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Programme statement for the Postgraduate School in the Educational Sciences

Key principles

The Postgraduate School in the Educational Sciences shall work to gather, strengthen and promote doctoral studies in the field of educational sciences at Umeå University. It shall strengthen teacher education and educational sciences, in particular the link between research and education, by contributing to a broadening and deepening of educational science research and of professional education and training based on educational sciences.

The Postgraduate School shall cover research areas that fall under the School of Education’s definition of educational sciences (see below). Postgraduate students in all doctoral programme subjects at Umeå University are invited to join, provided that they have a specialisation in educational sciences in their individual study plan. The Postgraduate School shall support doctoral programmes in the field of educational sciences by offering a cohesive educational environment with high-quality courses and other activities.

The Postgraduate School shall

  • offer a multidisciplinary, dynamic and cohesive doctoral studies environment in the field of educational sciences,
  • contribute to the strengthening of educational science research at Umeå University,
  • collaborate with departments, units and faculties at Umeå University and with school organisers in the region,
  • collaborate with international and national educational science research environments,
  • be characterised by an international perspective 

Educational sciences – definition and delimitations

The Umeå School of Education (USE) defines research in educational sciences as research on bildung, education, teaching and learning, linked to learning and teaching in an organised form. This means research on the conditions of knowledge building and learning; fundamental issues in pedagogical practice and teachers' practice of the profession; and issues related to the pedagogical development of higher education, schools and preschools. This definition of educational sciences enables researchers from several different scientific disciplines to contribute to the development of teacher education, higher education, schools, preschools and educational sciences. The definition is based on the School of Education’s interpretation of the Swedish Research Council’s definition of educational sciences and may change over time. For the most updated definition, see the School of Education’s website.

Examples and comments on the definition

The definition above is based on the Swedish Research Council’s description of research in educational sciences. The differences in relation to this are primarily a matter of including research projects linked to organisational development and toning down the idea that only basic research is supported. It is important that applications provide a clear reasoning and description of the relevance to educational sciences. Examples of educational science research topics include: learning of different content and the relationship between the content’s nature, teaching and learning, or about learning in different social cultural and institutional contexts, including working life. Legal and policy issues are included, provided that the issues are linked to teaching and learning in an organised form and/or relate to school organisation, leadership and quality. Research may also address diversity aspects of learning and memory, such as sex, ethnicity, social background, giftedness, functional impairment or learning at different stages of life. Research on the impact of educational innovations, reforms or arrangements and the functioning of education systems and informal learning under different social, economic and political conditions is also supported. Educational science research is crucial for the scientific underpinning of training for teachers, preschool teachers, school leaders and career guidance counsellors. Research with strong links to the needs of these programmes is supported.

The results of the research being of interest to the School/programme is not enough for it to be considered educational science research under the School of Education’s definition. For example, research results in physics or literature may be of interest to the School, but need to be explicitly linked to educational science issues in order to be supported by USE’s research resources. Similarly, it is not enough to conduct research on e.g. social relations and processes in general, no matter how important these are and even if they take place within the School. The relevance to educational sciences must be shown. Nor do all aspects of learning and teaching fall within the School of Education’s definition. For example, a parent helping their child learn to ride a bike may be teaching, but it is not in an organised form. The research plan must include educational science questions that are more explicitly related to teaching and learning in an organised form.

A multidisciplinary and cohesive postgraduate school

The Postgraduate School shall strengthen the development of a multidisciplinary and cohesive environment for doctoral studies in educational sciences at Umeå University. It includes both postgraduate students who receive part of their funding directly from the School of Education and postgraduate students with a specialisation in educational sciences who have funding through other means. It encourages both networking for supervisors and postgraduate students and collaboration with departments and faculties.

Conditions for partially funded postgraduate students
Postgraduate students admitted to the Postgraduate School in the Educational Sciences who receive part of their funding from the School of Education follow the requirements set out in the respective general doctoral programme syllabus. Postgraduate students admitted to the Postgraduate School are stationed at the departments in which they are admitted. The degree is earned in the subject for which the postgraduate student is admitted. The Postgraduate School encourages double degrees.

