Research, Structure, and Training

  • Research

    The GIGA is an independent research institute that conducts social-science research with real-world relevance on Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and on global developments. Our Doctoral Researchers are active members of the GIGA’s institutional and research life. Based on their individual thematic orientations, they are member of one regional institute and one research programme and they actively participate in the regular meetings of these research units. This institutional setting allows doctoral researchers to conduct independent research, engage in academic debates about their own and other peoples’ work, and acquire the key skills for a successful academic career. As members of the GIGA Doctoral Programme Doctoral Researchers benefit from the continuous exchange of research ideas and knowledge that takes place at the institute. Within this process they become part of different research fields and work alongside senior scholars, thus gaining experience in a variety of academic approaches and receiving support as they establish their individual profiles as independent researchers.


    The GIGA Doctoral Programme is a three-year structured programme. The tailored training comprises regular courses in core social science modules as well as soft skills. A monthly colloquium and research team meetings provide Doctoral Researchers with different formats to present and discuss their work. The evaluation of progress is ensured by at least two doctoral board meetings. As a non-university research institute, the GIGA cannot award the doctoral degree but cooperates closely with different universities. Our Doctoral Researchers enrol at the university that their first supervisor is affiliated with. In accordance with the Leibniz guidelines on career development, the GIGA acknowledges that it is far more usual for a doctorate to take longer than three years; our Doctoral Researchers remain members of the Doctoral Programme and integrated into the institute's structures until their defense.

    Graphic of Doctoral Programme Structure
    © GIGA
    Graphic of Doctoral Programme Structure
    © GIGA
    • First academic year: An agreement between the Doctoral Researcher and the GIGA regulates the specific rights and obligations of both parties throughout the course of studies. In addition, Doctoral Researchers sign a supervision agreement with their supervisor ensuring that the doctoral research project is transparently organized in terms of content and timeline. In accordance with the degree regulations (Promotionsordnung) of their respective universities, Doctoral Researchers may complete their dissertation projects either as monographs or as article-based theses. During their first academic year, Doctoral Researchers are required to participate in the course prorgamme, present their work at the research colloquium or in one of the research teams and to conduct their first doctoral board meeting.

    • Second academic year: All Doctoral Researchers are expected to revise their timetables and have them approved by their supervisors in order to ensure that their theses are completed in draft form by the end of the third year. Doctoral Researchers are expected to conduct substantive research (including field research, if applicable) and develop a clear and detailed model to facilitate the writing of their empirical chapters or papers. By the end of the second year, Doctoral Researchers should have presented once at the research colloquium and once in the research team, should have passed the second doctoral board meeting, and should have completed three-quarters of the required credit points.

    • Third academic year: All Doctoral Researchers are required to revise and complete the chapters or papers of their theses and to complete the required number of credit points. By the end of the third year, Doctoral Researchers are expected to submit their theses or collection of articles to their universities in accordance with the respective degree regulations.


    The GIGA Doctoral Programme offers an institutional setting that allows Doctoral Researchers to conduct independent research, engage in academic debates, and acquire key skills for a successful academic career. We seek to train talented young researchers in core social science modules as well as soft skills for them to

    • gain an overview and solid understanding of social science basics and standards in order for them to develop “a common language”,

    • demonstrate a command and understanding of methodological approaches,

    • learn from the GIGA’s distinct research agenda and culture,

    • get the most out of the DP’s diversity in terms of mutual support and exchange, a broad social science understanding, and the proficiency to transfer specialized knowledge to different target audiences.

    The training of the GIGA Doctoral Programme comprises high-quality courses taught by in-house specialists as well as experts from around the world. It consists of core social science modules that are relevant for all Doctoral Researchers' projects. The modules are complemented by sessions on concrete examples from GIGA research. Soft skills seminars round off the training. In addition, Doctoral Researchers take methods courses at their universities according to their individual profiles and specialisations or participate in other external courses, such as summer or winter schools. All courses fulfil ECTS standards in accordance with the degree regulations of our partner universities.

    • The winter term consists of three core modules that provide Doctoral Researchers from different disciplines and backgrounds with the theoretical and methodological tools necessary to conduct research in the social sciences. The training focuses on philosophy of science, concept formation and measurement, and research design and practice. The soft skills seminars train Doctoral Researchers in academic writing, presentation and moderation skills, as well as intercultural competence.

    • The summer term encompasses three further core modules that serve to deepen Doctoral Researchers’ knowledge of how to conduct social science research. The courses focus on interdisciplinary research as well as field research including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The additional soft skills training covers the topics of publishing and project management and offers a doctoral defense training for the Doctoral Researchers that are close to submitting their theses.

    • Besides the training, there is a monthly research colloquium – a format for mutual exchange between research staff at different levels as well as across disciplines – that provide Doctoral Researchers with a forum to present their research in a simple way and receive feedback from a broad audience. The GIGA’s Research Teams provide Doctoral Researchers with another forum for exchange that allows them to discuss their projects with peers and receiving feedback from the relevant expert audience.


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