Degree programme

Doctoral Programme of Education and Society


Our changing world requires multidisciplinary specialists in education and learning

The aim of postgraduate studies is to provide doctoral students with the abilities they need in order to work in the academia (as a researcher or a teacher) or in other expert tasks in society. As a doctoral student, you will become well versed in the field of your own research and gain an extensive general view of education. The purpose of doctoral education is to adopt scientific thinking, learn sound scientific practices and master the diverse skills of a researcher. A doctoral degree also qualifies you to supervise students and lead research groups.

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Degree earned

Filosofian tohtori
Kasvatustieteiden tohtori


Postgraduate degree

Planned duration

4 years

Extent of studies

240 ECTS




Central Campus

Study objectives

Goals of postgraduate education

In line with the Government Decree on University Degrees (794/2004), the purpose of the postgraduate education is for the students to become well-versed in their own field of research: its development, basic problems, research methods and social significance. In addition, they must acquire competences in the field of research enabling independent and critical engagement with scientific methods and creation of new knowledge.

The purpose of the Doctor of Philosophy (Education) and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and the Licentiate degree is to ensure that the students become well-versed in their own field of research and its social significance and gain the knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific research methods, working in research groups and networks. The students must acquire such knowledge of educational sciences that enables understanding research findings in the field, following national and international scientific developments and engaging as experts in changing environments. The students must also demonstrate independent and critical thinking in the field of research in question, skill in data collection, analysis and dissemination of research findings as well as the capacity to operate within global scientific communities. In addition, the students must develop a strong grasp of research ethics and the societal responsibility of research, and of practices of teaching and supervision.

The curriculum builds on the following principles:

a) the connection between doctoral studies and the focus areas of educational research at the Faculty of Education and Culture,

b) community formation among incoming doctoral students, other doctoral students and all supervisors,

c) distributed support along with focused supervision,

d) flexibility and choice.

The annual cohort of new doctoral students form a group and are encouraged to interact in a reciprocally supportive way to facilitate knowledge construction and collegial relations beyond one’s own research group and dissertation topic.

Tuition fees

Finnish universities are publicly financed through the Ministry of Education, but they have autonomy in their internal affairs. Finnish universities do not collect tuition fees from doctoral students, so the cost of studying is relatively low but on the other hand, the university does not provide scholarships for students. Student Unions charge small membership fees from graduate students. For postgraduate students, membership in the Student Union is optional. 

After the right to study has been granted, the Finnish Immigration Service expects all new students from non-EU/EEA countries to apply for a residence permit. At that stage, the students must be able to show to the Finnish Immigration Service that they have a minimum of c. 6 800 euros for the first year of studies or a scholarship to support themselves during the studies. Also a health insurance is needed.

Structure of studies

Structure of the PhD (Education) and PhD degrees

The PhD studies comprise 240 credits, structured in the following three sections:

1. Studies in education, philosophy of science and methodology (40 credits)

2. Studies supporting the development of scientific expertise (20 credits)

3. Active participation in the research seminar, writing the dissertation and defending it in public (180 credits)

Sections 1-3 are divided into modules that define the contents of the studies. The specific courses or other activities within the modules are negotiated between the student and the supervisors and recorded in the student’s Individual Study Plan. Each student has the responsibility to solicit a meeting with the supervisors to update, revise and resubmit the Individual Study Plan once a year by the given deadline (September/February depending on the date of the enrolment in the doctoral programme and of the date of the first Individual Study Plan).

The courses can be selected from the offerings of the Doctoral Programme of Education and Society, from the Tampere University Doctoral School or from other appropriate academic contexts. When the credits are to be obtained by work other than courses, the student must provide the supervisors with a detailed written description of the work and its relevance for the student’s doctoral studies. The number of specific credits within modules is not restrictive but is meant to give a sense of the weight of the given contents to be taken into account when planning the studies.

Doctoral Dissertation (180 credits)

A doctoral dissertation is a study based on independent research that includes new scientific information. It is examined at a public defence.

The following forms can be approved as a dissertation: a uniform study (monograph) or a research compilation comprising scientific publications or article manuscripts that have been approved for publication and cover the same issues, plus as a summary based on them.

The dissertation can be written in Finnish, Swedish, English or another language approved by the Faculty of Education.

Article-based dissertation

An article-based doctoral dissertation consists of an introduction, 3–5 published articles or manuscripts approved for publication dealing with the same topic of inquiry, and a summarising report. The introductory chapter should outline the objectives and the theoretical and methodological bases of the study, and draw the articles together in order to demonstrate their coherence. The summarising report on the articles should present the findings and conclusions of the research and evaluate its social significance and contribution to the field in question.

