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Research at MLU: Some research prospects for early career scientists in Halle

Here, we give you insight into the science at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) by presenting you some of the research projects conducted here. Since MLU has a rich tradition of research in a broad range of disciplines, spanning the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and medicine, this overview serves only as a first appetizer. We want to give you, as a future doctoral student, an insight into the core areas of the individual departments, show you perspectives for your own research in Halle and whet your appetite for a more in-depth examination of the diverse options for scientific work at the University of Halle.

Doctoral Students Profiles
Get inspired by early stage researchers at MLU: In our doctoral students profiles, we shed the light on young academics. Find out about their research focus in connection with a publication. You can find the profiles here.

What supervisors want
In addition to research supervisors and their doctoral students deal with the perspective, expectations and needs of the other side. Please check “What supervisors want” to get some insights on the relationship between supervisors and their doctoral students at MLU. 


This guide is part of the overview Guides4docs@MLU released recently by InGrA. Together with the following topics you can get a good overview of options and requirements during your future or current doctorate at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

MLU’s research profile & science in Halle

MLU’s research is distributed among nine faculties. The university’s profile includes four core research areas as well as over 15 Interdisciplinary Scientific Centres. These research networks strengthen interdisciplinary exchange and the collaboration with research institutes. This offers a vivid environment for young academics and is hence an excellent choice to pursue your doctorate.

MLU represents the heart of lively scientific location that the city of Halle is. In addition to the university, the city is home to several international research institutes (link) and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
Moreover, the MLU is strongly connected with the Universities of Jena and Leipzig as well as with companies from the region. This further fosters the research, teaching and promotion of young researchers. The dynamic transfer between the university and research institutes is thus an attractive environment for scientists and researchers from all over the world. For detailed information about the scientific environment in Halle, see this brochure provided by the International Office.

The core research areas at MLU

  • Material Science – Nanostructural Materials (link)
  • Biological Sciences – Structures and Mechanisms of Biological Information Processing (link)
  • Enlightenment – Religion – Knowledge (link)
  • Society and Culture in Motion. Diffusion – Experiment – Institution

Research at the Faculties

Faculty of Theology

The faculty consists of two large institutes (Institute for Biblical Studies and Church History and Institute for Systematic Theology, Practical Theology and Religious Studies) with a total of ten professorships. The exchange in research and teaching with other faculties and universities (in central Germany and beyond) is very lively. Two centers for the study of Pietism and the Enlightenment are also located on the campus.

Among other subjects, research at the faculty explores:

  • Research of modern religious history (Enlightenment, Pietism and mission history especially of the 18th century) and research on esotericism
  • Christian faith and life in Christian religious institutions and in the wider social and cultural environment
  • Theological controversies between East and West in history and the present

For more in-depth information about faculty research, visit the faculty’s website.

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Faculty of Law, Business and Economics – School of Law

The faculty’s research profile has developed in four structure-forming profile lines, in which future research tasks are mapped and which promote interdisciplinary cooperation. A summary is given below.

International Business Law

The focus is understood in a comprehensive sense and covers issues around private and public commercial law with their respective international references. The research department is very diversified and has numerous references to environmental and human rights protection. In order to adequately address current issues and developments in business law, the disciplines of the research area are strongly interconnected. This is reflected, among other things, in the close cooperation between the Chairs of Capital Market Criminal Law and of Business Law, which is unique in Germany. There are international cooperations with universities in Europe, Asia, South America and the USA.

Medicine, Ethics, Law

The focus is on the legal and ethical issues of medical and health research in a changing, plural, and rapidly aging society. There are major challenges with regard to the requirements of a health care system in which the needs of individuals, the increasingly market-like organized particular interests and the requirements of an efficient solidarity community are met. Legal research is an important component of an interdisciplinary approach to solutions and is dedicated to topics such as informed consent, transplantation and medical AI. Accordingly, the legal department is a leading member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Medicine-Ethics-Law at MLU.

