PhD in Social Sciences

At the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Fribourg, the DCM offers the possibility to pursue a doctoral degree of Social Sciences (Dr. rer. soc.) in Communication Studies. Communication Studies at the University of Fribourg is firmly rooted in the tradition of the social sciences and is devoted to the analysis of public communication in modern societies, looking at both legacy and new media. Central topics are the general framework, systems, processes, contents and effects of communication. Research at the DCM focuses on different actors of communication, media content, media use, exposure and effects, media and news organisations as well as on media systems, including economic, political and cultural influences.

  • Possible Research Fields for a PhD Thesis

    Doctoral theses can be written in the following research fields, among others:

    • Journalism studies (e.g., current developments of journalism, quality in journalism)
    • Theory and history of communication and journalism
    • Political communication (e.g., analysis of political debates, mediatisation of politics)
    • Media use, exposure, and effects (e.g., persuasion, parasocial relationships, health communication, media exposure)
    • Organisational communication (e.g., reputation and issues management, corporate social responsibility, communication strategies)
    • Comparative communication research
    • Media systems and media organisations
    • Media policy and media regulation (e.g., public service media, policy-making processes and power, governance)
    • Analysis of new media and new forms of communication
  • Structure of the PhD Programme

    The core part of the doctoral programme (30 ECTS) is the DCM Colloquium. It is held at least once each semester and offers doctoral students the possibility to present and discuss the current state of their projects. ECTS credits can also be acquired by participating in academic courses at the University of Fribourg or elsewhere (e.g. summer or winter schools) in areas such as theory, methodology, didactics or academic writing and presentation skills, by giving presentations at scientific conferences, by publishing articles in scientific journals or books (first author or co-author), by writing reviews or helping with the organisation of conferences, or by undertaking other academic tasks at the department. For detailed information about the doctoral programme, see the Department's Guidelines for the Doctoral Programme (document in German and French).

 

Professors who are eligible to supervise theses

  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Fahr

    Areas of specialization: 

    • Media selection, media use, media effects 
    • Emotional & cognitive processing of media exposure 
    • Mediated social communication 
    • Parasocial relationships, health communication, entertainment

     

    Supervision of theses in German and English.

    Link

  • Prof. Dr. Alexandra Feddersen

    Areas of specialization: 

    • Political communication 
    • Media and public opinion 
    • Media and democracy 

     

    Supervision of theses in English, French and German.

    Link

  • Prof. Dr. Regula Hänggli

    Areas of specialization: 

    • Political communication 
    • Public debates 
    • Challenges to democracy based on commercialisation and digitalisation 
    • Relation between media and democracy

     

    Supervision of theses in German and English.

    Link

  • Prof. Dr. Laura Illia

    Areas of specialization:

    • Legitimacy, reputation, stigmatization and new media
    • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)  and communication 
    • Communication, social impact and businesses in the circular economy
    • Emerging forms of organising, audiences and social media
    • Business, agenda setting (1st, 2nd, 3rd level), media salience
    • Crisis communication, stakeholder management

     

    Supervision of theses in French and English.

    Link

  • Prof. Dr. Diana Ingenhoff

    Areas of specialization:

    • Strategic communication, organisational communication, communication management 
    • International public relations research, public diplomacy and country images 
    • Corporate social responsibility (CSR), social advocacy, and media quality 
    • Reputation management and crisis communication in the digital age

     

    Supervision of theses in German and English.

    Link

  • Prof. Dr. Manuel Puppis

    Areas of specialization:

    • International comparison of media systems & Swiss media system 
    • Media policy, media regulation, and media governance 
    • Media organisations and journalism
    • Critical communication research

     

    Supervision of theses in German and English.

    Link

  • Prof. Dr. Philomen Schönhagen

    Areas of specialization:

    • Theory and history of mass communication 
    • Journalism research
    • History of mass communication research 
    • Qualitative methods in communication studies
    • Gender and media

     

    Supervision of theses in German, French and English.

    Link