[Beowulf] Degree

Herbert Fruchtl Herbert.Fruchtl at st-andrews.ac.uk
Wed Oct 24 16:31:30 PDT 2012

Some interesting statements here, even though some of them based on hearsay and anecdotes. Since the discussion focuses on Germany (where I studied, albeit a few decades ago; things may have changed) and the UK (where I work at a University), here my 2 cents/pence:

As for the OP: I don't know if what you want is possible. I wouldn't be too optimistic, but try to get into contact with academics (in Germany, or the east and south from it), and think about what you can offer them. Why would they help you if there's nothing in it for them? Anyway, here's my take on the two systems:

The British system is not feudalism (I don't know where people get this quaint, romantic picture of the country from). but capitalism. Universities are commercial operations that can go bust if they earn less money than they spend. They get some money from the government, but not enough, so they charge fees. For local and European students, these are capped at £9k/y (which is an outrageous amount, but loans are available if you don't mind being in debt for the rest of your life). Students from outside the EU pay considerably more. A PhD takes 3-4 years (depending on university, subject and funding body). A state-funded PhD position covers those fees (the UK/EU ones, that is...) and living expenses (not what you are used to if you worked in industry). This is about England (and Wales?); Scotland is different again... The studentships from Research Councils and similar bodies usually come with the requirement of a first degree (Bachelor or Master) with a certain grade (2.1), so our OP is out of luck. I don't know if there is a possibility to submit a thesis outside this system.

The German system of 20 years ago (I repeat: this may have changed) had no rules for how to produce a thesis (mechanisms and funding, but no rules). The only "hard" rules were about getting your Doctorate: a Professor presents your thesis to the faculty of his department, and if they are happy with it, you get a chance to defend it (aka an oral exam). Since I never met anybody who came from outside the system, I can't guarantee that there are no additional criteria (like a first degree). Should be possible to find out.

Good luck,


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