Established by the Vice President on 2019-10-12, reference number C 2019-1728.
For the most recent version of all regulatory documents referenced in this syllabus, see Chalmers’s internal website.
1. Subject description
Description of subject
The graduate school Communication and Learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)
aims to deepen our understanding of learning processes and interaction
in higher education and addresses some of the key challenges of
communication within the knowledge and information society represented
by engineering and the natural sciences.
Knowledge and information societies give rise to a close
relationship between communication and learning, particularly within
STEM areas. This is highlighted, for example, by the following globally
recognized paradigmatic shifts:
- The rapid and comprehensive transformation to digitalization,
affecting information behavior, communication, knowledge organization,
and dissemination of knowledge in virtually every sphere of society. For
this reason, we need to develop the ability to access, create,
integrate, evaluate and communicate technology.
- Increased internationalization and globalization of academia and the
professions – with the concomitant demands on effective and conscious
academic and professional communication, and expectations regarding
multilingual and intercultural competency.
Our knowledge concerning the conditions for/effects of these
ongoing societal shifts is still limited, presenting opportunities for
much needed scholarly work. The graduate school in Communication and
Learning in STEM addresses the need for research in these areas by
focusing on communication, language and learning as central components
for furthering technological understanding, digitalization, and
internationalization. While the primary focus of the graduate school is
on communication, language and learning in higher education STEM
contexts, higher education is not a ‘closed system’. For this reason,
the research and the implications stemming from it extend to numerous
non-academic organizational contexts where communication, language and
learning constitute preconditions for many activities.
Description of specializations
The graduate school offers two specializations with a specific
focus on either learning connected to communication and language or
learning in an engineering education context. Both specializations are
firmly grounded in practice-oriented and applied research. Both
specializations offer collaboration with other graduate schools within
Chalmers cross-disciplinary doctoral program, enabling graduate students
to combine research in engineering with research about learning and/or
communication and language.
Communication and language
This specialization explores learning in connection to
communication and language, from an academic perspective, from a
discipline-specific perspective, as well as in relation to lifelong
learning. Using theories and methods within, for example, applied
linguistics, writing research, genre studies, educational psychology and
cognitive science as a foundation, this specialization fosters
investigations of communication in higher education, language use and
language development in scientific and technical contexts, as well as
pedagogies for teaching academic and scientific communication, against a
backdrop of internationalization and globalization of academia and the
industry. A research education focus within this specialization may
involve the modelling and/or evaluation of —among others—the role of
language and communication in the development of subject-specific
literacy in STEM areas, for example studies that investigate Integrating
Content and Language in Higher Education, ICLHE), the development of
discipline-specific writing expertise and writing for publication,
and/or how written, oral or digital genres contribute to the
development, construction and assessment of disciplinary knowledge.
Thus, research in this specialization may focus on aspects of learning
and/or pedagogy, including self-regulation and metacognition, the
ability to adapt and transfer genre and disciplinary knowledge between
contexts, and critically assess knowledge and performance tied to
learning objectives for an individual and/or group. Finally, research in
this specialization may take an applied linguistics outlook to
investigate key areas of current HE STEM-practices such as
English-medium instruction, including teaching and learning in as a
second language, and aspects of intercultural communication.
Engineering education research
This specialization emphasizes research that develops learning designs
and learning experiences within engineering (STEM) education, including
those subjects/disciplines which are foundational for engineering
education. Research projects in this area should relate educational
science with engineering science and other areas, combine theoretical
and empirical perspectives, and highlight learning as a multimodal and
transdisciplinary enterprise. This specialization also enables research
exploring science and technology education in schools or teacher
education in this area. Research in this specialization also targets
organizational and/or structural and/or policy aspects of relevance for
the engineering sciences, for example, syllabi, the organization of
schools and universities, and collaboration between key stakeholders.
Another potential research focus is the contribution of the engineering
sciences to sustainable development in society. Thus, research in this
area could explore how engineers and user of technology appropriate the
knowledge and action competence required for a responsible
transformation of society. This includes the ability to handle
technology and technical systems and also requires an ability to handle
complexity, uncertainties and ethical dilemmas in the context of human
needs and behavior, global justice, the limitations of natural systems,
and structures in society.
2. Objectives of the doctoral program
The national objectives for third cycle degrees (licentiate and doctoral degree) and local requirements are stated in the Local Qualifications Framework for Chalmers University of Technology – third cycle qualifications.
3. Entry requirements
General entry requirements
To be qualified for admission in Communication and Learning in STEM
the student shall have obtained a degree at an advanced level of at
least 240 higher education credits (according to the Swedish
university-level credits system). The orientation of the student’s
degree shall also have a sufficiently close connection to the subject of
the doctoral programme. The following are examples of subjects that may
be considered to have a sufficiently close connection to the subject of
the doctoral programme:
- Cognitive science
- Educational science
- Teaching diploma (with a specialization in STEM)
- Teaching diploma + MSc in Engineering
Equivalent requirements apply to individuals who have taken their
first degree in a country other than Sweden. The examiner, in
consultation with the principal supervisor, shall assess whether the
applicant has the requisite capacity to successfully complete the
doctoral programme. Other requirements for general entry are regulated
in Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes.
