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Study plan - PhD in Responsible Innovation and Regional Development

Autumn 2023

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the programme, the candidate:


  • K1: is at the forefront of researching responsible innovation and regional development, and with a specialisation in industry innovation, public sector innovation or green innovation;
  • K2: has comprehensive knowledge of state-of-the-art concepts and methods in the research field of responsible innovation and regional development and in their topic of specialisation;
  • K3: contributes to new knowledge and potential new theories and concepts, methods and documentation in the field of exploring innovation;
  • K4: has comprehensive knowledge of methods and practices for exploiting research knowledge and transforming research findings into innovations;


  • S1: can formulate research hypotheses, and can plan and conduct independent theoretical and applied research work within their topic of specialisation;
  • S2: can conduct research work of a high international standard that advances the forefront of knowledge and application of responsible innovation and regional development in their topic of specialisation;
  • S3: can review research work in their topic of specialisation, relate it to the forefront of knowledge, and assess its applicability to society;
  • S4: can perform research that challenges established theories, concepts, approaches and methods in the research field of responsible innovation and regional development;
  • S5: can identify and assess the need for responsibility in innovation and regional development;
  • S6: becomes a change agent initiating and contributing to projects involving industry innovations, public sector innovations or green innovations;

General competence

  • G1: can identify relevant ethical issues pertinent to innovation and regional development research, and its application in society;
  • G2: can conduct research work with scholarly integrity and in accordance with the established scientific norms and traditions for research in the field of responsible innovation and regional development;
  • G3: can participate in interdisciplinary assignments and projects involving and applying research on one or more of the topics of industry innovation, public sector innovation, and green innovation;
  • G4: can disseminate and publish research results through recognised channels, including scientific workshops, conferences and journals in the research field of innovation;
  • G5: can participate in international research discussions and collaborations on scientific topics in their topic of specialisation.


The PhD programme is a full-time programme with a nominal completion time of 3 years. For candidates employed in PhD research fellow positions of four years with 25% teaching duties, PhD studies will span over a period of 4 years.

The RESINNREG programme is divided into a coursework component of 30 ECTS and a thesis component of 150 ECTS, which is completed with a public defence of the PhD.

Coursework (30 ECTS)

The coursework component consists of three mandatory courses: PHDINN902 ‘Philosophy of Science, Research Ethics and Innovation in Scientific Work’; PHDINN903 ‘Understanding and Exploring Innovation’; and PHDINN904 ‘Doing and Exploiting Innovation’. In addition, the students have to take a course of at least 5 ECTS in methods (qualitative or quantitative), and are encouraged to take a thematic course in either Public Sector Innovation, Green Innovation or Industry Innovation. The PhD candidates normally write shorter reports or papers to pass each of the PhD courses.

The purpose of the PHDINN902 course is to provide candidates with a thorough knowledge of research methodologies, and to anchor that knowledge in a deeper understanding of the philosophy and history of science (and social science), with particular reference to the field of innovation research. The course enables candidates to make well-informed, rigorous and justifiable methodological choices in their scientific project work, and equips them to justify these choices satisfactorily in their theses. The course PHDINN903 ‘Understanding and Exploring Innovation’ will provide the candidates with theoretical perspectives and a conceptual foundation in the research field of innovation. The course PHDINN904 ‘Doing and Exploiting Innovation’ will provide participants with an increased understanding of identifying and relating to innovation in practice. The course provides participants with an advanced understanding of RRI and its real-world applicability. Through critical reflection, students scrutinise and evaluate key dimensions of RRI, and how these are linked to research and innovation practices. RRI provides a common focus for students from across the three pillars to both reflect on RRI from their own disciplinary perspective, but also to understand how other innovation approaches understand and apply RRI.

The students must take a course in methods of 5 ECTS or more. The RESINNREG programme offers the course PHDINN905 ‘Production and Interpretation of Qualitative Data in Innovation Studies.’ This course focuses on central qualitative methods that are useful for studying innovation processes in various contexts. An aim of the course is to increase knowledge on how qualitative methods can be applied in practical research combining ‘exploring’ and ‘exploiting’ approaches to innovation. Depending on the needs of each candidate’s methodological approach, they may take either this course, or an alternative relevant PhD-approved methods course at HVL or elsewhere.

The portfolio of elective courses is designed to provide candidates with a solid foundation for obtaining state-of-the-art knowledge and skills on the topic of their PhD project. Candidates will typically select one of the elective courses, and obtain the additional 5 ECTS by e.g. giving a paper at an international conference and/or participation in national or international PhD summer/winter schools linked to the topic of their thesis, and/or through a longer research visit abroad at a relevant institution.

The choice of elective courses will depend on the candidate’s specialisation. The regional dimension is emphasised in all three elective courses through their theoretical foundations. PhD candidates specialising in Industry Development will typically follow PHDINN906 ‘Responsible Innovation and Regional Industry Development.’ Those specialising in Public Sector Innovation will typically follow the course PHDINN907 ‘Innovation in the Public Sector,’ and candidates specialising in Green Innovation will typically follow PHDINN908 ‘Innovation and Sustainable Transition.’ Candidates are expected to follow at least one of the elective courses offered in the programme.


