PhD in Philosophy
Doctoral studies in philosophy are both formally and substantially the indispensable step to a professional career as a philosopher. Formally, because whichever academic post you will aim for (postdoctoral researcher, associate/assistant professor, lecturer etc.), you will be required to have completed your PhD or to be near completion. Substantially, because during your PhD studies you are expected to learn the necessary skills to be a suitable candidate for an academic job:
- being able to write original philosophy to a professional standard,
- being able to publish in professional venues (international journals or books by respectable publishers),
- being able to smoothly deliver a talk at conferences or workshops and make the most out of the question & answer routine, and
- being able to teach philosophy, ideally not only within your narrow area of specialization.
Our four-year doctoral program is designed to help you develop these skills:
- Your thesis will consist of an original and well-argued contribution to some philosophical debate or other, whether in the form of a monograph or a collection of published papers. A large part of the compulsory coursework also serves the goal of supporting your philosophical writing, and you will have great flexibility as to choosing topics for coursework writing.
- Having publications of international level is in any event one of the formal requirements to be fulfilled in order to be able to defend your thesis.
- Giving talks, and attending and reacting to your peers’ talks, is what our PhD seminar is all about, and we also encourage submitting your papers to international conferences.
- Finally, teaching philosophy to university students (in the form of lectures, seminars, supervision, or other) is one of the compulsory modules in the curriculum, while we also encourage engagement with teaching beyond this minimum, as long as it does not conflict with your research commitments.
For questions, please contact the PhD Program Manager Alex Davies (alexander.stewart.davies [ät] ut.ee)
The nominal study period of our PhD program is four years. Like for BA and MA degrees, you will need to fulfill a given amount of ECTS (credit points) to complete your studies, namely 240 ECTS distributed around the four years:
- 165 credits are reserved for work on your thesis, including the defence.
- 15 are for participation in the PhD seminar.
- 30 are for coursework in philosophy. In the case of “Readings in...”, you can choose to take one or more courses actually offered by that Chair (see for example here), or arrange individual work with a member of staff from that Chair. In the case of “Special subject according to individual curriculum”, the topic should be strictly relevant to your thesis.
- 6 credits are for teaching philosophy at university.
- Finally, 12 are for courses in transferable skills, and 12 for optional courses.
See the structure of the philosophy PhD curriculum and the options available (select the most current academic year from the top of the page).
Your supervisor is primarily responsible for supervising your PhD thesis: discussing ideas, arguments, structure of the thesis, and giving you constant feedback on your in-progress chapters or article drafts. From your supervisor you should also expect advice on your study plans (which courses to choose), publication plans, performance at talks, conferences to go to, job prospects and pretty much every aspect of your academic life.
It is minimally required that you meet your supervisor in person (or, if necessary, via video call) at least twice every semester. You will need to fill in a supervision diary to document these meetings.
Your success as a PhD student in philosophy at Tartu strictly depends on the choice of an adequate supervisor. For example, it will be difficult if not impossible to develop your writing skills, and to make wise publication plans, in an area where your supervisor has little experience or competence. Please consult our faculty page to see the list of potential supervisors and their areas of expertise.
Before choosing a supervisor, make sure you check out their CV, publications, theses currently under supervision, and theses already supervised. You should also have a look at research projects our philosophy faculty are currently running.
The PhD thesis can have two different formats: it can be written either as a monograph, or as a collection of at least three papers which have been published (or accepted for publication) as journal articles or book chapters, preceded by an (unpublished) introductory chapter. In the case of a monograph, it is still required that you have at least one article or book chapter published (or accepted for publication). Publications must belong to categories 1.1, 1.2, or 3.1 in the ETIS document “Publication classification”. Until you have the required kind and number of publications, you will not be able to submit your manuscript for defence.
The Progress Review
The development of the skills above is periodically assessed after the first semester and after every study year by means of the progress review, where you are required to document your progress with research and coursework, and to present your plans for the future, in front of a committee. Your eligibility for a performance stipend (see below), as well as your status as a full-time student, depend on the outcome of the progress reviews. See more info here.
We strongly recommend that you spend at least a semester at an institution abroad, in order to both receive further advice on your thesis, and get a “reality check” on the quality of your work in front of peer students. Study visits abroad can also be useful for accessing resources relevant to your thesis otherwise not available in Tartu.
You will be admitted to defend your PhD thesis in case of approval by two preliminary reviewers. The defence will be public, and will include inter alia a presentation by the candidate, question & answer with two opponents (usually but not necessarily identical to the two preliminary reviewers), and question & answer with members of the council and the public.
Funding for PhD studies: The state funding for doctoral students amounts to 660 euros per month for four years, which currently can be increased to 1060 thanks to a performance stipend, depending on your results at the progress review (during the first semester you will receive 1060 euros per month regardless). See additional info.
The Graduate Schools
Our PhD students are automatically members of the Graduate School of Linguistics, Philosophy and Semiotics (for students working in theoretical philosophy, practical philosophy, philosophy of science) or the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts (for students working in the history of philosophy). The Graduate Schools regularly organize events for doctoral students across the humanities (such as “writing retreats”), and can be a source of valuable info and funding. More information.