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PHDH909 Health, function and participation

Course description for academic year 2024/2025

Contents and structure

The dissertation must be an independent scientific work according to international standards. The dissertation is usually composed of a summary, as well as three to four scientific articles published or submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals, preferably written in English or a Scandinavian language. Alternatively, monographs can be written instead of articles.

In the summary, the candidate must place their research work into a broader scientific theoretical and methodological framework, as well as demonstrating how the work contributes to the research field of health, functioning and participation. The summary usually consists of: an introduction; a theoretical framework for the study and the work that is included; the presentation of the issues for each of the publications/articles; the presentation and discussion of design and research methods; the presentation of main results; and a discussion of the most important knowledge contributions of the work. The exact number of articles depends on the quality and scope and must be clarified with the supervisor. It is expected that at least half of the articles are published or assumed for publication in reputable peer-reviewed journals when submitting the thesis. The candidate must be the first author of at least two articles.

In cases where the written work has been created in collaboration with other authors, the PhD student must follow the norms for co-authorship that are widely accepted in the academic environment and in accordance with international standards. If a dissertation includes work with several authors, a signed statement describing the student's contribution in each work must be enclosed.

Learning Outcome

Upon completion, it is expected that the student has through their own research work gained:

Knowledge: The student …

  • is in the knowledge front within their field of study and relates this to scientific theoretical and research ethical issues with relevance to health science
  • can place their research area at individual, group and community level and in relation to contextual conditions for health, function and participation
  • is able to contribute to the development of practical and theoretical knowledge, develop theories, methods and forms of documentation within their research area

Skills: The student …

  • can formulate, plan and conduct ethically and methodically sound research and development work at a high international level
  • can critically evaluate own research results in relation to previous research
  • can handle complex academic questions and contribute to new practical and theoretical knowledge in their field of research

General competence: The student …

  • can carry out research with professional integrity and high ethical standards within the established scientific norms and traditions in health science research
  • can disseminate and publish research results through recognized national and international health science channels, including scientific workshops, conferences and journals
  • can participate in debates within their field of study in relevant national and international forums
  • can communicate research results to the public both orally and in writing
  • uses interdisciplinary approaches to analyse specific challenges related to health, function and participation

Entry requirements

Master's degree with 120 ECTS credits or equivalent in relevant academic fields including a thesis of at least 30 ECTS.

Both the master thesis and the average grade for the courses in the master degree should have a grade B (Norwegian grading system) or better.

Teaching methods

The work on the dissertation is the most important contribution for the PhD students to acquire research expertise and achieve expected learning outcomes. The work largely consist of independent work and research activities under supervision, as well as participation in a research group. The work includes planning and conducting own research and processing of data material, as well as designing the dissertation.

Work forms will normally include literature search, assessment and / or development of systematic reviews, data collection / production, analyses of own data or registry data, individual and colleague-based writing and other scientific production, participation and presentations at internal and external seminars and conferences, other dissemination activities, and possible research stays at a foreign institution.

Compulsory learning activities

All PhD students must actively participate in a research group, which constitutes a central learning arena for the student's independent research work. Active participation from the PhD students will give them experience within interdisciplinary research collaboration, insight into research management, the opportunity to discuss issues and designs, challenge established knowledge and practice, and present their own project. The PhD students are given the opportunity to establish and further develop collaboration with national and international research environments.

Mid-term evaluation

Evaluation is an educational tool that contributes to the student achieving the learning outcomes and to assure the quality of the PhD work. About midway through the study, a mandatory midterm evaluation is arranged with each student. A panel is appointed, consisting of two examiners, which represent relevant expertise. The presentation will contain the status of the dissertation and will be conducted in either English or Scandinavian and will be followed by a conversation about the project between the PhD student and the panel. The mid-term evaluation is a professional assessment in which the student and the panel discuss progress and quality in the PhD work. This evaluation also gives rise to a conversation where the student can address other matters that are important for the progress of their own studies. The student, the main supervisor and the panel will discuss whether there is a need for special follow-up and how such follow-up can be conducted. The mid-term evaluation shall preferably be conducted in English so that the candidate is trained in oral research dissemination to a wider audience, using scientific English.

The training component (30 ECTS credits) and mid-term evaluation must be completed and approved before the dissertation can be submitted for final assessment. Mandatory course work should be prioritised as early as possible during the PhD.


The PhD degree is conferred on the basis of:

  • An approved doctoral thesis
  • Approved completion of the required coursework
  • An approved trial lecture on an assigned topic
  • An approved public defence of the doctoral thesis

Procedures for submission, appointment of the evaluation committee, the committee's recommendation and treatment of dissertation, revision for assessment, trial lecture and dissertation, as well as the awarding of a PhD degree are described on HVL's website and regulated by the Regulations for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences § 5.

Examination support material

All aids are permitted.

More about examination support material