Department of Thematic Studies (TEMA)

In a complex world, researchers are needed who can both attack a problem deeply and still consider the broader context and collaborate across disciplinary boundaries. This entails generating relevant knowledge using appropriate methods, regardless of subject traditions and background. Analyzing major societal issues from an interdisciplinary perspective is TEMA's specialty.

Tema building in snowy weather

Innovative from the start

The Department of Thematic Studies (Tema) was established in 1980 and represented a new and untested venture in the Swedish research world. The department's framework revolves around interdisciplinary problem areas, or themes, where researchers collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to collectively address complex challenges. While the foundational structure remains intact, our themes have evolved over time to remain socially relevant. Tema also led the way in Sweden to establish research schools for doctoral students, one for each theme, and this successful model has since become a feature of Swedish graduate training.

Interdisciplinarity is more crucial than ever

In an increasingly complicated world, the interdisciplinary approach is essential to understand and address the major societal issues. At the Department of Thematic Studies, natural science, social science, technology and the humanities meet in the common aim to increase understanding for and find solutions to important future questions. Students at Tema are trained to find alternative questions and transnational perspectives.


The Department of Thematic Studies in numbers

204 staff members

Including 20 professors and 45 doctoral students, 2023.

100+ research collaborations

Formalized agreements with other universities and organizations, 2023.

130 courses      

Including sub-courses in programs and single subject courses.

Latest news

Decomposed leaf.

The reaction explaining large carbon sinks

A mystery has finally been solved. Researchers from LiU and Helmholtz Munich have discovered that a certain type of chemical reaction can explain why organic matter found in rivers and lakes is so resistant to degradation.

The students are on a break

International master’s students meet to discuss children’s issues

On the Master's Programme in Child Studies, students from different parts of the world participate remotely. During an intensive week on campus, they gather to exchange experiences and strengthen their sense of community.

Jonathan Josefsson och Branka Likic-Brboric at the conference GFMD.

The signs that reveal migration policies

Who has access to the meeting rooms? Who leaves when others enter? Who is talking to whom? This may reveal how the winds are blowing in migration policy at an international summit. And researchers from LiU are moving in the crowd to observe.


30 April 2024

Valborg special: “Feminist Reconfigurings of Alien Encounters", virtual book launch 

4.15 pm – 6.00 pm Zoom

Welcome to the Eco- and Bioart Lab Valborg special - A festive virtual book launch of “Feminist Reconfigurings of Alien Encounters: Ethical Co-Existence in More-than-Human Worlds”, with authors: Prof. Nina Lykke (Linköping University/Aarhus University), Katja Aglert (Konstfack: University of Arts, Crafts and Design), and Dr Line Henriksen (Malmö University). Language is English. Follow the link for more info and to register you participation.


8 May 2024

Higher seminar in Technology and Social Change with Catherine Grandclément

1.00 pm – 3.00 pm Lethe, floor 2, entrance 37, campus Valla

Catherine Grandclément, a sociologist working in the R&D department of the French electricity company EdF, is invited as speaker at Technology and Social Change's higher seminar on May 8th. Her research centres around studying the embedded politics of small objects like meters and appliances which act as mediators towards shaping electricity from a public service to consumer good.


9 May 2024

Eco and Bioart Lab webinar with Dr Marko Marila

1.15 pm – 3.00 pm Zoom

Welcome to The Eco- and Bioart Lab webinar “From Bedrock to Deadrock: The Arts of Anti-Uranium Activism” with Dr Marko Marila (Linköping University). Respondent: Katja Aglert (Senior Lecturer, Konstfack – University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, SE). 


Research at the Department of Thematic Studies 

At the Department of Thematic Studies (TEMA), researchers from different disciplines come together to collectively explore and address some of society's most pressing challenges.

For over 40 years, TEMA has been at the forefront of research spanning wide-ranging problem areas rather than traditional disciplines. By fostering organic interdisciplinary collaborations, TEMA has been instrumental in establishing and shaping new fields of research.