Postgraduate students who receive part of their funding directly from the School of Education shall have a high level of attendance at Umeå University’s campus and participate in the Postgraduate School’s courses, offsite retreats and other activities to contribute to the creation of a cohesive doctoral studies environment.

To support a focus on educational sciences and contribute to Umeå University’s doctoral studies environment for educational research, postgraduate students who receive part of their funding from USE must take the Postgraduate School’s compulsory course package (22.5 credits) within the framework of the course element of their doctoral degree. To participate in the Postgraduate School, the student’s individual study plan must allow these to be credited.

For each postgraduate student, an agreement is drawn up between the School of Education and the respective department/faculty at Umeå University and/or a contractual agreement must be drawn up between the School of Education and the school organiser to stipulate the obligations of the parties.

Organisation and division of responsibilities

Organisationally, the Postgraduate School in the Educational Sciences falls under the School of Education at Umeå University, which has overarching responsibility for the activities. Decisions concerning the Postgraduate School’s budget and other external conditions are prepared by the School of Education’s Research Committee and are then made by the School of Education Board or the Director of the School of Education.

The management team of the Postgraduate School, which consists of the director, deputy director and coordinator, is responsible for planning the activities, ordering courses, and conducting offsite retreats and other activities that support academic progression and a good, cohesive doctoral studies environment. The management team has overarching scientific and academic responsibility for the activities, and has research expertise in the areas relevant to the activities.

The Supervisors’ Committee, which consists of persons serving as supervisor for one or more postgraduate students funded by the School of Education, and the postgraduate students of the Postgraduate School make up the reference groups for planning and evaluating the activities. Thus, it is important for the departments to participate in these forums and exercise influence over the activities of the Postgraduate School.

Through collaboration between the departments and doctoral programme subjects, the departments are responsible for ensuring that postgraduate students comply with the applicable legal framework and obtain the necessary advanced knowledge and training based on the current syllabus, while the Postgraduate School is responsible for strengthening the postgraduate students’ educational science breadth and identity.

Internationalisation and national collaboration
The Postgraduate School in the Educational Sciences supports the internationalisation of the education through courses, seminars and lectures that are characterised by an international perspective. In this context, internationally renowned lecturers from different parts of the world are also invited to contribute to the internationalisation of the Postgraduate School.

The Postgraduate School promotes international experiences and fosters the establishment of international research contacts. This is made possible by conducting parts of the compulsory courses in collaboration with foreign universities. Researchers and postgraduate students from foreign universities are also invited to participate in the Postgraduate School’s other activities.

The Postgraduate School supports national collaboration in doctoral education with a specialisation in educational sciences. This is done by co-organising conferences, lectures and educational activities with other Swedish higher education institutions.

External collaboration and promotion of educational science research
The Postgraduate School endeavours to actively collaborate with schools and other education-related activities in the surrounding society. This is done, among other things, by offering school organisers the opportunity to co-fund educational science doctoral education together with the School of Education, by informing school organisers and other relevant actors about the Postgraduate School’s activities at Umeå University, and by inviting external lecturers from the education sector to the Postgraduate School’s activities. This assignment also includes drawing attention to the activities of the Postgraduate School and the research of the postgraduate students both within and outside the University.


Postgraduate students who are to receive part of their funding from the School of Education are admitted every other year before the start of the autumn semester. A new course cycle begins with each new admission period.


The School of Education can provide partial or zero funding for postgraduate students participating in the Postgraduate School’s activities. In addition to this partial funding, the Postgraduate School has expenses that include courses, travel, operation, offsite retreats, seminars, lectures, information, administration and web support.

Follow-up, evaluation and development

The activities of the Postgraduate School shall be followed up and evaluated on a continuous basis. Courses and offsite retreats are routinely evaluated by the Postgraduate School’s management team. The activities as a whole are evaluated every four years prior to the admission of the postgraduate students.

Follow-up and evaluation of the activities shall be carried out with the aim of developing the activities. This is done in consultation with departments, supervisors, postgraduate students as well as alumni who are actively involved in the Postgraduate School’s activities.

Latest update: 2023-06-20