PhD in Political Science

The page header has a fragment from the collection of Estonica dissertatsions: Johannes Erici Stregnensis, Disputatio Politica Prima, De Natura Et Constitutione Politices In Genere, Dorpati Livonorum:Typis Acad, 1640

PhD programme in Political Science is offered entirely in English, and the Institute welcomes applications from international students. The Political Science PhD programme has full accreditation and has received a positive external review in 2011 and 2019. The nominal study time is four years. From the academic year of 2022/2023, PhD students will be admitted to the Doctoral Programme of the Faculty of Social Sciences, with a specialization in Political Science. 

Currently, around thirty PhD students are enrolled in Political Science doctoral programme, about 20 of them as resident PhD researchers. An increasing number of them are international students, coming from Germany, Japan, China, the UK, Sweden, Canada, Kosovo, Serbia, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Armenia, Finland, and Turkey.

  • For general information about doctoral studies at the University of Tartu, guidelines and regulations, as well as funding, please visit the University of Tartu’s website on doctoral studies.
  • For detailed information about the curriculum and organisation of studies, please see the Faculty of Social Science’s webpage.

For more information about the research areas, publications and current research projects of the faculty, please visit the institute members' website for an overview of their supervision competencies (click on the grid view). You are also welcome to look for our staff members’ individual profiles in the Estonian Research Information System. Additionally, please familiarize yourself with the main research directions of the institute. It is a precondition for acceptance into the PhD programme that the Institute has the necessary expertise for supervising the project suggested.

Before submitting documents, applicants should contact a prospective supervisor from the Institute’s faculty or seek advice from the PhD programme coordinator Kristel Vits ( about who to contact. It is essential for the application's success that prospective PhD students approach us with a sound research project and seek to establish a preliminary agreement on supervision with one of our faculty members before submitting their application.



The next round of PhD admission will be in the spring of 2023.

Persons holding a Master's degree or a corresponding level of education may apply for PhD studies.

  • Applicants with Estonian citizenship should follow the instructions given here.
  • International applicants, including applicants with a previous degree from an Estonian institution of higher education, should follow the instructions given here.

Applicants seeking admission to the PhD programme in Political Science are evaluated based on a PhD research proposal (50%) and an admission interview (50%).

The PhD research proposal (at a minimum of 5 pages, including a list of sources) must be added to the application documents. It should include the following:

  • the topic of the proposed PhD thesis (presentation of the research problem, positioning it in the context of the existing literature);
  • objectives of the thesis;
  • description of data and research methods;
  • expected results, their novelty and importance;
  • a brief timeline of the proposed research;
  • list of sources;
  • brief summary of previous academic or practical experience relevant to the proposed PhD research.

Applicants whose research proposals are evaluated positively (see details below) are invited to an admission interview to determine their motivation and academic potential. Topics discussed during the interview can include the following:

  • the applicant’s prior academic and work experience (based on the applicant’s CV);
  • choice of topic and the research proposal -- in particular, its relevance and feasibility;
  • motivation to receive a PhD in Political Science and future career plans;
  • readiness to adapt to new institutional and cultural settings.

The interview lasts around 20 minutes. Invitations to the interviews are sent 5-7 days before the interview. Applicants who reside abroad can participate in the interview via telecommunication means. Assessment criteria for the research proposal:

  • Appropriateness and justification of the chosen theoretical and methodological approach (40%; 20 points);
  • Novelty and relevance of the proposed research (30%; 15 points);
  • Feasibility of the proposed project (30%; 15 points).

Assessment criteria for the interview:

  • Motivation to pursue a PhD in Political Science and readiness to commit to the programme (30%; 15 points);
  • Relevance of previous academic and work experience to the programme and the proposed PhD research (30%; 15 points);
  • Ability to justify the research proposal, including in the context of major debates in the field (30%; 15 points);
  • Presentation and interpersonal skills (10%; 5 points).

Both the research proposal and admission interview are assessed on a scale of 0 to 50  points. To be invited to an interview, the applicant must earn at least 35 points for the research proposal. To be considered for the position, the result of the admission interview must be at least 35 points.

The interview time will be agreed with each interviewee individually after submission and evaluation of the research proposals.

