The study programme of the graduate research training group comprises six semesters. The first semester is understood as an introductory phase and the sixth as a concluding phase. The study programme is composed of three main elements, which serve to promote certain fundamental competencies of the students: the research section, the advanced section and the project section.
The research section constitutes the core unit of the training programme. It is the central, permanently-established place in which doctoral students come together. It is composed of a colloquium and the so-called laboratory, which represents an experimental supplement to the colloquium.
The colloquium is used for the presentation, discussion and further development of working theses, sample chapters and overriding research questions of the dissertations that are being written. It lasts for 4 hours and takes place every other week, alternating with the foundations seminar of the advanced section, such that it comprises 2 semester week hours (SWS). In addition to doctoral students and faculty, there are plans also to involve, for example, fellows and guest researchers in the colloquium.
The laboratory is also mandatory. Devised as a 2-hour session that takes place every other week, it comprises 1 semester week hour (SWS). The laboratory is led by the post-doctoral scholar in the graduate research group and serves to deepen students’ knowledge, as well as to prepare the colloquia. Discussion of the scholarly literature drawn upon by the individual dissertation projects also plays a central role; and students are provided the opportunity to delve into disciplinary issues in small groups guided by the post-doctoral scholar. Mutual exchange of the intermediate findings of students’ work completes the offerings of the laboratory.
A firmly embedded part of the study program are the so-called “writing weeks” (“Schreibwochen”) that take place twice each semester. The writing weeks are supposed to create a stimulating environment in which the doctoral students can focus intensely on their dissertations and combine their writing process with lively discussions about their progress, problems, or temporary writer’s block. This format has been highly praised by former doctoral students who have declared themselves in favour of implementing such writing weeks regularly from the very beginning of the study program.
In addition, a multi-day retreat is scheduled after about half of the funding period. This event shall allow for intense discussions of each individual project as well as key questions of the research group. Alternating small groups as well as plenary sittings are supposed to facilitate in-depth debates and generate significant feedback for the doctoral students. The retreat will take place outside of university. In addition to the doctoral students, the coordinators, and the counselling scholars, up to four guests will participate (e.g. fellow scholars or external experts). Those guests will familiarize themselves with the dissertation projects and offer valuable consultations during the retreat.
The advanced section consists of an interdisciplinary foundations seminar and a lecture series.
The foundations seminar and the research section colloquium together constitute the main pillars of the study programme. The foundations seminar takes place in 4-hour sessions every other week, alternating with the colloquium, and counts for 2 semester week hours (SWS). Thematically, the foundations seminar, which runs for four semesters, follows the structure of work areas 1-4, which are decisive for the research programme of the graduate research training group. Theoretical and methodological issues, in particular, are meant to be the focus. Since the graduate research group addresses the documentary problematic from the perspective of media studies, comparative literature and art history, the structure of the foundations seminar is meant to reflect this interdisciplinary orientation of the issues.
The lecture series, which represents 2 semester week hours (SWS), is open to all members of the university community, takes place weekly, and is mandatory. The lecture series runs for two semesters. Under the heading “Documentary Practices I: Concepts and Positions”, in the first semester, talks will be given by the faculty and the associated researchers. They serve, above all, to present the graduate research group to interested members of the university community; and they offer the participating faculty and associated scholars the opportunity to make themselves and their own research projects on documentary practices known to the research group’s students. In the fourth/fifth semester, under the heading “Documentary Practices II: The Projects”, the talks will then be given by the students themselves. They thus get the opportunity to present their dissertation projects, which should be well underway by this time, to an interested public of faculty members and other members of the university community.
The project section is all about scholarly exchange, interdisciplinary dialogue and the further networking of both the students and the graduate research group itself.
Up to two one-day workshops take place each semester. The research group students both organise and actively participate in these workshops. In part, they take place as intensive workshops in cooperation with institutional partners of the research group with which the faculty group has long maintained cooperative relations. These events facilitate intensive discussion with guests and fellows of the research programme, who are invited to address certain key topics of the WAs.
In addition, there are occasional evening lectures by invited guests of the research group. Attendance is mandatory for the students.
In the course of their training, students also have the option to participate in group excursions and archival visits, which are offered by both research group faculty and associate members.
In order to assure the further development and deepened understanding of key research skills, the graduate research group, among other things, organises events in the form of block seminars and workshops in cooperation with the Research School (RS) of the Ruhr University, as well as the Equal Opportunity Office. These seminars and workshops deal with key issues of scholarly writing, presentation (including in English), and the development of career prospects after completing the PhD.
In the course of the six semesters of the study programme, an international conference will also be held. Students participate in its organisation. All students are expected to actively contribute to at least one such project group in the course of their doctoral studies. In this connection as well, the students receive support from both the post-doctoral scholar and the academic steering committee of the research group. In particular for the purpose of reinforcing the visibility of the doctoral students – including their international visibility – the conferences offer an outstanding opportunity to profit from the cooperation of the research group with other institutions and to present one’s own research issues to a broader scholarly community.