Doctoral Curriculum in the BIGSSS Regular PhD Program

The doctoral curriculum at BIGSSS follows a demand-tailored approach and employs a system of credit points (ECTS). You'll receive your program-specific curriculum upon program start. In general, BIGSSS Regular PhD fellows take a series of mandatory courses in the fields listed below. The coursework is distributed over the course of the three-year educational program. The curriculum starts with more general courses and moves on to more demand-tailored courses in later semesters. Also, the coursework becomes lighter over time to allow PhD fellows to focus on working on their individual dissertation projects.

Good Scientific Practice

BIGSSS has a clear mission to foster sound empirical research and scientific practice. For this reason, an Academic Integrity Workshop trains PhD fellows in the standards of good scientific practice, incl. data collection and storage and the prevention of academic misconduct, at the very beginning of the program during the orientation week.

Methods training

Also at the very beginning of the program, PhD fellows attend a Preparatory Forum in Social Science Methodology with various methods modules (about six), encouraging them to see their research question under different methodological perspectives and to become familiar with each other’s research interests — a prerequisite for the interdisciplinary work at BIGSSS. In later semesters, demand-tailored methods courses are organized according to the fellows' needs.

Theory training

The program-specific Social Science Theory Seminar introduces the major theoretical approaches relevant to the research topic in question. It takes an explicit interdisciplinary perspective.

Research design training

In the Proposal Workshop in the first semester, doctoral fellows apply the methods and theory knowledge which they acquire in the respective courses to their own dissertation projects. Instructed by a BIGSSS inhouse faculty member and with the support of their peers, PhD fellows work intensively on their research question and the design of their study and produce a sound research proposal which they will defend publicly in the second semester.

Interdisciplinary feedback on project progress

The doctoral colloquium is a feature of the curriculum for all six semesters. In this course, all PhD fellows from the different cohorts and faculty come together to present and discuss their research projects and results. To foster interdisciplinary exchange further, BIGSSS organizes a two-day Retreat in the second semester. Here, the newest cohorts present their dissertation projects to a cross-disciplinary audience. Team-building and leasure time activities are also on the agenda of these retreats.

Transferable and soft skill training

Over the course of the program, PhD fellows take part in different transferable skills courses, incl. academic writing and teaching/didactics. Furthermore, BIGSSS' Career Development Team organizes various workshops which foster soft skills requested by PhD fellows for their professional development.

Social Science Lecture Series

The Bremen Social Sciences jointly organize a Lecture Series/Jour Fixe Series every semester in which renowned international scholars speak on topics of interest across the broad spectrum of BIGSSS and the surrounding social science research institutes. BIGSSS PhD fellows take part in this lecture and invite experts in the fields of their research interests. 

Milestones on the Way to the PhD

Besides the curricular coursework, the BIGSSS Regular PhD program includes several PhD Milestones which fellows complete on the way to their doctorate.

Current BIGSSS Course Schedules

You'll find the current BIGSSS course schedules in the grey box on the left (desktop version) or bottom (mobile version) on the BIGSSS start page.