Regulations regarding admission are stated in Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes.
The study programme towards a doctoral degree encompasses 240
higher education credits. The study programme towards a licentiate
degree encompasses 120 higher education credits. One year of full-time
studies equals 60 credits.
For the licentiate degree programme the credits are distributed
between courses and thesis work as follows: courses 30 credits and
thesis 90 credits.
For the doctoral degree programme the credits are distributed
between course work and thesis work as follows: courses 60 credits and
thesis 180 credits.
Courses within the graduate school include general courses that
cover all doctoral programmes at Chalmers as well as courses specific
for the graduate school.
General courses in Chalmers’s doctoral programmes
The general course requirements for doctoral programmes at Chalmers are regulated in Local Qualifications Framework for Chalmers University of Technology – third cycle qualifications.
Courses within the graduate school Communication and Learning in STEM
Specific requirements apply for courses within the graduate school
Communication and Learning in STEM. Such courses include mandatory
courses (18 credits as follows: Theory and research in communication and learning in science (7,5 HEC); Research methodology in communication and learning: theory and practice (7,5 HEC) and Directed-reading course on topic of choice (3
HEC)), and individual custom-made courses (27 credits) designed
specifically for the two specializations, and designed to accommodate
the specific research focus, interest or knowledge profile of the
A licentiate thesis shall be written in English. In exceptional
cases it can be written in Swedish; in such cases it shall contain a
summary in English.
A licentiate thesis can either be written as a compilation thesis
or as a monograph. A compilation thesis for a licentiate degree shall
include scientific articles that are published or deemed publishable as
well as a summarising chapter that states the overall scientific
contribution constituted by the articles.
Regardless of the type of thesis selected, the thesis should have a
length corresponding to an international standard for licentiate
theses. The articles should maintain such a level that they could be
accepted for publication in a reputable international scientific journal
or high-quality conference with a referee procedure.
Other regulations concerning the licentiate thesis are stated in Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes.
A dissertation shall be written in English. In exceptional cases it
can be written in Swedish; in such cases it shall contain a summary in
A dissertation can either be written as a compilation thesis or as a
monograph. A compilation thesis for a doctoral degree shall include
scientific articles that are published or deemed publishable as well as a
summarising chapter that states the overall scientific contribution
constituted by the articles.
Regardless of the type of thesis selected, the thesis should have a
length corresponding to an international standard for doctoral theses.
The articles should maintain such a level that they could be accepted
for publication in a reputable international scientific journal or
high-quality conference with a referee procedure. The individual
articles may have been written together with the main supervisor,
another supervisor or other author. In order to show that the student
has attained the intended proficiency, the majority of the papers must
have the student as their main author.
Other regulations concerning the dissertation are stated in Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes.
The Rules of Procedure – doctoral programmes states that
for each doctoral student at least two supervisors shall be appointed.
One of them shall be appointed principal supervisor. The doctoral
student has the right to supervision during the studies unless the Head
of Department decides otherwise.
In addition to providing guidance in relation to the research work,
the supervision must also include planning and follow-up of the
research work as well as a relevant support in connection with courses
and other activities (e.g. publishing).
Other regulations concerning supervision are stated in Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes.
After completion of a doctoral programme a doctoral degree is
awarded. A licentiate degree can be an intermediate stage in a doctoral
degree. If a licentiate degree is not a part of the individual study
plan, an interim seminar shall be held to denote hat licentiate level
has been reached.
Examination, licentiate degree
For a licentiate degree to be awarded, the doctoral student must
have received a grade of pass for the licentiate thesis and its
presentation and must also have received a grade of pass for the other
elements that are included in the programme.
Examination, doctoral degree
For a doctoral degree to be awarded, the doctoral student must have
had a dissertation and its defence approved and must also have passed
the other elements that are included in the programme.
Other regulations regarding examination are stated in:
• Rules of Procedure – Doctoral Programmes
• Local Qualifications Framework for Chalmers University of Technology – third cycle qualifications
6. Title of degree
The title of qualification is Teknologie doktorsexamen i kommunikation och lärande inom STEM or Filosofie doktorsexamen i kommunikation och lärande inom STEM. The English translation of the title of the qualification is Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Communication and Learning in STEM.
For a licentiate degree the title of the qualification is Teknologie licentiatexamen i kommunikation och lärande inom STEM or Filosofie licentiatexamen i kommunikation och lärande inom STEM. The English translation of the title of qualification is Degree of Licentiate of Engineering in Communication and Learning in STEM or Degree of Licentiate of Philosophy in Communication and Learning in STEM.
If the foundation qualification was earned in a faculty other than
the Faculty of Engineering or Philosophy, the degree is given a
designation corresponding to the faculty in which the foundation
qualification was earned. The designation is determined by the
department upon admission and is used in the degree. Deviations from the
predetermined designation must be approved by the department in an
individual waiver. In certain individual cases another designation than
the designation that corresponds to the faculty where the foundation
qualification was earned can be used.