Step by Step to a Doctorate




BIGS-DR Courses

The BIGS-DR course program includes three modules. At the end of module 1 and 2, students have to pass an exam.

Module I: Interdisciplinary Course

The interdisciplinary course offers BIGS-DR students different perspectives on the main research topics at ZEF. The course takes place during the first two months and provides interdisciplinary skills for doctoral research and a sound theoretical background to address complex and interlinked research topics. This course is mandatory for all BIGS-DR students. It ends with a workshop on intercultural training and Research Ethics. An example for the course program can be found here:

Module II: Disciplinary Course

The disciplinary courses in economics, social sciences, and ecology deepens the theoretical and methodological foundations for the different disciplines. These courses are mandatory for BIGS-DR students of the respective discipline. Examples for disciplinary courses can be found here:

Module III: Softskills and Tools

Throughout the year trainings in statistics, GIS, remote sensing, programming, SPSS, STATA, and soft skills are offered by BIGS-DR and BIGS. Students choose the workshops according to their needs.


The course 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.

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

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