Studies of Cultures

Our Studies of Cultures is an umbrella PhD study programme covering fields like Cultural Theory, Estonian Literature and Culture, English Literature and Culture, German Literature and Culture, Romance Studies, Russian Literature and Culture, Middle Eastern and Asian Literatures and Cultures, Cultural Geography, Philosophy, and Social and Cultural Anthropology.

Study level PhD studies

Duration of study 4 years

Language Estonian English

We encourage our PhD students to approach their research topics from an interdisciplinary angle and combine comparative literature, theoretical and practical approaches to the mechanisms of culture and other methodological and research approaches.

During their studies the students achieve an in-depth knowledge of contemporary approaches in the humanities and in cultural theory.

The study programme is aimed at all people who are interested in

  • Cultural Theory,
  • Estonian Literature and Culture,
  • English Literature and Culture,
  • German Literature and Culture, Romance Studies,
  • Russian Literature and Culture,
  • Middle Eastern and Asian Literatures and Cultures,
  • Cultural Geography,
  • Philosophy,
  • and Social and Cultural Anthropology.

We are looking for PhD students who wish to pursue academic research in the areas mentioned above and be supervised by our experts in these fields.

Find out more about our PhD students here


In 2022, there will be admitted students for the following topics:

  • One PhD junior researcher (funded position)
  • One PhD student (non-funded position)
  • One PhD junior researcher for the topic 'Just and resilient public transport'
  • One PhD junior researcher for Chinese Studies
  • One PhD junior researcher for English Studies
  • One PhD student for 'Analysis of ISIS's Propaganda Messages'
  • One PhD student for 'Concept of Carnival and Bakhtin'
  • One PhD student for Slavonic / Russian / Ukrainian Literature and Culture

Read more about the thematic positions


Why study with us?

  • The syllabus is flexible and enables each student to organise his/her studies in close cooperation with a supervisor and to choose the optimal training in a given research topic.
  • In addition, the curriculum is aimed at an interdisciplinary approach and increasing the dialogue between the student and the supervisor.
  • In order to obtain international experience, it is possible to participate in conferences, seminars, summer schools and to take courses abroad with the support of the Erasmus programme
  • Many of our supervisors are members of two important research centres: The TU Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies and the Centre for Landscape and Culture

Course Outline

Full-time studies

  • PhD studies consist of a course component and a thesis component. Many of the courses are based on individual work and demand close co-operation with the supervisor.
  • Some subject courses and all general courses will have contact meetings. Not all the general courses will be offered in English every year.
  • PhD students must participate in the PhD seminars throughout their studies.
  • The official full-time study period of PhD studies is four years.

Core course components

The core components of the programme are the interdisciplinary research seminars during which each PhD student will have to present a paper at least twice during their studies. Feedback will be provided by both the lecturers and the fellow students. To develop the methodological basis, there is a course on Current Methods in Humanities. PhD students will be able to hone their academic writing and public speaking skills. The cooperation with one's supervisor is of utmost importance when planning the individual and core courses.

Study programme 2021/22

Academic Staff

Tõnu Viik is a Professor of Philosophy at Tallinn University, Estonia. He is interested in phenomenology and philosophy of culture. His research is concentrated on phenomenological accounts of meaning-making in everyday life, or cultural phenomenology.  He is especially interested in misleading or deceptive cases of meaning-making such as ideological delusions or self-deception.

More about his research here.

Listen to his paper "Collective Emotions and Populist Politics" (International conference “Angry Times. Populism and Democracy Discontent”, 04 March 2020)

 

 

 


Marek Tamm is the Professor of Cultural History and senior research fellow at the School of Humanities in Tallinn University. He is also Head of Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies and of Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts.  Graduated in history and semiotics at the University of Tartu (1998), he earned his master degree in medieval studies from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (1999) and his doctorate degree in medieval history from Tallinn University (2009). Author of five books, of some seventy scholarly articles published in Estonian, English and French, and editor of dozen collections of articles.

Main research interests: cultural history of medieval Europe, Estonian historical culture, theory and history of historiography, and cultural memory studies.


Daniele Monticelli is the Professor of Italian Studies and Semiotics and Chair of the Doctoral Studies Council of Humanities at Tallinn University. He has studied and researched in Italy, Germany, Estonia, the US and teaches subjects in contemporary Italian history, society and politics, philosophy of language, comparative literature and research seminars. 

