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BCDSS PhD Program


I Program outline

  • 4 years
  • Aim: To ensure thorough preparation and support for PhD students during work on their doctoral dissertations as well as helping PhD candidates to get ready for participation in the international research community through four components:
  1. Close supervision
  2. Academic course work and occupational competencies
  3. Knowledge transfer & managing skills
  4. Mentoring and career planning


1)      Close supervision

Supervision for PhD candidates will be ideally provided by two supervisors from the BCDSS/Cluster of Excellence (EXC 2036) or Bonn University, as well as one external expert. Depending on the cohort of PhD students, they will be affiliated to one of the 10 Research Groups (RG) or organized in a peer group guided by a peer group leader (PI of BCDSS/EXC 2036) who will function as their contact person throughout the program.


2)      Academic course work and occupational competencies 

As part of the PhD program, candidates must attend two kinds of courses: a) research seminars and b) skills seminars. Both types are awarded with credit points (CP).  

a) Research seminars include courses on specific theories and methods, an introduction to the topics of dependency and slavery, case studies and special readings relevant for the respective Research Area (RA) or Research Group (RG).        

b) Students are free to choose the focus of their respective skills seminars according to their interests and career perspectives.



3)      Knowledge transfer, managing skills & teaching

The category of knowledge transfer and managing skills comprises presentations of PhD related papers at international conferences, authoring a paper for a journal or an edited volume, teaching and/or organizing a workshop or a graduate conference, and/or editing an edited volume. These requirements will not be awarded CPs but will be recorded on the BIGS-DSS certificate.


4)      Mentoring and career planning

The BCDSS/EXC 2036 offers a support program for early-career women researchers that includes a mentoring program which connects young women researchers with more senior women working inside academia and in other fields of professional activity. It also includes seminars and workshops that provide information on equal opportunities and networks, as well as skills to pursue a career.

PhD students from an international academic background are entitled to additional academic and career guidance.

All PhD students are offered information sessions on career paths and planning both inside and outside academia in cooperation with UoB as well as individual consulting by members of BCDSS/EXC 2036 or the HRD office of UoB.



II Structure of BIGS-DSS

The operative structure of BIGS-DSS consists of the coordinator and the board of the graduate school.

The affiliation of PhD students to the BCDSS is organized in two ways: a) one group of PhD students is part of one of the 10 RG. The other group (b) is independent from the thematic focus of these RG. 


a) PhD students belonging to one of the RG are supervised by the leader of their RG, by a further professor from Bonn University and, thirdly, an external supervisor with expertise in the respective field of study.


b) PhD students without affiliation to the RG are part of a peer group that is headed by a peer-group leader (one of the PIs), who functions as a contact person during the four-year course of the program. Their supervision is guaranteed by one of the BCDSS’ PIs, as well as by another professor of Bonn University and, thirdly, an external supervisor who is expert in the respective field of study. PhD students will also locate their research within one of the five RA of the BCDSS.


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