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Department of Political Science Democracy Studies

Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies - S3DS

Call for Applications for the S3DS 2024 will be published in early March.

About S3DS

Every year since 2014 the Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies brings together internationally renowned researchers and junior scholars for a week of lectures and intensive discussions. After morning lectures by international experts, the afternoons are dedicated to participants' presentations, and group discussions with the experts, moderators and participants. The Summer School is an ideal setting for qualified doctoral students, advanced master students and postdocs in the social sciences and in related disciplines who would like to:

  • gain theoretical, empirical, and methodological know-how on democratic innovations in various contexts;
  • receive feedback on their own work from both experts and peers in their field of research;
  • and meet and exchange with international experts and peers working on similar topics.

The Swiss summer School in Democracy Studies gives young scholars in the social sciences, including political science, political philosophy, media and communication science, sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, economics, and related disciplines the unique opportunity to discuss their research projects with renowned experts in their field in an accessible and collegial environment and to establish valuable contacts for their academic future.

S3DS Objectives

The major objective of the Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies is to enable young scholars to understand the complex challenges democracy faces today.
For this purpose, the Summer School:

  • annually offers a one-week intensive high-level, multidisciplinary training in democracy research;
  • focuses on different themes which cover a wide range of approaches, theories and methods in current democracy research;
  • provides a unique opportunity for participants  to present their research projects to renowned experts in their field and to receive high-quality feedback;
  • organises various social activities to deepen the newly established contacts and strengthen future networking;
  • delivers 2 ECTS credits for participation in the full academic programme.


The Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies S3DS  features an intensive programme over five teaching days, an additional keynote lecture on the first day, and a roundtable in the afternoon on the last day.

The teaching days consist of two parts:

  • In the morning: lectures and seminar sessions - one internationally renowned scholar gives a lecture on a specific topic, followed by a discussion moderated by an internal expert. 
  • In the afternoons: workshop session - four Ph.D. participants present their research project and receive detailed feedback from the respective international expert, the moderator, and an assigned peer. 

Participants can choose in which panel to present their research project, selecting from Panel 1 to Panel 4 in the application form, according to their preference.

Participants in the Summer School can receive 2 ECTS and a certificate provided they:

  • attend all lectures, seminars, and workshops,
  • submit a paper of 15-20 pages before the summer school (e.g. research design, or conference paper, publication draft etc.), which includes aspects of the research they would like to discuss,
  • present their research in one of the five workshops (max. 10-15 minutes),
  • discussed one peer's research paper, and
  • prepared the required readings.

S3DS Organization

Each year a different partner institution of the Swiss PhD-Network Democracy Studies  takes the lead for the organization of the Summer School.

The Summer School is administered by the Doctoral Programme Democracy Studies at the University of Zurich.

Weiterführende Informationen


Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies S3DS

The Swiss Summer School in Democracy Studies is sponsored by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland.