Author:
Johan-Paul Hion

Programme admission requirements and evaluation criteria

General admission requirements:

  • doctoral thesis project
  • admission interview

In the first stage of assessment, the doctoral thesis project will be assessed. In the second stage of assessment, there is an interview.

Both the doctoral thesis project and admission interview are assessed on a scale of 0 to 50 points, the minimum positive score is 35 points. Each components gives 50% of your overall score with a maximum overall score of 100 points. If you score at least 35 points out of 50 for the thesis proposal, you will be invited to attend an entrance interview.

Speciality admission requirements

The requirements for the doctoral thesis project and the evaluation criteria can differ depending on the speciality. Below you will find specific conditions and requirements for every speciality, as well as contact information in case you have further questions.

Doctoral thesis project (3–5 pages) should contain the following:

  1. topic of the doctoral thesis, the purpose and overview of the research – what kind of a problem the thesis is going to solve;
  2. name of the prospective supervisor;
  3. theoretical context: a short summary of the nature of the problem and the most important related research;
  4. research methods: the research methodology that will be used to solve the problem and that is necessary for such work;
  5. hypotheses: expectations for the results, their novelty and importance;
  6. planned format of the doctoral thesis;
  7. sources;
  8. a planned schedule of doctoral studies: conducting research and studies, studies abroad, research projects and other activities related to the speciality done at the university and outside the university.
     

Doctoral thesis project assessment criteria:

  • novelty of the topic (originality and authenticity or novelty of results);
  • the applicant’s ability to find and formulate the research problem (a clear research purpose and hypotheses used as a basis of the thesis);
  • adequacy of research methods;
  • knowing their way around the sources;
  • feasibility of a thesis on this topic and its relation with the applicant’s earlier research;
  • feasibility of the planned timetable.

The curriculum vitae of the applicant is used to consider the following:

  • prior work experience and education of the applicant
  • professional development of the applicant
  • motivation of the applicant


The interview is used to assess the following:

  • ability to connect the research project with previous scientific work and academic career (the number and quality of publications will also be assessed)
  • ability to present the main idea, problem and stages of the planned doctoral thesis
  • the perspective of completing the doctoral programme successfully within the nominal study period.

Speciality representative: Janet Laidla, janet.laidla@ut.ee

Institute of History and Archaeology

The doctoral thesis project (length up to 3 pages) must include the following:

  1. justification for the choice of the topic and the research purpose;
  2. main issues dealt with in the thesis and an illustrative structure (recommended);
  3. short overview of the most relevant former research in the field;
  4. presentation of the research methodology;
  5. illustrative list of literature;
  6. timetable for the work.

The project is assessed from the perspective of its research quality, including the following:

  • whether and how much the topic complies with the main research areas of Estonian and Finno-Ugric linguistics and has been approved by the supervisor;
  • whether and how much it includes the justification of the novelty of the perspective;
  • whether and how much it provides an overview of the main sources and literature;
  • whether and how much it shows that the applicant is familiar with the main issues of the topic;
  • whether and how much the applicant indicates the possible courses of action to find a solution

Interview

Doctoral thesis projects are defended during an interview. Applicants present their projects and answer questions from admissions committee members.

The assessment of the project defence covers the following:

  • ability to relate the project with their earlier research and academic career (incl. the quantity and quality of publications);
  • ability to present the idea, problems and main stages of the work;
  • motivation to complete doctoral studies successfully and on time.

The assessment of the feasibility of a doctoral thesis project covers the following

  • links of the project with larger research projects;
  • existence of the infrastructure and other resources required for the work;
  • relationship between the applicant’s former research and the proposed doctoral thesis;
  • applicant’s overall competency in the field and earlier research, in view of the experience and professional development presented in their CV.

Speciality representative: Ann Veismann, ann.veismann@ut.ee

Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics

Doctoral thesis project (3–5 pages + references)

  1. Present a research question or a set of research questions which the doctoral project will answer.
  2. Contextualize the research question(s): describe the state of the debate in the relevant literature and, on this basis, explain why it is important to address the research question(s)--show that by answering this question, you will make a valuable contribution to the current state of debate in the relevant literature.
  3. Explain how you will work out the answers to your research question(s). If you have ideas about what the answers are to your research questions, then explain how you will defend these answers.
  4. Present a work plan: explain how you will fit your strategy for answering your research question(s) into the timeframe of doctoral work at the University of Tartu: and how you will meet the requirements and deadlines at each stage of your PhD. Your plan must be plausible. In presenting your plan, you must show that you really do understand what work is required to achieve each of the requirements by the relevant time.