His research is characterized by a wide and interdisciplinary range of interests which include the relations between translation and ideology particularly under totalitarian rule and censorship, semiotic theory and poststructuralism, the literary construction of affects, passions and cognition, contemporary critical theory with particular focus on the political thought of Agamben, Badiou and Rancière. He has authored literary and essayistic translations from Estonian into Italian and actively contributes to the cultural and political debate in the Estonian media and society.

Listen to his One Minute Lecture Is Love an Endangered Emotion?


Anna Verschik is the Professor of General Linguistics at Tallinn University. Her scholarly interests inculude topics like Estonian-Russian language contacts, multilingualism on the internet, sociolinguistics in the Baltic countries, contacts of Yiddish in the Baltic area and sociolinguistic situation of post-Soviet countries in a comparative perspective. She teaches subjects related to her research field.

Main research interests: contact linguistics and multilingualism.

Study Support Facilities

  • Tallinn University is a vibrant study and research centre situated in the capital of Estonia. It is almost in the city centre and easily accessible by public transport. The Tallinn Port, Bus Terminal and Airport are within easy reach. 
  • The School of Humanities is the biggest unit in Tallinn concentrating on teaching and research of Humanities. We are running a number of curricula at BA, MA and PhD level.
  • Our school is interdisciplinary and international, innovative and teamwork-orientated. We welcome both foreign staff and students. We have students from the United States, Nigeria, Ghana, Germany, Spain, Costa Rica, Finland, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, China, Turkey and many other countries.
  • Due to our Erasmus contacts, our students have excellent opportunities to spend a part of their studies abroad. We also welcome a growing number of incoming Erasmus students every year.
  • All our curricula promote the individual development of every learner, close contacts between students and teaching staff are vitally important.
  • Students can use the services of the libraries of the university and the National Library of Estonia which is located in Tallinn. These institutions offer a wide range of electronic data bases to their users.
  • The Archive of renown semiotician, Juri Lotman is housed at Tallinn University.
  • The PhD studies are supported by the activities of the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts.
  • Funding: Archimedes

Admission Requirements

  • Completed Master’s degree or the equivalent.
  • Proof of English Proficiency.

Read more here

Admission Requirements

For general requirements, please read admission to PhD Studies here.

Additional admission criteria in 2022

In 2022, there will be admitted eight PhD students:

  • One PhD junior researcher (funded position)
  • One PhD student (non-funded position)
  • One PhD junior researcher for the topic 'Just and resilient public transport'
  • One PhD junior researcher for Chinese Studies
  • One PhD junior researcher for English Studies
  • One PhD student for 'Analysis of ISIS's Propaganda Messages'
  • One PhD student for 'Concept of Carnival and Bakhtin'
  • One PhD student for Slavonic / Russian / Ukrainian Literature and Culture

 


During the application period (23 May -30 June) the candidates should upload into the application database:

1) The research proposal that has been expanded and enhanced in cooperation with the prospective supervisor and signed by her/him (length approx. 5 pages / 2500 words without the list of sources), which contains at least the following components:

  • The topic of the research project;
  • The objectives of the research and main research question(s);
  • Overview of methods to be used and/or of main terminology;
  • The overview of the state of the art of the topic;
  • Overview what topic related research the candidate has done prior to application;
  • Overview of the contents of the intended research;
  • Prognosis on the possible primary results of the research;
  • Primary list of the sources and literature to be used in the research;
  • The timeline-schedule of the research (incl. information on research to be conducted abroad, like Erasmus visits to other universities, visiting libraries and archives abroad etc.).

If the research contains fieldwork: the description of the scope, length, and financing (both the projected budget and sources of financing).

The project candidates must also clarify how their topic is related to the project and what activities they will carry out as part of it. For non-project related topics clarification why this research should specifically be carried out at Tallinn University School of Humanities.

2) Expanded vision of the teaching assignments to be carried out during the PhD studies (max. 2 pages). It should give information on courses or course components to be taught, the role of the PhD candidate, and should be accepted by the prospective supervisor. (During the four years of PhD studies the students are expected to assist at least in three courses or seminars and to teach or co-teach at least one course / seminar).

