International Programmes 2018/2019

Public International Law: Human Rights - International Economic and Environmental Law - International Criminal Law Doctoral Programme in Public International Law

University of Göttingen • Göttingen

Doctoral degree or degree awarded by
University of Göttingen, Faculty of Law
Course location
Teaching language
  • German
  • English

The course selection is free. Courses in English and German are available. It is possible to take English courses only to fulfil the credits criteria.

Programme duration
6 semesters
Winter semester
Application deadline

End of March each year for the following winter semester

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

The Faculty of Law at the University of Göttingen welcomes the application of students pursuing a doctorate degree in the fields of international law, European law, and comparative law and intending to write their doctoral theses in English. 

The objective of the six-semester programme is to prepare students for a successful legal career in academia and international practice. By providing courses for academic research and additional skills, the programme will help students to gain an in-depth understanding of international law in general and their field of specialisation in particular. The University of Göttingen and the Institute of International and European Law have a strong tradition in international law which dates back to 1737. Today, the institute covers research in many fields of international law, such as general international law, human rights law, international economic and environmental law, European law, and international criminal law. The doctoral candidates will be fully integrated into the academic life of the Institute of International and European Law and will benefit from and contribute to the intellectual exchange there. 

While conducting their research studies, doctoral students can rely on guidance offered by the dedicated and experienced members of the programme committee, who are involved both in theory and practice in their respective fields. A structured approach which includes constant feedback through discussions, evaluation of preliminary conclusions and presentations will help doctoral students on their way to accomplish their research project and ensure profound academic results. 

Additionally, the programme is part of the Göttingen Graduate School of Social Sciences (GGG) which is a unique platform to explore methodological and interdisciplinary approaches and to develop managing and organisational skills invaluable for the future professional life of the doctoral candidates. Moreover, it offers the doctoral students a variety of professional courses for the development of academic skills such as writing and publishing in English. Further information about the graduate school is available on the GGG website.

Course organisation

Module A
Courses for doctoral students (10 credits)

A total of 10 credits are to be gained in the following courses for doctoral students. The doctoral students will take part regularly in a doctoral colloquium on current developments in their respective fields of law and report on their plans and the results of their research. Presentations related to their doctoral projects given at institute seminars may be awarded credits. Furthermore, doctoral candidates will take part in discussion groups with researchers from Göttingen and visiting researchers as well as in the doctoral seminars that take place regularly once a semester. The main supervisor must receive a progress report every six months. Following completion of two semesters, the doctoral students will evaluate and take stock of their work so far within the context of the doctoral seminar.

Available courses:

  • Doctoral Colloquium: on current developments of Public International Law (Human Rights - International Economic and Environmental Law - International Criminal Law)
  • Seminar for Doctoral Students (each semester)
  • Discussion groups

Module B 
Courses in Public International Law (6 credits)

The doctoral candidates will take part in international law classes offered in English language. Doctoral students whose native language is not German may instead take part in the course "Introduction to German Legal Terminology and Legal Methodology for Foreign Students" ("Einführung in die deutsche Rechtssprache und juristische Arbeitsmethoden für ausländische Studierende") or similar courses.

Doctoral candidates choose their coursework (6 credits) among the following courses:

  • Cases and Developments in Public International Law (summer, winter) 
  • Cases and Developments in International Criminal Law (summer)
  • Cases and Developments in International Economic Law (summer)
  • Public International Law II (summer)
  • Individuals in Public International Law (winter)
  • Einführung in die deutsche Rechtssprache und juristische Arbeitsmethoden für ausländische Studierende

Module C 
Academic skills (3 credits) 

Doctoral students will attend courses, especially those offered by the GGG, that aim to develop and enhance their methodological skills. They should gain competence in academic writing, academic work methods and publication as well as academic project management among other skills. Besides this, doctoral candidates will take part in the GGG's methodology week.

Doctoral candidates choose their coursework (3 credits) among the following courses:

  • Project Management in International Contexts
  • Motivation and Success: Mastering Difficult Situations with More Ease
  • Academic Writing: Effective Strategies for Publishing in English
  • Slide Writing - Optimise Your Own Academic Presentation
  • Gute wissenschaftliche Praxis
  • Interdisciplinary Methodological Week

Module D
Key qualification and academic communication (5 credits) 

Doctoral candidates will take part in courses that aim to improve and enhance their presentation techniques or in courses on didactics or rhetoric. If their native language is not German, they can complete language courses in German up to level C2. Otherwise, they can take courses in other languages (e.g., "Academic English"), give an academic paper at a national or international conference or publish in a specialist legal journal.

Doctoral candidates choose their coursework (3 credits) among the following courses:

  • Academic Presentations (Presentations and Public Speaking)
  • Teaching Skills (Introduction to Teaching & Learning in Higher Education)
  • Rhetoric Skills (Presentations and Public Speaking)
  • German language course for non-native speakers (up to C2)
  • Academic English courses (Applied Writing Skills [3 credits], Academic Writing)
  • Foreign language courses
  • Alternatively, presentation at a national or international conference or publishing in a legal journal
Types of assessment

Common application procedure

A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements
  • Specialist literature in other languages
  • Courses are led with foreign partners
  • International comparisons and thematic reference to the international context
Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution
Enrolment fees are approx. 340 EUR per semester. The fees include a prepaid semester ticket that entitles students to use regional trains (in Lower Saxony and Bremen) and city buses in Göttingen free of charge. Students of the University of Göttingen receive discounts for cultural events. Meals and drinks are also available at reduced prices at all university canteens.
Costs of living
The average cost of living in Göttingen is modest compared to other major university cities in Germany. Currently, expenses for accommodation, food, health insurance and books are approx. 800 EUR per month. Please note that fees for health insurance may vary according to age. Living expenses might be slightly higher.
Funding opportunities within the university
Academic Admission Requirements

