Supervision at the VDTR

The establishment of the Vienna Doctoral School of Theology and Research on Religion is part of a university-wide initiative to offer more structured doctoral programs. The VDTR is currently (as of 09.05.22) one of 15 Doctoral Schools at the University of Vienna. The VDTR prides itself on its explicitly interdisciplinary orientation.
The VDTR was established on the initiative of the Research Center "Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society" (RaT) as a joint project of the Center and the faculties of Protestant Theology and Catholic Theology. After preliminary work by an interdisciplinary team to develop the school's profile and governance structure, the school started to operate on 1 July 2021.

VDTR attaches great importance to:

  • recruiting highly qualified, international doctoral students
  • ensuring its PhD students receive an excellent professional education and supporting them in building professional networks
  • promoting the exchange of doctoral students and supervisors within the institutes and across institute boundaries.

All University of Vienna staff (employed at 50% or more) with habilitation (venia docendi) and working in a theological or religious research discipline can join the VDTR. Supervisors participating in the VDTR must agree to uphold the Code of Good Practice for Doctoral Schools and our Code of Conduct as well as be ready to participate in the activities organized by the Doctoral School.

Interested individuals can download the relevant agreement here, sign it and send it to together with keywords on their research interests. If you are not working at the University of Vienna, please contact the administration via the e-mail address above. We will be happy to check the option of membership.

The role of supervising a dissertation project is of great importance as it helps prospective researchers to engage and network within their academic community. The supervisor is the main point of contact and provides regular feedback and guidance throughout the development of the dissertation. The statutes of the University of Vienna state: "University professors, university professors, habilitated staff, associate university professors and assistant professors in accordance with the collective agreement of the University of Vienna are authorised and, in accordance with their other university duties, also obliged to supervise and assess dissertations. Students are entitled to ask these persons to supervise a dissertation. The topic of the dissertation is to be determined in agreement with the supervisor. Supervision by several authorised supervisors is permitted" (UG §15 (2)).

After the public presentation of the research project (FÖP), the doctoral candidate and supervisor sign a dissertation agreement in which they clarify various aspects of their collaboration, such as the frequency of feedback meetings, etc. In addition, we recommend using the annual progress reports to discuss the progress of the dissertation project and the plans for the following year in detail once a year.


In order to fulfil its interdisciplinary focus, the VDTR encourages co-supervision. Co-supervision means that in addition to the first supervisor, a second person also supervises the dissertation project. If the first supervisor is a member of the University of Vienna and fulfils the legal requirements for supervision, a second supervisor can also come from another institution.

Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)
What is a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC for short)?
The purpose of the TAC is to regularly discuss the research project, taking into account the original objectives and recent developments in the discipline. In addition, the TAC evaluates the progress of the doctoral student and offers advice and support to them and their supervisor(s).

Who belongs to a TAC?
As a rule, it consists of at least four people: the doctoral student, the supervisor(s) and one or two other mentors. It is important that a mentor from an external institution is involved in order to promote networking opportunities. If desired, the VDTR Programme Manager can also take part.

How does the TAC work?
The committee meets at least once a year until the doctorate is completed, starting within the first six months of the dissertation project. The organisation of these meetings is the responsibility of the doctoral candidate. In preparation for each meeting, the doctoral candidate must submit a short written report in which he/she presents the current status of his/her research. The session usually lasts one hour and includes a short presentation, followed by a discussion, constructive feedback and a summary summarising the next steps. In addition, two short time slots are recommended - one discussion in the absence of the supervisor and one discussion in the absence of the doctoral student. The TAC may also make recommendations for participation in specific teaching modules to complement the doctoral student's skills.

Can students set up a TAC without their supervisor?
We value a good working relationship, which requires the agreement of all parties involved, and therefore recommend that students discuss this with the supervisor and obtain their agreement in advance. If you would like to set up a TAC, please get in touch with us:

The VDTR recommends and supports the establishment of Thesis Advisory Committees (TAC).