Digitalization and law

The profile line deals with the challenges arising from the increasing digitalization of large parts of legal and business transactions. The development of dualisms of consumers and entrepreneurs, private and commercial, confront the legal and economic order of the 20th century with a situation to which it is increasingly no longer applicable. Challenges posed by AI in labor, FinTech, clickwork, etc., arise in particular for individual labor law issues, the functioning social security systems to the protection of human rights. The legal department aims to contribute to interdisciplinary answers to upcoming challenges with respect to benefits and risks in an increasingly digitalized world.

Foundations of law and social cohesion

Facing the transformation processes in modern societies, the discipline of reflection on legal foundations investigates social cohesion, transversely to specific developments of laws, by critically analysing and designing it’s normative, social, historical and institutional prerequisites. Legal institutions need to account for and impart a growing societal diversification, concerning diverse imprints and experiences with implications for social participation and access to resources and legal principles are challenged to contribute to sustainable solutions. The profile line thus reflects on current legal challenges with research on legal history, legal theory, legal philosphy, legal anthropology, law and religion, general political science, comparative law, and international law. It offers an institutional, interdisciplinary and inter-regional exchange. There are lively cooperations with other universities as well as with the Law Department of Max-Planck-Institue for social anthropology in Halle.

For information about the research projects at the faculty’s chairs, visit the website.

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Faculty of Law, Business and Economics – School of Economics and Business

The School of Economics and Business consists of 21 professorships covering a broad research scope on economic questions in Halle. With core research in Economic Governance, Financial Governance, Business and IT-Governance, the fields of business administration, economics and business informatics are strongly interconnected. Through the interdisciplinary and innovative generation, communication and transfer of knowledge and methods, the faculty’s research aims to provide the economy, society and politics with competences in in the fields of digitalisation and governance for sustainable changes.

Examples for research projects at the faculty are:

  • Green logistics and circular economy, sustainable freight transport and supply chain management
  • IT-supported planning and control in the field of hospital management
  • Economic analysis of agri-environmental policy

For graduates interested in pursuing a structured doctoral programme, there are two schools associated to the faculty.
For further information about the research at the faculty, please visit the website.

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Faculty of Medicine

The Faculty of Medicine consists of 17 institutes and 27 clinics, covering a wide span in medicinal research and has set itself two overarching research priorities. The fundamental goal of research at the Faculty of Medicine, which is also closely networked with the other faculties at MLU, is to gain new scientific knowledge, especially in the fields of cardiovascular medicine, oncology and geriatric medicine, which will also open up new fields of medical science, promote the health of the population and improve their health-related quality of life.

Molecular Medicine of Signal Transduction

The aim of this research field is to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms of the genesis of diseases on the basis of defective signal transduction between, in and from cells as well as of dysregulated gene expression. Moreover, it investigates the characterization of the prognonsis-relevant biochemical and physiological parameters and tumor biological aspects. The field also develops and monitors new rational and individual strategies for therapy, e.g. immunotherapy.

Epidemiology and Nursing Research

The field of Epidemiology and Nursing research investigates and develops evidence-based medicine in diagnostics, therapy and care. This contains the evaluation of risk factors for health as well as indicators for prognosis and therapy, the evaluation and investigation of prevention and care strategies and the further development of nursing strategies in acute care within a therapy concept with the aim of achieving the greatest possible patient autonomy.

There are also structured doctoral programmes at the faculty. Further information about these can be found here.

For more information on the faculty’s research, see the faculty’s research website as well as their information on promotion of young academics.

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Faculty of Philosophy I – Social sciences and historical cultural studies

The Faculty of Philosophy I is a very diverse faculty which is home to the institutes of Ancient Studies, Anthropology and Philosophy, History, Art History and Archeologies of Europe, Oriental Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. The wide span of research interests in the institute promotes interdisciplinary research. This is also reflected in the the collaboration between philosophy and cultural anthropology in one institute, which is unique in Germany.
Within the institutes themselves, particular research topics are represented by numerous professorships and seminars.

A small selection of projects within the diverse research at the faculty:

  • Anthropology of Global Climate Urgency (Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology)
  • Police in Transformation. Study on the transformation of the police in East and West Germany during the 1980s and 1990s (Institute for History)
  • Depression, anxiety, psychosomatic illnesses related to work (Psychology Department)
  • Sociology of education, esp. sociology of education and upbringing in early childhood (Institute of Sociology)

Find out more about doing a doctorate in social sciences in the interview (in German) with Prof. Dr. Konstanze Senge.

