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Postgraduate studies

Third-cycle level

The third-cycle programme at the Department of Psychology leads up to a degree of Doctor of Philosophy with a programme length of, usually, four years. The programme focuses on fundamental psychological principles and processes that help us to better understand and predict human behaviour in different contexts, and during different phases of life.

About the programme

Being a doctoral student entails independent research as part of a specific project, and as a consequence you are simultaneously both a student in the final stage of your education, and an independent researcher. The programme focusses on clearly defined empirical questions, where doctoral students are expected to carry out innovative and internationally competitive research.

The programme includes a strong methodological tradition and often multidisciplinary collaborations with researchers in other subjects including areas outside psychology, which provides good conditions for a continuing career both in and outside of the academic world.

Following completion of the third-cycle level, you will be adequately equipped to carry out independent research and apply for project funding.

Scope and desired educational outcomes

The aim of the programme is to develop the knowledge and skills required in order to be able to conduct individual research in psychology and to contribute to the development of knowledge in that field.

The third-cycle programme is worth 240 HE credits (corresponding to four years) and it is concluded by the doctoral student submitting a dissertation for public review.

The successful applicant for the third-cycle programme concluding with a doctoral exam will also be given an opportunity for a licentiate exam after 120 HE credits (corresponding to two years). It is also possible to limit the doctoral application to solely a licentiate exam from the beginning. If so, there is no option of automatically proceeding to a doctoral exam. The third-cycle programme ending with a doctoral exam is a separate programme that is applied for in competition with other applicants.

From admission to doctoral thesis

The path from admission all the way to defending a doctoral thesis involves several steps. You will e.g. be provided an individual study plan and a supervisor who will help you and then, about four years of research later, you finally get to defend your doctoral thesis at a public defence. You can read more about the process at the university's pages on third-cycle programmes.

The Department of Psychology is a part of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Our third-cycle programme is also a part of the faculty's third-cycle programme. On the Faculty of Social Sciences' website, you will find a more detailed summary of what the dissertation process at the Faculty of Social Sciences looks like.

Both student and staff member

Admission to the third-cycle programme entails being both a student and a staff member at the same time. Both roles are regulated in relevant ordinances covering both rights and obligations.

A doctoral student is usually employed to conduct research studies on a full-time basis. The exception from this is collaborative doctoral positions, where the third-cycle programme is pursued on a part-time basis alongside ordinary employment with an organisation outside the university.

Doctoral students usually (though not always) perform three different types of work. Working on a thesis, departmental duties, and academic training. Teaching is usually considered to be part of departmental duties, and course credits in the context of the third-cycle programme are usually perceived as academic training.


We work continuously with quality improvement and quality assurance in the programme's various bodies: the Committee for Third Cycle Education, the Board of Supervisors and the Doctoral Board. We have also taken part in a number of benchmarking projects in order to gain inspiration from other third-cycle programmes.

In the 2015-2016 review by The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), our third-cycle programme was assessed as "high quality". The programme satisfies all quality requirements, was found to be well-structured, and to be of a good international class.

Contact persons for the third-cycle programme

Administrator for third-cycle education:
Ann Backlund: ann.backlund@psy.gu.se, +46 (0)31-786 1637

Director of Studies for third-cycle education and chair of the Committee for Third Cycle Education:
Jan Johansson Hanse: jan.johansson.hanse@psy.gu.se, +46 (0)31-786 1678

Vacant PhD positions

We currently have no announcements.

More about doctoral Studies

at the University of Gothenburg

Page Manager: Ann Backlund|Last update: 7/4/2018

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