The doctoral thesis project will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • the ability of the applicant to understand and adequately formulate the research question(s);
  • whether answering the research question(s) really does/do make a valuable contribution to the literature the thesis is meant to be a contribution towards;
  • the applicant's knowledge of the relevant philosophical literature;
  • whether the applicant’s strategy for answering their research question(s) is both clear and convincing;
  • whether the applicant’s work plan shows that the student understands the requirements of a doctoral degree at the University of Tartu to the extent required to complete the degree on schedule;
  • whether the applicant’s application overall provides a compelling reason to believe the candidate will produce not just passable research but the research of high quality that will contribute both to the good standing of the candidate and the UT Department of Philosophy;
  • the feasibility of the work proposed, given the supervision competencies available at the University of Tartu Department of Philosophy. 

Writing sample

The candidate’s CV must include a list of research work already completed by the candidate. When applying for a PhD position in Philosophy, it is strongly recommended that the candidate adds to her CV a writing sample, which will be taken into account when assessing the candidate’s proposed research project. The writing sample’s length should correspond to the length of a typical philosophy paper in the field of Philosophy on which the candidate wishes to write their doctoral thesis (but certainly no longer than 50 pages).

The writing sample will be assessed in accordance with the following criteria:

  • the clear presentation of a claim to be defended;
  • the clarity of argumentation in defence of this claim;
  • the validity, soundness and convincingness of the argumentation;
  • how well-structured the writing sample is;
  • whether the writing sample is up to date with the relevant literature;
  • whether the writing sample has been published/is forthcoming in a journal of good quality;
  • relation to the proposed doctoral thesis: i.e. applicants whose writing sample supports the view that the applicant is competent in the area the doctoral thesis will be a contribution towards are likely to score higher than applicants whose writing sample shows no such support.

The interview will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • the extent to which the applicant’s interest, prior education and/or work experience suit the objectives and learning outcomes of doctoral studies;
  • skills in analysis, argumentation, and self-expression;
  • the extent to which the applicant shows they will be an active contributor to the intellectual community of the University of Tartu Department of Philosophy;
  • the extent to which the applicant seems capable of meeting the requirements of the University of Tartu Philosophy speciality on time and to a high standard;
  • readiness for continuous learning and professional development.

Speciality representative: Alexander Stewart Davies, alexander.stewart.davies@ut.ee

Department of Philosophy

The doctoral thesis project must specify the following:

  1. the topic of the thesis,
  2. summary of the nature of the problem and the most important related research;
  3. purpose of the research – what kind of a problem the thesis is going to solve;
  4. the applicant’s ability to find and formulate the research problem (a clear research purpose and hypotheses);
  5. research methodology that will be used to solve the problem; adequacy of research methods;
  6. novelty of the topic (originality, authenticity of results);
  7. expectations for the results – their novelty and importance;
  8. preparedness to deal with the topic, knowledge of the relevant materials,
  9. relatedness with earlier research or work in the field;
  10. knowing their way around the sources.
  11. preliminary agreements with supervisors;
  12. ability to be in Estonia during the studies.

During the interview, the following is assessed:

  • oral justification for the thesis project;
  • motivation to begin the studies;
  • oral presentation skills.

Speciality representative: Alexander Stewart Davies, alexander.stewart.davies@ut.ee

Department of Semiotics

The structural elements of a doctoral thesis project (5000–9000 characters) are:

  1. topic of the doctoral thesis. The purpose and overview of the research – what kind of a problem the thesis is going to solve;
  2. theoretical context – a short summary of the nature of the problem and the most important related research;
  3. research methods – the research methodology that will be used to solve the problem and that is necessary for such work;
  4. hypotheses – expectations for the results, their novelty and importance;
  5. planned format of the doctoral thesis, and
  6. sources.

The assessment of the feasibility of a doctoral thesis project covers the following:

  • compliance with the applicant’s former research and the proposed doctoral thesis;
  • applicant’s overall competency in the field and earlier research, based on the experience and professional development presented in their CV;
  • preliminary agreements with supervisors at the University of Tartu.

Interview

The defence of the thesis project is conducted as an oral interview based on the doctoral thesis project and relevant issues of the speciality. Applicants are assessed based on their knowledge of the field, the clarity, depth and scope of the problem, the clarity of the working hypotheses, the applicant’s preparedness for research in the field, their oral and written presentation skills, and their motivation and preparedness to complete doctoral studies successfully on time.

