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.
Extent of studies
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
The research plan will be assessed also for the quality of academic writing and the proficiency in academic English or Finnish.
Based on the spring and autumn application rounds, a maximum of 20 new postgraduate students are admitted into the Faculty of Education and Culture in the academic year 2019-2020: a maximum of 12 in the spring and a maximum of 12 in the autumn.
The Faculty of Education and Culture grants the right to study for two doctoral degrees, a Doctor of Philosophy (Education) degree or a Doctor of Philosophy degree, by application.
A Master’s degree in Education is the prerequisite to apply for the right to study for a Doctor of Philosophy (Education) degree.
A degree in a field other than education is the prerequisite to apply for right to study for a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Those who study for a Doctor of Philosophy degree are also required to have 20 credits of advanced studies in education, which can also be completed as part of the degree.
Applicants to the doctoral programme are admitted on the basis of the following criteria:
- Quality of the application
- Availability of resources in the faculty to organize the supervision
The application to the programme comprises the following documents:
- Research plan and statement of purpose (including a condensed CV of maximum one page as an appendix)
- One or two reference letters (optional)
These documents are meant to bring up front, for the selection and comparison between applications, the applicant’s promise, motivation and ability to successfully pursue the studies in the programme and to contribute to our faculty and university community.
Each application is academically assessed against the admission criteria and in comparison with the other applications. In addition to academic achievements, professional experience, community service and other relevant activities of the applicant are also noted in the selection process.
Application periods and how to apply
The application period is during 1 – 31 October 2019. Please note! The application period ends on 31 October at 15:00 Finnish time. The following application period will be in April 2020.
Application and required enclosures
Applications are submitted through an electronic application system at studyinfo.fi. A link to the application form is available during the application period.
An application document for a right to study leading to a PhD or PhD (Education) degree must include the following application documents:
- electronically submitted application form
- copies of the Master's degree certificates (or corresponding certificate) and the transcript of records of the studies included in the degree
- research plan and statement of purpose (including a condensed CV of maximum one page as an appendix)
- 1-2 reference letters (optional, see below)
More detailed instructions for applying for doctoral studies can be found on our web pages.
Officially certified educational documents
You must be able to prove your educational background by means of officially authenticated copies of your educational documents, if you have not completed your previous degrees in a Finnish university. 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.
In addition to the standard document requirements, educational documents issued in certain countries have more specific requirements for submission. Please go through the requirements carefully and check the country- specific requirements for your degree awarding country before applying.
- You must upload all application documents online at Studyinfo.fi.
- In addition to uploading the electronic application documents on the application, you must submit the officially certified copies of your educational documents to Tampere University Admissions Office by post if you have not completed your previous degrees in a Finnish university.
- 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.
Guidelines for preparing the application
Research plan and statement of purpose
This document as a whole provides convincing arguments that the applicant is likely to succeed in the programme and to contribute to the faculty and university community. The research plan will be assessed also for the quality of academic writing and the proficiency in academic English or Finnish.
The research plan must be written using the following format:
- A title
- An introduction to the societal relevance of the plan
- A discussion of the most relevant academic literature
- Key research questions stemming from the literature discussion
- Methodological framework, data collection and ethics
- Scientific contribution to the area of specialization
- References (not included in the total word count of 2500 words, but not exceeding two pages)
The research plan must be written in English or in Finnish, depending on the planned language of the dissertation.
The research plan does not represent a final commitment to a specific topic as the applicants who will be accepted in the programme will be asked to discuss and possibly revise the plan with the appointed supervisors.
Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose describes succinctly
- The applicant’s aptitude and motivation to pursue a specific area of specialization within educational sciences and what are the applicant’s future career goals
- What makes the applicant ready to engage with this area of specialization
- The applicant’s preliminary study plan and research plan in the selected area of specialization
- How the applicant´s research interests converge with current research in the faculty and why the Faculty of Education and Culture and Tampere University are an appropriate intellectual context for the applicant
- Name of prospective supervisor (see below)
As an appendix, the statement of purpose includes a condensed CV of maximum one page, focused on the applicant’s academic achievements and any relevant professional or practical experience, including academic writing and publications.
The maximum length for the research plan and statement of purpose (including CV) combined in one single document is 2500 words excluding references.
For writing the research plan and statement of purpose applicants can refer to the current curriculum of the Doctoral Programme of Education and Culture.
Please note! The application will be not evaluated if
- it exceeds the maximum length,
- it does not explicitly relate to the research in the faculty and it does not name a potential supervisor,
- the applications do not follow the format given in the guidelines
The statement of purpose must include the name of at least one potential supervisor from the faculty who has preliminarily agreed to serve as supervisor (see the list of supervisors).
Finding a supervisor whose current research closely relates to and complements the applicant’s research plan is critical for successful doctoral studies. For this reason, applicants are advised to contact as soon as possible prior to the application deadline a prospective supervisor whose area of expertise is close to the applicants’ research interests and selected area of specialization.
Please note! The applicant must contact the prospective supervisor minimum a month before the application deadline.
Reference letters (optional)
One or two reference letters (optional) are written by academics and/or experienced professionals who have supervised the applicant in an academic, employment, or community service context. The letters are sent by the referees through the online application system by the submission deadline. The letter should preferably have an institutional or professional letterhead and must include:
- the name of the applicant to the doctoral programme
- contact information (name, professional email address and position) of the referee
- full contact information (name, address, email and possibly webpage) of the current of prior organization in which the referee has supervised the applicant
- a brief description of the background information on the context and the capacity in which the referee has supervised the applicant
- an assessment of the quality of the applicant’s work under the referee’s supervision, with a particular emphasis on the applicant’s ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and the referee’s view on the applicant suitability to pursue doctoral studies in our programme.
The letters serve as support materials for assessing the applicant’s potential, abilities and suitability to study in our programme. The maximum length is one A4 page. To be considered, the letters must be submitted to the Faculty by the application deadline to email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Prospective supervisors may contact the referees.
Approval process and publication of results
At the Faculty of Education and Culture, all the applications written according to the given guidelines and submitted by the end of the application period will be assessed.
- Prospective supervisors are asked to assess the applications for which they have preliminarily agreed to serve as supervisors. If a prospective supervisor so wishes, he or she can appoint as a replacement a qualified external evaluator for this task.
- In addition to this, each faculty member serving in the Planning Group for Doctoral Education assesses all the applications.
- On the basis of these assessments the Planning Group makes a proposal to the Dean for the applicants who should be selected.
- The Dean decides on the selection of 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 16 December 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 13 January 2020 at the latest. The request, together with the reasons, shall be addressed to: Tampere University, Faculty of Education and Culture, email@example.com.
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 13 January 2020 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.