Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change

The Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change belongs to the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences. The PSRC has 240 doctoral candidates. Seventeen of them are funded by the Doctoral Programme. The PSRC is multidisciplinary by nature. It offers lectures, courses, seminars and conferences on a variety of topics from politics and history to research skills and supervision.

The PSRC's responsible faculty is the Faculty of Social Sciences. The PSRC includes disciplines and research areas from four faculties of the University of Helsinki: the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Arts, and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

Call for Papers is opened for the 5th Annual Conference of the doctoral programme in Social Sciences and the doctoral programme in Political, Societal and Regional  Change. For more information, see Activities.

The PSRC includes multidisciplinary research units crossing various faculties.

Faculty of Social Sciences:

  • Development Studies
  • Economic and Social History
  • Political History
  • Political Science, which has two specialisation options: a) Politics and Organisations and b) World Politics

Faculty of Arts:

  • Area and Cultural Studies, with six specialisation options: European Studies, Latin American Studies, Nordic Studies, North American Studies, and East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies.

  • Indigenous Studies

  • The Aleksanteri Institute: Russian and Eastern European Studies

From the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, the participating discipline is:

  • Consumer Economics

The PSRC also includes the following multidisciplinary research units crossing various faculties and departments:

Annual Conference

The event will bring together PhD candidates, supervisors, and junior and senior-level researchers from different disciplines. The conference consists of plenary sessions and workshops where doctoral candidates have the opportunity to present their papers and receive feedback from peers, colleagues, professors, and experts in their fields. We warmly welcome doctoral candidates to present their research at the conference!

The Social and Political Life of Methods

The 5th Annual Conference for the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change and the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences, University of Helsinki.

Time: 22-23 October 2018
Venue: Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40

The 5th annual conference for PhD students explores the role of methods and methodologies in research and how they represent and perform aspects of the explored phenomena. Special attention is given to what could be called “the social and political life of methods”, referring to the historical, cultural, social and political contexts of methods and methodological developments. The expansion of digital data has made these questions particularly timely, but they are not limited to any particular data type, and the goal of the conference is to cross-fertilize questions about methods across the digital and analogue, including various disciplines and thereby strengthen the debate about methodological choices.

We are interested in questions like: how do research tools and methods promote certain forms of knowledge at the expense of others? How do they convert empirical data? What are methods good at “seeing” and what do they conceal? When and how are method choices political? What happens to research when methods become fashionable or are abandoned?

We welcome analytical debates on the value of methods, concerning digital methods and beyond. We are interested in ways to bypass the quantitative and qualitative divide in research and encourage papers to combine and compare different kinds of methods to highlight and discuss aspects of research.

For more information, see the call for papers below. The deadline for 300 word (max.) abstracts is 31 July.


Forthcoming Courses


Land Politics, Agrarian Movements, and Scholar-Activism
When taught: TBA (June 2018)
Type of course: Short doctoral training course
Credits: 3
Responsible PI: Professor Barry Gills
Teacher of the course: Professor Saturnino Borras
Aims: To present recent work on agrarian movements and land politics and the role of scholar-activists networks.
Learning outcomes:
Students will have learned new aspects of methods, tactics and strategy of academic work, and gain new insights into agrarian politics and agrarian movements.
This course examines the recent changes in global land politics and agrarian movements and the activists and academics that mobilize around and study these issues.

More courses in Weboodi

Planning to apply for a doctoral study right at our programme? Good choice! To start with, you should read the University’s general instructions for doctoral applicants. Once you’re acquainted with those, come back here to read more about the programme-specific selection criteria and instructions for applicants.


In addition to fulfilling the general rules of eligibility, your previous degree must be relevant to the planned research topic and discipline. A degree is regarded as relevant if it includes sufficient studies in a discipline which, given the topic of the proposed doctoral dissertation, can be regarded as a suitable basis for doctoral studies. To be able to apply, you need to have all the studies required for the degree you apply with completed, graded and registered by the end of the relevant application period.

The following criteria have been confirmed for admission to doctoral education in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Changes, PSRC:

  1.  Appropriate performance in previous studies; the grade of the thesis written for the previous degree must usually be magna cum laude (or equivalent) or higher; as well as the suitability of previous studies to serve as the foundation of the prospective doctoral degree.       
  2. The quality of the research plan and the links between the planned dissertation research and the research conducted in the doctoral programme; the research plan must follow the format and scope of research plans defined at the University level.
  3. Availability of supervision and related resources: as a rule, the person who agrees to serve as the supervisor can simultaneously supervise no more than six students who are completing their postgraduate degree in a way that is equivalent to full-time studying.