3) CV (including a list of candidate’s publications and full information on IT skills)

4) A proof of English proficiency

Admission exam

The admission exam is an interview that is conducted based on the research proposal and other documents submitted by the candidate. The candidates for junior researcher position are expected to have a very clear idea about the arrangement and length of their PhD studies. The interview take place in July and candidates will be contacted to arrange the exact time.

The assessment criteria

The following aspects will be assessed:

  • The academic competences of the candidate (incl. suitability of prior education, other knowledge and qualifications supporting the research topic, suitability of language skills for the intended research) [max. 35 points]
  • Research project / proposal (incl. topicality and interdisciplinarity, the contents of the research, intended methods, suitability for the profile of the School of Humanities or connection with the project) [max. 35 points]
  • Teaching competences (incl. the candidate’s suitability to teaching at the School of Humanities) [max. 20 points]
  • General motivation to study at PhD level (and to contribute towards a project) [max. 10 points]

The subtotal maximum points a candidate can obtain is 100.

See also the detailed guidelines on application procedure at Tallinn University site.

Thematic Positions

One full-time and funded PhD junior researcher position related to the project Capacities for Resilient and Inclusive Urban Public Transport Infrastructure and Built Environment (CARIN-PT).

The student is expected to do research in a topic closely related to the aims of the project. Suitable candidates should have background in urban studies, anthropology, geography or other social sciences or humanities. Candidates are required to have a very good knowledge of Estonian and English. Previous research on public space or transport and mobilities is a strong advantage. The admitted candidate will be enrolled to the PhD programme in Studies of Cultures.

Supervisor: Tauri Tuvikene


One full-time fully funded Ph.D. junior researcher position in Chinese Studies.

The student is expected to carry out research in Chinese intellectual history, literature and/or culture. Comparative or cross-cultural perspectives are also welcome. Previous research experience in Chinese political thought is preferential. Suitable candidates will have a background in Sinology or Asian Studies. Candidates are required to have a good command of the English and Chinese language, knowledge of Estonian is an advantage. Knowledge of Classical Chinese and/or of a second Asian language is a strong advantage. The admitted candidate will be enrolled in the Ph.D. programme Studies of Cultures.

Supervisor: Lisa Indraccolo


One full-time and funded PhD junior researcher position expected to do research on a topic or preferably a combination of the following topics: English studies and Contemporary Literature and/Audio-visual narratives in English, gender studies and intersectional feminist literary and cultural studies; ecocriticism; ecofeminism; diaspora and migration studies in contemporary Anglophone culture and  Audio-visual narratives in English; Culture, literature and film of English-speaking countries; medical humanities and Audio-visual narratives in English.
Suitable candidates should have an educational background in in the field(s) of the planned research. Having English proficiency equivalent to C2 or being a native speaker is to an advantage. Previous research on the topic(s) of the planned research are a strong advantage; knowledge of Estonian might be an advantage. The admitted candidate will be enrolled in the PhD programme in the Studies of Cultures.

Supervisor: Julia Kuznetski


One non-funded PhD student position to do research on ISIS propaganda messages. Suitable candidate should have prior experience with this research field. Candidates are required to have a very good knowledge of Estonian and English. Previous publications on the topic are a strong advantage.  The admitted candidate will be enrolled to the PhD programme in Studies of Cultures.

Supervisor: Helen Geršman


One non-funded PhD student position to do research on Concept of Carnival beyond Bakhtin. Suitable candidate should have prior experience with this research field. Candidates are required to have a very good knowledge of English. Previous publications on the topic are a strong advantage.  The admitted candidate will be enrolled to the PhD programme in Studies of Cultures.

Supervisor: Daniele Monticelli


One non-funded PhD student position to do research in the field of Slavonic Studies with the emphasis on Russian and/or Ukrainian culture and literature. The candidate is expected to do research on a topic or a combination of the following topics: Slavonic studies and contemporary literature in Slavonic languages; history of Slavonic languages; diaspora and migration studies in contemporary literature in Slavonic languages; literature in Slavonic languages of the Baltic States (preferably Estonia); multiculturalism in Slavonic world.
Suitable candidate should have prior experience with this research field. Candidates are required to have a very good knowledge of Russian and English, knowing Ukrainian and Estonian, as well as previous publications on the topic are a strong advantage. The admitted candidate will be enrolled to the PhD programme in Studies of Cultures.

