Logo: IMPRS for Solar System Science at the University of Göttingen - International Max Planck Research School - Solar System School

IMPRS Curriculum

The International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science is one of several Graduate Schools Georg-August University School of Science (GAUSS) at the University of Göttingen allowing to study physics, geoscience and mathematical sciences at the doctoral level. Within these programmes, the IMPRS offers a unique solar system science specialisation.

Admission and enrolment

Upon arrival in Göttingen, PhD candidates accepted into the IMPRS are guided through the enrolment process by the IMPRS coordinator. Students of the Solar System School are enroled as PhD students in the doctoral programme of the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Goesciences and Geography, or the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Göttingen, or the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Physics at the TU Braunschweig. The establishment of a thesis committee is a prerequisite for admission and enrolment at the universities. To request admission, accepted IMPRS candidates have to apply to their faculty ("step 1"). Candidates with acceptance/confirmation by the faculty then continue the enrolment process with data entry via internet and subsequent steps ("step 2" to "step 4").

Curricular requirements

The programme is research-oriented and includes a curricular structure with several modules.

The research programme comprises a scientific project towards a doctoral thesis guided by a thesis committee (with yearly progress reports), scientific presentation and communication (presentations at conferences in the form of posters or talks), and scientific writing (publication of peer-reviewed papers in international scientific journals). The training programme comprises  advanced and additional scientific qualification in theory and practice (scientific lectures or courses at the graduate level). The teaching programme comprises tutorial teaching such as tutoring of exercises, seminars, labs or theses. The training programme in key competencies comprises qualification courses with a broader scope including the annual retreat of the IMPRS.

The scientific project is guided by a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), consisting of two to three senior scientists of which one typically is a member of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and at least one is a Full Professor at the University of Göttingen (in most cases in the Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics) or another university. The regulations for the Thesis Advisory Committee include a yearly seminar talk in conjunction with a TAC meeting and written reports. Attendance of the weekly doctoral seminar (Solar System Science "S3" seminar) is mandatory; and attendance may also be recommended for institute seminars, department seminars and group meetings. Scientific exchange is further encouraged through journal clubs and attendance of international conferences on topics in astronomy, astrophysics or the planetary sciences. Students in the IMPRS are expected to publish a minimum of two papers during their PhD period, based on the results of their research project. The scientific lectures comprise a compulsory graduate-level two-semester course on Solar System Science (Part I: The Central Star, Part II: The Planetary System). At least one of these lectures must be outside the PhD candidate's own field of research. Further scientific lectures on elective subjects in physics and astrophysics may be attended at any time in the course of the whole PhD period. The elective subjects can be selected from the full range of graduate-level physics lectures offered by the Faculty, including those given by lecturers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research on stellar astrophysics, solar physics, planetary science and more. The qualification courses comprise the three compulsory courses "Good Scientific Practice", "Writing of Scientific Papers", and ''Career Development". Further elective qualification courses can be selected from a wide range of topics offered both by the IMPRS as well as by its academic partners.

The prescribed period of study is six semesters, i.e. three years. The advanced courses in the mathematics and natural sciences curricula are predominantly offered in English language, and all examinations required can be performed in English language. There is no German language requirement. The PhD regulations are available in German language and in an English translation, and IMPRS PhD candidates are guided through the enrolment, thesis submission and examination process by their Thesis Advisory Committee and the IMPRS programme coordinator.

Submission, defense and publication of the thesis

Students must successfully complete all curricular requirements before submission of their thesis. The PhD thesis has to be written in English or German. The default format is a monograph. By special request, students can submit a cumulative thesis instead.

The thesis defense includes an oral presentation of the major results in form of a formal scientific lecture, followed by a scientific discussion with all attendants, which may subject the broader area of the Research School. The doctoral committee decides whether the student has passed the thesis defense and grades the performance during the defense.

The Ph.D. or Dr. rer.nat. degree will be granted by the University of Göttingen or the TU Braunschweig, according to the applicable PhD regulations, after acceptance of the PhD thesis by the thesis committee, a successful defense and subsequent publication of the thesis.

Graduating from other universities

By special request, a student may compile the thesis in the Research School, but receive the PhD from another university.

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