The focus of the PhD program is therefore primarily on the study of phenomena of digital transformation in society, economy, administration and politics, and can be divided into five areas:

> Change in organization, culture, and work (including the effect of digitalization on organizational culture, work, as well as on business models)
> Sustainable digitalization (including digital circular economy and efficient and effective use of resources)
> Governance and regulation (including the platform economy, use of data, and sustainable provision of digital infrastructure)
> Democracy and participation (including changes in political mixed-media communication and digital participation culture)
> Data and Artificial Intelligence (including evidence-and algorithm-based decisions, data-driven innovation, data analysis, and system modelling).


The PhD program "Technology, Innovation, and Cohesive Societies" is a three-year (six semester) course.

The program earns 180 ECTS. The coursework comprises 30 ECTS credits (6 required courses and 3 optional courses); the 6 scientific colloquia 12 ECTS, the PhD Thesis 133 ECTS credits, and the oral defense (viva) 5 ECTS.

required courses

Science Communication


The aim of the course is, on the one hand, to create awareness about the importance of an understandable and effective writing style for internal and external scientific communication: Comprehensible technical texts facilitate communication between researchers. This is particularly important in inter- and transdisciplinary settings. In addition, they also increase acceptance and improve the reception of external science communication. On the other hand, practical writing skills should also be consolidated in this module.

Research Design and Research Literacy


The aim of the course is to fundamentally introduce students to the planning and design of research projects and the individual considerations necessary for this. Students learn to critically reflect on the individual components of a research design and to integrate them into an overall concept. In doing so, existing knowledge about empirical social research is to be networked and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches are to be discussed.

Systems Theory and Socio-technical Change


This course is designed to give a sense of the range of topics associated with the field of systems theory and information systems (IS) and the ways in which the scope of the field has expanded in recent years. It aims to provide a range of the research approaches of systems theory and management of complexity that are analysed and used to study information systems and related phenomena. The scope of the field also includes aspects of globalisation and social and ethical issues in general. This is in addition to the development of organisational information systems and the use and impact of information and communication technologies within and between companies, which have been the core of the field of (management) information systems.

Socio-technical Innovation for Cohesive Societies


The aim of the course is to enable a systemic understanding of socio-cognitive and socio-technical processes in order to bridge the gap from basic scientific theories to practical applications in industry

  • Introduction to Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship 
  • Theories and methods of collaborative creativity 
  • Sustainable innovation systems 
  • Theories and methods of systems science and social network analysis International Entrepreneurship 

Computational Social Science


The aim of this course is to familiarise students with novel data technologies and data types as alternative research tools to understand and explain socio-cultural phenomena. These support the students in the course of their research design and the implementation of studies. A central element here is the area of scientific work ethics and data protection. With regard to the further content, this course deals specifically with the use of methods and tools in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP).  

  • Introduction to Data Science as a core building block for scientific studies 
  • Scientific work ethics and data protection 
  • Topic Modelling and Word Embeddings for the analysis and interpretation of large text corpora 
  • Machine Learning for model building for classifications (supervised vs. unsupervised
  • Sentiment analysis for the analysis of social discourse 

Doctrinal Legal Research and Case-based Methods


The aim of the course is to enable students to analyse legal questions or legal aspects that concern interdisciplinary research projects independently and in a methodologically justifiable manner. In-depth knowledge of jurisprudential methodology is imparted, starting from legal dogmatics, analysis of case law, comparative law, legal economics up to the integration of social science methods, especially in the context of an open or citizen science approach

  • Legal dogmatics and classical methodology 
  • Judicial analysis 
  • Legal economics and critical legal theory 
  • Comparative law 
  • Empiricism and open science in jurisprudence 



The aim of the courses is to monitor the continuous progress of the students in their individual dissertation projects, to identify problems in good time and to be able to work out solutions together with the students. The students not only learn the necessary work processes for multi-year research projects, but are also enabled to engage in constructive discourse with their peers and mentors. In addition, students receive support in preparing dissemination activities for their project results, such as scientific presentations or publications

