Application Window: 1 August – 15 September
Applications are accepted annually during the application window. Any applications submitted outside of this window will not be considered.
United Nations University (UNU) was established in 1973 and is comprised of 13 research institutes and programmes in 12 countries around the world. Even though UNU considers itself mainly as a research-oriented think tank addressing the needs of the UN system and its Member States and a bridge to the academic world, it offers postgraduate training and education programmes at various levels.
The Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) is one of the 11 universities deemed as University of Excellence in Germany and one of the top universities in Europe. As a modern comprehensive, multidisciplinary university, and with its 18 faculties organised in five schools it has a broad and diverse scientific spectrum. The large campus family of TU Dresden is comprised of 37,000 students and approximately 7,900 employees.
The joint PhD programme established at the United Nations University Institute for the Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) and the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at TU Dresden is the latest among the very few doctoral programmes UNU currently offers.
The main objective of this PhD programme is to provide graduate students with detailed knowledge, critical understanding, strategies and tools to take an interdisciplinary and integrated approach towards the management of water, soil and waste.
The joint PhD programme aims at creating a new generation of environmental scientists, engineers and managers to conduct, promote and provide guidance on the sustainable management of water, soil and waste. These resources and their sustainable management are of concern to the United Nations and its member states, particularly to developing countries and emerging economies.
The Joint PhD programme of TU Dresden and UNU, launched in 2015, is embedded within UNU-FLORES’s nexus-oriented research agenda and the corresponding research interests at TU Dresden. The established PhD research projects, co-supervised by researchers from UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden, were designed to reflect nexus thinking on particular problems of environmental resources management focusing on water, soil, and waste.
The United Nations University (UNU) uses its research to inform policymaking and promote positive global change. The work of all UNU institutes contributes to the advancement of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 to inspire global action to overcome the world’s biggest challenges. In line with the mission of UNU, policy-relevance is a decisive feature or the research conducted at UNU-FLORES, and therefore also the research conducted by PhD students.
While each individual PhD research project must have a clear focus – preferably associated to a case study in a particular country – it must also be framed within the broad picture of integrated resources management as part of a Nexus Approach. The latter aims to connect the generation of evidence-based scientific knowledge to (adapted) management and policies, thus addressing also public services and associated risks.
Due to the focus on integrated management of water, soil, and waste, UNU-FLORES’s research is mainly – but not exclusively – relevant for
Research projects may address these issues from various perspectives in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary manner, using a broad range of approaches and methods and building on a diverse set of both quantitative and qualitative data. Typically, our research projects are implemented with additional partners in respective member states or from international organizations, universities, and research institutions; PhD research should follow this model.
The programme is the first international PhD programme addressing integrated resources management in a truly holistic way. Considering that the theme of the joint degree programme is new and unique in the academic world, prospective students are expected to come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. To ensure that students have an evenly-matched starting point, and to introduce the basic concepts of the nexus of water, soil, and waste, the programme comprises of 35 course credits (see Courses) in addition to 175 dissertation credits. The total of 210 credits span over seven semesters. The credits are defined in terms of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
All coursework is science-based and all courses require basic knowledge in physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics at undergraduate level. In addition, the courses also require basic knowledge in the social sciences. Courses are offered by academic staff at both universities. In line with UNU-FLORES’s research agenda (see Research) and a matching research agenda of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, research topics for PhD dissertations (see the current call for applications) are focused on solving current challenges related to the nexus of water, soil, and waste.
PhD dissertations are co-supervised by advisors from both universities. Successfully graduating students receive a joint degree certificate.
All applications should include:
Interested applicants should send their application material in one single PDF file to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted (see Admissions).
The PhD Programme is tuition-free. Applicants are responsible for covering the costs of living and other expenses related to their research.
Therefore, the respective applicants should include in their application a proof of funding to satisfy point 9 in the list of required materials. In case there are any thematic restrictions imposed by the respective donors, this should be explained in the research plan (see point 3 in the list of required materials). It is understood that any such restrictions would still fall within the scope of UNU-FLORES‘s research programme. Letters of admission will only be issued upon admission to the programme with secured funding.
The PhD programme includes mandatory and elective courses. The courses can further be categorised into thematic courses (to be taken in the first and second semester) and methodological courses. In addition, students have the opportunity to take courses at the Graduate Academy of TU Dresden. Courses and workshops offered in the framework of the Graduate Academy are of short duration (typically 1–2 days) and without credits.
Students devote the first semester to learning the basic concepts of the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus and the important aspects of Governance and Capacity Development in addition to two other courses that will help improve the skills necessary to conduct their research. PhD students start working on their research topics during the first semester. In terms of credits, half of the second semester is again course-based while the other half is devoted to preparation of the final dissertation proposal and defence. In agreement with the supervisors, PhD students can choose additional courses focusing on specific skills required for their research topics. From the third semester onwards, PhD candidates concentrate fully on research. In most cases, this involves some months of field work and stays abroad accordingly in collaboration with partner institutions, but this is defined on a case-by-case basis.
Download the Curriculum here.