PhD Programme in Social Work and Social Policy Programme description

Programme name, Norwegian
Doktorgradsprogram i sosialt arbeid og sosialpolitikk
Valid from
2019 FALL
ECTS credits
180 ECTS credits
6 semesters
Here you can find an example schedule for first year students.
Programme history


The purpose of the PhD programme in Social Work and Social Policy is to qualify candidates for research, teaching, development work and other work in the field of social work and social policy that demands great academic insight. There is growing demand for people who meet the increased qualification requirements for new knowledge and understanding.

The PhD programme is interdisciplinary in that it is based on contributions from several disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. The programme is characterised by methodological and theoretical pluralism, while at the same time emphasising that individual PhD candidates should have freedom to pursue in-depth studies.

The PhD programme is intended to contribute to the phenomena under investigation being analysed in their historical, social and cultural context, and it also emphasises an international and comparative perspective. This applies both to research into relations between social workers and their clients and to the implementation of social policy programmes. The link between social work and social policy makes it possible to examine how measures and decisions influence people's everyday lives, living conditions and quality of life and health in different phases and ways of life, and how the individual's circumstances must be understood in light of social policy factors. In this perspective, social work and social policy are mutually enriching fields.

The PhD programme consists of an academic training/course component (30 ECTS credits) and a research component (150 ECTS credits).

Nominal length of study

The PhD programme in Social Work and Social Policy is intended to be completed within an effective researcher training period of three years, alternatively four years including mandatory duties (pliktarbeid).

Target group

The target group for the PhD programme consists of people with a background in social work, health sciences, the social sciences or the humanities who wish to achieve research competence in the field of social work and social policy.

Admission requirements

Reference is made to Section 2 of the Regulations Relating to the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at Oslo Metropolitan University (hereinafter referred to as the Regulations relating to the PhD Degree at OsloMet).

To be admitted to the PhD programme, applicants must have completed a subject at second degree level under the pre-2003 system ('hovedfag') , a master's degree (120 ECTS credits) or an equivalent education in social work, health sciences, social sciences or the humanities.

Applications for admission must contain a plan for the programme. The plan must contain a project description, a plan for the training component, a schedule, a funding plan and a proposal for academic supervisor(s). The final decision on academic supervisors is made by the faculty's doctoral committee. The project description shall describe the topic, research question, theoretical basis and choice of method. The description must set out a time schedule for the different parts of the research work. In the case of comprehensive data collection, financing must be clarified.

Reference is made to the application form available on the faculty's website.

Admission is based on the relevance and quality of the project description, and on funding. The quality of the applicant's master's degree thesis/thesis at second degree level and other written work can also be taken into consideration. Decisions on admission are made by the doctoral committee at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Oslo Metropolitan University. Admission is formalised in a contract between the PhD candidate, the academic supervisor and the university college, and, if relevant, also between the university and any external institutions. The contract specifies the parties' mutual rights and obligations. The contract must also state the topic of the thesis, the contract period, the funding plan, matters relating to the academic supervisors, place of work and the training component. Admission is granted subject to funding being approved.

The PhD program is an organized research education, and assigned fellows shall have an office space in the academic community (residence duty) and participate in research groups. Externally funded candidates participate in research groups at their own workplace or in one of the faculty's research groups.

Admission requirements for external applicants to individual courses

  • The courses are primarily offered to PhD candidates.
  • Applicants must submit a summary of about one A4 page in length containing information about their PhD project or another project/area of interest and stating the topic, method, theoretical approach, how far they have progressed in their PhD studies, if relevant, and why they consider the course in question to be relevant to their own project.
  • If places are available, some of the courses will be open to applicants who have completed a master's degree (120 ECTS credits) or equivalent education in social work, health sciences, social sciences or humanities. A grade B or better for the master's degree thesis or the master's degree is a minimum requirement.

The maximum number of course participants is 15.

