PhD fellow: The Novels of the Modern Breakthrough

The Department for Nordic Studies (NorS) at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen, invites applications for a PhD fellowship within the subject of Scandinavian literature to be filled by 1 November 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position is for three years.

The Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics (NorS) provides the setting for international research and education from BA- to PhD studies within linguistics and language technology, literature, media, culture and gender studies, cf.

The fellow will join the collective research project MeMo – Measuring Modernity: Literary and Social Change in Scandinavia 1870-1900, funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.

Job content
In the latter part of the 19th century, Scandinavian societies underwent profound structural changes, encompassing numerous, interlocking areas: demography, infrastructure, politics, morals, culture, etc. Scandinavian literature represented a cultural reflection of these transformations, echoing or engaging with them. The aim is to explore this so-called ‘Modern Breakthrough’ and to foster new understandings of the dynamics of literary and social change. The project will base this co-ordination of the literary and the social on a digital corpus comprising some 900 Danish and Norwegian novels 1870-1900, which includes rich metadata on texts and authors. We will approach the task through the development of computational techniques for literary analysis. To make sense of the statistics, we intend to combine the digital interventions with critical interpretation, based on theoretical and historical expertise. Hopefully, this allows for the capturing of robust literary and sociological trends and patterns and for new insights into the processes of modernization in a formative period in the cultural, social and political history of Scandinavia.

The PhD fellow proposes a sub-project within the overall framework. It is recommended to contact project leader Jens Bjerring-Hansen in regard to the preparation of a specific sub-project.

The PhD fellowship involves a research stay at a leading international university.

Research environment
The PhD fellow will work in close collaboration with the project group led by Jens Bjerring-Hansen. The interdisciplinary team consists of researchers from NorS as well as partners from Danish and international universities (US and Russia).
The collaboration involves participation in regular group meetings, co-publication, as well as the organization of conferences and seminars etc. Hereby, the fellow will be integrated in the local research environment as well as in an international network.

Qualification requirements
Apart from the formal requirements and competencies (see below) the following will be taken into account in the assessment:

  • A master’s degree with good grades within the fields of Danish/Nordic Studies, Scandinavian Studies/Skandinavistik, Literary/Cultural Studies.
  • Experience with traditional areas of literary studies as well as in contextual approaches to literature and culture.
  • Skills in scholarly communication, popular or scientific.
  • Scientific publications.
  • Oral presentations at conferences or seminars.
  • Teaching experience.
  • Administrative qualifications.
  • The desire and ability to collaborate.

Digital competencies, including experience with quantitative methods for text analysis, is not required, but will be regarded as an advantage.

The applicant’s qualifications for the position are evaluated by the applicant’s general educational and academic background. Grade average, thesis grade, language competencies, publications, and other academic activities will be taken into account.

In addition, the proposed PhD project and study plan will be evaluated with regard to originality, choice of theory and method, disciplinary relevance, and prospects for completion within the required timeframe of 36 months.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to reflect on how their project relates to present research activities at the department.

For further information please contact Jens Bjerring-Hansen, e-mail: / telephone: +45 35 33 19 05

Admission requirements
Applicants need to hold a two-year Master's degree (120 ECTS) or the equivalent.

Applicants must send pre-approval of their thesis if it is not completed at the time of the application deadline.

Applicants with a non-Danish Master's degree will have their degree assessed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in order to establish that their Master's degree is equivalent to a Danish Master's degree. Please read more at the Ministry of Higher Education and Sciences website:

Communication skills
Excellent communication skills in English are essential and applicants must speak and write academic English. The administration may ask applicants to document their proficiency in English at any time in the recruitment process, if considered necessary.

Application requirements
The application must be sent electronically via the link "Search online" at the bottom of the page in Adobe PDF or Word format. ZIP files may not be used.
Please note that each field in the applicant form can only contain one file of max 20 Mb.

The application must include:

Project abstract
(1,200 characters)

Project description
(12,000 characters)
See below.