For instance, TEMA's research in environmental change has influenced policy decisions for sustainable development by highlighting the complexity of environmental issues and proposing solutions. In the field of child research, TEMA has contributed to increased awareness and advancements in child policy by emphasising children's perspectives. TEMA's work in gender studies has challenged norms and deepened the understanding of gender and power dynamics, impacting both academia and society. Additionally, through a socio-scientific perspective on technology and science studies, TEMA has contributed to the integration of technology in areas such as education, healthcare, and energy policy.

With its interdisciplinary approach, TEMA continues to be a key player in shaping future research and society.


Research centres

PhD Programmes at the Department of Thematic Studies

The PhD programme at the Department of Thematic Studies reflects the inter- and multidisciplinary research profile of the department and more specific the four different research environments.

The main part of the PhD training is organized by the specific research environment, Child Studies, Environmental Studies, Gender Studies, or Technology and Social Change, including supervision. A joint thematic over-arching course is offered once a year. Likewise, the doctoral students have a doctoral council as an arena for matters relating to all, regardless of research environment.

PhD courses at Department of Thematic Studies

Education at the Department of Thematic Studies 

Education at the Department of Thematic Studies goes beyond traditional boundaries and embraces interdisciplinary perspectives with high societal relevance.

The Department of Thematic Studies is characterised by a problem-oriented approach and a critical mindset, and our teaching is no exception. Our courses and programs span across all faculties and include subject areas such as urban planning, environmental science, gender studies, childhood studies, geography, and thematic natural sciences.

Research-driven learning

A research-oriented education is at the core of our approach, and our educators are not only dedicated teachers but also active researchers. The teaching encompasses a variety of pedagogical methods, including student-active teaching, problem-based learning (PBL), projects, and challenge-based learning (CBL).

Diversity and flexibility

Our educational programs are rooted in current societal issues, equipping students with specialised expertise that are sought-after in the job market. Our four international master's programs attract students from around the world, creating a dynamic learning environment. In addition to our undergraduate programs, we offer around forty single-subject courses, education within ECIU (European Consortium of Innovative Universities), and courses through LiU Commissioned Education.

At the Department of Thematic Studies, we aim to develop competent professionals while fostering creativity and reflection. These qualities equip our students to face today's and tomorrow's challenges.

Programmes on advanced level/Master

Single-subject courses (in English)

Icebergs in the water

Climate Science and Climate Change, 7.5 credits

Are you interested in the history of climate? This course offers an exploration of climate change and its profound impact on our planet, while also examining strategies for shaping a sustainable future.

Photo of people using excalators. Between them an older person is using the staircase.

Critical Perspectives on Planning for Health, 7.5 credits

What is health? How is it distributed among different groups and individuals? And how is urban and regional planning affecting people’s health? In this course you will discuss questions such as these to learn how to critically investigate how urba...

Critical Perspectives on Sustainable Development, 7.5 credits

The course is an introduction to sustainable development as a political idea and an analytical concept, and develops an understanding of the role of science and technology by relating it to environmental issues and social change. Drawing on past a...

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Collaborate with the Department of Thematic Studies

The Department of Thematic Studies emerged from the idea of developing research closely connected to society. Identifying, analysing, and proposing solutions to relevant societal issues are the very motivations for the department's existence.

Social issues are studied here in a cross-disciplinary manner, from an interdisciplinary perspective. Collaboration thus becomes not only a desirable outcome but the very prerequisite for research and development work at the Department of Thematic Studies.

Norrköping Decision Arena


Department Management




Postal address

Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies,  581 83 Linköping, Sweden 

Visiting address - Campus Valla

The Tema Building, Mäster Mathias väg 

Visiting address - Campus Norrköping

Kopparhammaren 2 Norra Grytsgatan 10 A

Other contact paths