Process of evaluation of applications and decision-making in the Faculty of Social Sciences

Applications that meet the formal eligibility requirements will be submitted for a scholarly assessment by supervisors in the doctoral programme. The Faculty's Doctoral Education Committee makes the final decision on granting the right to complete a degree based on a proposal by the steering group of the doctoral programme.

In conjunction with admission, the doctoral programme and the title of the doctoral degree to be pursued will be confirmed, and the student will be assigned at least two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree and of whom at least one has a permanent or long-term employment contract with the Faculty in which the student will pursue the doctoral degree. In addition, each student will be assigned a supervising professor, who may also serve as one of the dissertation supervisors.


The Doctoral Programme has two application periods for doctoral study rights each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

The spring 2018 round of applications was from April 3, 2018 to April 16, 2018. Applicants will be informed of the decisions in mid-June via e-mail.

Next application period will be from September 14, 2018 until September 27, 2018.

Before submitting an application, applicants must contact teachers in the suitable field of science to receive instructions concerning the suitability of their research proposal for supervisory and research profile in the field of science (no supervisory assistance can otherwise be offered for the research proposal). Teachers’ email addresses can be found under each doctoral programme supervision information. Email messages sent to teachers must be accompanied by a preliminary research proposal (max. 5 pages). Information about a potential supervisor is asked in the application form.

Supervisor’s statement about the applicant is not compulsory in this doctoral programme. However, this is mistakenly asked for in the application form. Please, submit an empty page.


Applications are submitted using an electronic application form, which will be open during the application period. All applicants must submit the following documents as part of their application (point 1 is integrated in the electronic application form; points 2-4 are submitted as scanned attachments):

The required documents to be attached to the form:

1. A preliminary research proposal. Instructions on how to draw up your research plan are found by looking at the University of Helsinki research plan template . The following fields related to the research plan are included in the electronic application form (the number in parentheses indicates the maximum number of characters per field, spaces included):

  • Brief summary of the research plan (1500)
  • Significance of the project in relation to current knowledge (1500)
  • Objectives of the research (2000)
  • Effects and impact beyond academia (500)
  • Research methods (2000)
  • Research material to be used and its significance for the research project (1000)
  • Data management plan (1500)
  • Critical points for success, alternative implementation strategies (500)
  • Ethical issues (1000)
  • Publication plan (including a preliminary outline of a monograph) (1000)
  • Methods for ensuring open access (more information available on the University Library's website, 500)
  • Schedule for the research (500)
  • Funding plan for research and doctoral studies (500)
  • Applied funding and salaried positions (500)
  • Motivation for choosing the University of Helsinki as the site of doctoral research and motivation for selecting the doctoral programme (500)
  • Mobility plan (500)
  • The most important research literature and/or sources (1000)

2. An abstract of the Master’s thesis

3. A copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent) and a copy of a detailed transcript of studies included in the degree.

4. Verification of language skills. The University of Helsinki demands an indication of academic level language skills of all applicants. Please acquaint yourself with the options for verifying your language skills in either Finnish, Swedish or English in good time before applying. Additionally, you will need to have sufficient skills in any other languages needed for your research topic. Your skills in these languages will be assessed based on the application documents (e.g. transcript of studies) as well as preliminary discussions with your potential supervisors.

N.B. Applicants who have not completed their previous degree in the University of Helsinki must also send officially certified copies of the documents mentioned in points 3. and 4.  by post. For more information on the means of having the documents officially certified, please see here.


The applications, along with the required additional documents, must be submitted by the end of the application period. Applications are submitted using an electronic application form, which closes at UTC +3, (at 15.00 PM Helsinki time), on the last day of the round of applications. Those applicants who are required to send certified copies of the additional documents by post must make sure that these documents arrive by the end of the application period.

Applications and additional documents sent by email are not accepted. Incomplete applications are not considered.

The certified copies of additional documents must be delivered to the Admissions Services of the University of Helsinki. For instructions on how to submit your documents, please see here.


Admission to postgraduate studies:

Decisions on admissions for doctoral studies in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change are made based on the University’s general criteria for admissions as well as programme-specific complementary guidelines for admissions.