Contact: Natalia Tshuikina

PhD position in a research project about just and resilient public transport

Tallinn University offers fully funded position for a doctoral candidate / junior researcher suitable for an active individual holding master’s degree in urban studies, planning, anthropology, geography or other social sciences or humanities, in order to carry out a project on just and resilient public transport.

PhD candidate / Junior researcher position is part of a project „Capacities for Resilient and Inclusive Urban Public Transport Infrastructure and Built Environment (CARIN-PT)“ (1.3.2022 – 28.2.2025) involving an International consortium led by Prof. Tauri Tuvikene 

Project description

The project led by Tallinn University School of Humanities is funded by the ERA-NET Cofund Urban Transformation Capacities (ENUTC) programme. At the centre of the project are mobility justice and the future of public transport in relation to pricing and fare free systems, micromobility, flexible transport and digitalisation. Researchers from Estonia, Norway, Belgium and Sweden and representatives from public and private sector seek ways to enhance capacities to achieve for just and resilient public transport. CARIN-PT is a follow-up activity to HERA-funded PUTSPACE project studying public transport as public space. 

Public transport is an essential urban infrastructure. Attempts to accelerate PT uptake are based on accruing environmental benefits and enhancing economic viability. It remains unclear how socially just these attempts and their outcomes are in terms of who benefits (distribution), whose needs are considered (recognition), who decides and how (participation). The research project will examine inequalities in terms of needs, capabilities, decision-making and accessibility. It will co-produce understandings on how urban planning goals regarding resilience can be strengthened through inclusive processes. 

Tasks

The PhD researcher can work in an international research group. The expected work from the PhD researcher entails carrying out research as well as maintaining communication with non-academic project partners and contributing to the development of skills about achieving just and resilient public transport. We expect the PhD researcher to contribute towards mapping existing knowledge and generating knowledge base, interviews with policy makers and experts, organising workshops and meetings of stakeholders and interviews with users of public transport within the Tallinn city-region. The PhD researcher should be capable in working in collaboration with local governments and transport authorities.  

The more precise elaboration of the PhD thesis can and should be given by the candidate within the framework of the project as set out in this call. 

The PhD researcher is enrolled in an interdisciplinary doctoral programme Cultural Studies (with specialisation in cultural theory, cultural geography or anthropology among others). 

The expected start date is 1 September 2022 and the maximum duration of the contract is 4 years subject to positive evaluation of research in the course of studies. The position includes full social security coverage and the gross salary is approximately € 1,500 per month. The PhD researcher is expected to live and work in Tallinn with research stays at other project partners expected. Funding is available from CARIN-PT project to cover fieldwork, conference travel and meetings and research equipment costs. PhD researchers are also involved in teaching. 

The PhD researcher contributes to the CARIN-PT project by carrying out the below-listed activities. Based on the material collected the PhD researcher is expected to work on own doctoral research project, being also supported by a supervisor at Tallinn University and by the rest of the international project team. 

Activities in the project

•    The coordination of Tallinn Urban Region Urban Living Lab (meeting organisation in collaboration with the project team).
•    Stakeholder workshops and focus groups organising and carrying out on the topic of integrated and just public transport.
•    Expert interviews to understand existing knowledge and skills about integrated and just public transport within Tallinn city region.
•    Interviews on user experiences with public transport users in the Tallinn city region in order to understand the experience of disconnection between different tickets and other mobility related aspects (at least 30 interviews). 
•    To assess the possibilities of integrating public transport system in the Tallinn city region bearing in mind free public transport and funding models in parts of the system.

The PhD researcher is expected to contribute to project reports about integration of public transport in city-regions and fulfilment of resilient public transport in the case of fare-free public transport and multi-modal urban transport system. Based on the reports and other materials, the expectation is that the PhD researcher writes research articles (in collaboration with supervisors and the rest of the project team).  
 

What we expect
•    Master's Degree, or equivalent, in a related field. 
•    Excellent level of spoken and written English. Also, high language level in Estonian is expected (to conduct interviews and read materials in Estonian).
•    Previous research on public space or transport and mobilities is a strong advantage (information to be included in CV).