The PhD thesis is the central part of any doctoral programme. The thesis documents an independent research project carried out under individual academic supervision. The research project is required to contribute new knowledge and original research results in one or more research pillars of RESINNREG (Innovation and Industry Development, Innovation in the Public Sector and Innovation and Sustainable Transition). The thesis must document the individual scientific work conducted by the candidate in accordance with international standards for research ethics, scientific level and work practices in the field of innovation research.

The thesis may take the form of a monograph or a collection of papers published in, or submitted to, peer reviewed international workshops, conferences or journals. In the latter case, at least one paper must have been published or accepted for publication in a high-quality journal or conference proceedings. A compilation thesis must include an introduction section that presents the research field, states the research questions and goals, provides an overview of the research results obtained, and positions the scientific results within the state-of-the-art of the research field.


Writing a thesis is challenging and requires a high degree of independent work from our PhD candidates, including literature reviews and data collection and analysis, as well more practically-oriented tasks. Candidates are entitled to regular supervision in relation to their research project from a team of two supervisors. The supervisory team will be granted 200 hours in total for supervision for the whole project period. This number of hours includes time needed for preparation, direct conversations with the candidate, and any follow-up tasks.

The intent of the individual supervision is to contribute to the development of academic skills and independence in research and writing, and to ensure progress in accordance with the rules and regulations of the programme. Supervision includes: guidance on the focus of the research project; guidance on formulating hypotheses or research questions and delimiting the scope of the project; and guidance in order to make sure that the project is carried out with scientific integrity and in accordance with the established ethical norms.

Academic writing is often an iterative process. The supervisor(s) will provide advice on structure and content, and give feedback on draft versions of research papers and/or chapters for the monograph. Supervision also includes advice on which workshops or conferences to attend, which courses to take, which journals to choose for submission of papers (for those who write a compilation thesis), and, eventually, feedback on how to address reviewers’ comments in a professional and constructive manner. In many cases, the PhD candidate and the supervisor(s) (or other PhD candidates) will write joint research papers, which will further assist the candidate in obtaining the required skills in scientific writing. Other important issues in supervision are to provide advice on relevant literature and related work, feedback on oral presentations, and advice on career planning. The supervision may also include conversations about risk management, and the revision and change of original plans. The supervisor(s) will also introduce PhD candidates to their international contact network and support them in planning international research visits and in building their own network.

PhD candidates will normally get two academic supervisors, one of whom will be the main supervisor. Generally, the main supervisor will be employed in a full-time permanent position at Western Norway University College of Applied Sciences (HVL). The main supervisor has the primary academic responsibility for the candidate.


Candidates will be exposed to lectures, group work, seminars, and self-study. In the coursework component, teaching is largely based on a combination of lectures, seminars by visiting researchers and the candidates themselves, and discussions and practical work in smaller groups. Candidates will give oral presentations and write reports, essays or papers in all courses that are offered in the programme. Furthermore, candidates will comment on each other’s papers, and provide assessment of oral presentations by fellow PhD candidates. Some PhD research projects and coursework involve practical work linked to the development, evaluation and application of innovations.

PhD candidates will be associated with one of the three RESINNREG pillars, and will in addition join a RESINNREG-related research group. The PhD candidates are expected to participate actively in scientific discussions at meetings and seminars organised by the research group, e.g. by presenting work in progress, and by providing feedback to the work of fellow students and colleagues. The PhD candidates will organise an informal PhD forum in which they discuss matters related to their research and their work environment. One of the main purposes of this forum is to welcome new PhD candidates into the research environment.

The RESINNREG programme will organise an annual retreat for all RESINNREG PhD candidates, supervisors and faculty members teaching on our PhD courses. At this annual retreat, the PhD candidates will give presentations of their works in progress. The retreat may also include lectures – some from external guests – on topics related to researcher education such as disseminating research, research ethics, reviewing papers, writing project proposals and funding applications, writing research papers, giving scientific presentations, and building a network and research career.

Hence, candidates will regularly give oral presentations on their work, and engage in discussions with other researchers and PhD candidates on various relevant topics. Candidates will also attend national and international scientific workshops and conferences, which may lead to collaboration and interaction with researchers at other institutions.


The assessment and exams that constitute the coursework component are conducted in accordance with the regulations for studies and exams at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. In most cases, the project reports will take the form of an essay or a research paper. Exams in courses that are part of the PhD programme are assessed by internal examiners, or by both an internal and an external examiner. All courses in the programme are graded pass/fail. For courses comprising multiple pass/fail components, a pass grade must be obtained on all components to receive a pass grade on the course.


The research environment responsible for the RESINNREG programme is involved in extensive international collaborations, including both research collaborations and supervision of PhD candidates at other institutions. PhD candidates of RESINNREG will have the opportunity to present research work as part of seminars and meetings with international visitors, and to engage in discussion with other researchers in the field.

PhD students are strongly encouraged to spend a period of up to 6 months abroad as a visiting scholar in a relevant department/research group. Such visits can accredit up to 5 ECTS, subject to approval by the programme committee. Candidates will be expected to give at least one talk at an international venue (workshop or conference) during their PhD studies.