Degree programs at the Institute of Political Science


Political science is the scientific analysis the “striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power” (Max Weber) and the binding regulation of societal conflicts over values and scarce resources. The discipline focuses particularly on the organization and operation of political institutions, the processes and systems that bind states and societies, as well as the political design of policies, the outputs of societal conflicts, and international relations.

Political science, as the scientific discipline we know today, was not established in Germany until after World War II. Its roots, however, go back much further. Philosophy has long been concerned with politics, beginning with the ancient Greek theories of the state. As a social science, contemporary political science is a modern and well-established discipline whose foundation was laid primary in the United States and Western Europe.

Political science at the Institute for Political Science in Heidelberg covers the following areas:

  • Political philosophy and the history of ideas; contemporary political theory  
  • German and EU politics
  • Comparative politics
  • Policy studies and analysis
  • Foreign policy and international relations
  • Conflict research
  • Empirical methods of political science


The discipline’s research questions touch upon numerous other fields in the humanities and social sciences, in particular history, sociology, philosophy, economics, law, and psychology.

At the moment the Institute for Political Science does not offer Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programs in English. While a strong background in English is a necessary prerequisite for any of our programs, the primary language of instruction is German.


The Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at Heidelberg Universities grants the academic degree of “doctor rerum politicarum” (Dr. rer. pol) in the fields of political science, sociology, and economics. Between 2004 and 2015, 120 people have successfully completed a PhD at the Institute of Political Science.

The PhD provides students the chance to prove their ability to independently pursue scientific research. The degree forms the basis for a scientific career path – whether at a university or at an academic research institute. In addition to excellent grades, potential PhD candidates must be interested in developing and working their own doctoral thesis project over a longer period of time.

The PhD requirements include the doctoral thesis (dissertation) and the oral examination (defense). The majority of PhDs pursued at our faculty are done on an individual basis (“Individualpromotion”), wherein the doctoral candidate, in close cooperation with his or her advisor (“Doktorvater/Doktormutter”), selects a research topic to be worked on individually. The research interests and projects of our professors can be found here: Chairs.

Further information is also offered by the Heidelberg Graduate Academy.

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Latest Revision: 2018-12-12
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