There are also structured doctoral programmes at the faculty. More information about these are given here.
To see the institutes’ aims, structures and their current research in detail, please see their corresponding websites.

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Faculty of Philosophy II – Philologies, communication and music sciences

The faculty incorporates the disciplines of philologies, communicative and musical sciences and is split into six departments: the institute for English and American Studies, German Studies, Music, Media and Speech Sciences, Romance Studies, Slavic Studies and Sport Sciences. The faculty has set itself six research priorities. You can find a short summary of these below.

Enlightenment in historical and systematic perspective

The research of enlightenment is only consequent: At MLU, the Enlightenment Movement in Germany took its origin. Today, there is an Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies at the University, with intensive contribution from researchers in particular from philologies and musical sciences. The focus on enlightenment at the faculty is also reflected in the strong involvement in the Research Focus Enlightenment – Religion – Knowledge.

Cultures in Transition // Cultures in Digital Transformation

In Halle, there has been a long history of researching cultural contact, hybridisation and transformation. Taking up on this tradition, the faculty’s focus on transition is nowadays on Eastern and Middle Europe, Western Balkan, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Latin America, as well as different cultural areas of Africa and North America. It is in particular dedicated to the revision of experiences of suffering and resistance in postcolonial contexts and in post-war societies.
The focus on Languages, Media and Cultures in the Digital Transformation is currently being established. It will investigate questions concerning social, cultural, political and technological changes with regard to the associated utopias, dystopias, prerequisites and implications arising in the context of the digital transformation and New Economy since the 1990s.

Mass Phenomena // Editions and Databases

Since 2005, the disciplines of literature, culture, linguistics, and speech sciences at the faculty come together to examine together political, aesthetic, social and medial phenomenas of the mass culture from the 19th to the 21st century. The participation of philologies promotes the transnational perspective.
Texts, notes and images transfer knowledge in the humanities and their editions and databases are crucial for basic research. Developing tools and methods for the accessibility and processing of these semiotic foundations is the aim of this research focus.

Action optimization: Analysis – Competence – Performance

The core of the research and teaching focus is the development, promotion or restoration of human resilience and self-efficacy in times of social and especially communicative transformation. The research focus is dedicated to both application-oriented theory and theory-based didactics in equal measure. It is about observation, diagnostics and analysis of human (social) behavior. This results first of all in evaluation as well as criticism and finally in the derivation of suitable recommendations both for the processuality and target adequacy of actions as well as for mediation competence. A sustainable use of existing resources for action as well as their promotion and optimization are in close contact with topics of sustainability.

Find out more about doing a doctorate in philologies in the interview (in German) with Prof. Dr. Jenny Haase.

There is also the possibility to join a structured doctoral programme. You can find out more about the offers here.
For more in-depth insight into the research of the respective institutes of the faculty, visit their websites.

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Faculty of Philosophy III – Educational sciences

The faculty is home to the Institutes for Pedagogy, for School Pedagogy and Elementary School Didactics, for Rehabilitation Pedagogy, and for Catholic Theology and it’s Didactics. Within the faculty’s scope, there are six joint research priorities that offer exciting research opportunities and further training to young academics. You can find a brief summary of these in the subsections below.

Childhood and adolescence research

The living situation and environment of children and adolescents are investigated with regard to their intrinsic logic and individuality in the inter-generational context. Research focuses on historical and social phenomena as well as on socio-economic implications on the living realities of children and adolescents.

Pedagogical Professions // Pedagogical Interactions

Pedagogical professions are investigated with regard to their structural determinations as well as to the professions’ development in the social and educational sector. The research is dedicated to conflicting processes of change, academization, and employment outlook in the field of pedagogical professions.
In an interdisciplinary manner, the research field of Pedagogical Interactions investigates the prerequisites, contexts, execution and support of pedagogical communication, interaction and intervention in multiple areas of activity. Through applied research methods, possibilities for action in the context of, e.g., teaching methodology, pedagogical-therapeutical practices, and the development of instruments for pedagogical and didactical diagnostics, are investigated and developed.