Rejections of applications for admission can be appealed pursuant to the Regulations Relating to Studies and Examinations at Oslo Metropolitan University

Learning outcomes

After completing the PhD programme, the candidates are expected to have gained the following knowledge, skills and general competence:



  • are at the cutting edge of their subject area and can relate the subject area to philosophy of science issues
  • can, in an expedient manner, assess and apply different methodological approaches to the development of researchable questions in the subject area
  • have researcher competence in the field of social work and social policy
  • can contribute to the development and production of new knowledge and new theories in the subject area


Candidates are capable of

  • functioning as independent researchers within their subject area
  • formulating research questions in the field of social work and social policy
  • presenting research at national and international research conferences and in other forums
  • presenting research in popular science form
  • supervising candidates at different levels

General competence

Candidates are capable of

  • critically assessing research literature in relation to theory and methodology
  • communicating research on their field both nationally and internationally
  • relating their research to the general area of knowledge
  • contributing to knowledge production in their field on the basis of their analytical work
  • identifying and reflecting on research ethics issues in their own and others' research

The gender perspective

In addition to a separate specialisation course, Interaction of Social Categories , gender will be analysed not only as a variable, but as an analytical category. This applies to the assessment of other research, teaching and the development of one's own project.


During the planning of the research project, ethical considerations will be important in all phases of the project as well as in the training component.

Source references

Correct use of source references and verifiability are required in all research. Candidates must comply with the guidelines for correct referencing and use of quotations in both their training component and research component. Inadequate references can be deemed to constitute plagiarism and cheating, and can constitute a breach of research ethics guidelines, cf. the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges Sections § 4-13.

Content and structure

The PhD programme consists of a training component (30 ECTS credits) and a research component (150 ECTS credits).

Training component (30 ECTS credits)

The training component in the social work and social policy programme must have been completed and approved before the thesis is submitted, cf. Regulations Relating to the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at Oslo Metropolitan University.

The training component is intended to underpin the PhD candidate's research. It consists of a mandatory part that provides a theoretical, methodological and research ethics grounding that will help candidates in the work on their theses. In addition, the candidate must take an elective course worth 5 ECTS credits.  Candidates shall take the following courses in their training component:

  • Theory course, 10 ECTS credits.

  • Methodology, 10 ECTS credits.

  • Philosophy of Science, 5 ECTS creedtis

  • Elective specialisation course, 5 ECTS credits.

The mandatory theory course is Ideas and Concepts in Social Work and Social Policy and must be taken in th PhD programme. The other courses can be taken within the programme or at other universities or university colleges in Norway and abroad.

Elective specialisation courses - 5 ECTS credits

Within the framework of the programme, the following subjects have been developed that can be included in the specialisation part:

  • Children in the Welfare State.

  • Research Ethics.

  • Interaction of Social Categories.

  • Practice-based Research and Action Research in Social Work.

  • Social inequality, health and work inclusion: theory, research approaches and empirical findings

The academic specialisation options in the PhD programme vary from semester to semester, and will depend on the candidate's interests and academic specialisation, as well as on ongoing research at the department. We refer to the faculty website for up-to-date information about courses offered in the current and upcoming semesters. Candidates should also keep informed about relevant courses offered outside the department/faculty's PhD programme, and at other institutions in Norway and abroad.

Reference is made in this context to the University of Oslo's website for PhD courses in social science subjects, which contains relevant links to PhD courses offered by universities and research communities in Norway and abroad.

Up to 5 credits of academic training may be taken as teaching or research activities under the current rules:

  • Upon application, the presentation of papers at international conferences can be approved as part of the academic training component, up to 3 credits in total. Up to 2 credits are awarded for one presentation.

  • Dissemination with their original lecture, for example to BA or MA- students: 1 credit for  four teaching hours (excluding factor), up to 2 credits in total. This applies to graduates with no mandatory duties (pliktarbeid), and graduates with no teaching duties in their mandatory duties.

  • Study or research at a foreign institution: 1 credit for the first two weeks, then 1 credit for each week. The stay should be at least two weeks. Plan for the stay must be approved by the supervisor and confirmed by the external institution. Participants must submit a written report afterwards. The credits can only be granted if ECTS rewarding course is not taken simultaneously.

  • Other activities on application.

The faculty doctoral committee assess the application and scope of credits.


