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Department of Political Science

About us

The Doctoral Programme Democracy Studies is an interdisciplinary doctoral training at the University of Zurich. 

Resolutely transdisciplinary and placed under the aegis of the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Graduiertenschule - Philosophische Fakultät PhF), Democracy Studies allows participants to specialize in democracy and conduct their own doctoral research on a cognate theme in the unique Swiss context.

Building on the strong tradition of rigorous, high-quality doctoral training on democracy initiated by NCCR Democracy, DPDS benefits from the expertise of world-renowned faculty and from the exceptional working conditions afforded by the University of Zurich. Democracy Studies is well integrated and cooperates intensively with institutions and doctoral programmes at home and abroad.

Every year, Democracy Studies offers a limited number of spaces for outstanding doctoral students with a strong interest in democracy research from different disciplines in the Social Sciences, such as:

  • Political Science
  • Communication Science and Media Research
  • Sociology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Political Philosophy
  • Political Economy
  • Area Studies
  • Civic Education

Participants regularly meet their peers from Democracy Studies for specialised modules, research colloquia and other activities, fostering a strong sense of community and many occasions for mutual learning. In addition, Democracy Studies boasts a thriving alumni network active in academia and beyond, further strengthening this sense of community.

Successful participants receive a Certificate in Democracy Studies awarded by the Graduate School PhF at the time of their PhD graduation and upon completion of the curriculum. Conferment of the certificate recognises the transdisciplinary training received by the participants as well as the contribution of their doctoral research to existing scholarship on democracy.



Doctoral training specializing on democracy research in Zurich was originally established in 2006 as a Swiss training centre for young scholars leading to high-quality doctoral research and outstanding dissertations. In 2013, the training was institutionalized as a multidisciplinary doctoral programme at the University of Zurich, and it became part of the Graduate School PhF in 2019. The new Doctoral Programme Democracy Studies for new PhD students builds on these very strong foundations.

Democracy Studies Curriculum

Democracy Studies offers a transdisciplinary, integrated curriculum comprising high-level courses, seminars, colloquia and transferable skills modules. These modules are led by UZH faculty members and leading international scholars aiming to provide a solid basis on the theory, methods and empirical approaches to democracy. Additional training opportunities are tailored to the doctoral students' individual research needs.

Doctoral studies financial assistance is possible through the University of Zurich and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.


Democracy Studies is open to graduate researchers from all the social sciences and related disciplines and seeks to encourage diverse and multifaceted, qualitative and quantitative, approaches to the phenomenon of democracy and its manifestations. PhD Candidates enrolled at the University of Zurich, PhF can apply within their first year of doctorate, as per Democracy Studies application regulations

Cooperation Project

Swissuniversities Doctoral Programmes TP 2 Cooperation Project with a focus on Civic Education for the phases: 2017-2020 and 2021-2024, SUK Doctoral Programmes 2013-2020 with an extension till 2022 and ProDoc 2009-2013.


To maintain and further develop their unique character, previous programmes successfully applied for third-party funding including Mercator Foundation Switzerland ( 2018-2023),

Read more about Democracy Studies at UZH:


Weiterführende Informationen


How and why is democracy challenged around the world today?

Join Democracy Studies at UZH to contribute to research on democracy




View the brochure online