Please submit the following documents to Prof. Tauri Tuvikene for preview before applying:
    one or two-page CV
•    Research proposal of 2,500 words. The proposal must be written in English and should be about 2,500 words (not including footnotes, references and bibliography). It should outline the research that you wish to pursue in your PhD dissertation and connect it to the project CARIN-PT. It should demonstrate knowledge of the state of the art in the field, formulate (a) research question(s) and include a description of methodology and a short bibliography. When drafting your research proposal please indicate the ways in which your research would intersect with the project and contribute to it, as well as how your past research activities have prepared you for a position within the CARIN-PT project team.
•    degree transcript(s) issued by your university listing the exams/courses taken at university, grades/marks awarded and (if applicable) the final degree result. You should also attach your degree transcript(s) from previous degree(s). 
 

Full application information including deadlines is available at the university homepage, study programme specific application requirements are here.

Further information regarding application procedure:
Maris Peters
E-mail: maris.peters@tlu.ee

 

Meet some of our Alumni

 

 

I earned my PhD degree in Cultural Studies (Anthropology) from Tallinn University in 2020. My thesis researched the mask-making traditions of the Yup’ik, the Indigenous people of southwest Alaska. During my doctoral studies, I conducted multiple archaeological and ethnographic fieldworks in Alaska that have helped reconstruct the development of Yup’ik mask-making tradition throughout its colonial
history—oppression, resilience and recovery. In my work, I also discuss how the knowledge and traditional value system attached to mask making are being revived today in the work of contemporary Alaska Native artists. Through the restoration of pre-colonial cultural practices, contemporary artists heal themselves as well as local communities from colonial trauma, strengthening their long-repressed cultural identity.
I am thankful to Tallinn University for supporting my multidisciplinary, challenging and quite non-conventional research project.

  • Browse her thesis.
  • "Estonian researcher helps restore the long-suppressed mask-making tradition of the Indigenous people of Alaska". Read the article

"The PhD studies at the Tallinn University are a pleasant test for oneself: the interdisciplinary and international Doctoral School broadens horizons and provides the opportunity to see ones research area from new angles and using new approaches.This has enabled me, as a lecturer, to link my speciality area (dance and ballet history) with other research areas and find new touching points between different sciences. My more experienced colleagues have supported me in my quest for new perspectives and encouraged me to take steps into directions that a narrow disciplinary approach does not support. PhD studies enhance independent thinking and self-focussing in this ever fracturing world, helps to find contacts with likeminded people and collaborators for the future, not least important: contacts for the projects that come in the years after tudies".

Heili Einasto's thesis received a third prize in the Field of Culture and Social Sciences, PhD category at the annual Estonian National Contest for University Students in 2016.


"I received my PhD degree in Studies of Cultures in 2011 from Tallinn University. The topic of my thesis was Poetics of Irrationality in A.H. Tammsaare’s Work. PhD degree, a sign of academic competence, allows to operate more professionally and with better results in many different fields of culture. Working as the head of the Tallinn Literature Centre (which combines the A. H. Tammsaare Museum and the Eduard Vilde Musem) it has become very clear to me that the time spent on the dedicated research was certainly worthwhile. It also becomes more and more clear to me that in the field of culture, there will always be a need for intelligent and well-educated members of national culture."

 

 

 


"In my experience the strength of the PhD programme of School of Humanities lies in its flexible nature – it is always possible to bring together specialists from different Universities and various fields to create academic forums, which encourage fruitful exchange of ideas. While writing my PhD thesis I benefitted from long discussions with Prof. Rein Raud and Rajyashree Pandey (Glodsmith College) who gave me valuable advice on how to approach the various issues I wanted to discuss in my work. Prof. Pandey also organised special seminars on classical Japanese literature inviting PhD students from Helsinki University to participate. The contacts I made while studying in School of Humanities have been invaluable in my later work".

Browse his thesis

Follow his minilecture Can a spider attain enlightenment?

Postgraduate Destinations

Graduate career options

Internationally accredited PhD diploma opens positions that require a doctoral degree.

Further study opportunities

With a PhD obtained from Tallinn University, one can apply for PostDoc positions all over the world or continue individual academic development.

Contact Us!

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Humanities:
    Maris Peters

aDdressNarva mnt 25, 10120 Tallinn

 

  • For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist. 

 

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The History PhD programme aims to prepare researchers, lecturers and other academic staff in the broad fields of history, including archaeology and art history.

PhD studies
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