Art Alishani, MA (TalTech)

Topic: "Harnessing the potential of algorithms and intelligent technologies to build robust and human-centric public administrations: Cross-border digital public services"
Supervisors: Robert Krimmer, Mihkel Solvak

Butrint Berisha, MA (Stockholm)

Topic: "Exploring the role of civil society organisations in the foreign policy of contested states: An analysis of Kosovo, Palestine and Taiwan since 2010"
Supervisor: Eiki Berg

Logan Carmichael, MA (Auckland)

Topic: "Cybersecurity Uplift in the Estonian Digital Governance Model, 2007-2021"
Supervisors: Robert Krimmer, Mihkel Solvak

Ionut-Valentin Chiruta, MA (Oslo)

Topic: "Reconstructing collective memory in the time of Populism. A study of mnemonic reverberations of the Magyar minority from Romania"
Supervisor: Vello Pettai

Michael Cole, MA (Birmingham)

Topic: "The influence of Russian discourse on right-wing populist discourses in Ukraine and Georgia"
Supervisor: Andrey Makarychev

Stefan Dedovic, MA (TalTech)

Topic: "Interoperability governance of the cross-border mobile electronic identification"
Supervisors: Robert Krimmer, Mihkel Solvak

Radityo Dharmaputra, MA (Glasgow/ Tartu)

Topic: "Contemporary Russian Foreign Policy Discourse towards Asia: Assessing the Logic of Causality in the Discursive Structure of Identity"
Supervisor: Viacheslav Morozov

Ville Tapani Haapanen, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Green parties in the globalization divide"
Supervisor: Liisa Talving

Sandra Hagelin, MA (Amsterdam)

Topic: "Understanding the role of borders and boundaries in European Integration following the Covid-19 crisis"
Supervisor: Stefano Braghiroli

Biao He, MA (OsloMet)

Topic: "E-governance for all: How does the Chinese local government bridge the digital divide that persons with disabilities experience in the use of e-governance services?"
Supervisors: Robert Krimmer, Mihkel Solvak 

Urmas Hõbepappel, MA (Lund)

Topic: "Changing History – Changing the Present? Postmodernist Historiography and Political Change in China"
Supervisor: Andrey Makarychev

Sanshiro Hosaka, MA (OUJ)

Topic: "Covering Former Empire 'Peripheries': Academia's Reception of Russian Strategic Narratives in International Conflicts"
Supervisor: Andrey Makarychev

Kristjan Kaldur, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Early patterns of integration among the newly arrived migrants: the case of Russian-speaking new migrants in Estonia"
Supervisors: Piret Ehin and Kristina Kallas

Natalia Kovyliaeva, MA (CEU)

Topic: "Gaining Voice: Digital Feminist and Women's Movements in Post-Soviet Countries"
Supervisor: Katrin Uba and Andrey Makarychev

Maria Leek, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Conceptualizing the European Union as an international actor: an analysis of the moving position of the EU’s Self and the construction of Europe from within"
Supervisor: Viacheslav Morozov

Thomas Michael Linsenmaier, MA (FU Berlin)

Topic: "The interplay between regional international societies – towards a European security architecture?”
Supervisor: Viacheslav Morozov

Lelde Luik, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "'We the people': political representation, power and popular sovereignty in Latvia"
Supervisor: Viacheslav Morozov

Tatiana Lupacheva, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "The electoral consequences of personalised parliamentary behaviour: A comparative textual analysis of legislative speeches"
Supervisor: Martin Mölder

Eoin Micheal McNamara, MA/MSc (Tartu/ London)

Topic: "What determines the NATO contribution of small post-2004 allies? A comparative analysis of Estonia, Slovenia and Bulgaria"
Supervisor: Andres Kasekamp and Eiki Berg

Bogdan Romanov, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Electronic voting in Russia: the scrutiny of 'i-voting' in an authoritarian context"
Supervisors: Mihkel Solvak, Robert Krimmer

Oliver Rowe, MA (Geneva)

Topic: "The White Movement at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919-1920: People, Nations, and Self-Determination in the Russian Revolution and Civil War and their Contemporary Legacies"
Supervisor: Eva Piirimäe

Anselm Schmidt, MA (Regensburg)

Topic: "Russian versus Ukrainian 'International' News Media and the War in Ukraine: Between Actors and Instruments of State"
Supervisor: Andrey Makarychev

Annika Siirak, MA (Tartu/ Bruges)

Topic: "How political change towards democracy can end up stuck in a hybrid regime"
Supervisor: Eiki Berg

Mari-Liis Sulg, MA (Tallinn)

Topic: "Small State Foreign Policy strategic options: Estonian Example"
Supervisor: Eiki Berg

Azniv Tadevosyan, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Dissensus in Music and Cinema in Post-2012 Russia"
Supervisor: Viacheslav Morozov

George Spencer Terry, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "The Far Right as a Cultural Phenomenon: Searching for Definitions in Italy, Poland, and Estonia"
Supervisor: Andrey Makarychev

