Doctoral Studies

Doctoral dissertations

Professors Binder, Kriebaum, Marboe, Reinisch, Waibel, and Wittich supervise dissertations in public international law as part of the doctoral programme in Law or the PhD in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies.

General requirements are suitable qualifications of the candidate and an appropriate dissertation topic.

The duration of the doctoral programme is 3 years. Further information on general admission requirements can be found here:

The Department does not have any scholarships/funding available for PhD students. The University has some funding available, Any questions about funding need to be directed to the University, rather than the Department for International Law.

1st Step: Apply for a Confirmation of willingness to supervise

To be admitted to the doctoral/PhD programme, one of the international law professors needs to confirm in writing that they are willing to supervise the project. You need to apply to the Department of International Law for a Confirmation of willingness to supervise. This first step precedes the application to the University for admission to the doctoral degree (see 2nd step below).

To obtain this confirmation from professors Binder, Kriebaum, Marboe, Reinisch, Waibel, and Wittich, you need to send a written application consisting of the following documents exclusively to the Secretariat of the Department of International law and International relations (Ms Martina Terp):

  1. Description of the dissertation project (1000 words maximum, plus references, up to one page)
  2. Name of the requested supervisor
  3. Letter of motivation (500 words maximum)
  4. Academic CV (1-3 pages)
  5. Copy of your Magister-Diploma or equivalent academic degree
  6. Transcripts of all academic degrees
  7. If applicable, reports on previously written papers (Diploma or LL.M. theses etc.)
  8. Optional: Evidence of English or German language ability (C1 level) (e.g. ÖSD, Goethe, TOEFL, IELTS).
  9. Optional: two letters of recommendation or names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of two referees who can speak to your aptitude for doctoral studies. Referees must send the letters of recommendation directly to the Secretariat.

Applications will be considered twice per year. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The deadlines to apply for the confirmation of willingness to supervise are May 31 and November 30. The department can only review applications on these two dates and therefore recommends to plan an application well in advance and to submit it at least 6 months before the planned start of the doctorate. Decisions on whether a and who will provide a confirmation of willingness to supervise will typically be made within a month of the deadline.

2nd Step: Apply to the University for Admission to the PhD

With the confirmation of willingness to supervise that you obtained in the first step, candidates can submit their Request for Admission online in u:space (with the required attachments) to the doctoral programme in Law or the PhD in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies. There is no deadline for such applications, but the processing takes time. DLE Research Services and Career Development/Centre for Doctoral Studies have sole responsibility for processing these requests.

You can only submit such an application once you have obtained the confirmation of willingness to supervise in the first step. The University rejects all applications without such a confirmation.

3rd Step: Doctoral thesis agreement

A doctoral thesis agreement will be concluded after a minimum of one semester and a maximum of two semesters of the doctoral/PhD programme. A further prerequisite to participate in this seminar is the successful completion of a lecture according to §5(2)(a) Doctoral Programme, e.g. 380024 VO Methods for doctoral students in International Law. The completion of a seminar from the dissertation subject, in an earlier or the same semester, is recommended. To obtain a doctoral thesis agreement with professors Binder, Kriebaum, Marboe, Reinisch, Waibel, or Wittich, candidates must in addition complete the joint ‘Seminar in International Law for the presentation of PhD Theses’ (SE380034; see § 5(2)(b) of the Curriculum) (usually in the second semester of doctoral studies). Candidates can only enrol in the methods lecture and the joint seminar if they have previously obtained the confirmation of willingness to supervise (see 1st step above).

During the seminar, dissertation projects are presented and discussed. After presentation of the exposé (approx. 20 minutes), all seminar participants receive detailed oral feedback on their dissertation projects.

The aim of the seminar is to assess whether the chosen topic and the chosen method(s) are suitable for a dissertation. If the assessment is positive, a dissertation agreement will be concluded. A dissertation agreement can also be made conditional on prior changes to the dissertation project. Depending on the scope of the requested changes, candidates will either be asked to submit a revise exposé or to present the project again in the following semester. In principle, the confirmation of willingness to supervise expires if the candidate does not successfully complete the joint dissertation seminar and if a dissertation agreement is not concluded within two semesters of admission to the doctoral programme.

The joint seminar is held each semester as a block seminar on one or two days towards the end of the semester (i.e. in December in the winter semester, and in May/June in the summer semester; the dates can be found in the course catalogue). The registration period ends in the first week of the semester. Presence at the preliminary meeting at the beginning of the semester and during the entire block seminar towards the end of the semester is obligatory. Exceptions require the written confirmation of a doctor or employer. In exceptional cases, participation in the dissertation seminar can take place via video conference.

At least one month before the block seminar, the following documents must be sent via Moodle. A plagiarism check will be carried out.

  1. Title page with topic and name
  2. Preliminary table of contents of the dissertation
  3. Exposé (5,000-7,000 words, with footnotes) about the dissertation project. In particular, this should contain the research questions, description of the issue, method to be applied and current state of research on the topic.
  4. Bibliography (around 3 pages)

Incomplete, underdeveloped and overlong exposés will be rejected and can only be submitted after revision in the following semester.

After the conclusion of a dissertation agreement, the dissertation topic can be registered and the written exposé can be uploaded to the faculty's homepage to meet the requirement of a public presentation.


Secretariat of the Department of International law and International relations:

Ms Martina Terp (