The thesis component

The key component of the programme is the work on a research thesis. The thesis can consist of one long text (monograph) or several shorter articles, provided that they are thematically related. A compilation of multiple, smaller pieces of work is accepted as a thesis if the PhD candidate's independent contribution can be identified and documented, and if there is a connection between the works and if this connection is accounted for in the introduction to the article-based thesis ('kappe') (cf. the Regulations relating to the PhD Degree at OsloMet). An article-based thesis must consist of at least three articles. If the academic supervisor is of the opinion that more than three articles are necessary to ensure the quality of the thesis, more articles can be required (cf. the guidelines for writing articles ('retningslinjer for artikkelskriving') available on the faculty website for  PhD programmes.

Assessment is regulated by the Regulations relating to the PhD Degree at OsloMet Sections 6 and 7. The Regulations contain supplementary provisions and more detailed guidelines on the assessment procedure for submitted theses.

Teaching and learning methods

The training component

Teaching methods will vary in all courses. They can range from lectures, discussions and verbal or written presentations by candidates to individual feedback.

Most courses will be held as seminars and have a duration of three or four days. Participation is mandatory, and candidates are expected to attend all days of teaching. A minor absence can only be accepted in special cases (up to 20 %), upon application. In the event of absences that are not approved, candidates will lose their right to have their essays assessed.

If there are less than six applicants for an advertised course, the teaching can be given as a guided reading topic.

Upon application, up to 5 credits of the study section may be submitted as teaching or research activities according to the given rules, see under Assessment.

Participation in thesis seminars and midway assessments

Various work-shops and seminars will be organized where relevant research and research education issues are discussed and the fellows will be participants in the Institute's monthly research seminars.

Mid-term seminars are arranged for each candidate. Here the candidate presents her/his dissertation project and receives comments from an opponent. The opponent should not be employed  in the department/ workplace of the candidate's or principal supervisor's department. Supervisors and researchers in the study's research communities are invited to participate. The mid-term seminar is a central arena for the presentation and presentation of the candidate's professionalism and progression level, and represents an important milestone for the candidate.

The program will host an infoseminar about submission and dissertation at least once a year. Although the process of submitting of thesis is published on our web pages, these seminars can aid  in the preparation for completion.

Seminar meetings can be held on "kappe" writing, which can complement corresponding seminars at OsloMet.

The program has annual semiday seminars for its supervisors, both internal and external. The seminars will be able to strengthen supervisor skills for PhD supervisors.

Active research under supervision

The work on the PhD thesis consists of active research under supervision. The program has a guideline for the dissertation, cf. Guidelines for the dissertation in the PhD programs of the Faculty of Social Sciences, which are stated on the program's web site.

The duties of the supervisors are regulated by the Regulations relating to the PhD Degree at OsloMet Section 3. The main supervisor should normally come from the program's department / faculty. If the main supervisor is not from the program's department, a co-supervisor from the department shall be appointed upon admission. The total time the supervisors spends on the candidate is estimated to be 210 hours, including contact with the candidate, preparations, reading, follow-up work etc. The standard distribution between the main supervisor and a co-supervisor is 140 and 70 hours respectively. If there are more co-supervisors, a different distribution will apply. The candidate is entitled to a total of 70 hours of direct supervision during the programme. Upon admission to PhD education at OsloMet, a written employment contract is formalized regarding their duties and rights during the admission period, cf. the PhD Regulations at OsloMet, § 2-6. A progress schedule is drawn up at the first supervision meeting. The candidate and the supervisor shall submit progress reports annually, cf. the PhD Regulations at OsloMet, § 3-3.


Candidates are expected to keep up to date about international research in the subject area and to network with foreign colleagues in the field. Periods of study abroad will be facilitated, and the department will invite researchers from foreign institutions to give lectures.


Students are expected to present at least one paper at an international conference. Candidates are also encouraged to communicate about their projects via relevant forums and channels.


The PhD degree in Social Work and Social Policy is awarded (cf. Regulations Relating to the Degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at Oslo Metropolitan University) on the basis of

  • approved completion of the training component, alternatively other approved academic training or competence
  • an approved trial lecture on a specified topic
  • an approved research thesis and approved public defence of the thesis.

Training component

Candidates must write an essay in each course. As a rule, essays should be 8-10 pages long for 5-credit courses and 12-15 pages long for 10-credit courses. The essay must be handed in within two months after the end of teaching in a course. The teacher responsible for the course will assess the essay. If the essay cannot be approved, a candidate can submit a revised essay once, by a specified deadline.