The Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies offers the opportunity to gain a doctoral degree (PhD) in Political Science by enrolling in its English language PhD programme. During the four years of PhD studies, students are required to collect credits through coursework, teaching, international publishing, conference participation and work on the doctoral project. The following text gives a detailed overview of the requirements, including information about credit points, formats of dissertations and funding opportunities.
After you have successfully passed the admissions process and have been admitted to the PhD programme there are a number of immediate first steps that need to be taken:
All major components of the current curriculum are explained in more detail below.
The broad goal of the seminar is to help PhD students succeed in the PhD. programme and to facilitate their transition from being a student to being a scholar. The seminar offers information about the main elements and requirements of the PhD programme (the dissertation itself, coursework, the publication requirement, the conference participation requirement, the teaching requirement, etc) and provides a forum for discussing these. It seeks to convey professional standards and know-how, covering a broad range of themes from publishing, conference participation, and professional associations to research funding. At the end of the course students are required to present and defend a substantially revised research plan - the Dissertation Prospectus - in front of a greater audience of other doctoral students and lecturers. A detailed syllabus with information about requirements and reading is available here.
These are independent study courses leading to qualifying exams in any two of the following four fields:
The candidate must work through a set of prescribed literature and successfully pass an oral exam (in some cases a written assigment is required). Detailed exam programmes (reading lists) are available for each exam. Contact the professor in charge to schedule the exam date and get details about the readings:
There are generally two opportunities to take the exam each year (in December/January, and May/June).
The students must complete the following courses:
1) Paper at an international scholarly conference (SORG 00.042), 6 ECP. The candidate may receive elective credit for a scholarly paper delivered at an internationally recognized and/or pre-reviewed conference, (e.g. annual meetings of the ECPR, IPSA, ISA, etc). To get credit for conference participation, two main criteria must be met: 1) you attended this kind of international scholarly conference 2) you produced a scholarly paper for the conference (as opposed to just ‘giving a talk’). To get credit, send your conference paper along with the name, location and dates of the conference (e.g. the official website) to the programme coordinator Maili Vilson
2) Research colloquium in Political Science, (SORG 00.048), 6 ECP. This is a forum for faculty members and more advanced PhD students to present and discuss their own current research. To get credit points for the colloquium, the PhD student must attend at least 80% of the meetings as well as present his or her research. In the first year of study, the contribution to the colloquium comes in form of the dissertation prospectus defence (usually held in May); in later years students can present planned conference papers/ research articles or major sections of their dissertation etc. To learn more about the research colloquium visit the information made available under research on these websites.
Each semester the Faculty of Social Sciences offers an intensive doctoral seminar examining different research methods or current scholarly issues in different fields of the social sciences. Depending on the topic, these seminars are called either Methods in the Social Sciences or Current Topics in Contemporary Social Sciences. Candidates must complete at least two such seminars during their doctoral studies. The Dean's Office will send Information about these joint seminars via email; you need to register by responding to the email.
Each semester the Office of Doctoral Studies coordinates different university-wide doctoral seminars. Courses offered include, for instance, Academic writing skills, Bioethics, Logical quantitative models, European higher education and research area, and Science communication. The list of courses changes somewhat from year to year, as new courses are being added. See in ÕIS for courses offered in any given semester.
University Teaching (SORG.00.016)
To help PhD students acquire teaching skills and prepare them for an academic career, a teaching requirement has been included in the programme. Such teaching must amount to 6 ECP and may consist of the following activities:
PhD students should gradually build their ‘teaching portfolio’. In principle, any combination of the above is fine as long as your portfolio includes some actual classroom teaching (i.e. it should not consist of thesis supervision only).
Once work corresponding to 6 ECP has been completed, send a brief description of your teaching activities (including names and dates of courses taught or assisted, theses successfully supervised, etc) to the maili.vilson [ät] ut.ee (programme coordinator).
Additional doctoral-level courses of the candidate's own choosing (including courses offered by other Universities), or language courses are also applicable. Any third Political Science Classics course is also an option, as is any additional interdisciplinary social sciences courses.
In accordance with the University of Tartu's ‘Statutes of Research Degrees’ (English; Estonian), a PhD candidate must have a minimum number of publications before he/she may defend the doctoral dissertation. These publications can be:
a) articles in journals referenced by the ISI Web of Science;
b) articles in journals which belong to the category ‘A’ or ‘B’ of ERIH;
c) articles in other leading international pre-reviewed scientific journals of the specialisation, which have an international panel, which are internationally distributed, which are indexed in several international databases and which are open to contributions
d) articles or chapters in publications of renowned international publishing houses;
e) monographs published by acknowledged international scientific publishing houses.
Based on these publication categories, there are three ways to submit a doctoral dissertation:
In political science, the most common form of dissertation is type 2, however, a candidate may also consider the other options and discuss them with his/her advisor. Publications published before the commencement of doctoral studies at the University of Tartu may be accepted toward this requirement, subject to review by the Board of the Institute. The defence of the thesis takes place in the form of a public academic discussion after all other requirements for the degree have been met. For additional information, see the Statutes of Research Degrees on the UT main website.
As a University-wide requirement, PhD students must pass an annual progress review (atesteerimine). At the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, the progress review usually takes place in late August every year.
What is the progress review? The purpose of these annual meetings (PhD student + supervisor + 3 or 4-member committee) is to assess the progress a PhD student has made in the programme. The meeting is a 20-30 minute discussion based on the student's individual study plan (English; Estonian) and the progress review form, which you have to submit in advance (English; Estonian). As a result of the meeting, the committee must make a recommendation, i.e. choose one of the following options:
The basis for this decision is coursework completed, credit points earned and progress made on the dissertation (including research activities related to the dissertation such as publications, conference presentations, participation in research projects). Ideally, to complete the programme in four years, one should earn 60 ECP per year. 45 ECP per year and above is considered sufficient for full-time study (täiskoormusega õpe), 30-44 ECP per year is sufficient for part-time study (osakoormusega õpe).
The UT Study Regulations with section on ‘Attestation of PhD students’ are available here (see section V.7).
Who must pass the progress review? All PhD students, except those who have ‘external’ status or are on academic leave. Note: if your academic leave ends within a few months of the scheduled review period, you should still pass the progress review because it would be difficult to arrange a separate review meeting later on.
What is expected of the PhD student? For the progress review meeting:
Doctoral allowance: PhD students who meet the following criteria can apply for the doctoral allowance:
The amount of the doctoral allowance is €422 per month (as of 2015). The application to receive the doctoral allowance should be submitted via SIS during the period September 1 to September 30. The application should be submitted once for the entire study period; there is no need to re-apply every year.
Information on non-state stipends and other funding opportunities is available here (in Estonian). One can apply for travel support from Kristjan Jaak or the DoRa programme (short-term travel, extended stay abroad), links in Estonian.
There are also limited employment opportunities for PhD students at the Institute (teaching, research). PhD students can also be involved in various institutional or individual research grants held by faculty members (for instance, PhD students participating in grant projects supported by the Estonian Research Council can be paid an additional stipend not exceeding €200 per month).
Procedure for assessing doctoral students progress in research and conducting progress reviews in the Faculty of Social Sciences
For more information, please contact the PhD programme coordinator Maili Vilson, maili.vilson [ät] ut.ee.