Profile & activities

Want to know what we're all about? On this page, we've gathered information on our research profile and the disciplines involved in the programme. Here, you will also find information on the studies and the type of activities and networks that await if you join the doctoral programme.
Key research areas

The programme’s research encompasses topics such as the nature of reality as a whole and how, through individual observation and inquiry in the scientific disciplines, the world can be known. Questions dealing with scientific explanation and scientific reasoning are among its staples.

The topics also include the examination of values and virtues, the generation of knowledge concerning the human being and societies as well as the ethical and political questions embedded in such knowledge. The research topics also address the nature and functions of fictional worlds and the relation of these worlds to conceptions of reality. The specific characteristics of textuality, figurality, musicality, and representation in general are among the programme's key research areas.

Further issues address research on human activity and social institutions, especially the moral question of how, individually and socially, we should live. Problems dealing with the nature and significance of perception and knowledge as well as of the emotions and experience are additional examples of the kinds of topics that form the basis of this multifaceted programme.

Disciplines represented

The programme employs the theories and methods of philosophy and art research but it also promotes their innovative combinations. To learn more about the different disciplines brought together by the programme, please visit their websites:

Courses & studying

A doctoral degree in the programme comprises of a doctoral thesis and 40 credits of additional studies. The studies are divided into discipline-specific studies, aimed to support your research project, and transferable skills training.

Most of the studies are completed flexibly through means other than traditional coursework: conference presentations, essays, scientific and popular articles, editing work etc.

Want to know more? Visit our study planning instructions for current doctoral researchers  at the university's Instructions for students.

Regular courses at the programme include discipline-specific research seminars, where you get to present your own work, receive feedback and spur on your fellow doctoral researchers.

Courses in research ethics and transferable skills are offered throughout the academic year by the University of Helsinki Doctoral School.

Events & activities

Working seminars

Twice a year, the doctoral programme organizes an interdisciplinary working seminar for all students in the programme. At the working seminars, doctoral researchers from the different disciplines of the programme and at different stages of their project meet to present their work and discuss the work of others.

Annual writing retreats

The programme also organises annual writing retreats. At the two or three-day retreats, you will spend solid chunks of the day distraction-free, just writing. In addition, you will have the opportunity to share the joys and pains of writing with other scholars in brief workshops and informal discussions during the retreat.

International networks

Several disciplines within the programme participate in international networks aimed at increasing the mobility of doctoral students and exchange of ideas across borders.

The European PhD Net­work in Philo­sophy

The European PhD Network in Philosophy is an international joint scholarly network aimed at promoting the scientific quality and the internationalization of doctoral education in the field of Philosophy, as well as providing doctoral researchers enhanced career possibilities. The main activity of the Net consists of working seminars, which take place twice a year, each time in one of the universities belonging to the Net.

Each participating university chooses one to two students for the duration of a three-year cycle. In order to be eligible for the Net, the applicants must already have been accepted as a doctoral student to one of the participating universities. The maximum number of students to be admitted to the Net is 15 and is equally distributed among the partner institutions.

The European PhD­Net in Lit­er­ary and Cultural Stud­ies

The Doctoral Programme in Philosophy, Arts and Society belongs to the European PhDNet "Literary and Cultural Studies", coordinated by the University of Giessen in Germany. PhDNet students complete a bi-national cotutelle degree between the Justus-Liebig University of Giessen and one of the other universities participating in the network. In Helsinki, the active disciplines in the network are comparative literature and Finnish literature.