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Study plan - PhD programme in Bildung and Pedagogical Practices

Autumn 2023

The PhD programme Studies about Bildung and Pedagogical Practices at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) is a research programme for people who wish to qualify for academic work and research within the field of bildung and pedagogical practices as this issue manifests itself in the education and training sector, the cultural sector and other sectors that requires specific insight into issues regarding the connections between bildung and pedagogical practices.

The programme is based on, and addresses, the university’s education history and academic didactic registry. The Western Norway University of Applied Sciences educates teachers for kindergartens, schools and the cultural sector, and this PhD programme connects educational and teaching practices within these institutions through the study of key education texts and research challenges within the field.

The programme title encompasses a wide range of problem areas. Central to these are the challenges that changes in societal and cultural circumstances bring about, including new thinking about educational mechanisms, educational processes, as they occur within formal educational and communication arenas as well as within more informal, yet important, educational arenas. This may be within regional or other-level theatres, music and exhibition institutions, including museums, the culture schools, after-school activities, voluntary activities etc. It is important to contribute critical knowledge and expertise to enable participation in the public sphere in discussions on cultural politics and educational politics and discussions about the state and conditions knowledge (and education).

The programme title also implies the emphasis that is placed on both the informed/the educated and the informer/the educator. It implies that didactic practices and institutional practices not only inform, but are also informed themselves by collaborating cultural forces and relationships, languages and devices and conventions of various kinds. The programme is aimed at understanding such connections; their conditions, how they manifest themselves, are maintained, operate, and with what effect, and how they are changed.

This means that one views institutions like kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, culture schools and teacher training institutions not merely as institutions that educate, but also as institutions informed, among others, by national and international educational policy. Therefore, it will be important to understand bildung under the tension of nearby, local processes and challenges in a multicultural and global landscape.

The programme focuses on bildung and pedagogical practices through emphasis on the formative and performative. This can be studied at an institutional level; as consequences of institutional structures, at the level of expression; such as studies of, and via, texts, forms of expression, behaviours, or at the level of detail with an emphasis on the significance of details - in texts, in reading, in performative contexts and in conversations with children and adolescents. From concrete didactical situations and practices, the programme will reveal the various professional roles and provide a basis for recognition and discussion of the normative foundations of the didactic practices.

An important objective of the programme is to develop the PhD student's didactic judgement. To exercise judgment requires an overview and eye for the tension between the general and the specific. Exercising judgement requires reading skills in ever new situations. Therefore, the programme will explore, test and renew academic methods and models and thereby develop teachers ' professionalism in their encounters with children and adolescents. Again, this is designed to bolster research-based teaching. The consolidated programme will help to qualify teaching and research staff within teacher training practices, whilst simultaneously challenging and developing these training practices.

Degree name: The programme leads to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Learning outcomes

Following the completion of the PhD programme, the student will have achieved the following learning outcomes:


The student:

  • is at the forefront of knowledge concerning education traditions and related didactic theories
  • has knowledge about how didactic practices are created, maintained and changed within various educational arenas
  • knows the relevant ways to academically orient research within the field and is able to assess concepts and notions that describe the connections between pedagogical practices and bildung
  • knows how to contribute to the development of new knowledge and theories regarding bildung and didactics, and how to develop methods, documentation forms and interpretations for pedagogical practices


The student:

  • is able to formulate issues and plan relevant research for the studies of bildung and pedagogical practices
  • is able to conduct research and/or artistic development work at a high international level
  • is able to identify, problematise and verbalise different ways of understanding the connections between pedagogical practices and bildung
  • is able to challenge and develop new knowledge and theories regarding bildung and didactics, and establish methods, forms of documentation and interpretations of peddagogical practices

General competencies

The student:

  • is able to conduct research with a high degree of ethical awareness and professional integrity
  • is able to develop and manage complex research assignments and projects with interdisciplinary collaboration
  • is able to disseminate research and artistic development work in reputable and suitable national and international conferences
  • is able to participate in national and international networks and discussions within the research field of bildung and pedagogical practices
  • is able to assess the need for, and take the initiative for change in cooperation with various educational spaces


The program is a full-time study, structured to be completed within a normal timeframe of 3 years. For candidates appointed for a four-year period with a 25% work duty, the programme is distributed over four years. The programme consists of a training component and a research component. It is made up of a training component worth 30 ECTS and a research component worth 150 ECTS, and which ends with the disputation. The training component consists of three compulsory courses which will provide the foundation for work on the thesis:

  1. Bildung and pedagogical practices which span the subject field of the programme.
  2. Academic theory, ethics and academic writing in general, but in particular, aimed at the PhD study’s topic.
  3. Research methodology and design which provides basic insights into ways of organising and conducting specific studies.

