Doctoral candidates

Doctoral candidates

at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

You are interested in working towards your doctorate as an Institute staff member? We welcome applications! The most important information can be found below.

What is the research environment at the Institute?

Daily work at our MPI is characterized by internationality and academic curiosity. Legal scholars from around the world come together to conduct comparative research on German, foreign, and international private law. The Institute’s library stands at the disposal of all staff members as well as the roughly 1,000 yearly guest researchers. With approximately 540,000 holdings compiled from more than 200 countries, it is Europe’s largest library specialized in foreign and international private law, and it boasts one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of private law.

Who will supervise my doctoral project and how can I expect to interact with other Institute researchers?

As a doctoral candidate, you will be assigned either to one of the three working groups led by our Directors, to a specific research group, or to one of the centres of regional expertise. Within this setting, you will exchange ideas on your research topic with other doctoral and postdoctoral candidates and you will be supervised by the respective director, the head of the research group, or the head of the centre of expertise. It is also possible to work under an external doctoral supervisor. In addition, you are always in a position to talk with the other scholars working at the Institute and to attend academic events and build your own network of contacts. In addition to working on your dissertation, where thematically appropriate you can participate in Institute projects and thus gain important experience in academic collaboration.

What kind of working space will I have at the Institute?

Every doctoral candidate receives an office space at the Institute, here in the heart of Hamburg. From your desk you will be able to access a comprehensive catalogue of national and international legal data banks.

The international working environment at the Institute will also benefit your work as a doctoral candidate. Renowned scholars from all over the world regularly visit the Institute, whether as attendees at international conferences and symposia or as guest researchers working in the Institute's library.

Will I receive financial support as a doctoral candidate at the Institute?

All doctoral candidates receive a doctoral research contract whose term covers the entire period foreseen for completion of the doctoral project (typically three years). The salary is set at 65% of the compensation figure prescribed for a category E13 employee under the Wage Agreement for Public Services (TVöD), as corresponding to a 39 hour workweek. The doctoral research contract serves to establish an employment relationship subject to statutory social security contributions such that you will not need to obtain private health insurance coverage.

The provided financial support is calculated so as to allow you to concentrate fully on your doctoral project. Supplementary work for another employer is as a general rule not compatible with your engagement as a doctoral candidate at the Institute. If you complete your legal traineeship (Rechtsreferendariat) or receive an external scholarship during your period of doctoral study, your working hours and compensation will be reduced accordingly by the MPI.

Should your dissertation project require participation in national and international conferences, this will also be financially supported. In addition, each junior researcher has the opportunity to spend up to three months abroad for research and study, e.g. in the context of a “visiting researcher” program. Participation in the Institute’s own exchange programs with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge is also possible.

As the Institute is exclusively a research institute, there is no obligation to instruct any university courses.

What additional programs are there at the Institute supporting doctoral candidates?

Young scholars who join the Institute as a doctoral candidates become part of a larger team of individuals working on their doctoral degrees or their postdoctoral or habilitation projects. This allows for an intensive academic exchange with similarly disposed individuals.

In addition to the guidance offered by the doctoral supervisor, the structured doctoral program at the MPI supports doctoral candidates during the entire duration of the preparation of their dissertation. The program is supervised by an experienced researcher already in possession of his or her doctorate and consists of three parts: an introductory workshop titled “Doctoral Thesis: Methods & Tools”; regular doctoral colloquia in which aspects of the doctoral project can be discussed or academic presentations refined; and individual discussions with the person overseeing the doctoral support program.

In addition, there is a lively exchange between the Institute’s doctoral candidates - for example at the weekly Stammtisch (“regulars’ table”) or the routine lunch break. Each year, the doctoral candidates elect from among themselves the doctoral student representative. This individual organizes academic exchange and is the contact point for new doctoral candidates at the Institute.

In terms of personal development, the Planck Academy of the Max Planck Society as well as internal Institute training courses offer an extensive range of workshops and seminars that are open to all Institute staff.

Furthermore, Institute doctoral candidates can become involved in PhDnet, the Germany-wide network of all MPG doctoral candidates. It serves as an exchange platform for its members and as a contact point for the doctoral student representatives at the individual institutes. In addition, the HanseHub has developed as a regional association, its comprising the Max Planck Institutes from Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, Greifswald, and Plön. The association meets on a recurring basis and allows participants to get to know the other institutes and to exchange ideas with other doctoral students in a smaller milieu.

What are the prerequisites for a position as a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute?

The primary requirement for a position as a doctoral candidate at the Institute is a documented interest in an area of research pursued by a Director, an Institute research group, or a centre of expertise. Information on our main research areas can be found here.

In addition, you should have passed the first state exam in law or have attained a comparable degree (including degrees earned outside Germany) with above-average results (at least vollbefriedigend). Further, you should have very strong German or English skills and, preferably, knowledge of at least one other language. The dissertation can be written in either German or English.

A further prerequisite is a willingness to work on international and interdisciplinary topics as well as on European and comparative legal issues.

What documents should I include with my application?

Applicants seeking a position as a doctoral candidate should submit the following documents through our application portal:

  • Cover letter, including information on the area of research in which you would like to write your dissertation
  • Comprehensive resume (tabular form)
  • Secondary school diploma (Abiturzeugnis)
  • Transcript of grades
  • Letters of reference (as appropriate)

The MPG supports the equal treatment of women and men and hopes that female candidates will feel especially addressed by this invitation to make application. The MPG is, furthermore, committed to employing a greater number of disabled individuals. Applications from disabled individuals is, therefore, particularly encouraged.

Who can I turn to with further questions?

Questions about doctoral candidate positions at our Institute can be addressed to the Human Resources Department at .

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