Licentiate degree in Education (intermediate degree)

The licentiate degree in education consists of 120 credits, distributed as follows:

1. Studies in education, philosophy of science and methodology (30 credits)

1A Educational research (at least 10 credits)

1B Studies in philosophy of science, research methodology and research ethics (at least 10 credits).

1C Studies in scientific communication specifically targeted to the thesis (5-10 credits).

2. Studies supporting the development of scientific expertise (5 credits)

The contents of sections 1 and 2 are described in the studies for the doctoral degrees.

3. Active participation in the research seminar (5 credits) and the thesis (80 credits)

Learning outcomes: The students who have completed this section master scientific discussion and argumentation on their own research subject. After the thesis process, the students are capable of independent research, and critical reading and scientific discussion in their field.

More information on the approval of the licentiate’s thesis is available online. A student may apply for a degree certificate once all the required studies have been completed and entered into the academic record. 

Research focus

Research Focus Areas of the Faculty of Education

The research focus of the Faculty of Education is on educational knowledge, activities and institutions that shape personal growth, learning and competency development during childhood, youth and adulthood.

Educational knowledge refers to interpretations regarding personal growth, learning and competency development that justify and serve as the basis for educational activity, and the ways in which these can be influenced. The Faculty of Education analyses existing educational knowledge and its processes of formation, the content of educational knowledge, and the didactic and pedagogic practices of learning in a changing sociocultural context and produces new educational knowledge.

Educational activities are studied within the structures and practices of policies, educational and learning environments, and civic and working life. The Faculty’s research is further profiled by the child, youth and adult educational institutions that have been created to implement education in society.

Research focusing on the main areas is conducted both at regional, national and international levels. Systematic integration of approaches within the School and with the university’s other fields of research creates a distinctive educational research profile for the University of Tampere.

The Faculty of Education also conducts speech technique and vocology research. The practical speech and voice training traditions is combined with multidisciplinary research and thus serves the needs of professions within the field of education and beyond.

Four focus areas of research

The Faculty of Education’s research profile is defined according to its educational orientation by the following four focus areas:

1) Increasingly international learning and operating environments

The increasing internationalisation of education and the labour market and the transnational mobility of people result in new kinds of learning and operating environments, which overreach geographical but also political, social and cultural borders. Research on learning and operational environments carried out with a subject-didactic perspective is a part of this focus area.

Research focuses on intercultural interaction and questions of learning in different multicultural contexts. The research examines formal and informal learning as well as the pedagogic and social challenges brought on by internationalisation.

2) Educational policies, cultures and structures

Research in this focus area examines the discourses, operators and institutions of education, as well as their interaction. The research focuses on the level of operation from the local to the global, and the research subjects could include the following:

  • the local adaption of transnational educational policies
  • institutional practices within education
  • national level decision-making or
  • globally outlined discourses of educational policies.

Research is carried out from the perspectives of education policy and sociology as well as comparative educational research in the context of different countries. The research covers the entire field of education from early childhood education to adult education.

3) Expertise, work and learning

The research focuses on professional learning and the psychological, social and cultural and historical perspectives of vocational learning and multi-professionalism, the development of expertise and global networking. The research examines individual, collective and organisational change processes related to lifelong learning and professional growth in different cultural, historical, social and societal contexts.  Furthermore, the research is interested in the changing field of civic activity.

The central themes are the changing meanings of equality, participation and agency as well as the questions of well-being in the context of civic activity and working life. The connections between education, the economy and politics as well as culture and nature are subjected to critical examination in the research in this focus area. 

4) Curricula research

The research in this focus area examines teaching and curriculum cultures as well as their changes as a part of the operations of communities.  The curricula are understood, based on the curriculum studies tradition, as target-oriented, dynamic processes, which contain historical, cultural and political layers. In addition to this, curricula research is a way of understanding the daily life of education: what is taught and how. It can also be used to examine the development work of education and the operators that regulate it. The curricula research targeted at basic and upper secondary education is also a part of this focus area.

The importance of the research is based on the guiding role that curricula have in educational policy and increasingly also in the education of higher education institutions. At the same time, curricula reflect the political and cultural change trends in society at the different levels of the educational institution.

Carefully read through the admissions requirements before applying. For additional questions on applying, application documents and application process, please email: edu.doc.tau(a)tuni.fi.    

Doctoral Programme of Education and Society
Doctoral Admission April 2019
1 - 30 April 2019

Eligibility criteria

The requirements for entering postgraduate studies leading to a postgraduate degree are as follows:

  • applicable higher university degree or
  • education of equivalent level as a higher university degree or
  • degree equivalent to a higher university degree from a non-Finnish institute of higher education.


Based on the spring and autumn application rounds, a maximum of 25 new postgraduate students are admitted into the Faculty of Education in 2019: a maximum of 15 in the spring and a maximum of 15 in the autumn.