In addition to these compulsory courses, students must choose a minimum of one of the elective courses offered. All elective courses are organised towards the programme’s issues concerning the topic of the various connections between bildung and pedagogical practices, as these are played out within different spaces or professional areas.

The training component (30 ECTS)

The training component consists of three compulsory courses and a minimum of one elective course and will qualify the student to conduct studies about bildung and pedagogical practices. It should contribute to theoretical, empirical and methodological/ethical competence in conducting research that the PhD programme represents, and also, more generally, competence in conducting and assessing other research. Collectively, it will provide the students with a necessary shared academic foundation based on the PhD programme’s profile, and will ensure that they have the necessary methodological knowledge and skills required to complete the research component. See the education plan for a list of the courses.

For equivalent topics taken at other institutions, the programme committee at HVL will assess these for approval and decide how many ECTS can be accredited. The course "Bildung and pedagogical practices" represents the programme’s throughgoing theme. This must be taken in full at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and cannot be replaced with other topics. Overall, at least 15 ECTS of the training component must be earned at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

The research component (150 ECTS)

The thesis constitutes the principle component of the programme. The thesis must be an independent, academic work that meets international standards with regard to ethical requirements, academic level and methods within the field of study. It should contribute to the development of new knowledge and be at a level which warrants its publication as part of the field’s academic literature.

The thesis can consist of a monograph or a collection of several smaller pieces of work. If the thesis is composed of several smaller pieces of work, the connection between them must be accounted for.

If written work has been created in collaboration with other authors, the PhD candidate should adhere to the norms of co-authorship that are widely accepted in the academic environment and in compliance with international standards. If the thesis consists mainly of articles, the candidate should normally be the first author of at least half of the articles. In theses where several authors contribute to the work, a signed declaration must be included describing the candidate's contribution to the individual work tasks.

Provisions regarding the dissertation are found in Section 10 of the regulations.


While working on the thesis, students have the right to up to 200 hours supervision. These hours of supervision include preparations, conversations with the PhD student, and post-work sessions. Supervisor duties and rights are governed by Section 7 of the regulations.

The principal supervisor will normally be from the university itself and have the formal responsibility in relation to the student's educational relationship. Students may apply to have a co-supervisor from another institution in cases where there is a need for specialist expertise. If the principal supervisor is external, the co-supervisor should be affiliated with HVL. The internal supervisor keeps in touch with students and their progression and ensures that the PhD student is integrated in the research community within the institution.


The programme is organised as a full-time study over three years. The training within the PhD programme consists of participation in compulsory and elective topics, as well as training related to the PhD thesis. The forms of work within the training component include lectures, seminars and presentations of own, and others’, research, workshops, responses to own, and others’, presentations, in addition to self-study.

The forms of work in the thesis component may vary depending on the student's choice of research project, but will normally include independent work, literary studies etc. data collection, participation in internal and external lectures and conferences, practical observations, analyses of other academic production, participation in various courses (media, the library as a resource, use of audio-visual aids and forms of documentation and dissemination, knowledge of journals, ethical cases and role-playing), conference presentations, common spaces within the field of practice and research exchanges at a foreign institution.

  • Seminar activity: Extensive seminar activity/workshops contribute to the programme, where students are given the opportunity to submit their own work for discussion. Furthermore, the students must participate in the research fellow forum regularly throughout the programme where work is presented and discussed with other research fellows.
  • Mid-term evaluation: Approximately midway through the programme, a mandatory mid-term evaluation is conducted with each individual student. There is a panel composed of supervisors, an external researcher and a subject specialist responsible for the PhD programme. This evaluation consists of a professional assessment where the student presents and evaluates the progress of their own study and PhD project. This evaluation is also a forum in which the student can address factors that are important for the progress of their own research and together with the aforementioned panel, may discuss any need for assistance and how such assistance can be provided.

Annual progress report. Each year, a report is presented from both the PhD student and from the supervisor regarding the progress of the research. A report that is not submitted or an unsatisfactory report may be grounds for terminating the contract before the appointment period expires.

The PhD degree is awarded on the basis of:

  • approved completion of the training component, and any other approved academic training or expertise
  • approved academic thesis
  • approved trial lecture of the given topic
  • approved public defence of the thesis (disputation)

The assessment is regulated by the regulation §§12-22. The academic transcript will state the title of the thesis and information about the academic training programme in which the doctoral student has participated.