  • Construction, planning and monitoring of multi-year research projects 
  • Constructive and scientific peer review within the PhD cohort and beyond 
  • Strategic dissemination of research results to the scientific community 

optional courses

Research Methods (Mixed Methods)


The aim of the course is to introduce students to the "Third Paradigm" in the form of the "Mixed Methods" research approach in the field of social sciences and to enable them to apply it in their own research design

  • Introduction to the research approach "Mixed Methods"
  • Interaction of qualitative and quantitative methods using examples from different domains 
  • Analysis of both potential strengths and biases in mixed methods approaches 
  • Development of research designs based on mixed methods approaches 
  • Getting to know and applying the mixed-methods approaches "Q-Methodology" and "SVIDT"

Special Topics in Policy-Making (Social & Political Science)


This course deals with the interrelations of political and social processes. At its core are the concepts of public order, security and political decision-making, as well as the impact of nation-state strategies and political events on the state, the public and democracy

  • Decision-making in the public sector  
  • Assessing the expected and actual impact of policy decisions  
  • Using data to assess the effectiveness of policy interventions  
  • Balancing competing or conflicting interests between policy partners  
  • Identifying stakeholders, assessing their preferences and mapping the policy context  
  • Developments and strategic directions in the fields of E-governance and E-government
  • Administrative and political strategies for national and international risk and security management  

Scientific Career Building


This course deals with the planning and development of an individual Scientific Career Canvas. In this Canvas, important cornerstones for a future academic career are discussed and students are introduced to the respective areas through practical examples. Through interactive workshops, students learn to build and implement an individual strategy along the canvas

  • Profile building in the targeted scientific community  
  • Planning and developing an individual scientific career canvas  
  • Planning, design and evaluation of a course within a curriculum  
  • Identifying suitable funding channels, building a consortium, planning the proposal  
  • Scientific community work: reviewing, networking, international visits  
  • Knowledge Management and Knowledge Transfer in relation to the 3rd Mission  

Advanced Quantitative Research Methods


The aim of the course is the competent handling and concrete application of quantitative methods in the context of social and economic research projects. Students are able to critically reflect on the advantages and disadvantages as well as the possibilities and limits of the application of quantitative forms of data collection and evaluation


  • Planning and designing quantitative research projects  
  • Conducting quantitative studies and evaluations  
  • Presenting quantitative research results  
  • Critical reflection on quantitative methods 

Advanced Qualitative Research Methods


The course teaches the most important methods for students who want to conduct qualitative research, including literature analysis, interviews, analysis of texts and documents, and case studies. Selected literature and articles on qualitative research methodology, the theoretical foundations of qualitative methods and the interdisciplinary application of qualitative methods as well as emerging issues are discussed.   


  • Introduction to qualitative research and methods  
  • Challenges and possibilities of qualitative research   
  • Preparing systematic literature reviews for qualitative research  
  • Planning of qualitative research and selection of methods for data collection and analysis   
  • Assessing the scientific criteria and validity of qualitative research   
  • Discussion and exchange of experiences on topics in qualitative research,  
  • Data collection and analysis 

Technology, Transnational Movements and the Nation State


The focus of this course is to promote a critical understanding of current issues, actors and policies around international migration in an era of globalisation and increasing technological diffusion. On the one hand, globalisation has led to the emergence of new governance structures and civil society bodies that support the transformation of local networks into transnational ones. On the other hand, new digital technologies have changed the way individuals communicate and interact with each other, helping to bridge spatial and temporal distances and influencing the social, political as well as economic transnational activities associated with migration


  • International Mobility: Migration, Diaspora and Identity  
  • Communication technologies and interpersonal relations in a cross-border context  
  • Migration management: disruptive technologies and changing governance structures  
  • Synergy development in the context of technology, interstate migration and interaction 
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