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Curriculum

The three-year curriculum includes seminars in theory and methodology, as well as research colloquia, where students will have the opportunity to present their dissertation projects to their peers, the Principal Investigators, and visiting scholars from Germany and abroad. Language courses, workshops, and additional seminars at other academic institutions in Berlin will also be offered. These will be geared to the specific needs of the doctoral students.

In order to foster communication skills and teamwork and as a supplement to the seminars, students can set up reading and discussion groups relating to particular research areas. The teaching programme is rounded off with courses that provide guidance on scientific working methods. Knowledge transfer/management courses and workshops will provide students with key qualifications pertinent to their future careers.

Students are encouraged to participate in conferences and join existing research groups at other academic institutions. In addition to this, they also have the opportunity to gain some initial teaching experience if this is an area of interest.


To successfully participate in the study programme, students must earn a total of 30 credit points during the three-year programme:

  • Induction (2 CP)
  • Theory and Methods Seminar (4 CP)
  • Research Colloquium I (4 CP)
  • Research Colloquium II (4 CP)
  • Flexible courses and other research- or career-related activities (16 CP)


In the first year, doctoral candidates enhance their theoretical and methodological skills with a view to refining the main questions of their research project. Students also have the opportunity to engage in preliminary fieldwork for a maximum of three months.

In the second year, doctoral candidates predominantly engage in field research, accompanied by work in archives and libraries.

At the end of both the first and the second year, doctoral students will be required to submit a draft chapter of 20–30 pages, which will be evaluated by the doctoral committee. A positive evaluation at the end of the first year is required in order to allow further participation in the Graduate School programme.

In the third year, doctoral candidates discuss the results of their research and write their doctoral thesis. They are also encouraged to embark on career planning.

Doctoral students will be individually supervised by an interdisciplinary doctoral committee composed of a Principal Investigator and two additional supervisors.

Doctoral students participating in the programme of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies are also members of the Dahlem Research School and will be enrolled as doctoral students at either Freie Universität Berlin or Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, depending upon the affiliation of their Principal Investigator.

Dissertations may be submitted in English or German. On a case-by-case basis, approval may be given for dissertations written in another language. English is the primary language of communication.