PhD students pursue a rigorous but flexible doctoral curriculum, with several shared classes (core courses) and specialization courses.

Course Structure

The coursework amounts to a maximum of 60 ECTS out of 180 for the overall programme, thus 120 ECTS will be credited for the successful completion of the dissertation. Additionally, the programme seeks to impart pedagogical skills to doctoral students as the majority of them are expected to become educators in institutions of higher learning.

Students will take three courses during the first year: research methods, introduction to current debates in Global Studies including Global History and International Studies (1st term), new regionalisms in Africa in a global and comparative perspective (2nd term). The core courses will help students lay the groundwork for their dissertation research, acquainting them with an understanding of research design, theories, and practical research skills that may be applied in the research and writing of their dissertations.

Beginning with the second semester of the first year, students will be required to take specialty courses in their chosen field of specialization – international studies, transnational and global history, the comparative study of peace and security in Africa.  In this package, there are three courses (working groups) where students are expected to present papers from their own research and to relate it to the overall topic of the course. One has to choose one of the courses from the two offered during their stay in Leipzig on international studies and on transnational/global history. The third course on peace and security in Africa, taught at AAU in the fourth semester, is compulsory.

Discussion of the progress with the individual research project and of the relationship between the individual dissertation and the programme’s overall aims happens at the colloquium, which will be held over all the six semesters of the programme. PhD-students are expected to present regularly sub-chapters of their dissertations at this occasion.

The research part of the programme leads to a PhD dissertation, which at the end of the period of study must be publicly defended, and approved by the Board of Examiners appointed by the two Universities. The Board of Examiners can consist of internal and external scholars. Internal examiners are those with an appointment at Addis Ababa University (AAU) or at Leipzig University (UL), while external examiners are those who work outside of the AAU and UL systems respectively.

The dissertation is intended to be an independent, academic work of international standard, which had not previously been presented to any university for an award of degree. The dissertation should contribute to the development of knowledge in its field, and be of sufficient quality for it to be considered publishable within the field’s academic literature.

During the first semester of their admission, doctoral students will be required to prepare a research proposal for their dissertation. After six months of their admission, they are required to submit a substantiated and detailed dissertation proposal and work plan (about 4000 words including information about the research question, the material to be explored and the methods to be applied to the material, the current state of the art and a bibliography).

IPSS and GESI will establish an interdisciplinary PhD colloquium where doctoral candidates are required to present their draft chapters/findings twice a year. Moreover, at the end of every semester both doctoral candidates and their respective supervisors formally report to the thesis committee and the steering committee about the progress of the dissertation project.

Our Partner: Institute for Peace and Security Studies

The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), our cooperation partner at Addis Ababa University was founded in 2007. The idea was to set up a research center for peace and security at the Horn of Africa. Further propelled was the development of IPSS when it received the status of an excellence center by Addis Ababa University in 2010. The institute has developed from a small group of academics to an important hub of research and innovation with five study programmes. The University of Pennsylvania ranks it („Global Go to Think Tank Index Reports“ ) as one of the 50 most important think tanks in Africa.

Regular students but also senior executives of international organizations seek to advance their career with one of the programmes that IPSS offers. The emphasis is laid on academic knowledge produced locally. Rather than focusing on Anglophone Africa, as is common in social science research on the continent, our program pays particular attention to the Horn of Africa, including an all-African and pan-African perspective. IPSS hosts conferences, panel discussions and policy, which are attended by high ranking officials, representative of embassies and directors of international organizations. IPSS is at the heart of African politics, due to its location in Addis Ababa and its connections to the political community. Students can start to develop their personal networks, get contacts for an internship and create job opportunities.


Dr. Steffi Marung, Director of the Global and European Studies Institute

Prof. Dr. Ulf Engel, Lecturer

Dr. Gilad Ben-Nun, Lecturer

Janine Kläge, Coordinator in Lezipzig

Karen Silva Torres, Lecturer and part of the coordination in Leipzig


Dr. Fana Gebresenbet, Interim Director, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University

Dr. Yohannes Tekalign Beza, Koordinator in Addis, Addis Ababa University