Doctoral degree
Full time
Society, Development and Planning

PhD program in Society, Development and Planning at the Faculty of Landscape and Society.

Start of Studies:

1. september

Strategisk landskapsplanlegging er blant annet kunnskapen om landskapsområdes naturmessige, historiske, menneskelige og territorielle sammenhenger, og hvordan dette kan danne grunnlag for bærekraftige forvaltningsstrategier.

A PhD degree in society, development and planning qualifies graduates for future research and teaching at academic institutions, as well as for management activities and the business sector in general, where there are high demands for scientific insight and analytical thinking.



Career opportunities

A PhD degree in society, development and planning qualifies graduates for future research and teaching at academic institutions, as well as for management activities and the business sector in general, where there are high demands for scientific insight and analytical thinking.


    Upon completion of the PhD programme, the doctor has the following a) knowledge, b) skills and c) general competence:

    a) The doctor

    • understands a complex body of knowledge at the frontier of one of the specialisations in the PhD programme: landscape architecture; public health science; real estate and law; or urban and regional planning
    • is able to assess and analyse different scholarly theories, methods, data and processes within their discipline
    • has made an original and substantial contribution to the development of new knowledge, theory, methods, interpretations and designs within their discipline

    b) The doctor

    • is able to conceptualise, design and implement advanced level research to high international standards
    • can synthesise and evaluate complex scientific and scholarly information
    • is capable of critical and constructive analysis of scientific work within their discipline
    • can place their own research within broader scientific and societal contexts

    c) The doctor

    • is able to carry out his/her research with professional and ethical integrity, and identify and assess relevant ethical concerns
    • is able to adopt an interdisciplinary and critical approach to issues related to their specialisation, and exhibits the ability to challenge established knowledge and practice within their discipline
    • is able to disseminate research findings through recognised national and international channels and take part in scientific debates in international arenas
    • can effectively communicate research findings to non-academic audiences, including the business sector, government authorities and the public administration, and the public
    • exhibits a high degree of accountability and autonomy, including the ability to independently reach informed judgements on complex issues
  • In relation to the candidate's research topic there will be exchange opportunities with some of the leading research environments through the faculty research network.

    The programme has three compulsory courses, each equivalent to 5 credits, which focus on general research skills.

    • Framing the PhD (SDP405) is compulsory for all of the PhD students in the programme during the autumn of Year 1. This is a start-up course to help students successfully delimit, specify and prepare a work plan for the PhD study process. Students also acquire general skills in obtaining information and using literature. Furthermore, the course helps them to develop a reflective attitude towards the relation between theory and methodology, and between research topic and research questions. It promotes the development of an understanding of the writing process as a tool for reflection. In addition, students learn basic skills in presentation and in giving feedback. The course concludes with the obligatory introductory seminar.
    • Academic Writing» (SDP406), held once a year, is also a compulsory course. The purpose is to strengthen the participants' understanding of the nature of academic writing and publishing, the personal and contextual aspects of becoming an academic author, and how participants can become more effective in the writing process. The participants' ability to write, edit and assess texts, focusing on both the detailed level (sentences/paragraphs) and the document as a whole are developed through practical tasks, presentations and critical feedback. Participants also receive training in assessing others' texts and reacting to comments made in peer reviews of their own texts.

    A course in theory of science and research ethics is also compulsory. The faculty holds annual courses in theory of science and ethics (SDP415) of special relevance for research in societal development and planning. In addition, we recommend PhD students to take the PHI401, which is held by the School of Economics and Business-NMBU. Often a course in methodology chosen in consultation with the supervisor will also be relevant. Other courses are held in collaboration with other Norwegian and international institutions and will vary in content according to the topic of the doctoral thesis. They will be announced on an ongoing basis.

    The subject areas in the programme are fairly limited in Norway. Collaboration with other Nordic institutions has therefore been initiated regarding the development of more subject-specific courses in order to reach a critical mass of participants. These courses offered will vary in accordance with the current debate in the field, ongoing research projects and the topics selected by the participants. PhD workshops are held regularly in connection with international conferences. PhD students are encouraged to participate either in a PhD workshop in connection with the most important academic conferences within their fields such as the AESOP (Association of European Schools of Planning), ECLAS (European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools), and the European Urban Health Conference, or to give presentations at these or other international conferences. Such international participation in courses, workshops and conferences ensures that candidates are familiar with the forefront of international research and that they are inspired by new ideas from outside the faculty environment.

    The thesis must be an independent work at an international level. It may be in the form of a monograph or be based on articles. An article-based thesis usually consists of three to five articles.

    The introductory chapter ("kappe") must synthesise and describe the connection between the articles. It should explain how the work on the thesis as a whole contributes new knowledge to the field. The research work must be of such merit as to be able to be published as part of the academic literature within its field.

    The PhD programme will conclude with a public defence of the thesis, and a trial lecture will be held on an assigned topic related to, but not directly overlapping the subject of the thesis. The ability of the candidate to synthesise knowledge of the subject area within a given timeframe and to disseminate and present academic topics will be tested. The lecture must be at the master's degree level.

