Step by Step to a Doctorate




BIGS-DR Courses

The BIGS-DR course program includes three blocks of courses spread over the first and third year of the program. At the end of module 1 and 2, students are expected to pass an exam.

Module I: Interdisciplinary Course

The interdisciplinary course gives BIGS-DR students different perspectives on the main research topics at ZEF. The aim is to provide them with interdisciplinary skills for their future doctoral research. This course provides a sound theoretical background and skills to address the complex and interlinked issues. This course is mandatory for all students.

Module II: Disciplinary Course

The disciplinary courses in economics, social sciences, and ecology, continue with the theoretical and methodological foundations for the different disciplines. These courses are mandatory for students of the respective discipline.

Module III

Training in topics as statistics & GIS, remote sensing, programming, SPSS and STATA, as well as soft skills


The ccourse program at BIGS-DR amounts to 30 ECTS credits (ECTS = European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). 

Students are required to finalize course module 1 and 2 and pass their exams prior to undertaking their field research. Students are given two attempts to pass an exam. Successful participation in the courses is a prerequisite to obtaining a doctoral degree supported by BIGS-DR.

During the first six to twelve months of residence in Bonn, students work with their tutor and supervisor on fine-tuning their proposals, developing the necessary budgets, and organizing the infrastructure as well as institutional arrangements in the host countries where they will conduct their research. Students have to present their proposal to the scholars in residence and the interested faculty for comments and suggestions before clearance is given to travel abroad.