Curriculum and Organization of the Program

The doctoral program will offer ideal framework conditions for the pursuit of individual dissertation projects. It will create a platform for fruitful and interdisciplinary exchange and will support doctoral candidates in building both a national and international network.

In order to prepare young researchers for the job market, the doctoral program has three main components: First, individual dissertation projects will be reflected upon and advanced by means of intensive supervision and regular discussion. Secondly, doctoral students will upgrade their professional and methodological skills by attending workshops and training courses. Thirdly, doctoral students are encouraged to acquire key competences in order to be able to position themselves in an increasingly diversified academic job market. The overall goal is to equip all doctoral students with a solid education in the empirical study of democracy in order for them to be able to pursue careers in academia, political consulting as well as leadership positions in both national and international organizations.

The curriculum is subdivided into four pillars which reflect the overall objective of the doctoral program and combine courses that are explicitly devised for the doctoral program and multidisciplinary courses which are offered under the auspices of Leuphana University’s Graduate School. Not only does this framework allow for flexible incorporation of doctoral students’ individual preferences but does also allow for integration into Leuphana University’s semi-structured doctoral study program.

Pillar 1: Research Colloquium: Over the course of three years, doctoral researchs will be required to present and discuss the status of their projects. There will be a weekly two-hour research colloquium which is attended by both doctoral students as well as all professors who participate in the program. In their first year, students will present their research design. Presentations in the second year serve as an opportunity to further elaborate the research design and to put forward preliminary results. In the third year, doctoral students will present more advanced findings in the form of ‚working papers’, conference contributions or journal articles.

Pillar 2: Professional Qualification: The second pillar consists of modules in which doctoral students will further their professional qualification with respect to theoretical and methodological perspectives on the topic of ‚Democracy under Stress’. Each year, three-day workshops will be held on the key aspects of the doctoral program. The first year’s workshop will deal with the topic of ‚participatory democracy’ followed by courses on ‚representative democracy’ and ‚inclusive democracy’ in the second and third year. Participation in these classes is mandatory. Workshops are conducted both by the organizers of the doctoral program as well as by nationally and internationally recognized scholars in the respective fields of study. The doctoral program will benefit from existent networks and contacts which have evolved through the Center for the Study of Democracy’s long-standing experience with organizing  both national and international conferences for young researchers such as the ECPR Summer School on „Political Parties and Democracy“ as well as the Northern German Network for Democracy Research (NND). Doctoral students are also encouraged to independently invite scholars that are important to their field of research. To that effect the doctoral program provides the opportunity to invite renowned scholars for short-term research visits to either Lüneburg, Osnabrück or Wilhelmshaven.

Pillar 3: Methods: In order to advance their methodological skills, doctoral students are required to attend two modules. The first module „Philosophy of Science“ offers advanced training on the epistemological and ontological order of social science. The second module „Research Methods“ is intended to provide advanced knowledge in either qualitative or quantitative research techniques of democracy research. Both modules should ideally be completed in the first year. Courses will be offered within the framework of Leuphana University’s semi-structured doctoral study program and will be attended together with doctoral students from political science. Doctoral students may further participate in advanced methodological training courses offered by Leuphana University’s Center for Methods which offers courses in QCA, qualitative content analysis as well as different statistics programs (SPSS, STATA, R).

Pillar 4: Key Skills: In order to aquire key skills, doctoral students will attend two interdisciplinary modules which are offered by Leuphana University’s Graduate School. The first module „Scientific Practice/Ethics“ discusses both practical aspects of devising a dissertation project as well as issues of good scientific practice. The goal is to enable doctoral students to place their research projects in the global context of science. The second module is an elective module which can be selected freely from the courses offered in Leuphana University’s ‚GradSkills’ program. The module aims at advancing key vocational skills that are related to doctoral students’ respective fields of expertise and desired career paths. The program offers courses that focus on either academic careers, careers in science management or careers outside academia.