Psycho-Societal Research: Methodology and Practice (DHV212)

Course description for study year 2022-2023


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This PhD course aims to advance doctoral candidates’ understanding of psycho-societal research methodology and practice. Psycho-societal or psychosocial research focuses on the manifold relations and interconnections between subjective experience and social dynamics. Attention is directed towards understanding of the conflictual and dynamic nature of psychological and sociocultural processes and their often-layered effects on the formation of the social and of subjectivity. Central to the course is the exploration of the psychosocial through data interpretations in groups.

Many PhD projects concerned with social and cultural research rely on qualitative data. These data are constructed and framed in different ways and with different purposes, depending on one’s research question. In order to turn data material into relevant knowledge, it must be analyzed and interpreted. In this course, group interpretation sessions allow PhD-candidates to focus on a range of aspects and unpack varieties and nuances in their data material. By being confronting with multiple readings of the same data extract, new thoughts and ideas can be set in motion, which can create surprising new perspectives and insights. The course and its interpretation group method are derived from in-depth hermeneutics, which has its roots in critical cultural analysis with a psychoanalytic orientation (Lorenzer, 1986) and has been developed further by The International Research Group for Psycho-Societal Analysis, since 2001. PhD candidates are invited into a participative and inspiring atmosphere. In the interpretation group researchers are engaged on an equal footing, regardless of previous experience with the approach. The course allows the sharing of widely different research data and topics, creating ad-hoc arenas for the exploration of the different disciplinary traditions, theoretical knowledges and situated life experiences of the group’s members.

The PhD-course will be offered as part of the annual conference of The International Research Group for Psycho-Societal Analysis. As such, the course offers an advanced introduction to psycho-societal research methodologies and practice and provides opportunities to develop candidates’ generic academic skills as part of a vibrant research community.

This course is relevant for PhD candidates who work with qualitative inquiry, e.g. interviews, focus groups, fieldwork/observations, visual or text-based materials, and case studies. The course is also relevant for PhD-candidates concerned with how researcher subjectivity, inter-subjectivity, and reflexivity relate to the ways in which empirical material is constructed.

Course lecturers 

Course staff will be junior and senior academic members of the international research group who are responsible for the design and delivery of the annual conference/course. Staff will be involved in co-creating the course’s teaching delivery, e.g. in the form of a needs-based one-to-one supervision and group tutoring of candidates. Academic staff members represent a range of social science and humanities disciplines including sociology, psychology, social psychology, psychoanalysis, criminology, media studies, cultural studies, education, social work and social policy.

Learning outcome

The following learning outcomes may be expected for the PhD candidate on completion of the course:


  • advanced knowledge of psycho-societal research practice and methodology, related to the core activity of in-depth hermeneutic interpretation and to the specific psycho-societal theme of the annual conference.
  • insight into cutting-edge research findings in an international and interdisciplinary field.
  • a broadened and deepened understanding of general themes, theories, and methodologies/methods within the remit of psycho-societal research.


By the end of the course, the candidate will be able to:

  • identify and introduce empirical data material and take part in in-depth hermeneutic group interpretation.
  • address, investigate and critically reflect on psycho-societal research problems and methodology.
  • identify, analyze and discuss existing and emerging academic literature relevant to psycho-societal research.
  • identify research challenges within the candidate’s own research data, e.g. in relation to reflexivity.
  • contribute to collaborative knowledge production by engaging in discussions about research practice and data interpretation.

General competence

By the end of the course, the candidate will be able to:

  • develop analytic ability through individual introspection as well as shared critical reflection on basic assumptions, discourses and practices within research/the research field.
  • contribute to furthering interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborative learning.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Individual paper 1/1 Passed / Not Passed

Individual written assignment (2500 words +/- 10%) on a self-chosen topic and linked to e.g. reflections on the experience of attending the course, material generated in the interpretation groups and related to the candidate’s own doctoral research/thesis.

Coursework requirements

Compulsory assignments
  • Submission of data extracts (2-3 pages in six copies) to the interpretation group (transcribed empirical material, presented in English)
  • Full attendance and active participation during course/conference
  • A compilation of recommended and self-selected literature for the individual paper/ assignment (approximately 250 pages)

Please note that presentations as part of the student’s participation in the conference cannot be used to gain accreditation for the dissemination/communication requirement of the PhD program.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Steffen Krüger

Programme coordinator:

Knut Sommerseth Lie

Method of work

Preparation for the course consists of reading the recommended syllabus literature, as well as thematic literature related to the annual conference theme. Working methods during the course will vary depending on the structure of the annual conference. The course work may typically consist of a combination of keynote lectures, facilitated plenaries, small discussion groups and self-study, as well as one-to-one or small group supervision. A high degree of independent work is expected from the candidate regarding the writing of the paper.

A detailed timetable and program will be available when the course is announced.

Course assessment

Ongoing dialogue with PhD candidates during the course, and group evaluation at the end of the course.


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