Märten Veskimäe, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Measuring the impact of government e-services"
Supervisor: Mihkel Solvak

Maili Vilson, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "The Europeanization of national foreign policy during the crisis in Ukraine"
Supervisor: Viacheslav Morozov and Piret Ehin

Kristel Vits, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "De facto states and dependences: disentangling the interrelationship between de facto statehood and patronage"
Supervisor: Eiki Berg

Louis Wierenga, MA (Toronto)

Topic: "Ready for Battle: Threat narratives in the social media discourse of the radical right in Estonia and Latvia”
Supervisor: Andres Kasekamp and Vello Pettai

Izzet Yalin Youksel, MA (Tartu)

Topic: "Understanding De Facto, Small and Microstates: Elite Navigations at the Crossroads of International Patron-Client Relationships and Ontological Insecurity"
Supervisor: Eiki Berg

Dissertations defended at the Institute since 2006

Click on the link to access the full dissertation online.

Ivan Ulises Kentros Klyszcz, "How does violent conflict affect paradiplomacy? An exploratory research with cases from the North Caucasus.", 2022
Supervisor: Eiki Berg

Andrii Nekoliak, "'Memory laws' and the patterns of collective memory regulation in Poland and Ukraine in 1989–2020: a comparative analysis", 2022.
Supervisor Vello Pettai

Maksim Kulaev, "Trade unions, transformism and the survival of Russian authoritarianism", 2021.
Supervisor Viatcheslav Morozov

Juhan Saharov, "From economic independence to political sovereignty: inventing “self-management” in the Estonian SSR", 2021.
Supervisor Eva Piirimäe

Shota Kakabadze, "'The Caucasian chalk circle': Georgia’s self at the East/West nexus", 2020.
Supervisors Andrey Makarychev and Maria Mälksoo

Lukas Pukelis, "Informal mutual oversight mechanisms in coalition governments: Insights from the Baltic states for theory building", 2018.
Supervisor Vello Pettai

Ryhor Nizhnikau, "Externally induced institutional change in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood: migration and environment reforms in Ukraine and Moldova in 2010–2015", 2017.
Supervisor Viatcheslav Morozov

Kats Kivistik, "Relevance, content and effects of left-right identification in countries with different regime trajectories", 2017.
Supervisors Piret Ehin and André Freire

Kristian Lau Nielsen, "Soft Power Europe: The Lesser Contradiction in Terms and Practices", 2016.
Supervisor Eiki Berg

Birgit Poopuu, "Acting is everything: the European unioon and the process of becoming a peacebuilder", 2016.
Supervisor Maria Mälksoo

Kristina Kallas, "Revisiting the triadic nexus: An analysis of the ethnopolitical interplay between Estonia, Russia and Estonian Russians", 2016.
Supervisor Vello Pettai

Liisa Talving, "Economic conditions and incumbent support: when and how does the economy matter?", 2016.
Supervisors Piret Ehin and Kristjan Vassil

Raul Toomla, "De facto states in the international system: Conditions for (in)formal engagement", 2014.
Supervisor Eiki Berg

Andro Kitus, "A Post-Structuralist “Concept” of Legitimacy", 2014.
Supervisors Vello Pettai and Lasse Thomassen

Mari-Liis Sööt, "Explaining corruption: Opportunities for corruption and institutional trust", 2013.
Supervisor Tiina Randma-Liiv

Kadri Lühiste, "Regime Support in European Democracies", 2013.
Supervisor Piret Ehin

Viljar Veebel, "The role and impact of positive conditionality in the EU pre-acession policy", 2012.
Supervisor Eiki Berg

Alar Kilp, "Church authority in society, culture and politics after Communism", 2012.
Supervisor Rein Taagepera

Maria Groeneveld, "The role of the state and society relationship in the foreign policy making process", 2012.
Supervisors Andres Kasekamp and Alexander Astrov

Heiko Pääbo, "Potential of Collective Memory Based International Identity Conflicts in Post-Imperial Space: Comparison of Russian Master Narrative with Estonian, Ukrainian and Georgian Master Narratives", 2011.
Supervisor Andres Kasekamp

Mihkel Solvak, "Private members’ bills in parliament - a comparative study of Finland and Estonia", 2011.
Supervisor Vello Pettai

Holger Mölder, "Cooperative security dilemma – practicing the Hobbesian security culture in the Kantian security environment", 2010.
Supervisor Eiki Berg

Allan Sikk, "Highways to power: New party success in three young democracies", 2006.
Supervisors Rein Taagepera and Mogens N. Pedersen

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