At Child Studies, we conduct research about children and childhood from a child perspective. As a doctoral student, you become part of an interdisciplinary and vibrant research environment that will support and challenge you in your thesis work. 

The research environment at Child Studies is interdisciplinary, and the department’s researchers have backgrounds in many different subject areas including psychology, cultural studies, linguistics, social anthropology, sociology and history. The research conducted focuses on the everyday experience of children and young people as well as the social, political and historical conditions impacting children, childhood and families.

The research can be divided into four general areas: the child’s social interaction and language; children’s culture and consumption; changes in childhood in time and space; and children, families and parenthood. 

As a doctoral student, you become part of this research environment. Doctoral studies begin with a year of coursework including two long courses in the theoretical and methodological foundations of child studies. These courses are intermixed with advanced studies on a specific theme such as family, health, the school or culture. The purpose of this course structure is to provide a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of the area of child studies. Each doctoral student undertakes advanced studies in their thesis subject area through elective courses and continuous supervision while working on the thesis. 

The seminar as a working method 

A key part of the doctoral programme is a series of lively seminars that are important to all faculty at Tema Barn. In these seminars, doctoral students get feedback on their thesis work from other doctoral students as well as senior researchers. On other occasions, they have the opportunity to listen to and debate with invited researchers. By giving and receiving comments, and by participating in the ongoing discussion about theory and method within child studies, the doctoral student’s knowledge is deepened and their capacity for argumentation within their own thesis project area is honed. 

Students are also given the opportunity to take teaching assignments within the Child Studies Masters programme, and in the undergraduate teacher education programme, for example. Through undertaking such departmental duties amounting to 20% per year, the time for completing the doctorate can be extended by one year, from 4 to 5 years.



Emilia, Lisa and Daniel give their perspective on the PhD Programme in Child Studies

Emilia Zotevska
PhD Student Emilia Zotevska Melinda Reyes Hiltunen

Why is it important to understand children?

– I believe it’s important because people often bring up children as an argument in debates. They say that children are important and that you need to do what’s best for them, even if they haven’t spoken to the children or listened to them. Here we try to create that space for children, but that could also be problematic since we are adults interpreting their voices. We can’t change that fact, but what we can do is to be aware of it and be transparent. The environment at Child Studies is both good and tough. I like that it’s challenging and interdisciplinary. The participants in our seminars are schooled and specialized in different areas. Their different perspectives make good training for writing towards a broader audience, like I do now as I’m writing an article for an interdisciplinary journal.

PhD student Yelyzaveta Hrechaniuk
PhD Student Yelyzaveta Hrechaniuk Melinda Reyes Hiltunen

Why have you become a PhD student?

– I moved to Sweden from Ukraine when I got a scholarship from The Swedish Institute to study the master’s programme in Child Studies. Earlier I had studied philology, a mix of literature and linguistics. As a volunteer job I started a website about children’s literature with a couple of fellow students. We also read stories for children and now the concept has spread to several other bookstores in Kyiv. As a master’s student I went to higher seminars and immediately got a positive feeling about the department. Everyone respects that we also have our lives outside of the academia, we support and take care of each other and at the same time we learn how to conduct research in a good way.

PhD student Daniel Gustafsson.
PhD Student Daniel Gustafsson Melinda Reyes Hiltunen

What part of the research develops you the most?

– For me, research has always been very creative. I’m a sociologist and a kindergarten teacher, and worked for many years with children with disabilities. The experience of these meetings made me focus my research on children with disabilities and their engagement in leisure activities and their active part in the co-creation of their own childhood. In the future I’d like to stay in the academia, but I’d also like to work more practically with the results of my research. I might make lectures to the public or work towards authorities. It’s really a pleasure to get the possibility and time to devote yourself to thinking, writing and being creative. To conduct research about and with children and young people, through listening to their voices, feels very important and contributes to the possibility of exploring new nuances of concepts we often take for granted. 

Disputations & PhD theses

Doctoral studies at Linköping University