Doing a PhD with us
Interested in studying for a doctorate in Archaeology? Or perhaps a PhD in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History or Egyptology? We also offer Archaeology with a specialist focus on Osteology.
Doctoral studies at Uppsala
The doctoral collective is one of the most vital assets of the Uppsala department. Our PhD scholars, or doktorands as they are called in Swedish, are working at the forefront of research and represent the future of our disciplines. The following notes provide a brief introduction to doctoral study at our Department, intended as information for prospective applicants. More detailed rules and regulations can be found here, and guidelines on funding can be found at the end of this document.
What is expected of a doktorand at Uppsala?
The Swedish term for the doctoral programme is forskarutbildning, which literally means 'researcher training'. We understand that research does not necessarily end with a completed PhD, and for this reason the objective is not just to produce a doctoral thesis and a specific contribution to knowledge, but to actively prepare the candidate for a continued professional life in the research community.
The Department is spread over two locations, in Uppsala itself and in Visby, on our Gotland campus; we have doktorands physically located in both places. The completion of a doctorate should take four years of full-time study (longer, part-time options are also available). The practical end result will comprise a thesis in the form of either a monograph or a compilation of peer-reviewed papers with an introductory essay. In addition to the thesis, our doktorands also take a number of formal courses, which make up approximately a year of the overall research time. These courses are divided between general training in a variety of research skills, organised centrally at the faculty level, and more specific courses in the Department or externally which are tailored to the individual doktorand's needs. We also offer formal teacher training, an essential component of a future academic career. Additional, thematic courses are also available outside the University (for example in the Dialogues with the Past series) and which count towards the doctoral degree.
To support this work, each doktorand has a primary and secondary supervisor, and sometimes an external advisor if necessary for very specialist expertise. They help to find a path through the years of study, and will also provide mentoring for the future. Together with the supervisors, every doktorand prepares an Individual Study Plan (ISP), with annual updates, setting out clear goals and mapping out the structure of the thesis work; these are serious, formal documents that are regularly monitored, and we expect our doktorands to adhere to the commitments that they represent. These ISPs also provide a springboard for planning career development during and after the PhD.
We have a lively seminar environment, with three weekly series dedicated to Archaeology, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, and Egyptology. Regular and active participation is a requirement of our doctoral programme. The seminars combine presentations by our own doktorands, each of whom is expected to give a talk once a year, as well as by other departmental staff and invited speakers. In addition, there are often seminars linked to research projects or interdisciplinary nodes, as well as opportunities to attend one-off lectures by visiting scholars. The department also has several cross-cutting research groups and doktorands are encouraged to join one or more of these. All these seminars are characterised by mature and constructive exchanges of views - a 'high ceiling' for debate, as the Swedish phrase has it - and are intended to support the work of our doktorands while also honing their critical skills. As a doktorand at Uppsala, you are part of an intellectual community, sharing ideas and mutually supportive.
What does doing a doctorate at Uppsala involve?
It is important to understand that - unlike in many countries - being a doktorand with us is quite literally a job, with a regular salary and other benefits. Doctoral researchers are therefore not regarded as 'senior students' but as members of staff, albeit under training. This provides many benefits, but like any job, also carries with it clear responsibilities both for employer (the Department) and employee (the doktorand).
Every full-time doktorand is offered a four-year employment contract, the length of time that a PhD should take to complete. In addition, and after discussion with their supervisors, doktorands may have occasional opportunities for paid work for the Department, which can take the form of teaching, admin, supervision of field schools and the like. This 'extra' work can be interspersed with the regular thesis research, which is formally prolonged (by no more than a year in total) to compensate for the time spent on other duties. While not obligatory, in practice most doktorands choose to take this opportunity to boost their CVs and improve their future job prospects.
The demands of family life are no barriers to doing a PhD with us: many of our doctoral scholars have children, and - after six months of doctoral employment - everyone has access to the full systems of parental support and the general social benefits offered by the Swedish state.
Each doctoral researcher is provided with a workspace and computer, most often in a room shared with one or two others (when available, single occupancy rooms are sometimes allocated to those in their final year of writing up). Doktorands have the same access to printers, libraries, labs and computing facilities as any other staff member. Every doktorand is provided with an annual travel allowance (currently 15.000 Swedish crowns per year) and the Department (and University at large) also has a number of funds to which postgraduates can apply for additional support if necessary. We also encourage doktorands to present at international conferences and generally to extend the range of their academic experience.
Our aim is that at least once in every doktorand's time at Uppsala, they will participate in a study trip abroad, arranged and funded by the Department, and designed to include material of relevance to all. Other collective activities are also arranged from time to time, as the doktorands organise small conferences or workshops. Regular social events are a natural part of the doctoral experience.
The doktorands have their own representatives on all the relevant panels and committees at both departmental and faculty level. There is also an internal forum specifically for doktorands to discuss issues of relevance to them, and to agree on points that can then be taken to the other committees or to management. One product of this work is the regular updating of our doctoral handbooks, so that all new doktorands are provided with a comprehensive guide to the PhD programme and the relevant University regulations.
Pathways to a PhD
Unlike the system in many countries, it is important to note that in Sweden we do not accept direct, unsolicited doctoral applications. Instead there are three main points of access to our doctoral programme.
At irregular intervals, the Department advertises doctoral fellowships (Sw. doktorandtjänster), which provide a full wage for four years. These fellowships are offered specifically in one of our three doctoral programmes (Archaeology, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, and Egyptology), but the detailed topic of the research is open. Listings of staff research interests can be found on our web pages, which can help in planning a project that is compatible with what our Department can offer. The competition for these posts is fierce, and only one or two are usually advertised each year. When available, these positions are posted on the departmental website and the central University homepages, with similar application procedures to any other academic jobs.
A small number of doctoral fellowships are also available, usually advertised once a year, from private foundations such as the Berit Wallenberg Stiftelse. The research topic of these positions is unrestricted within the field of Scandinavian archaeology.
A third pathway to a PhD is offered by research projects awarded to Department staff from the main (inter)national funders such as the Swedish Research Council or the ERC. Sometimes these projects include provision for doctoral positions to address a specific predetermined topic, which will be advertised in open competition on the same basis as above. Occasionally doctoral places are also available as part of EU training schemes such as the Marie Skłodowska Curie awards. Note that such positions are uncommon, but when available they will be advertised on our websites and on the EURAXESS job portal.
All the above funding models provide for salary costs and living expenses only; in Sweden there are no tuition fees for citizens of the Nordic countries and the EU. For applicants from outside these areas, different rules apply, as explained here. For any of the above options, practical details on how to apply will be given in the relevant advertisements.