The graduate school (forskerskole) under the administration of CASTL is home to a group of graduate students working towards PhDs in theoretical linguistics, centrally including topics such as Syntax, Semantics, Morphology, Phonology and Language Acquisition.
Requirements for the PhD
The requirements for successfully completing a PhD under CASTL include (i) those requirements that come directly from the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education at the University of Tromsø, and (ii) CASTL’s own requirements. The university’s own requirements are tied to credits for particular courses and must be signed up for formally. The CASTL requirements are fulfilled by having the signature of the course leader or assessor for the items listed below. Bear in mind that although the CASTL requirements are not point-giving, fulfilment of them will be assessed regularly by the board of senior researchers, and are necessary for submission of the PhD dissertation.
The University Requirements
1. Professional Skills (HIF-8008) (5 credits)
This course is a practical introduction to the skills of abstract writing, handout writing, and giving presentations. Students will get practice making presentations and getting feedback. The class is usually run by a senior linguist in the department. This course is offered every year, though not every term.
2. Philosophy of Science/Ethics (10 credits)
This course is a general introduction of philosophy of science and methodology. It is run once a year by an invited expert on the Philosophical side, and also has a linguistics specific component. To get credit, usually a short discussion paper is required.
3. Linguistics Specific Courses (15 credits minimum)
The university does not legislate which courses in particular you use to fulfil this requirement, just that you complete 15 credits worth of eligible courses. Advanced CASTL seminars (see below) will be part of your CASTL requirement. One such seminar a term is assigned a formal course number (Advanced Topics in Linguistics I in the Autumn, and Advanced Topics in Linguistics II in the Spring) and give 10 credits each. If you formally register for and complete two of these, your university obligation will be fulfilled.
4. Teaching Duty
The university kicks in one year of funding as part of your four year package of salary for the PhD period. In return, the university expects `the equivalent of one year’s teaching’ for the Humanities Faculty during the course of those four years. It is difficult to say how many courses this actually amounts to, since you get less credit if you co-teach a course (although that’s more fun), and courses at different levels come officially with different levels of time commitment. As a rule of thumb, expect to teach about one full course a year for the four years, but also bear in mind that it is hard to predict what courses in your area will come up for teaching from semester to semester.
(a) Two courses/seminars per semester in the first three years.
(b) Three polished article-sized papers in the first three years.
As you will discover, CASTL is a very lively research center, with lots of talks and seminars and workshops. Although one strand of its work is research on theoretical linguistics, the graduate school is also an important part of its functioning. The CASTL senior researchers and other affiliated members regularly take it in turns to give advanced seminars on some topic of recent interest that relates to the work of the group. These seminars serve two functions. One is to build and maintain high level communication of research ideas across all interested members of CASTL and its intellectual community, in order to make genuine progress on the theoretical issues we all care about. The second is to provide stimulation and deepening of knowledge for members of the PhD cohort. For both of these reasons, the CASTL graduate school has built in participation in these seminars as requirements for its PhD.
The CASTL Graduate School requires the completion of two courses/seminars per semester. This requirement holds for the first three years. In your final year, you are expected to be entirely occupied with writing your dissertation.
In any one semester, there will be at least two syntax seminars by senior researchers, at least one phonology seminar, and various other smaller specialist reading groups or courses. Any course of study or organised tutorial that lasts throughout the term is eligible to fulfil (a) above. Every course will have slightly different requirements for successful completion. Sometimes it will be a presentation or handout, other times there may also be a short paper. Sitting in the room quietly while the course takes place around you is usually not enough!
As stated above, one course per semester is actually assigned a name and a number and can be taken to accumulate credits (to satisfy 3 above). Which course is chosen to receive a number each term is entirely random, and does not reflect any `special status’ as far as CASTL is concerned or carry with it any special extra amount of work.
In addition to completing the course requirements for the seminars above you should complete for approval three article length papers which would be suitable for submission to a journal. These must also be completed in the first three years. (Note that this is not the same as a term paper which some seminars might require for credited completion, but a more evolved and polished paper).
Any questions about requirements, or practical matters relating to your progress as a PhD student can be addressed to the Graduate Student Advisor, Gillian Ramchand
The CASTL graduate school does not desire or expect you to have a supervisor as soon as you enter the programme. For this reason, when you enter you will be assigned a contact person, who will be your `official’ supervisor for University purposes for at least the first two years. This person is chosen from the senior research group on a rotating basis for each year, and therefore should not be considered as a suggestion for your dissertation supervisor. After two years, you should start thinking seriously about your topic and your interests, and at any time after that you should change supervisors to reflect that choice.
In the past, the university has offered generous funding available for those who wish to spend a term abroad. Generally, we think this is a `Good Thing’: it broadens your horizons and it allows you to access expertise in a particular field/specialist area not found at CASTL. All requests for a semester abroad should be in the form of a proposal presented to the Graduate Student Advisor, after consultation with your supervisor. The proposal should explain the choice of external institution and the courses/activities that you will be engaged in there, and it should have the approval of your dissertation supervisor. Proposals will be discussed and approved at a joint meeting of the Senior Researcher Group. Usually such proposals are not controversial, but bear in mind that a stay abroad of more than a semester is not considered standard, and will usually require special justification. Your activities during a semester abroad count in lieu of requirements (a) above for that semester, but do not diminish the paper requirements in (b). A paper written for a course during your semester abroad can be used to fulfil one of the (b) requirements, as long as it is read and approved by the Forskerskole.
Reports and Feedback
Every term, the Graduate Student Advisor will send out a termly activity and self report form to all of the students in the Forskerskole. This form will allow you to describe what you have accomplished during the term, as well as give feedback on the courses and seminars you attended. The reports and termly activity forms will be discussed at a joint meeting of the supervisors and CASTL director at the end of term. After that, you will receive a simple feedback letter from the Forskerskole for your records, verifying `good progress’.