Study Guidelines

Study Guidelines for the international doctoral (PhD) program in “Advanced Research in Urban Systems” (ARUS) in the Main Research Area “Urban Systems” at the University of Duisburg-Essen



§ 1 Purview

§ 2 ARUS Academic Committee

§ 3 Applications and Admissions to ARUS

§ 4 ARUS Academic Advising

§ 5 Content and Objectives of the ARUS Program

§ 6 Structure and Duration of the ARUS Program

§ 7 Academic Courses

§ 8 Credits/Certificates in the Preparatory Course

§ 9 Credits/Certificates in the Doctoral Program




§ 1 Purview

(1) The Study Guidelines set forth the objectives, content and structure of the international doctoral studies program ARUS.

(2) Structured course offerings and academic advising are integral components of ARUS.


§ 2 ARUS Academic Committee

(1) The Academic Committee is composed of professors and faculty from the Main Research Area “Urban Systems” who are actively involved in the ARUS Doctoral Program.

(2) Committee members are appointed upon request by the faculties and departments.

(3) The Academic Committee selects eligible doctoral candidates who are then formally enrolled by the individual faculties/departments of the University of Duisburg-Essen in accordance with the admissions requirements stated in the doctoral regulations of the said faculties/departments (pre-selection through the Academic Committee).

(4) The Academic Committee makes decisions on whether doctoral candidates remain in the ARUS program in accordance with § 8 (7) und § 9 (8).

(5) The committee is responsible for the cooperative advising program for doctoral students. 


§ 3 Applications and Admissions to ARUS

(1) To be admitted to the ARUS program, applicants must complete a written application and take part in an interview. The written application provides information about the subject matter of the applicant’s proposed dissertation, about the applicant’s academic performance, practical experience, experience in research and the applicant’s language skills. A short, informative description of the applicant’s proposed research project should include an abstract and central research questions and hypotheses.

(2) The general eligibility of prospective candidates is determined in the initial phase of screening applications and takes place as follows:

First, the ARUS project coordinator checks the applications received and sorts out those that are incomplete or invalid.

Next, the valid and complete applications (point 1) are evaluated by all members of the Academic Committee.

If an application is accepted in the initial screening phase, the applicant will be invited to a selection interview. At least two members of the Academic Committee take part in the selection interviews.

Applicants who perform well in the selection interviews are added to the Academic Committee’s list of preferred candidates. The doctoral studies committees of the faculties/departments (in the specific field of each candidate) then receive the list of preferred candidates and begin the formal procedure of enrolling the applicants.

The application period for the ARUS program is generally open until April 30 for applicants beginning in the following winter semester.



§ 4 ARUS Academic Advising

(1) The ARUS professors have collective responsibility for advising the doctoral candidates. Each doctoral candidate will be assigned to an academic advisor (from the University of Duisburg-Essen). Switching academic advisors is possible with the approval of the Academic Committee. 

(2) The academic advisor monitors the development of the doctoral student’s research and the progress the candidate is making with their dissertation; this is done by consulting a research schedule and by evaluating progress reports that the candidate must hand in every semester.


§ 5 Content and Objectives of the ARUS program

(1) The following objectives are to be achieved through the structured international doctoral studies program ARUS:


  • the integration of individualized and specific dissertation topics within the larger framework of the “Urban Systems” Main Research Area.
  • that doctoral candidates address broader issues generally or relatively related to their specific field of research.
  • that doctoral candidates learn through intensive training sessions to write, present, discuss and defend scientific theories and findings in an academically well-founded manner.
  • sharpening the candidates’ awareness of broad issues and questions related to urban studies by involving the candidates in the interdisciplinary and international research context provided by the “Urban Studies” Main Research Area.

(2) A central objective is to train and educate academically competent “urban researchers” who are familiar with interdisciplinary communication and issues.

(3) The Research Focus Areas are determined by the subject areas of the professors involved in the program, specifically City Planning and Urban Design, British and Anglophone Literature and Cultural Studies, Transport Systems and Logistics, Municipal Water and Waste Management, and the theories and methodology of Social Work and Urban Geography (Institute for Geography).

(4) Acquiring interdisciplinary competencies will be achieved through inductive learning processes in the candidates’ central disciplines and further reinforced through interdisciplinary courses and events, like colloquiums, conferences and workshops.


§ 6 Structure and Duration of the ARUS program

(1) The ARUS program begins each year at the beginning of the winter semester.

(2) The ARUS program is composed of a three-year doctoral studies program (standard duration of studies) and one preparatory year if necessary (in accordance with §8).

(3) Doctoral candidates are obliged to take specific courses in addition to their research. The types of courses and course load are delineated in §9.



§ 7 Courses

(1) Lectures outline subject areas in context in a concentrated form. They provide introductory and foundational knowledge as well as an overview of the subject.

(2) Seminars provide students more in-depth knowledge and help them develop interdisciplinary skills through inductive learning. Further, seminars provide students the opportunity to critically apply and reflect upon their knowledge while also providing space for them to acquire and improve their written and verbal communication skills.

(3) To improve the candidates’ research skills, practical tutorials will be offered, especially on research methodologies and how to write academic papers.