Applications that meet the formal eligibility requirements will be submitted for a scholarly assessment. This scholarly assessment is performed by supervisors of the doctoral programme.
The Faculty's Doctoral Education Committee makes the final decision on granting the right to complete a degree based on a proposal by the steering group of the doctoral programme.

Feasibility, scientific significance and suitability to the research profile of the doctoral programme are emphasised in the assessment of the quality of the research plans. In the assessment of study plans, weight is placed on the feasiblity and appropriateness for the dissertation project in question. When assessing the provisional timetables presented in the study plans, special attention is paid to the fact that a full-time doctoral student should aim to complete the dissertation and related studies in approx. 4 years. Supervisors are expected to support this goal.

The suitability of the previous degree as a basis for the planned dissertation project, previous study performance and the availability of high-quality supervision are also a central part of the criteria. Lack of suitable supervision resources can be used as grounds for rejecting an application.

In conjunction with admission, the doctoral programme and the title of the doctoral degree to be pursued will be confirmed, and the student will be assigned at least two supervisors who have completed a doctoral degree and of whom at least one has a permanent or long-term employment contract with the Faculty in which the student will pursue the doctoral degree. In addition, each student will be assigned a supervising professor, who may also serve as one of the dissertation supervisors.

The steering committee of the Doctoral Programme in PSRC has nominated the following applicants for four year funded doctoral candidate positions, starting in January 2018: Laura Nordström, Antti Tarvainen, Mika Vehka.

The programme congratulates the successful candidates and wishes to thank all applicants. The next call for applications will be in fall 2018.

PhDs involve a long-term commitment, which requires planning and shared understanding of expectations and responsibilities. In the beginning of doctoral studies, each doctoral candidate makes a personal study plan (PSP) and a supervision agreement. The personal study plan is to ensure that the formal training you take will benefit the aims of your research. Only the student and the supervisor will know what counts as beneficial for each candidate as it varies across research topics and disciplines, and it varies at different stages of the completion of the PhD. Therefore, the personal study plan is done together with a supervisor or supervisors.

These documents – the personal study plan and supervision agreement - are designed to help both PhD students and their supervisors to keep track of progress, and ultimately to approach the goal of achieveing a PhD. 

Degree programme structure 1.8.2017 onwards

The doctoral degree consists of three modules:
Research-specific training (30 credits) + Academic competence (10 credits) + Doctoral thesis.

Module 1: Research-specific training (30 credits)

  • Regular constructive critique of doctoral candidates’ work: research-theme specific seminars and supervision (minimum of 5 credits and maximum of 10 credits).
  • Training in theoretical approaches and research literature specific to the PhD candidate’s research field (minimum of 5 credits and maximum of 10).
  • Training in methodological approaches and research methods specific to the PhD candidate’s research field (minimum of 5 credits and maximum of 10).
  • Training in research ethics so as to ensure the highest standards in protecting the privacy, dignity, interests and security of those we research (1-5 credits).
  • International mobility and conference participation (2-10 credits).
  • Training in specialist themes or topics in the social sciences directly relevant to the doctoral research, tailor-made studies (no minimum; maximum of 5 credits).

See more courses on WebOodi

Module 2: Academic Competence and Transferable Skills (10 credits)

  • Academic and transferable skills and techniques (e.g. writing and communication skills)
  • Pedagogy in university education, teaching skills
  • Research management skills and science in society
  • Career planning and general working skills

Courses and events

Module 3: Doctoral Thesis

The preparation of the doctoral thesis is the core work of any PhD candidate. All modules involve contributions to this, but this third module lies at the heart of the doctoral program. This module depends heavily on the supervisors (usually a minimum of two, with one main supervisor or two equal co-supervisors) and the doctoral candidate, working together throughout the period of the completion of the degree. There are four elements to this module:

  • Primary and secondary research and data gathering, which will include becoming fully familiar with existing literature and knowledge in the chosen field.
  • Thorough and rigorous analysis of data, which will include regular academic writing under supervision, and presentation of that work for critical assessment and peer review.
  • The writing of the final thesis in a coherent, concise, well organized and well-presented manner. The thesis can be monograph or article-based, as agreed by the supervision team. The thesis shall be a maximum of 250 pages in total. 
  • Submission of the thesis for examination, followed by a public defence of the thesis, in accordance with the regulations of the University of Helsinki.