Institutions of the educational and social sector // Cultural sciences of educational research

Here, the development and change of the institutions in the social and educational sector are investigated, with attention to questions regarding educational governance, quality development and development of organisational structures, and cooperations and coordination between different actors. Within this focus, fieldwork is conducted by evaluating individual cases and by accompanying reform projects inside and outside of schools.
What shapes the prerequisites, orientations and executions of education processes of a subject involved in a society and it’s areas of tension? The corresponding studies are embedded in cultural and social theory and religious education. The scope aims to reveal the characterisation of pedagogical categories as well as developing a cultural-scientific empiricism of pedagogical discourses and practices.

Prevention, rehabilitation and health

This research scope is focussing on disability, disadvantage, crisis, illness and health with regard to equal access to all existential concerns throughout the whole lifespan. With attention to the bio-psychological-social complexity of human existence, the research follows up with questions concerning the theory and practice of, e.g., diagnostics, teaching, therapy, assistance, individual life management, as well as strategies of integration and prevention of disability through welfare state services.

There are also offers for structured doctoral studies at the faculty. Find out more about these here.
Visit the institutes’ websites for more details on their research.

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Faculty of Natural Sciences I – Biosciences

The Faculty of Natural Sciences I comprises three institutes: Biotechnology, Biology, and Pharmacy. The research of the faculty focusses on four broad topics: Biodiversity research, molecular biological sciences, protein and RNA research and pharmaceutical-applied research. There’s a brochure giving insight into the research of the faculty’s professors. Strengthening the scientific exchange, contributing to excellent outcomes and providing exciting opportunities and outlooks for young academics, the faculty’s work is strongly interconnected with research institutes within and outside the university.

Some examples for research projects at the faculty:

  • Regeneration of (sub-) tropical mountain forests
  • Regulatory Membrane Lipids
  • Microcystins as drug lead compounds
  • Host factors supporting the replication of pathogenic RNA viruses

Find out more about doing a doctorate in life sciences in the interview (in German) with Prof. Dr. Ingo Heilmann.

Besides individual doctoral studies, young researchers have the opportunity to organise in one of the faculty’s research training groups.
Please see the faculty’s website for more information on the institutes and their research.

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Faculty of Natural Sciences II – Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics

The research activities at the faculty center on Nanostructured Materials, concentrated on three research foci: Synthetic and Biological Macromolecules, Solid State Interfaces, and Nanostructures and Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage (see research portfolio). The interconnectedness of the three research foci occurs via the topics Molecules, Materials and Models. There is a lively, sustainable and attractive environment in education and research that provide many links to other main research areas at MLU, especially to Molecular Biosciences, as well as to non-university research facilities.

Examples for research projects at the faculty:

  • Develop novel electrolytes for battery and transistor systems
  • Improving the efficiency of state-of-the-art solar cells
  • Computeralgebra, especially the improvement of search algorithms

Find out more about doing a doctorate in natural sciences in the interview (in German) with Prof. Dr. Daniel Wefers.

The dedication to encourage young scientists is reflected in a number of graduate schools. For detailed information about the faculty’s and institutes’ research, please see their research websites.

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Faculty of Natural Sciences III – Agricultural and nutritional sciences, geosciences and computer science

The Faculty of Natural Sciences III incorporates the Institutes of Agricultural and Nutritional Science, of Geosciences and Geography, and of Computer Science and therefor covers wide-ranging perspectives on current and future challenges concerning global change. The diverse research within every institute provides numerous opportunities for young researchers. For example, the research in the Agricultural institute spans soil sciences, agricultural engineering, crop sciences, economics and social sciences of farming and biometrics. Geoscientists and geographers find perspectives in working groups ranging from applied geology, over human geography, digital geography, geoecology, to petrology, and many more.

Some examples for research projects at the faculty:

  • The influence of vitamin D on lipid metabolism (Nutritional Sciences)
  • Organic matter dynamics and (de)stabilization processes in soils (Agricultural Sciences)
  • Near-surface geothermal energy (Institute of Geosciences and Geography)
  • Delay management and train disposition (Institute of Computer Science)

For more details on the research at the respective institutes, visit their websites.
There are also structured doctoral programmes associated with the faculty. More information about these can be found here.

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