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Training Programme

The PIER Helmholtz Graduate School’s training programme encompasses three pillars:
Qualification – Interdisciplinarity – Support:

  • Pillar 1 provides the framework for structured professional qualification
  • Pillar 2 describes the interdisciplinary approach to this qualification
  • Pillar 3 explains how doctoral candidates are optimally supported
1. Study programme

In the study programme, doctoral students acquire:

  • Professional skills in their main research field
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge in the context of the PIER research fields
  • Key skills

Doctoral students who successfully complete the study programme of the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School receive a certificate and a transcript of records. The effort of the study programme is calculated on the basis of credit points (CP).

A successful completion of the study programme requires 17 credit points: A minimum of 14 CP in the area of professional skills (categories A and B) and 3 CP in the area of key skills (category C):

A) Project-related group seminars and workshops in the main research field: 6 CP

  • Research training groups, graduate schools, work groups or institute seminars
  • Participation in workshops and conferences in or outside Hamburg

B) Professional qualification in the PIER research fields: 8 CP

  • PIER PhD seminar: active participation for at least one semester, including a presentation
  • PIER Graduate Week
  • Subject-specific courses from the curricula of Universität Hamburg’s master’s programmes (or other universities)
  • Participation in workshops, winter or summer schools and lecture weeks
  • New: Participation in Programming Courses (Python, Matlab, Artificial intelligence, Quantum Computing etc.)

C) Obtaining key skills: 3 CP


  • 1 credit point = 15 x 45 minute sessions.
  • The calculation of credit points includes the workload for lectures, posters, etc.
  • Block seminars: 1 day = 0.5 CP, 2 days = 1 CP, etc. Half-day block seminars can also be credited. Block courses are credited with a maximum of 10 days / 5 CP.
  • Language courses: the provider fixes the amount of semester hours. Courses at PIER Helmholtz Graduate School: 2 CP.
  • Participation in master modules of Universität Hamburg: Semester hours/ credit points as accredited by the university.
  • The nature of the course work performance (Studienleistungen) is defined at the beginning of the course by the lecturer. Lecturers can credit additional individual effort of doctoral students with additional work or credit points.
  • Own teaching at the university can be credited with a maximum of 2 CP in the area key competences (C).
  • A written confirmation of attendance by the organiser, lecturer or supervisor is required for each course/workshop/conference. Doctoral students are asked to upload each attendance confirmation in the PIER database.
2. Interdisciplinarity

Various interdisciplinary events in the PIER research fields provide participants with the basis for lively scientific discourse. The spectrum of events ranges from cross-curricular doctoral seminars that the participants organise themselves to interdisciplinary lecture weeks.

  • PIER PhD seminar by and for doctoral candidates: The event provides participants with a forum for interdisciplinary scientific discourse and for networking within the PIER research fields. Every participant holds a presentation about his or her main research field. The interdisciplinary nature of the event means that participants are faced with the challenge of communicating their research activities to a non-specialist audience.

  • Regular interdisciplinary events at the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School: Interdisciplinary workshops in the PIER research fields are offered to the doctoral candidates during the PIER Annual Retreat, PIER Lecture Week and PIER Symposium.

  • Innovative events in which doctoral candidates learn to communicate their research fields to a non-specialist audience: e.g. Science Slam, Scientific Speed Dating.

  • Doctoral candidates receive financial support for participation in interdisciplinary events that are subject to a fee or are held outside Hamburg.

  • Doctoral candidates receive financial support to organise/hold interdisciplinary events/workshops.

  • Doctoral candidates receive financial support from the PIER Idea Fund. The fund helps doctoral candidates find, try out, enhance and implement new research and development ideas in the four PIER research fields.
3. Support

The third PHGS pillar is support. Optimal scientific support is crucial for enabling doctoral candidates to complete their dissertations quickly and successfully. Extracurricular services concerning career planning and social networking also help participants successfully complete their dissertations and embark smoothly on their careers.

Scientific support
At the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School, every doctoral candidate is supported by a team of supervisors. The team consists of a primary supervisor (from the research field in which the dissertation is being written) and at least one secondary supervisor (from another PIER research field, if possible). The formal conditions for supervision are defined in the respective Doctoral Degree Regulations of the University where the PhD student is admitted. For PhD students at University of Hamburg the Doctoral Degree Regulations of the Faculty for Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences apply. The formal conditions that a supervisor has to fulfil are specified in §6 (3): At least one supervisor must be a full-time professor or `habilitated´ member with an employment in the MIN faculty. In accordance with §4, a panel of supervisors, consisting of three people including a chair, a supervisor and a co-supervisor, can be appointed upon recommendation of the applicant as well. 

At the beginning of their collaboration, the supervisors and the doctoral candidate sign the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School supervision agreement. This agreement contains binding regulations for the following points:

The supervisors cooperate with the doctoral candidate to draw up an individual work plan and time schedule for him or her The doctoral candidate must write a brief interim report at least once a year. He or she must also keep a brief log that provides feedback on the way the dissertation is progressing. This log serves as the basis for the next meeting with the supervisors. After the meeting, the doctoral candidate and the supervisors sign the log and forward it to the PIER Helmholtz Graduate School. The graduate school provides a template for the log. The doctoral candidate regularly meets with his or her supervisors in order to ensure that the dissertation is of high quality and will be completed on time

The supervisors can also make agreements with the doctoral candidate about other issues such as further training and education, career planning assistance, conflict resolution etc.

Extracurricular support
The following offers help to ensure that doctoral candidates enjoy good living and working conditions. They are especially useful for people who are new to Hamburg:

  • A wide variety of career development offers, ranging from career orientation at job seminars with alumni from the various research fields to workshops that are especially tailored to the needs of doctoral candidates and taught by highly qualified instructors.
  • Provision of an overview and contacts with all service providers and services for doctoral candidates. This is done in cooperation with established facilities at DESY, Universität Hamburg and the city of Hamburg.
  • Organisation of joint leisure activities in cooperation with the representatives of the doctoral candidates.
  • A separate buddy programme for new doctoral candidates.
  • The PIER Helmholtz Graduate School office serves as a mediator and point of contact for resolving conflicts.

Jennifer Popp
Particle and Astroparticle Physics
Leonardo Ranasinghe
Linda Vanessa Thesing
Photon Science
Ángel Ferran Pousa
Event Calendar
19 Jul. 2022 to 26 Aug. 2022
Speaker: Achim Geiser (CMS (CMS Fachgruppe QCD)) ; Robin Santra (DESY & UHH) et al.
Location: DESY Hamburg
Room: main Auditorium
19 Jul. 2022 to 08 Sep. 2022
Chaired by: Andreas Przystawik (FS-PS (FS-PS Fachgruppe FCP)) ; Friederike Januschek (DESY) et al.
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