The thesis can be monograph or article-based. If it is article-based doctoral thesis, the following information should be taken into account: 

  • The normally expected number of peer-reviewed articles will be no less than three (3) and no more than five (5). The final number must be agreed with the recommendation of the doctoral candidate's main supervisor, and must comply with University regulations. 
  • The contents of the summary, which varies across disciplines and themes, should be agreed with the doctoral candidate's supervisor.
  • The total word count, including summary, conclusion and articles, shall not exceed 250 pages. Exceptions can only be agreed by the doctoral program steering committee, and must be both fully justified in academic terms, and supported by a statement from the PhD candidate's main supervisor.

The preparation of the doctoral thesis is the core work of any PhD candidate. Therefore, the key person in the whole process of obtaining a doctorate is your supervisor. He or she will supervise your research and guide you through your doctoral degree. A good starting point for finding a potential supervisor at the University of Helsinki is to study the list under. By clicking the names of potential supervisors you will see their TUHAT-profile. TUHAT is the University’s research portal where UH researchers update their latest publications and other activities.


Faculty of Social Sciences

Political Science
Pertti Ahonen
Francesco Boldizzoni
Tero Erkkilä
Anne Holli
Salla Huikuri
Riikka Kuusisto
Mikko Mattila
Juri Mykkänen
Emilia Palonen
Heikki Patomäki
Sergei Prozorov
Mikko Rask
Åsa von Schoultz
Jan Sundberg
Teivo Teivainen
Turo Virtanen
Hanna Wass
Tuomas Ylä-Anttila

Political history
Marja Jalava
Kristiina Kalleinen
Jukka Kortti
Joni Krekola
Hanna Kuusi
Aappo Kähönen
Pauli Kettunen
Jussi Kurunmäki
Katalin Miklossy
Johanna Rainio-Niemi
Kimmo Rentola
Tauno Saarela
Pilvi Torsti
Erkki Vasara

Development studies
Florencia Quesada Avendaño
Jeremy  Gould
Barry Gills
Päivi Hasu
Marjaana Jauhola
Helena Jerman
Juhani Koponen
Markus Kröger
Paola Minoia
Pertti Multanen
Anja Nygren
Elina Oinas
Aili Pyhälä
Eija Ranta

Economic and social history
Laura Ekholm
Matti Hannikainen (contact: matti.hannikainen(at)
Riitta Hjerppe
Antti Häkkinen
Hanna Kuusi
Simo Laakkonen
Jaana Laine
Beatrice Moring
Marjatta Rahikainen
Sakari Saaritsa

Network for European Studies
Juhana Aunesluoma
Kaius Tuori

Faculty of Humanities

Aleksanteri Institute (Russian and Eastern European Studies)
Sari Autio-Sarasmo
Vladimir Gel’man
Daria Gritsenko
Anna-Liisa Heusala
Markku Kangaspuro
Katalin Miklossy
Marianna Muravyeva
Katri Pynnöniemi
Sanna Turoma
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen

Area and Cultural Studies
Florencia Quesada Avendaño
Tiina Airaksinen
Rani-Henrik Andersson
Malte Gasche
Daria Gritsenko
Outi J Hakola
Ari Helo
Markku Henriksson
Hannu Juusola
Jouni Järvinen
Harri Kettunen
Anu Korhonen
Antti Korpisaari
Rickard Lalander
Arto Luukkanen
Simo Muir
Andrew Newby
Jussi Pakkasvirta
Martti Pärssinen
Mikko Saikku
Peter Stadius
Johan Strang
Miika Tervonen
Timo Vihavainen

Indigenous Studies
Pirjo Virtanen

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

Consumer Economics/ Consumer research
Minna Autio
Visa Heinonen
Mari Niva

Faculty of Science

Urban Geography and Regional Studies
Sami Moisio

The Director of the Doctoral Programme
Professor Anja Nygren

The Steering Committee of the Doctoral Programme
Anja Nygren, Director of the Doctoral Programme
Visa Heinonen
Antti Häkkinen
Ira Jänis-Isokangas
Kimmo Rentola
Peter Stadius
Åsa von Schoultz
Kristina Silvan, Doctoral student representative
Joonatan Virtanen, Doctoral student representative

Doctoral Programme Planner
Tiina Käkelä