Entry requirements of the faculty:

1. A successfully completed university degree in accordance with § 2 (2) of the degree regulations for the doctoral programme "Public International Law: Human Rights – International Economic and Environmental Law – International Criminal Law" (the degree regulations)

2. Satisfactory English skills in accordance with § 2 (3) of the degree regulations

3. Written confirmation of supervision by two members of the programme committee, based upon a research proposal produced by the candidate and an interview with at least one of these two members of the programme committee

4. Recommendation of the programme committee

To fulfil the requirements, please apply via submission of the following documents in a PDF format:

• an up-to-date CV

• a personal statement explaining your achievements and interest in the programme (1-2 pages, typewritten in English)

• certified copies of diplomas and transcripts in accordance with § 2 (2) of the degree regulations (accompanied by an English translation if necessary)

• a proof of satisfactory English skills in accordance with § 2 (3) of the degree regulations

• a research proposal (10-15 pages, typewritten in English)

• a list of publications (if available)

• other relevant documents and certificates which support the application (if available)

Language requirements

Satisfactory English skills

Application deadline

End of March each year for the following winter semester

Submit application to

Institut für Völker- und Europarecht

z.H. Maik Knaust

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5

37073 Göttingen

Possibility of finding part-time employment

Part-time employment is possible under special circumstances.


The programme coordinator supports accepted candidates while searching for accommodation.

In Göttingen, the International Office, in collaboration with the "Studentenwerk", helps students to find accommodation. Many international students live in student residence halls. The residence halls have single apartments or shared apartments with individual rooms. There are also apartments available for couples and families with children.
Please note that for doctoral students, accommodation services are only available if you have a low income.

Structured research and supervision
Research training / discussion
Specific specialist or non-specialist support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Buddy programme
  • Tutors
  • Specialist counselling

University of Göttingen

University of Göttingen – Committed to Excellence

Founded in 1737, the University of Göttingen is a research-led university of high international standing. The university is renowned for its diverse range of academic disciplines, its research-oriented teaching, and its outstanding scientific environment, in which more than 40 Nobel laureates have studied, taught, or pursued their research. Currently, 31,650 students are enrolled at the University of Göttingen, 13 percent of whom are international students.

Variety of study programmes
The University of Göttingen offers a vast variety of academic programmes for undergraduate and graduate studies. Internationally renowned, expert researchers teach in more than 40 academic disciplines. About 30 full-time undergraduate and graduate programmes are taught entirely in English. Two international fast-track MSc/PhD programmes prepare students for unique careers in scientific research. Additionally, a growing number of double degree programmes with important international universities are available.

Guidance, supervision, and study conditions
Students are given comprehensive advisory and supervisory support in all phases of their studies. Since advice and guidance are crucially important for the successful outcome of a university career, the university is constantly improving and extending its performance in this area. You will also greatly benefit from the so-called "Studienqualitätsmittel", financial support from the federal state of Lower Saxony, which is paid to finance the best study conditions you can imagine.

Excellent library
Göttingen State and University Library (SUB) maintains a top position among German academic libraries, holding eight million books, journals and other media and offering a broad range of services for study and research. The library plays a leading role in a large number of national and international projects involving the optimisation of literature and information provision as well as the establishment and development of digital research and information infrastructures.

Alumni worldwide
As a member of the Alumni Network, you will continue to be part of the international "Göttingen University Family" even after you have finished your studies. The network currently unites more than 30,000 alumni from all over the world.




University Location

Göttingen – a good place to live and study
Göttingen, with a population of approx. 116,000, is a city where tradition and innovation complement one another perfectly. The historic quarter with its excellently preserved timber-framed houses and the University of Göttingen with its 31,650 students create a lively atmosphere that would be hard to find elsewhere.
The university departments and buildings are mainly located on two campuses and are within easy walking or cycling distance from each other. Accommodation for 5,000 students and excellent canteens run by the student services organisation ("Studentenwerk") allow for a high quality of life at a low cost.
The local economy includes many innovative technology enterprises in the sectors of measurement and control engineering, biotechnology, optics, medical technology, and information technology. Some of these companies are spin-offs from university research projects. Many of them offer internships and student jobs.
The university cooperates closely with non-university research institutes in Göttingen. Together, they form the Göttingen Campus – a network of cutting-edge research institutes. This network includes five Max Planck Institutes and the Göttingen Academy of Sciences as well as the German Primate Center and the German Aerospace Center. The Göttingen Campus has created an open environment in which students at all levels (Bachelor's, Master's or PhD) as well as experienced researchers can develop fresh and innovative ideas. Numerous scientists and scholars from the non-university research institutes lecture at the university, and joint professorial appointments create bridges between the university and campus partners. This structure supports the reputation of the University of Göttingen as one of the most successful research-oriented universities in Germany.
Situated in the geographical centre of Germany and Europe, Göttingen has excellent travel connections: Berlin, Hamburg, and Frankfurt are only a two-hour train ride away. But you don't have to go that far to take a break; Göttingen itself offers many options for recreational activities. Göttingen boasts three theatres and a symphony orchestra. Many cinemas, cafés, and pubs provide numerous opportunities to meet like-minded people and to enjoy yourself. Alternatively, you can play an active role in the student union, which sponsors many cultural and recreational events. Last but not least, the city and the university offer a variety of activities for sports enthusiasts.