The aim of this course is to offer participants an opportunity to qualify their Ph.D.-project design within sociology and related areas such as social work, political sociology, or cultural studies. We do this in sessions where course participants present and reflect upon their research plan, while receiving feedback from other Ph.D.-students and from experienced Ph.D.-supervisors. Another aim of the course is to discuss general topics such as thesis form (monograph or articles), thesis quality demands, and writing and publication of articles.

The course targets Ph.D.-students in the first phase of their thesis work (within their first year).

Dependent on participants, the course language is Danish or English.

The course is developed in cooperation with the Department of Sociology, Copenhagen University and offered alternately by the department at Copenhagen University and the department at Aalborg University, students from these institutions are given priority to the course, but applications from other students are welcome.

Organizers and lectures:
Professor Annick Prieur and professor Lars Skov Henriksen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

Administrative support:
Marianne Høgsbro


25 and 26 August 2020

Aalborg University, Campus Aalborg

Zip code:


Number of seats:
Because of the feedback format of the course there is a maximum of 10 participants.

Registration deadline June 29, 2020. Applicants write a short description of their project (10 – 15 lines) upon application to Professor Annick Prieur and professor Lars Skov Henriksen . Notification about admission will follow shortly after.

Registration and registration fee:
The course is free of charge for PhD fellows enrolled at Aalborg University, participants not enrolled at the Aalborg University will need to pay a fee of 350 DKK

PhD fellows who are not enrolled at Aalborg University need to fill in information about payment etc at this link

Important information concerning PhD courses
We have over some time experienced problems with no-show for both project and general courses. It has now reached a point where we are forced to take action. Therefore, the Doctoral School has decided to introduce a no-show fee of DKK 1,000 for each course where the student does not show up. Cancellations are accepted no later than 2 weeks before start of the course. Registered illness is of course an acceptable reason for not showing up on those days. Furthermore, all courses open for registration approximately four months before start. This can hopefully also provide new students a chance to register for courses during the year. We look forward to your registrations.

Course format and program:
This is a two days’ course focusing on participants’ projects. Based on the logic of the course and the reading list, each participant writes a short paper (6 – 8 pages) about his or her project, applying the following structure:

  • Imaginary (see H. Becker text, reading list, for this particular concept): what is your research question and main approach in the study?
  • Sampling and what is your object of inquiry? (What parts of the empirical reality do you focus on and why?)
  • Concepts: what are your main theories and concepts?
  • Logic: what are your methods and analytical strategies?

All participants make short presentations after which follows a discussion of each Ph.D.-project. 1 hour for each.

Besides paper discussions, the course features short presentations and discussions of central topics related to Ph.D.-projects: Research questions and research design, theory and theorizing, thesis form, writing and publishing articles, where to publish, challenges in the Ph.D.-project, etc.

A detailed program will follow. Short papers are due 17 August 2020, in order to circulate and prepare comments.

Preliminary reading list:

Part 1: Good research is good thinking.

Abend, G. (2008). The Meaning of ’Theory’. Sociological Theory 26(2): 173-199.

Abbott, A. (2004). Methods of Discovery. Heuristics for the Social Sciences. NY & London: Norton & co. Chapter 3 “Introduction to heuristics”, pp. 80-110.

Becker, H. (1992). Cases, causes, conjunctures, stories, and imagery. In: C. Ragin & H. Becker (eds.) What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 205-217.

Swedberg, R. (2016). Before Theory Comes Theorizing or How to Make Social Science More Interesting. British Journal of Sociology 67(1): 5-22.

Savage, M. (2009). Contemporary sociology and the challenge of descriptive assemblage. European Journal of Social Theory, 12(1), 155–174.

Gane, N. (2018): Against a descriptive turn. British Journal of Sociology. DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12715

Savage, M. (2019): What makes for a successful sociology? A response to “Against a descriptive turn”. British Journal of Sociology. DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12713

Part 2: Some thinking and writing tools.

De Vaus, D. (2001) Research Design in Social Research. London: SAGE. Pp. 17-21 (about different kinds of research questions).

Knopf, J. W.  (2006) Doing a Literature Review. Political Science and Politics 39 (1): 127-132.

Martin, E. (2014). How to Write a Good Article. Current Sociology 62(7): 949-955.

The Sociological Review: Dos and don’ts for authors. Informal advice from Michaela Benson, Managing Editor