co-authored, the candidate’s independent work must be identified and documented by a declaration/declarations from the co-author/co-authors clarifying the extent of co-authorship involved in the individual works. These declarations must be sent with the candidate’s application to the faculty when presenting himself/herself for the degree of PhD.

The summary

The summary of the thesis must not only summarize but must also present the problems and conclusions in the articles as a whole to document the coherency of the thesis. The contribution of the thesis to the field of research concerned must also be outlined.


Production and printing

UiB has a framework agreement with the printing company Skipnes to facilitate the printing of the final version of the doctoral thesis - copies for the public defence and libraries. The aim is to ensure an easy, reasonably priced and professional management of the process from manuscript to finished thesis.

If you are ready to have your thesis printed, you can go directly to Skipnes' webpage. Here you can place an online order, upload your thesis and find detailed advice regarding the printing process. If your thesis is not ready for printing yet, we still encourage you to look into the advice concerning format below. It can be well worth making decisions on format early in the writing process.

If the thesis is recommended, it should be publically available two weeks before the public defence. Printing copies for the venue of the public defence and the library should start right after recommendation.

Skipnes estimates the price for the alternatives available and the candidate discusses the cost of such with the department. The candidate must order minimum 20 copies of the thesis. These copies will be sent to your department and made available during the public defence. You confer with your department on the use of these copies after the public defence. Additionally, Skipnes will print 8 copies for the university library and the national library, automatically included on your order.

The department pays for the costs of the five copies submitted for assessment and the 28 copies for the library and the public defence.

Before printing one may correct formal errors such as misspelling and syntactical errors. An erratum should be made listing all corrections made compared to the committee’s version. The faculty has made a template of how an erratum can be set up. The erratum should be adhered to the copies at the venue for the public defence. The erratum is not meant to be read by the committee.

AiT must be used to print the 28 copies for libraries and the venue for the public defence. It is recommended that the candidate use AiT to print the five copies for the assessment committee.