Admission procedure

The Faculty of Education grants the right to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Education) or a Doctor of Philosophy by application.

The requirement for granting the right to study for a Doctor of Philosophy (Education) degree is a Master’s degree in education.

A Doctor of Philosophy can be completed by persons with a degree in a field other than education. The student is also required to complete 20-credit advanced studies in education, which can also be completed as part of the degree.

Admission criteria

The admission criteria are A) a feasible research plan and B) prior academic performance.

A) Research plan

The research plan is evaluated particularly in terms of the significance of the research for the field of education and the set targets, theoretical starting points, coherence of the research problem and selected methods of research and analysis. The admission process also considers the positioning of the applicant’s research plans in the Faculty of Education’s research focus areas as well as the Faculty’s available supervisory resources.

B) Prior academic performance

As a general rule, the grade received for the Master’s thesis or Licentiate thesis must be at least “cum laude approbatur” or at least 3 (on a scale of 1–5) or equivalent average grade if some other scale has been applied. If the thesis has not been graded or the grade is lower than required, the research plan appended to the application documents is required to have special merit.


How to apply

Application periods and how to apply

The application period is during 1 – 30 April 2019. Please note! The application period ends on 30 April at 15:00 Finnish time. The following application period will be in October 2019.

Applications are submitted through an electronic application system at studyinfo.fi.

Please see more information at What is studyinfo?.  A link to the application form is available during the application period.

Application and required enclosures

Application documents

An application document for a right to study leading to a PhD or PhD (Education) degree must include the following application documents:

  1. electronically submitted application form
  2. copies of the Master's degree certificates (or corresponding certificate) and the transcript of records of the studies included in the degree
  3. research plan

In addition to the documents mentioned above, applicants who have earned their Master’s degree in another country than Finland must enclose an official letter issued by their university to verify that the Master’s degree in question makes the applicant eligible for doctoral studies in that country.

Other study or work certificates do not need to be appended to the application.

You must be able to prove your educational background by means of officially authenticated copies of your documents. If the documents are not in English, Finnish or Swedish, both the authenticated copies of the documents in their original language and an officially confirmed, complete and precise translation into one of the languages mentioned above are required.

If selected, you will have to present your original educational documents upon arrival at Tampere University in order to be able to register at the university.


Research plan

The research plan appended to the documents must be written in Finnish or English and be no more than 2,500 words including bibliography, and it must adhere to the following structure:

Cover sheet

  • the name of the person conducting the research and postgraduate degree to be completed
  • preliminary title for the study
  • mention of the Professor, Associate Professor or Docent with whom the research and postgraduate studies have been discussed

Starting points for the research

  • significance of the research project in relation to current knowledge: how does the project relate to prior international and national research
  • positioning of the research in the field of education
  • positioning of the field in the focus areas of the research conducted by the Faculty of Education

Goals, implementation and schedule of the research

  • research goals
  • research questions
  • research methods and collection of material
  • research material and methods of analysis
  • research schedule
  • social and scientific significance of the research findings/conclusions

Publication plan and funding plan




Before applying for a right to study, persons planning postgraduate studies must contact a Professor, Associate Professor or Docent who supervises postgraduate studies and whose area of expertise the applicant considers to cover the research subject. The applicant must then present the preliminary research plan to this person and discuss the completion of the postgraduate studies encompassed by the degree and the scheduling of the research. Please note! The applicant must contact the prospective supervisor no later than two weeks before the application period ends.

Admission results and appeals

Approval process and publication of findings

The supervisors process the applications and research plans submitted to them once the application period is complete and prepare for the postgraduate education committee a preliminary proposal on the applicants to be approved and their supervisors. The committee then draws up a proposal for the prospective students to the Dean of the Faculty. The Dean provides final approval for the new students.

The rule of one study place in an institute of higher education also applies to applications for studies leading to a licentiate degree or doctorate. 

The final publication date of the results is 14 June 2019.

The applicants are notified of the results with a message to the e-mail address listed in the application. Admitted applicants are also notified via mail. Applicants who are dissatisfied with the admission results may request rectification in writing by 11 July 2019 at the latest. The request, together with the reasons, shall be addressed to: Tampere University, Faculty of Education and Culture, tau@tuni.fi.

Registering as a postgraduate student

Once an applicant has been granted the right to postgraduate studies, he/she must confirm the acceptance of the study place on 11 July 2019 at the latest, and register as a university student in the manner specified in the acceptance letter.

Only those who register as present may complete studies at the university. The student must register as present or absent annually in accordance with the general registration practices of Tampere University. Students who fail to do so will lose their right to study.

In the event that a student is expunged from the university’s student register due to failing to complete the annual registration, the student in question must reapply for a right to study in writing.

Membership of the Student Union is voluntary for postgraduate students.