The purpose of the coursework phase is to deepen methodological skills and provide knowledge in the specialised areas. In each area of specialisation, two compulsory and a minimum of two elective methodological courses need to be completed. Compulsory courses are offered every semester for each specialisation. Elective courses can be selected either from the PMA's range of methodological courses or the Global School in Empirical Research Methods (GSERM) or they can also be chosen externally. PhD students finalise the coursework phase by preparing and presenting a research proposal to their thesis committee.
The research phase is focused on the writing of the PhD thesis and is accompanied by at least two PhD colloquia in order to discuss research progress and to obtain new insights from colleagues and faculty members. An independent colloquium or methodological course must also be conducted during either the coursework or research phase. Methodological courses and colloquia are offered at least once per year. Moreover, students can obtain credit for/compensate up to two courses or seminars for external doctoral courses. The research phase is finalised by submitting the thesis to the PhD committee and thesis committee and defending it in an oral, public examination conducted by the supervisors and co-supervisors.
The PMA programme is divided into four areas of specialisation. The course and research phase are specific for each specialisation concerning the more knowledge-oriented courses and the colloquia. Regarding the methodological courses, there is a broad openness for different methodological courses and the PhD students can select from a whole set of empirical, i.e. qualitative and quantitative, methodological courses. This was designed in such a manner to support the PhD students’ specific needs in their research projects and on the understanding that the research problem or questions define the methodological stand and not the disciplinary field.