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

Õppekohtade arv 6

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.

NB! In 2018, there will be two PhD students admitted to conduct research specifically in intellectual history/cultural history/political philosophy. 

Find out more

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 2018/2019

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.





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 Head of Western European Studies 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.

Anna Verschik is the Professor of General Linguistics at Tallinn University. Her scholarly interests inculde 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.

Programme specific requirements:

  • Your research proposal (min. 2500 words without bibliography) should include at least the following: topic of your intended research, introductory overview of your research project, overview of the present state of the research on the topic in the world, research objectives and approach (methodology), what research you have done already on this topic (if relevant) and what are the expected preliminary results of your thesis, why is it reasonable to carry out this project in Estonia, references/preliminary bibliography. If your intended research includes fieldwork, please describe the scope and duration of it, add a provisional budget and indicate the possible sources for financing.
  • Thesis proposal should be submitted for preliminary review to and the accepted and signed thesis proposal should be uploaded to Dreamapply with other documents like the CV of the candidate with the full list of publications. Please use pdf format for these documents..
  • Admission exam (interview) is based on the plan for the doctoral thesis that is agreed with the prospective supervisor.

In 2018 there will be two PhD students admitted to conduct research specifically in intellectual history/cultural history/political philosophy. The candidates for these two places are expected to write their thesis proposals on one of these topics. 

Find out more

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

Notable Alumni

"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

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

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