Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some frequently asked questions regarding a PhD at the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes”:

The documents needed for the application are:

  • An outline of your research project (for topics and formal requirements follow the links to the position announcements). This outline must be written in English.
  • A curriculum vitae
  • A copy of the degree certificates from institutes of higher education (including transcripts)
  • Two letters of reference from professors or scholars in similar position
  • proof of English proficiency

2. How is the PhD structured?
In the Graduate School, PhD projects in principle are designed to be finished within 3 years. The GS curriculum is taught in English and it rests on an introductory workshop and four pillars (s. figure 1). The curriculum is structured as a ‘buffet’ from which the students can choose the courses and training they need. The four pillars are: 1) the cluster module packages, 2) the optional courses (the buffet), 3) the bi-weekly colloquia, and 4) international workshops/meetings/summer schools. In addition to these activities, the students are required to submit internal grant applications for research funds. These are meant both as an educational and an evaluation measure.

Figure 1: PhD Programme.

The cluster modules, held during the first three semesters of the PhD studies, provide an interdisciplinary overview of the cluster themes (Table 1).

Module Package 1st  term 2nd  term 3rd  term
Cluster 1
Society and Reflection
Evaluating evidence: scientific standards and methodologies Conceiving and transforming landscapes: theoretical approaches Society and reflection in landscapes: case studies
Cluster 2
Social Space and Landscape
Basics of environmental research and landscape development Interpreting archives Reconstruction and interpretation of landscape development
Cluster 3
Adaptation and Innovation
Concepts, material evidence, historical sources Interpreting material evidence Reconstruction and interpretation

Table 1: Structure of the cluster module packages. During the 4th to 6th term the doctoral fellows must concentrate on writing their PhD dissertations.


In such a broad interdisciplinary school, one should not forget that each PhD student is already an expert in his/her field but might have limited knowledge in other research fields of Human Development in Landscapes. The 1st semester of the cluster modules bridges this particular gap, therefore the students are recommended to attend the three lecture series. The 2nd semester is organised as discussion sessions on cluster themes. Moving from a more passive approach to an active setting, doctoral fellows present their projects or a more general theme related to their own research during the 3rd semester.

The buffet of courses at the Graduate School offers different state-of-the-art research courses and introductions to expertise in diverse fields such as isotope analyses, radiocarbon dating, aDNA analyses, and maritime archaeology to mention some of them. Additionally the Graduate School offers courses to improve academic presentation skills, scientific writing, networking and the like. The doctoral students can also attend different training programmes available at the University of Kiel through International Centre and Graduate Centre (e.g. language courses, entrepreneurship, workshop on career perspectives).

2a. How is the supervision of my thesis organised?
As a rule, doctoral research at the GS is carried out under ‘dual supervision’, i.e. the supervision of two GS members entitled to advise doctoral theses. In the preferred situation, the primary and secondary supervisors represent different scientific disciplines and belong to different CAU Faculties. Additional external supervisors, preferably chosen from among the GS international partners, may be included in the project. In such cases the required cooperation agreement with the international partner institution is sought by the primary supervisor upon request of the doctoral student. The primary supervisor coordinates affairs with the responsible CAU Faculty and the external research facility.

2b. Are there any compulsory requirements at the Graduate School?
Yes, as a GS doctoral fellow you must live in Kiel or its surroundings. However, the GS encourages its PhD students to go abroad for a research exchange semester.
In general, you are expected to attend the GS academic activities, such as the GS Biweekly Colloquia during the full PhD period in order to guarantee an intensive interchange among researchers.

3. Do I have to speak German?
No, you don’t have to. As mentioned above, the PhD programme is taught in English. Nevertheless, it will enrich your stay in Germany and open to you many possibilities during and after your PhD. The university offers language courses for all levels. Currently the GS has a rate of about 30% of foreign doctoral fellows, whose mother tongue is not German.

4. Do I have to pay tuition fees?
No, there are no tuitions fees at the University of Kiel. This applies for German PhD fellows as well as for those from abroad.

The city is surrounded by green countryside and offers a wide offer of leisure activities: from water sport to art museums.
Besides this attractive atmosphere, the city of Kiel has relatively low living costs: The rent in the various dormitories is currently €140 to €320 per month. Flats are more expensive and their prices depend on the location and size. PhD fellows admitted to the programme can count on the support of the Graduate School and International Centre to start their life in Kiel.

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