Speciality representative: Kristin Kuutma, kristin.kuutma@ut.ee

Institute of Cultural Research

Doctoral thesis project (3–5 pages):

The project must clearly define the research question, justify its relevance in the field, and describe the proposed data inventory (incl. the principles of data collection), main secondary sources, and methodology for solving the research problem. Requirements for doctoral thesis projects:

  1. research topic complies with the main research areas of the institute;
  2. clearly formulated research question;
  3. justification of the novelty of the perspective;
  4. knowledge of the main issues in the field and the ability to position one's thesis there;
  5. description of the methodology to be used;
  6. overview of the main sources and literature, and
  7. possible courses of action to find a solution.

The project should include information on the earlier research experience (master’s thesis, research presentations, publications) and possible preliminary agreements with supervisors.

Interview

The oral interview consists of the applicant´s 10-minute presentation for the admissions committee and a discussion on relevant issues of the speciality related to the doctoral thesis project.

The interview is based on a CV that is submitted together with the online application. The CV provides an overview of the applicant’s earlier studies and research, thus also showing the applicant’s preparedness and research maturity. The interview is also used to assess the applicant´s motivation and expectations for doctoral studies.

Assessment of the thesis project (maximum score is 50 points):

  • relevance in the field and connection with the main research areas of the institute (max 20 points);
  • methodology and theory (max 20 points);
  • feasibility (max 10 points).

During the interview, the following is assessed (maximum score is 50 points):

  • educational background and work experience in the field (based on the CV) (max 15 points);
  • motivation for studies and work in the field (max 15 points);
  • ability to present the research material and explain the basis of the theory and methodology of the thesis project (max 20 points).

Speciality representative: Raili Marling, raili.marling@ut.ee

Institute of Foreign Languages and Cultures

Doctoral thesis project must specify the topic of the doctoral thesis in Estonian or in English and in the original language if it is not Estonian or English, accompanied by the field(s) of study (up to three) associated with the topic, based on the CERCS (Common European Research Classification Scheme) classification.

A doctoral thesis project must include the following:

  1. research topic;
  2. reasoning of the choice of the topic, delimitation of the topic in the field of study, and the research purpose;
  3. short summary of former research on the topic;
  4. presentation of the research methodology;
  5. presentation of the preliminary structure of the thesis;
  6. presentation of the hypothesis, where necessary;
  7. list of possible source materials and
  8. timetable for writing the thesis.


The recommended length of the project is up to 5 pages (12 500 characters with spaces), and it must include the name, the signature of the applicant, and the date.

The doctoral thesis project and its feasibility are assessed based on the following:

  • the novelty of the topic;
  • the applicant’s ability to find and formulate the research problem and purpose;
  • adequacy of research methods;
  • knowing their way around the sources;
  • feasibility of the chosen project and relatedness with earlier research or work in the field.

The applicant´s CV is used to consider:

  • previous work experience and educational background;
  • candidate´s motivation.

The interview takes 15 minutes. The applicant has 5 minutes to present their motives and the project they have submitted with their application. The remaining 10 minutes are used to ask the applicant questions about their motivation and thesis project. The exam may take place, at the applicant’s choosing, either in Estonian or in English.

The interview will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • ability to connect the research project with previous scientific work and academic career;
  • the temporal perspective of successfully completing the study programme within the nominal study period.

Speciality representative: Urmas Nõmmik, urmas.nommik@ut.ee

 

Scool of Theology and Religious Studies

A doctoral thesis project (6000–10000 characters) must include the following:

  1. reasoning of the choice of the topic and the research purpose;
  2. short summary of former research on the topic;
  3. presentation of the research methodology;
  4. presentation of the preliminary structure of the thesis;
  5. timetable for writing the thesis.

Doctoral thesis project assessment criteria:

  •  novelty and relevance of the topic to the research field;
  • the applicant’s ability to find and formulate the research problem, goal and questions;
  • relevance of research methods;
  • knowing their way around the sources;
  • feasibility of the chosen topic, connection with the candidate's previous research work and thoroughness.

Interview

The defence of the doctoral thesis project will be conducted in the form of an interview on July 1, 2024. The candidate will present the doctoral thesis project and answer the questions of the members of the admissions committee.

During the interview, the following is assessed:

  • to what extent the candidate's interests, previous education and/or work experience match the goals and learning outcomes of the doctoral study;
  • analysis, argumentation and self-expression skills;
  • the ability to relate the planned research project to one's previous scientific activity and work experience;
  • the ability to highlight the idea of the planned doctoral thesis, the set of problems and the main stages of the work;
  • the candidate's readiness to complete doctoral studies (including the existence of a preliminary agreement with the potential supervisor of the work).

Information: Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Professor Anneli Saro (anneli.saro@ut.ee)

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