The Research School on Peace and Conflict is an academic consortium that provides courses and skills training for doctoral students. A forum for discussion of the most advanced issues in peace and conflict research, the Research School is based in downtown Oslo at the headquarters of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).
The Research School on Peace and Conflict was established in 2011 as a joint initiative of the University of Oslo, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and PRIO. In 2013 the Research School acquired status as a National Research School with funding from the Research Council of Norway. In 2015, it entered a formal agreement with the University of Uppsala to enable jointly organized courses and reciprocal course offerings. It is expected that additional collaboration agreements will be reached with other leading institutions in Europe and the United States.
The Research School’s doctoral level courses are attended by graduate students from universities in Norway and abroad. All doctoral students in accredited three-year programs may apply for membership in the School. Admittance is competitive and is based on an evaluation of applications in January of each year. Members receive priority for enrollment in courses. Others may apply for admittance to individual courses (whether for credit or on an auditing basis).
The Research School does not itself grant PhD degrees. There are no fees for membership in the Research School or attendance in courses.
In addition to offering Ph.D. level courses, the Research School also provides training sessions in academic writing and presentation skills through the twice yearly symposiums. An integral part of the Research School’s program, these are structured sessions in which members present their doctoral projects and discuss topics relevant to their development as academics.
The Research School organizes debate panels and other sessions for the general public, often in conjunction with its courses.
The Research School offers intensive courses for PhD students from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Courses are intensive and are normally taught over a period of 3-5 days. Courses focus either on methodology (quantitative, qualitative, fieldwork), or topical issues in peace and conflict research. Some Research School courses are taught regularly, while others are offered only once. New courses are announced each year. For a full list of courses that have been organized by the Research School see the field on Courses and Seminars.
Admittance to courses (whether for credit or auditing) is based on prior application, with deadlines stated in the course announcement (typically published on the Research School web site 3-4 months in advance of the course).
Courses may be audited or taken for credit. To earn credit, in addition to course attendance, a paper of about 15 pages must be submitted on a topic agreed upon in advance with the professor leading the course. Papers are graded on a pass/fail basis and include a written assessment by one of the course instructors. Upon successful completion of each course, official confirmation is sent to the student.
Twice a year the Research School participants meet with a facilitator to present their ongoing work and discuss topics relevant to their professional development as academics. The presentations allow the students to gain experience in both giving presentations and providing feedback, as well as allowing them to become more familiar with the work of the other students and how academic work develops throughout the course of the doctoral period. Discussions on topics related to academic development can include the following: “the ethics of carrying out research in a conflict zone,” “interview techniques,” “making coding manuals,” “handling peer review,” “publication strategies,” “productivity indicators,” “writing introductions to an article-based thesis,” and so on.
A survey course on peace and conflict research is taught in Cyprus (where PRIO maintains a research hub) every other year. The next course is scheduled for 9-15 October, 2016. Doctoral advisors will be invited to join this course as lecturers. A session on advisor/advisee interaction will be included in the program. Basic costs (travel, food and board) associated with the Cyprus course are covered by the Research School.
A set number of ECTS credits are assigned – based on guidelines from the University of Oslo – for each Research School course. (The European Transfer and Accumulation System is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students in higher education across the European Union and other collaborating European countries.) However, as universities apply different criteria for the conferral of ECTS, students should consult with their university department prior to enrolling in a course to ascertain whether the course in question will be accepted as part of their doctoral program, and how many ECTS they will be granted. Each student’s host university has the final say in the conferral of ECTS.
PhD students can enroll in individual courses, or apply for membership in the Research School. Membership confers priority enrollment in courses, and grants members exclusive access to other activities: symposiums (where students present ongoing work and discuss topics relevant to professional development), training sessions (courses in academic writing and presentation), and study fellowships at PRIO (for up to two months). The symposiums are usually offered once per semester.
Admission to the Research School is competitive, and requires that the applicants are full time students in their universities with funding for at least a three-year period. This funding should also cover the costs associated with active participation in the Research School. For members who are not based in Oslo, this generally involves at least two trips a year.
Calls for new members are usually announced in November, with a deadline 15 December. The acceptance decision is communicated by the end of January.
Please note: Admission for the year 2017 is postponed to summer 2017, awaiting the results of a mid-term evaluation of the school.
Aims and Expectations for Members
The aim of the Research School is to familiarize PhD candidates with the core themes and approaches in the field of peace and conflict research. In addition to approaching the topic from their own disciplinary backgrounds, participants will be introduced to research – and interact with scholars – from a wide variety of other disciplines. Through active participation in the school, its members should therefore obtain an overview of:
- the current scholarly debates related to peace and conflict studies within their respective core disciplines;
- the current status of peace and conflict research across disciplines;
- relevant perspectives in other disciplines on specific topics of interest, primarily the topic of their dissertation and of the research courses they have followed; and
- current policy challenges (for individual states, the EU, the UN, and other).
Meeting these objectives means that participants need to acquire basic knowledge about a wide range of methodological challenges and approaches. The PhD candidates should therefore be prepared to:
- Review scholarly writings that employ methodologies very different from their own,
- Engage in methodological discussions on ethical and policy issues.
Rules for Participation by Members (admitted 2015 onwards)
Membership lasts for 3 years, but can be extended upon request in case of e.g. maternal/paternal leave.
During this period, members are expected to attend:
- A training session (over 3 days) for the enhancement of writing and presentational skills (mandatory for all new members)
- An introductory meeting (generally ½ day, normally organized in connection with the writing course and a symposium)
- A minimum of 3 symposiums. Contribution to symposiums: 1 project presentation (in the first symposium), 1 paper presentation, serving twice as a discussant.
- A minimum of 2 research courses.
Members are very welcome to attend more than this minimum number of courses.
Upon fulfillment of the above expectations after 3 years (or extended in the event of parental leave, etc.), the member will receive a diploma with a transcript of the courses and seminars the member has followed.
Accommodation for Members
Lodging will be provided (for those in need of such) by the Research School in connection with the 3-day training session, the 3 symposiums, the introductory meeting, and two research courses. Students will stay at the Anker Hotel (in close proximity to PRIO) or at another hotel of similar price level. The Research School does not cover airfare for flights and other travel expenses, if needed. Such costs must be borne by the student or the host institution. As most students will receive some travel and accommodation funding from their host institution, it should be possible to take more than two courses at the Research School.