Introduction to Conceptual History

Summer school for PhD students and advanced level Master’s degree students
14 August–25 August 2023

University of Helsinki
Call for applicants

In August 2023 the annual summer school “Introduction to Conceptual History” will be offered by the Centre for Nordic Studies and the Discipline of Political History at the University of Helsinki. Now in its seventeenth year, the course is organized jointly by Concepta: International Research School in Conceptual History and the Standing Group on Political Concepts in the European Consortium for Political Research. An international team of distinguished scholars and visiting lecturers will engage and encourage course participants in critical discussions around key concepts in politics, the social sciences and the humanities. 

The summer school seeks to familiarize younger scholars with the theories and practices of conceptual history and the study of political concepts as a style of political theorizing. The goal of conceptual history is to understand the ways in which concepts and ideas are operationalized in political life through the study of the debates on their formation, migration, translation, reinterpretation and diffusion through time and space (from the local to the global). Conceptual analysis involves the examination of the larger semantic, discursive, ideological and rhetorical settings of conceptual controversies, and requires familiarity with a variety of approaches to discourse, ideology and rhetoric. These concepts are communicated verbally, in print and through other media. 

The course will introduce the main aspects of the theory and methodology of conceptual analysis through discussions on the work of Reinhart Koselleck and Quentin Skinner, but also J. G. A. Pocock, Michel Foucault, Pierre Rosanvallon and Dipesh Chakrabarty, as well as such thinkers as Max Weber and Hannah Arendt. For political science, conceptual history offers a distinct perspective for studying the activity of politics in theorizing, practices and institutions. This includes the study of historical cases as well as contemporary conceptual disputes, for example regarding human rights or the European Union. For history and other fields in the humanities, conceptual history is a means of historicizing key terms and concepts that guide our analysis as well as understanding how past actors used language to frame their existence. Special attention is also given to the spatial dimension of conceptual change by focusing on global interactions and local adaptations.

The “Introduction to Conceptual History” courses, organized since 2005, have created an efficient European and global network for young scholars in political science, history and related fields. This network can and has been used by our alumni to spread information on research positions and events, to forge new research projects, as well as to organize scholarly visits abroad. 

The course will be conducted on site in Helsinki via lectures, text discussions and work-in-progress sessions. 

The course welcomes Ph.D. and advanced Master’s degree students from a variety of academic disciplines.



Time: 14 August–25 August 2023

Place: University of Helsinki, Central Campus 

Duration: 10 full days from 9:30 to 16:00 

ECTS: The course is 6 or 10 ECTS depending on if you submit an essay or not. Course participants will receive a diploma and an outline of course contents. The ECTS will be registered at students’ home universities.

Tuition fee: The course is free of charge, but students are expected to be members of the History of Concepts group which will give them access to most of the texts discussed during the course. Student membership is at € 35.

Travel and accommodation: The course organizers cannot cover travel or accommodation costs. Participants are asked to take care of their travel and accommodation arrangements. 


Applications and admission requirements

In order to be admitted you must be a PhD-student with a topic that relates to conceptual history as an approach. We are also willing to consider advanced-level MA students that have a strong interest in the topics of the summer school.

Applications to the course must include:

- information about your educational background

- a short description of your PhD (or MA) project (max 200 words)

- a motivational letter describing how you hope to benefit from the course (max 200 words)

Please fill in your application here: 



For questions, please write to the main teachers of the course Jani Marjanen ( and Johan Strang (


Application deadline: Wednesday 31 May 2023