The New System of PhD Studies
According to records, the first doctoral graduation ceremony to take place was held in Bologna in 1219 following official approval of the graduation regulations by Pope Honorius III. Of course, since then much has changed in the field of education. The Bologna Process, the most widespread reform of recent decades, is set to have a significant impact on higher education, including the area of doctoral studies: following the completion of a three-year course of studies, students will be awarded a "Doctor of..." or a "Doctor of Philosophy" (abbr. PhD) degree.
(Information on course specifications)
Independent scientific research comprising lies at the heart of the new system of PhD studies, and is accompanied by structured, curricular elements (min. to 60 ECTS-CP). In accordance with the European higher education structure, the Universities Austria recommendations and the Ten Salzburg Principles, the new PhD studies are constructed in a modular fashion. Every year, the range of PhD studies offered is the subject of a university-wide consultation process held prior to the final planning stage, with the aim of addressing possible common interests and benefits and assessing the curricular requirements of PhD students from all faculties and fields of study. This, along with other elements, ensures that the universitas litterarum Innsbruck is able to maximise its potential and promote projects that bring together scientists from a wide range of different disciplines to create common modules. Interdisciplinary co-operation and the promotion of young researchers represent central elements of the new PhD studies, with these foci being elevated to a transparent, binding level in the form of the Dissertation Agreement.
The students’ status as young researchers, also referred to as “early-stage researchers”, is consolidated by integrating them into the research community at an early stage. Therefore, PhD courses at the University of Innsbruck appeal in particular to students aiming for a scientific career or a high-level position in the fields of politics, economics and culture. With their status as early stage researchers established, PhD students in Innsbruck find themselves in a research environment which both supports and challenges them. The young researchers draw on the potential of a universitas litterarum with a long research tradition and benefit from a stimulating exchange process both between individual disciplines within the university and between the University of Innsbruck and other institutions. Through integration into the research community students are encouraged to discover the pleasure of publishing and presenting their work at an early stage. Furthermore, PhD students acquire skills to transfer knowledge and present it to non-experts in an appropriate way. Here, great scientists such as Galileo Galilei, Charles Darwin or Albert Einstein, whose fascinating work was all the more exceptional for being recognised and understood by the lay population of the time, serve as role models.
PhD students at the University of Innsbruck learn skills enabling them to make individual contributions to their respective fields of research that both extend the boundaries of knowledge within the discipline and withstand scrutiny from scientists at national and international level. Having acquired such skills in methods and scientific theory, PhD students create research projects individually and are able to carry out these in a responsible manner, with scientific integrity and taking into account relevant ethical issues.
The acquisition of knowledge, specific skills and generic skills takes place both as part of the student’s original research work as well as within the context of the structured curriculum. The lectures necessary for developing these skills are covered either by the course curriculum (for example, as part of student-organised workshops) or through courses open to all PhD students. A large number of blocked lectures enable students to work intensively on their Dissertations thanks to a relatively flexible time division model.