Cover letter
(3,000 characters)
A cover letter explaining the motivations for the application and the match between the applicant and the content and the qualification requirements of the job must be attached.

Please include a complete CV including a list of publications, where relevant.  

Diploma and transcript of records 
Applicants must upload the following documentation:

  • A copy of master's degree diploma (if not available before the application deadline, a pre-approval must be submitted) 
  • A copy of master’s degree transcript of records (an official description of the grading scale must be included) 
  • A copy of bachelor’s degree diploma 
  • A copy of bachelor’s degree transcript of records (an official description of the grading scale must be included) 

If the master diploma and/or examination records are in another language than English, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, please include a translation into either of these languages in your application.

The translation of diplomas/certificates and transcripts must be made or approved by a state-authorized translator and interpreter or at the embassy/a Danish consulate/ or consulate of the country where the original document was issued or where the translation was made.
The administration encourages applicants from within the EU to enclose a Diploma Supplement. The Diploma Supplement is part of a common European framework for transparency of competencies and qualifications – the EuroPass framework. Find more information at this page:

Chinese applicants are required to enclose a CADGEEC (The China Academic degrees and Graduate Education Evaluation Committee) certificate. Read more at this page:

Please read about admission requirements and application requirements at this page:  

Project description
The project description should outline the overall objectives, method and design of the project, as well as a schedule for its implementation.

The project description should account for how the subproject relates to the overall project objectives, including the digital and quantitative aspects. A possible empirical demarcation of the sub-project could be a focus the subset of novels of from the Modern Breakthrough written by female authors.

The project proposal must not exceed 6 standard pages, corresponding to approx. 12,000 characters (including curriculum, title, punctuation, figures, footnotes and references, but excluding bibliography). A substantial breach of this will result in the application being excluded from consideration.

Please adhere to the guidelines at this page:´

Other relevant material
Statements of consent can be submitted with the application. For example, agreement of access to special archives, agreement of exchange at an international university, or a statement of consent from a potential supervisor/ co-supervisor etc. Do not upload or submit recommendations, publications or your Master’s thesis.

The recruitment process
After the deadline for applications, applicants are selected for assessment on the advice of the Appointment Committee. All applicants will be notified whether they are shortlisted for assessment or not. An Assessment Committee are appointed, and the selected applicants are notified of the composition of this committee. Each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment which relates to their own application.

Afterwards, a selection of qualified candidates will be invited for an interview. The interviews are expected to be held in weeks 38-39

. Please be advised that a positive assessment does not necessarily mean that you will be invited for an interview.

For further information on the recruitment process, please see University of Copenhagen’s website:

As a PhD scholar at The Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen, you will be supervised for approximately 180 hours distributed over 6 semesters. In addition to this, you must complete PhD courses of a total approximating 30 ECTS. On completion of the PhD program, you must submit a PhD thesis.  

Read more about the structure of the PhD program and what it means to be enrolled as a PhD scholar at the Faculty of Humanities via this link:

For more information about the PhD School read more at this page:

Terms of employment
PhD scholars at the Faculty of Humanities are appointed under the terms and conditions of the collective agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations.

According to the agreement, PhD scholars are obliged – without any additional remuneration – to perform tasks assigned to them corresponding to 840 working hours over the three years. These tasks will primarily be in the form of teaching, dissemination, research or other related academic areas.

Please note that it is normally a precondition for employment that the applicant in question does not already have a PhD degree. Applicants who have already obtained a PhD degree will, as a main rule, be dismissed.   

As an equal opportunity employer, the university invites applications from all interested candidates regardless of gender, age, ethnic origin or religion.

Contact information
For any further questions regarding the recruitment process please contact HR employee Pernille Lykke Paulsen, e-mail:, please refer to ID number 211-0443/20-2H.

Application deadline
Applicants must submit the application electronically no later than 1 August 2020 at 23.59 (11.59 pm) (CET).


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 01-08-2020
Employment start: 01-11-2020
Department/Location: NorS

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