Social Scientific Addiction Research (DHV340)

The addiction studies research in social sciences and public health at the University of Stavanger is multidisciplinary, based on the traditions of the social sciences, humanities and the health sciences. This course focuses on the social, cultural and historical prerequisites for substance use, and the welfare state's response. Substance use and addiction are contextualised, and seen in relation to the existing hegemony of knowledge, substance policy, legal regulations, and the availability and use of public services all influence, and are influenced by, each other in a system of dynamic processes and power relations. The aim of substance use and addiction studies in social sciences and public health should be to gain relevant knowledge of both women's and men's ability to promote their own policy needs in relation to the existing legal regulations and public services of the welfare state as seen through both gender - and user perspectives, by uncovering existing power relations and power dynamics. In light of critical realism, addiction is seen in the conjunction between pathological- and social science perspectives.

Course description for study year 2024-2025


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  • Multidisciplinary models used to understand and explain substance use based on humanities, social sciences and health sciences
  • Social, cultural and historical prerequisites for substance use and the response of the welfare state
  • User involvement and user research
  • Service development
  • Addiction and marginalization

Learning outcome

The following learning outcomes will be achieved by the PhD candidate on completion of the course:


The PhD candidate:

  • has advanced knowledge about addiction, with a special focus on perspectives from social sciences, public health, culture and history
  • has knowledge of different theories and methods in the field of addiction, and are able to evaluate different theories regarding the use of Substances, addiction and marginalization as a field of research


By the end of the course, the PhD candidate:

  • can analyse and critically evaluate substance use in a societal, cultural and historical perspective
  • can analyse and critically evaluate various standards for substances and substance use and addiction on the basis of scientific theories
  • can use relevant methods of research and professional developmental work in an independent manner to identify and facilitate interventions
  • can implement independent research or development projects under supervision and in accordance with ethical research norms
  • can critically reflect on addiction as a social and cultural phenomenon
  • can analyse relationships between policy, legal regulation, the availability and use of public services aimed at users within the addiction field
  • can develop and implement research projects of high scientific quality within social sciences and multidisciplinary research
  • can organize and present research projects at scientific conferences and conduct discussions in open seminars and colloquia groups

General competence

By the end of the course, the PhD candidate:

  • has qualification to evaluate different theories about the use of substances, addiction and marginalization, as a research field
  • can analyse ethical research issues related to addiction
  • can communicate own research work, others' research and master the terminology of the subject
  • can communicate research-based and professional issues, analyse and conclude about addiction, both within the field of research, within the public service provision and the general public
  • can contribute to innovation
  • can reflect on their own understanding and scientific position

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

Master level within medicine, health sciences, societal safety, social science, or similar educations.


Individual paper of 3000 words (+/- 10%) in English on a self-chosen topic approved by the instructor, which departs from the participants' on-going PhD project. However, the paper must take the form of a contribution to the general literature on different aspects of substance use and addiction. The paper must be submitted within five weeks after the end of the course, and will be evaluated as Pass/Fail.

Coursework requirements

  • Prepare a selection of literature of approximately 500 pages relevant for the course paper. This list must be submitted to the course administrator in advance of the course.
  • Prepare a 1 p. (ca.) note on theoretical basis departing from your PhD project, which outlines a research question for the planned topic of the course paper. This list must be sent to the course administrator in advance of the course.
  • Prepare a presentation of this theoretical basis for the first seminar day 2.
  • The selected literature and the one- page note will be presented and debated at Seminar 2. Students may then highlight elaborations and possible alterations as result of seminar discussions.
  • Generally active participation in discussions at the course.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Anne Schanche Selbekk

Course coordinator:

Ingunn Studsrød

Course teacher:

Trond Erik Grønnestad

Course teacher:

Sverre Martin Nesvåg

Method of work

The course consists of 2 seminars and self-study. The seminars will include plenary debates and participant presentations. A detailed timetable will be made available at the beginning of the course.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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