Doctoral research in the Department of Literature

The Department of Literature welcomes doctoral researchers who wish to pursue a doctorate (Dr. phil.) in the following subjects:

  • British Studies/English Literature
  • American Studies
  • German Studies/German Literature
  • French Literature
  • Italian Literature
  • Art Theory/Art History
  • Latin Literature
  • Media Studies
  • Slavic Literatures
  • Spanish Studies/Spanish Literature

As a doctoral candidate admitted to the department, you will be enrolled in our doctoral study programme. This means that you will have access to two supervisors. You will be awarded ECTS credits for drawing up your thesis proposal, submitting progress reports, writing your thesis, sitting the oral doctoral examination (viva) as well as for presenting your research in doctoral colloquia and for completing additional achievements (e.g. attending doctoral seminars, publishing, delivering your own lectures, etc.). In special circumstances and provided you can adduce grave reasons, you can request not to be enrolled in the doctoral study programme. Please contact the head of department.

Please note that we do not accept cumulative doctoral theses consisting of several individual publications.

How do I become a doctoral candidate in the Department of Literature?

First, you should ask yourself why it is that you want to pursue doctoral studies. Do you enjoy academic work? Are you so deeply absorbed in a particular topic that you want to dedicate several years of your life to exploring it? Is earning a doctorate a pre-requisite for achieving your career goals?

If your answer to these questions is a resounding “yes”, then you should contact someone in the department with the authority to supervise doctoral students and whose research interests match yours with a concrete idea for a doctoral project, if possible in the form of a fully developed written proposal. Your draft proposal will help your prospective supervisor decide whether or not to accept you as a doctoral candidate. If your prospective supervisor agrees to supervise your thesis, you must submit a formal application for acceptance as a doctoral student. All professors (including junior professors) and academic staff members in the department who hold a Habilitation (post-doctoral qualification) are authorised to supervise doctoral students.

What are the admission requirements for doctoral studies in the department?

To gain acceptance as a doctoral candidate in the Department of Literature, you must hold a university degree qualifying you for doctoral studies (minimum overall grade: 2.0) in a study programme relevant to your proposed doctoral research. Usually, qualifying degrees include “Magister Artium”, Master of Arts or state examination degrees.

If your overall grade is lower than the required minimum, your supervisor must provide special reasons as to why you should be accepted as a doctoral candidate. If your degree is not relevant or does not qualify for doctoral candidacy, you can demonstrate your fitness to pursue doctoral studies by sitting a preliminary examination.

What is the process for being accepted as a doctoral student?

Once your chosen supervisor has agreed to supervise your thesis, you are required to conclude a doctoral supervision agreement. Please use the template provided by the university. You must also submit your application for acceptance as a doctoral student to the head of department.
Please enclose the doctoral supervision agreement, a five to ten-page proposal, a certified copy of your degree certificate and a curriculum vitae in tabular form. Hand in your application to the secretary of the Doctoral Committee, Dr Daniel Hütter. If your documentation is complete, the head of department will declare your acceptance as a doctoral student.

Documents and forms

The template for your doctoral supervision agreement and the application form for acceptance as a doctoral student are available on the pages of the Central Examination Office.

Do I need to enrol?

Yes, you will need to enrol if you have been accepted to the structured doctoral study programme. Please note that you cannot enrol until you have received an official letter of acceptance as a doctoral student. If you are exempt from taking part in the doctoral study programme, you can, but do not have to, enrol. In this case, you will be able to earn your doctorate without being enrolled.

How long do I have to complete my doctorate?

In the Department of Literature, full-time students typically earn their doctorate after a period of approx. three years. If you are a working professional or have parental responsibilities, it may take up to four or five years to complete your studies. Doctoral candidates enrolled in the structured doctoral study programme have five years to complete their studies. If you do not manage to initiate proceedings for the doctoral examination procedure by then, you can finish your doctorate outside the doctoral study programme. After ten years, we will carry out an evaluation to check whether your status as a doctoral candidate should be upheld.

Am I entitled to a paid doctoral researcher position or a scholarship?

No. Acceptance as a doctoral student does not come with ready-made funding. However, it may be possible to acquire funding for a doctoral researcher position via the German Research Foundation (DFG) or other funding institutions. You and your supervisor will need to submit a joint application to the funding institution of your choice. You are free to apply for scholarships awarded by various foundations yourself.

What’s the doctoral examination like?

Oral doctoral examinations in the Department of Literature consist of a two-hour thesis defence as well as an examination on two hypotheses. The topics of these hypotheses must not touch on your doctoral thesis or on each other. One topic can be from outside your subject area. You will have three examiners. At the beginning of the doctoral examination procedure, you must submit your chosen topics and your doctoral thesis to the Central Examination Office. We therefore recommend that you start thinking about potential topics for your thesis viva while writing your doctoral thesis. One third of your overall grade is made up of the grade you receive for your oral examination and two thirds are based on the grade you receive for your doctoral thesis.