    The faculty normally admits one intake of PhD candidates annually and candidates take the same initial compulsory start-up courses. In exceptional circumstances there may be two intakes in the same year.

    Research school:
    The PhD programme in Society, Development and Planning is developed and run by a separate research school at the Faculty of Landscape and Society. The research school constitutes a frame for common PhD courses addressing general topics within research, together with highly specialized courses offered in cooperation with other NMBU faculties and with Nordic and other international partners within the four subject areas of the programme. The research school organizes the start, midway and final seminars mandatory for each PhD candidate, as well as regular PhD lunches with a topical content. It has also issued elaborate guidelines concerning certain aspects of the PhD study procedure targeting PhD candidates, supervisors and internal members of assessment committees.

    The Faculty of Landscape and Society has a broad-based subject portfolio in society, development and planning, and work on the doctoral degree gives expertise and subject specialisation in the following research areas:

    Urban and regional planning, including:

    • impacts of land use and development (environmental, social, economic, etc.)
    • the role, opportunities and limitations of planning and planners in processes that form and change the physical surroundings
    • the professional work methods of planners (when preparing and assessing planning proposals as well as in relation to the public planning process)

    Property and law, including:

    • socio-economic change processes
    • property and management systems
    • prerequisites for market stability, legal transparency and predictability

    Public health science, including:

    • environment and health
    • health in planning
    • health-promoting experiences and activities

    Landscape architecture, including:

    • quality in the residential environment and public green spaces
    • management of green structure/green spaces in cities
    • management of the cultural landscape in agriculture and of urban landscape qualities
    • history and green cultural heritage
    • democracy and public involvement in landscape functions, patterns and change

    The faculty has Norway's largest research community in connection with planning, real estate and landscape architecture, as well as the largest university-based research community in public health science. The faculty has active research groups that work with nature resource management, green cultural heritage, urban sustainability, real estate development and public health science.

    The research work shall be an independent work resulting in a doctoral thesis, which may be a monograph or based on articles. An article-based thesis consists of three to five articles, partly depending on the number of articles with co-authorship. An synthesizing chapter/ introductory chapter must be provided, with the candidate as the sole author.

    A principal supervisor from the department and a co-supervisor are appointed for each candidate. Regular peer review meetings and social events are held for the PhD candidates.

    It is a prerequisite that research fellows are linked to active research groups at the faculty and that the PhD candidates can access professional networks in this manner. Nevertheless, not all of the formal courses that the candidates take during the course of studies will be held at NMBU. The subject-specific courses held in collaboration with other institutions are of particular importance.

    Supervisors must be actively engaged in research in their own field, and must also hold a PhD degree.

    The faculty has a Virtual Reality and Landscape Lab which may be useful for certain PhD candidates.

    • The research theme of the PhD programme in Society, Development and Planning encompasses key challenges to society in the fields of urban and regional planning, real estate and law, public health science and landscape architecture, each of which constitutes one of the four subject areas of the programme.

      The societal relevance of the PhD programme is far-reaching. For example, land resources are finite, and the way we manage them is of key significance for future economic, environmental, social and cultural development.

      The development of buildings, infrastructure, green structure and land use generally in cities and urban settlements affect among other things the health and the quality of life of the population, urban emissions of greenhouse gases and resilience to climate change, and how environmental degradation and positive environmental qualities adversely affect or favour different population groups.

      The purpose of public health science is to promote health and to counter disease in the population at large and among vulnerable groups through greater knowledge about the determinants for health, including nature and the environment. The objectives of the PhD education in this field are to increase knowledge about what contributes to health, and to develop and evaluate targeted measures for promoting health and preventing disease.

      An understanding of socioeconomic change processes, of real estate and management systems, of people's perception and use of places and landscapes and their relationship to these, provides fundamental knowledge for future management and development. Key concepts in this connection are market stability, and legal transparency and predictability.


      A PhD education consists of:

      • an independent work of research in cooperation with supervisors and other researchers if relevant
      • approved completion of the required coursework
      • participation in active national and international research communities
      • dissemination closely related to the research work
      • writing a doctoral thesis based on the research work

      The doctoral thesis may be a monograph or may be based on articles accompanied by a synthetizing chapter/ introductory chapter that provides a frame for the thesis ("kappe"). Guidelines have been compiled regarding the content of the synthetizing chapter/ introductory chapter in an article-based thesis within the framework of this PhD programme.

      In order to ensure the quality and progress of the work, compulsory introductory, midway assessment and final seminars are held. External academics participate in the seminars and give critical and constructive feedback.

      Each PhD candidate is a member of one of the department's research groups and is thus in regular contact with several active researchers other than their supervisors. The research groups hold scientific seminars with presentations given by invited introductory speakers, the senior researchers in the groups and PhD candidates.

    • A committee consisting of three members is appointed to evaluate the doctoral thesis. The work concludes with a trial lecture on a specified topic and a public defence of the doctoral thesis (disputation).

      The degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD) is conferred on the basis of:

      • Approved completion of the required coursework
      • An approved doctoral thesis
      • An approved trial lecture on a specified topic
      • An approved public defence of the doctoral thesis (disputation)

      See section 12.

Study advisor(s):