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Doctoral studies

On this page you can find information regarding:

In addition, the following links provide further key information related to doctoral studies at our department:

Individual study plan

The individual study plan (ISP) is a web-based living document that documents a doctoral student’s plans and progresses throughout the entire doctoral studies program. The ISP shall include a time plan for the doctoral student’s studies and thesis work, including courses, the organization of meetings with the supervisors, teaching and other departmental work and a funding plan for the doctoral studies.

The individual study plan shall be revised at least once a year, usually in the autumn term. A reminder, in the form of an email notification, will be sent to the doctoral student and main supervisor 11 months after the most recent adoption of the ISP. Both doctoral student and main supervisor may directly edit the plan while second supervisors can only access the PDF version of the plan.

For further guidance see the faculty page on the ISP system, including an ISP user manual:

Link to the faculty page on the ISP system

The Social Science Doctoral Student Council (SDR) regularly holds workshops together with the doctoral ombudsperson (DOMB) on ISPs.

sdr [at] ldk [dot] lu [dot] se (For more information, please contact the chair of the SDR using this e-mail link.) 

Discussion on expectations

To ensure that you and your supervisor are aware of each other’s expectations,  refer to the questionnaire below as a basis for discussion. Please fill out and discuss the questionnaire soon after the main supervisor has been assigned.

Upon the initiative of the supervisor, please repeat this in connection with the mid-term seminar, to revisit how expectations and experiences about supervision, research, teaching and workload have changed and if there is any need for action.

Feel free to revisit the questionnaire on other occasions where needed and suitable.

Material for a discussion about expectations (pdf, opens in a new window).

Doctoral student coursework 

The course component of the doctoral studies program includes methodology courses (30 credits) as well as specialised courses (30 credits), chosen for their relevance to the thesis work. 

The department offers two methods courses in the spring term, which are mandatory in the doctoral student’s first year, Research Methodologies (15 credits) and Applied Methods (7.5 credits) (see below). The doctoral students are also required to take one additional course in methodology (at least 7.5 credits), usually a more specialized course that focuses on methods to be applied in the thesis project.

Courses during the first year of the doctoral studies

The first year of the doctoral studies at the department includes the following courses:

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Course on research ethics

In addition, doctoral students need to attend a two-week faculty course on ‘Research Ethics’ at the beginning of their second year (3 credits), for which they also need to register  individually.

Link to the course on Research Ethics

Additional courses

Within their first ca. 13 months, the doctoral students thus obtain up to 49.5 credits, which leaves at least 10.5 credits of coursework for the remainder of their doctoral studies. At least 7.5 credits of these should be obtained through methods courses.

These additional courses are selected in consultation with the supervisors and director of doctoral  studies and may include, for instance, reading courses (see below), other faculty courses or external courses (see below).  Doctoral students have to fund their participation in these courses out of their so-called "backpack money"  or apply for external funding through grants and scholarships. 

Read more about backpack money here

Reading course

A ”reading course” is a specific type of third cycle (doctoral student level) course that does not involve any teaching. There are typically only one or a few participants who take part in the course. A reading course can deal with broad overviews of the field (i.e., “classics within IR”) or can be more narrowly focused on a particular set of theories or topic areas. 

Reading courses for 7.5 university credits (“högskolepoäng”) should include around 2500 pages of reading material, but this can vary depending on the nature of the texts. (A large number of articles, for example, could allow for a somewhat lower total number of pages.) 

The doctoral student and supervisor(s) take initiatives for developing reading lists. Based on their consultation, the main supervisor sends a proposed topic and list of readings to the director of studies for review. Examination is performed by a full or associate professor (“professor” or “docent”) at the department. The course is examined on the basis of a written paper of around 10-15 pages and/or through an oral examination. 

Registration of completed doctoral studies courses

Completed doctoral studies courses are registered through the submission by the doctoral student of a certificate, with a course certificate attached where applicable, to the director of studies for doctoral studies. The latter ensures that the completed courses are recorded in Ladok. If you wish to follow external courses, please contact the director of doctoral studies beforehand to talk about the possible recognition of credit points.

Current and planned courses at the Faculty of Social Sciences

You find current and planned courses on the faculty internal staff pages.

