Education, Curriculum Studies and Sociology of Education

We offer a PhD programme within three different academic disciplines. A doctoral student is admitted to one of these disciplines through separate processes of application.


Doctoral studies

The Department of Education offers third-cycle studies in three subjects: educationcurriculum studies and sociology of education

The PhD programme is a four-year full-time programme. Normally, doctoral students are enrolled in the PhD programme for five years since they teach 20 percent of their time. The programme comprises a total amount of 240 credits distributed over one component of course modules and one component consisting of the dissertation. In all subjects the course module is 75 credits and the dissertation 165 credits. It is also possible to study towards a licentiate degree (120 credits). The distribution of credits between the course module and dissertation is 45/75 for Education and Sociology of Education and 37,5/82,5 for Curriculum studies.

Structure of the Programme

In contrast to undergraduate studies, the PhD programme is less structured. Within the course modules in each of the three disciplines, the doctoral student can attend courses at the department, at other departments at Uppsala University or at other universities. Courses are given in different forms, from regular courses with lectures and seminars to reading courses where the student works individually. Doctoral students are given two supervisors who advise the student in planning the studies. The doctoral student is in contact with the supervisors throughout the PhD programme and decisions regarding courses are always taken in collaboration with the supervisors.

Every year an Individual Study Plan (ISP) is established for each doctoral student. The study plan is both an instrument for planning the studies and a document in which the student’s progress is documented.


When an applicant has been admitted to the PhD programme, two supervisors are appointed: one principal supervisor with the main responsibility for the study programme including doctoral thesis work, and one assistant supervisor. At least one of the supervisors must be employed by Uppsala University, at least one must be associate professor, and at least one has to have completed the course “Supervising PhD Students.”

Dissertation and Defense

The dissertation is written either in the form of a uniform, coherent scholarly work (monograph) or in the form of scholarly articles (cumulative thesis). The subject of the doctoral dissertation is decided in consultation with the supervisors.

During the course of the PhD programme the dissertation manuscript must be presented at work-in-progress seminars. The completed dissertation is defended at a public seminar. The PhD degree is awarded when the doctoral student has successfully completed the course component and defended the dissertation.


Education has existed as a subject at Uppsala University since 1907. The first professor of the subject, Bertil Hammer, was also the first professor of education in Sweden. Over the past 50 years, more than 160 doctoral theses in education have been submitted to Uppsala University. At present, some one hundred individuals have been admitted to third-cycle studies in the subject at Uppsala and of these, roughly a third are actively working on their thesis.

The field of education deals with phenomena associated with upbringing, education and other systematic influences of significance from the viewpoint of society. People's learning and the conditions for learning within various human areas of activity are also studied under education. Learning is people's development of knowledge, competence, perceptions and attitudes. Educational phenomena can be studied on different levels:

  • On an individual and group level, such as changes in the individual and in their conditions for learning and the interplay between individuals in different social groups
  • On the level that relates to the education situation, the organisation and management of it and the methods of teaching, upbringing and other systematic influences
  • On a societal level – the educational activities in relation to the various goals of society in a historical and comparative perspective.

Curriculum Studies

Curriculum Studies as a field of research and area of knowledge deals with matters relating to the content of education and teaching. The subject of curriculum studies is deeply rooted in both scientific traditions and teaching practice. The research questions which constitute the core of curriculum studies arise in the meeting between specific subject matter and the teaching and learning of this subject matter which takes place under some form of activity. It is therefore interesting, for example, to study the content of the teaching and what makes this choice legitimate, who the teaching is directed to and how their learning process works, how the subject material is handled in the teaching and who has power over the selection process. Curriculum Studies as a field of research and area of knowledge therefore deals with questions found at the point of intersection between an area of activity/knowledge and education, teaching, learning and socialisation, in terms of both cognitive and normative content. The third-cycle subject of Didactics was established at Uppsala University in autumn 2002.

Sociology of Education

Sociology of Education explores education - in the broad sense of the word - as a social phenomenon. Education is thus related to the overall social structure, as well as to transformations in for example professional domains and to globalisation processes. A focal point in Sociology of Education research is the encounter between, on the one hand, the symbolic and material assets held by students and professors or by pupils and school teachers, and, on the other hand, the prevailing social and cultural order in the education system. Other significant areas of research are the history of and competition between educational institutions and how education is related to the structure of and struggles within various social fields, such as cultural, economic or political ones. As a discipline Sociology of Education is based on more general traditions in social and historical sciences.

Upcoming PhD defences

Last modified: 2023-11-23