(4) The colloquiums (one at the end of the third semester and another at the beginning of the sixth semester) offer each doctoral candidate the opportunity to present and discuss the topics of their dissertation in the presence of their professors and peers. The second colloquium is also planned as a Profor (Forum for Doctoral Students at the University of Duisburg-Essen) event and is open to a wider audience of regional researchers and research institutes.

(5) ARUS doctoral candidates also have the opportunity to acquire teaching experience. Doctoral students in the fourth and fifth semesters of their studies may take part in a competition to receive an appointment to teach a course at the university. The Academic Committee chooses a maximum of two candidates after reviewing their proposed course outlines. The committee then assists the successful candidates in the formal process of applying for a ‘temporary lectureship’ in cooperation with the faculty/department where the course will be taught. ARUS doctoral candidates are only allowed to teach one course at the university.


§ 8 Credits/Certificates in the Preparatory Course

(1) In the preparatory course, doctoral candidates take part in courses and work on their Research Prospectus.

(2) The courses that must be taken are one lecture in the candidate’s area of research, one practical tutorial on scientific methods/academic methodologies, and one seminar. Students must attain participation certificates for lectures and tutorials and will receive a graded credit for the seminar.

(3) The main focus of the preparatory course is the development of and written presentation of a well-founded Research Prospectus (including a clear research question/thesis statement, an overview of proposed research, presentation of fundamental methods and, if applicable, the empirical foundation of the dissertation).

(4) Doctoral candidates select courses based on the topic of their proposed dissertations and in consultation with their academic advisor.

(5) Courses to be taken in the preparatory course are those offered as part of the “Urban Systems” Main Research Area. However, students may attend other courses at the University of Duisburg-Essen or courses offered by “Urban Systems” partner institutions with the permission of their academic advisor.

(6) To complete the preparatory courses, students must receive credit for their course work. Students receive certificates for successfully completing lectures and tutorials. To successfully complete seminars, students must complete a final task, often in the form of a presentation and term papers. The successful completion of the Research Prospectus will be confirmed in writing by the student’s academic advisor. Admission to the Doctoral Studies program is confirmed by the Academic Committee.

(7) If the student’s academic advisor deems the student’s Research Prospectus to be inadequate or if the student’s grade average is less than 2.5, then the Academic Committee will deliberate on the candidate’s further status in the ARUS program.


§ 9 Credits/Certificates in the Doctoral Program

(1) The doctoral studies program is divided into a study period (1st and 3rd semesters) and a research period (2nd and 4th semesters). Candidates primarily attend academic courses during the study period. Dependent on the subject area of the dissertation, the candidate will carry out empirical field studies, literature studies, laboratory analysis, etc. in the research period. A two-semester writing period follows in which the doctoral candidates present their theses and findings to peers and experts in the doctoral colloquium “Agora junger ForscherInnen” (“Young Researchers’ Forum”). This period is also for fleshing out and polishing the written dissertation.

(2) The courses that must be taken are two seminars, two lectures, a practical tutorial on scientific methods/academic methodologies, two colloquiums (one as part of the ‘Profor’ “Young Researchers’ Forum”) and active participation (a talk) at an international research conference (appropriate to the dissertation topic) in Germany or abroad. The Academic Committee makes all decisions regarding exceptions.   

(3) Courses to be taken in the doctoral studies course are those offered as part of the “Urban Systems” Main Research Area. However, students may attend other courses at the University of Duisburg-Essen or courses offered by “Urban Systems” partner institutions with the permission of their academic advisor.

(4) Credits earned in other programs, departments, or institutions can be transferred if the Academic Committee assesses them as equivalent to the academic standards of similar courses offered at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

(5) Doctoral students must earn eight credits/certificates to successfully complete the doctoral studies program. Both seminars must be graded, meaning that students must hold presentations and hand in term papers. The grade average for both seminars must be 2.5 or higher. Students will receive participation certificates for both lectures and for the tutorial. The academic advisor will issue certificates for successful participation in both colloquiums and the research conference.

(6) In order to ensure that the doctoral studies program is interdisciplinary, the seminars must be taken in two different subject areas/departments, in accordance with §5 (3).

(7) In order to initiate the dissertation review period, in accordance with §7 of the general doctoral study regulations (Musterpromotionsordnung) of the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Doctoral Committee of the individual candidate’s faculty/department must receive a transcript of credits/certificates.

(8) The continuous assessment of doctoral candidates will be documented (in addition to the credits and certificates from course work) in Progress Reports to be handed in at the end of each semester.

(a) The doctoral candidate submits the progress reports to their academic advisor so that both parties can discuss the student’s progress in their course work and in their research.

(b) Should the student’s marks or research progress be inadequate, the academic advisor will inform the Academic Committee, which will deliberate about the student’s further status in the program, in accordance with §2 (4)

(9) Successfully completing the doctoral studies program (the course work outlined above) is a prerequisite for the period of review of the candidate’s dissertation (assessment and defense). When the Academic Committee confirms the successful completion of the doctoral studies program, the dissertation review procedure will follow the regulations of the doctoral study regulations relevant to the individual candidate.