Doctoral studies method courses and retreats

Doctoral students are encouraged to participate in external courses and summer schools to complement their education with more specialized or topical training. Doctoral students at the Department of Political Science have traditionally attended, among others, the ECPR’s summer and winter schools, the ICPSR Summer School at University of Michigan, USA, or the Summer School at University of Essex, UK. Please consult the director of doctoral studies to discuss credit points before you attend an external course.

Doctoral student thesis work

The thesis can take the form of a monograph or a compilation thesis in which different parts (in the form of academic, preferably published, papers) are gathered under a summarizing chapter.

Monograph theses

A monograph thesis is usually a unified text written by a single author, divided into chapters, and dealing with a single theme. It is recommended that doctoral students who wish to write this type of thesis should direct their efforts accordingly right from the beginning, or at least at an early stage in the thesis-writing process. The structure of the work should be reflected in the individual study plan.

The length of monograph theses varies. The faculty’s printing grant, however, has a fixed ceiling which is determined on a yearly basis. In addition to other expenses related to the public defense of the thesis, this amount must suffice to cover the cost of printing a mandatory edition of copies (contact the Director of doctoral studies for the exact number). A thesis which is not written in English must be accompanied by a summary in English. 

Compilation theses

A compilation thesis should contain a number of scholarly essays as well as a summarizing introductory chapter (“kappa”), which clarifies what total contribution to research the assembled articles represent. As with a monograph thesis, an overall assessment is made of the scholarly quality of the compilation thesis. If the author of the thesis has produced a scholarly work equivalent to a monograph thesis, the compilation thesis can be put forward for public defense. 

It is recommended that doctoral students who wish to write this type of thesis direct their efforts accordingly from the beginning, or at least at an early stage in the thesis-writing process. The structure of the work should be reflected in the individual study plan. 

Usually, three to five scholarly essays are included in the thesis. The essays are to be already published or publishable works, either in journals or in scholarly anthologies. Specifically, the thesis should contain at least one article accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. At least two of the essays must have been written by a single author, and preferably no more than one should be co-authored with the supervisor and/or assistant supervisor. In co-authored works, the division of work between the various authors must be documented in some way. The length of the essays and the number of co-authored essays, just as the number of authors these have, are weighed together in the assessment of the number of articles the thesis should contain. 

An example of the contents of a compilation thesis would be a published article, a submitted article, a chapter from an anthology and an article manuscript. 

The purpose of the introductory chapter (“kappan”) is to act as an overview, in which the individual essays are placed in context and their total contribution is highlighted. The recommended length of the summarizing chapter is around 10,000 words. This is to be considered, however, in light of the content of the articles. An introductory essay should strive to deepen and broaden those features of the dissertation’s topic that have not been given due attention in the articles. 

The essays should address a common theme but must be independent of each other from the point of view of content. Normally, the majority of essays should be written in English. 

The department has developed internal guidelines for monograph theses and compilation theses for a degree of licentiate. 

Guidelines for a degree of licentiate


Three formal milestone seminars are devised to help the doctoral students in the various stages of their doctoral studies. Roughly one year into their employment, a planning seminar is held in which the doctoral student presents his or her ideas in the form of a draft. About midway, a mid-term seminar provides an opportunity for feedback and comments, while the manuscript conference seminar discusses the thesis manuscript in its relatively definitive form. After internal examination ("grönläsning") of the final manuscript by two senior researchers at the Department, only the formal public defence of the thesis remains. 

Those approaching the end of their doctoral studies, see our guidance for the final phase of the dissertation process.

Guidance for the final phase of the dissertation process.

Do you have questions regarding your employment? Please, contact:

Assistant Head of Department Doctoral studies
Ted Svensson
E-mail: ted [dot] svensson [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (ted[dot]svensson[at]svet[dot]lu[dot]se)
Telephone: +46 46 222 03 43

Do you have questions regarding your education? Please, contact:

Director of Doctoral Studies
Sara Kalm
Telephone: +46 46 222 01 58
E-mail: sara [dot] kalm [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se (sara[dot]kalm[at]svet[dot]lu[dot]se)