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Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies - BIGSAS

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On one view: Is BIGSAS the right programme for me?

BIGSAS is a graduate school which offers a well organised framework, close mentorship and wide expertise to successfully pursue a doctorate in the field of African studies. BIGSAS does not comprise any kind of regular funding; it is not a scholarship. Whether BIGSAS fits your research plans, depends on the research project you would like to pursue. Please take a look at the academic disciplines and research interests covered by our Members. If your research interests overlap with (one of) theirs, BIGSAS may just be the perfect fit for you.

Step-by-Step Guide to Application

Step 1 – Check if you fulfill the basic application requirementsHide

You may apply to BIGSAS if you...

  • hold a Master's degree or an equivalent degree, and
  • plan a doctoral research project in an area consistent with the research interests/academic disciplines covered by the Members of BIGSAS.
Step 2 – Find a supervisor for your doctoral research project at BIGSASHide

If you fullfill the basic application requirements, the very first thing you should do is to get in touch with one or several of our Members and discuss your planned research project with them. Due to our Member's high workload, please allow them some time to answer your request. You do not have to be afraid of application deadlines, as application and admission at BIGSAS are possible throughout the whole year.

Once you agree on a research project with one of our Members, you will need to set up a supervision agreement. You can download the English form HERE or the German form HERE (both DOCX). Make sure all boxes are filled in. Otherwise, the supervision agreement is considered incomplete.

Step 3 – Complete your applicationHide

The actual application is performed through this online form.

In addition to filling in the online form, you will be asked to attach supportive documents (in English, French or German; please provide certificates etc. as certified copies). Required supportive documents are:

1) The supervision agreement mentioned under Step 2

2) A project proposal of maximum 10 pages which lines out the aims of your dissertation project as well as a detailed work and time schedule. Please include your name, the page number and the title of the proposal on each page. The proposal should also include a one-page summary of the proposal in English.

3) A one-page letter of motivation in which you explain why you apply to BIGSAS

4) A soft copy of your written and graded Master’s or equivalent thesis

5) Two letters of recommendation personally signed by the authors (the authors need to be from the your academic background and mentioned with title and university/institute)

6) A Curriculum Vitae (CV) showing your academic progress and your qualifications in detail

7) A self-declaration that you have not been accepted for a doctorate at another university or are enrolled at another university or university of applied sciences

8) A Secondary School Graduation Certificate / Higher Education Entrance Certificate

9) A Bachelor's Degree or equivalent degree certificate including complete pages of the transcript of records (e.g. Licence ou Maîtrise, a certified copy is requested)

10) A Master's Degree or equivalent degree certificate, including complete pages of the transcript of records (e.g. DEA or DESS, a certified copy is requested)

11) A list of academic publications (if available)


General Application FAQsHide

Should I contact BIGSAS Members prior to my application?

Yes. You need to provide a supervision agreement as outlined in Step 2 of the application guide above.

In which language can I apply?

You may apply in English, French or German. If your Master’s thesis (or equivalent) is written in any other language, please upload an English or French summary (5 to 10 pages) together with your thesis.

When is the deadline for my application?

Applications are not bound to a deadline. You can apply year-round.

Do I need a certified copy of my certificates?

Yes. Only certified copies of your certificates are accepted. You should upload a scan. After admission, the original certificates must be provided in order to enrol at the University of Bayeuth.

By whom should the recommendation letters be written? Do they have to be translated? In which language?

You need two letters of reference by persons in charge for your academic education. The letters should be written in English, French or German and include name, title, university/institute, department and the signature of the author.

Why did I not receive a confirmation email after applying?

There is no confirmation email. You will be informed in the same browser after finalising the form if the application has been submitted successfully.

Can I reapply if my application has been rejected?

Yes, you may apply one more time.

I already have a PhD. Can I do a second one here?

Yes, you may apply even though you already have completed a doctoral program elsewhere.

Is Cotutelle possible within BIGSAS?

Yes. If you intend to have a supervisor of your home or another university besides the University of Bayreuth, please contact the BIGSAS team. We will find out whether such an arrangement is possible.

When and for how long do I have to be present in Bayreuth during the doctoral programme?

BIGSAS has a structured doctoral programme with disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses as well as colloquia and other academic events. Our graduate school subsists on the participation and contributions of Members and Junior Fellows. Therefore, we expect that all doctoral candidates are present in Bayreuth except for:

  • Semester breaks
  • Field research
  • Attendance of conference(s)

I have technical problems while using the online application form.

We recommend:

  • Using supported web browsers, e.g. Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge
  • Enabling Java Script and accepting pop-up windows
  • Deactivating all web browser add-ons (e.g. ad blockers)

My question has not been answered yet.

Please contact bigsas-application@uni-bayreuth.de. We'd love to hear from you!

Funding OpportunitiesHide

BIGSAS itself does not come with any kind of long-term, basic funding. While we can fund specific parts of your research (e.g. field work and conference participation), in order to sustain your stay here, you will need to look for external funding opportunities. Where to start looking? Here are some databases and information that can help you organize funding:

1) List of funding opportunities by the University of Bayreuth and the University of Bayreuth Scholarship Guide (PDF)

2) Research in Germany Database

3) DAAD Database (German Academic Exchange Service)

4) Euraxess Database

Studying in GermanyHide

Will I be charged tuition fees for enrolling in the doctoral programme?

No, you will not be charged tuition fees. Enrolling at the University of Bayreuth however will mean that you have to pay a semester contribution (currently about 120 Euro/semester). This contribution ensures you and your interests as a student in Germany are represented politically. A more immediate benefit of the semester contribution: you will be given a semester ticket with which you can use buses and other means of public transport in Bayreuth free of charge.

What are the costs of living and studying in Germany?

Germany is not overly expensive compared to other European countries. But in order to successfully study abroad, you will have to estimate the costs and ensure that you can cover them. Please take a look at the very good overview provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) HERE.

Where can I find more information on living, studying and working in Germany?

Please take a look at the website "Make it in Germany" provided by the German Federal Government. It offers extensive background information on Germany and on prospects of studying and working here. The website is complemented by a Youtube Channel. In particular, their videos about studying in Germany (HERE) and learning the German language (HERE) might be of interest for you.

How does BIGSAS decide whether my application is accepted?Hide

The selection procedure is a competitive process which is organised in four major steps:
1.    Formal check of the applications
2.    Evaluation of proposed projects by an expert reviewer
3.    Personal (online) interview with the applicant
4.    Final decision by the Steering Committee (SC)

Further ResourcesHide

Webmaster: Univ.Prof.Dr. Andrea Behrends

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