International Max Planck Research School for Successful Dispute Resolution in International Law
Call for Applications 2021

The International Max Planck Research School for Successful Dispute Resolution in International Law (IMPRS-SDR) is accepting applications for PhD proposals within the research areas of the Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution and the Department of European and Comparative Procedural Law to fill a total of

5 funded PhD positions
at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law.


Founded in 2009, the IMPRS-SDR offers a multi-national student body the opportunity to examine and compare international dispute resolution from a legal perspective while also considering interdisciplinary, including political, sociological, historical, and economic aspects. In addition to providing a stimulating research environment, the IMPRS-SDR strives to furnish PhD candidates with first-hand practical insights into the many facets of international dispute resolution. Following a successful evaluation for the period 2014-2020, the IMPRS-SDR is now in its third funding phase (2021-2026) and currently comprises 5 PhD candidates.

In the third funding phase, PhD students are expected to focus on the development and the changes of dispute resolution in both private and public international law since the 2nd World War and especially after the Millennium. Additional emphasis shall be put on regional developments. Candidates may propose their own research topic or choose one of the topics listed in the Annex to this Call for Application.

The IMPRS-SDR is a multi-institutional effort by the Max Planck Institute for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law in Luxembourg, Heidelberg University, the University of Luxembourg, and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg.

Our offer

Selected PhD candidates will receive full-time research contracts of initially 2 years, with a possible extension of up to additional 2 years depending on the availability of funds, the student’s progress, and the directors‘ approval. In addition to being embedded in one of the vibrant Departments and its activities, the PhD candidates will be part of the IMPRS-SDR through which they will receive additional scholarly guidance and take part in events, such as doctoral seminars, master classes, and lectures. PhD candidates will benefit from the productive working environment within an international and creative team of researchers and have the opportunity to establish contacts and networks with all participating institutions as well as visiting academics and practitioners.

The IMPRS-SDR supports and encourages PhD candidates to present their work at national and international conferences and to conduct research stays at a partnering institution and elsewhere. Select PhD candidates will have the opportunity to work in an international dispute settlement institution, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The MPI Luxembourg will provide a fully equipped office and access to its renowned legal library. Salary and social benefits are provided according to the Luxembourgish legal requirements.

Please be aware that the Max Planck Society does not award doctoral degrees. PhD students must therefore enroll at the University of Luxembourg. Subject to the regulations of the University of Luxembourg, co-tutelles can be arranged with universities outside of Luxembourg. However, the place of work is at the Max Planck Institute in Luxembourg.

Admission Criteria and Application Requirements

The IMPRS-SDR is looking for highly qualified candidates with a strong international focus, with respect to both their experience and area of research. IMPRS-SDR candidates are expected to have graduated in the top 5-10 percent of their university class. They have ideally spent considerable time abroad, as a student or an intern at an international organization or institution, or they have already worked in a field of law that is relevant to the IMPRS-SDR. PhD candidates are expected to commit to their research project and to collaborate with the colleagues in the Department to which they are assigned as well as their fellow IMPRS-SDR scholars. They should therefore have good social skills and be interested in teamwork and academic exchange.

Applicants are requested to provide the following documents:

  1. A curriculum vitae (CV), including a list of publications (if any);
  2. Copies of law degree / other university degrees / bar exam (if available), including a formal record of university courses, transcripts, and class rank. Documents must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation.
  3. A succinct description of the research proposal the applicant intends to pursue (in English, 3 to 5 pages). The proposal should include the following:
    1. a general outline of the topic, including why the applicant considers it to be important;
    2. a description of the state of the art and the applicant's preliminary work on the topic;
    3. the research question and the specific goals of the research project;
    4. the methodology, including interdisciplinary approaches; and
    5. a bibliography of the key publications on the topic as an Annex (not counting towards the page limit).

    Applicants should be aware that their final research project is subject to modification by and agreement with their supervisor.

  4. Two letters of recommendation in English by professors familiar with the applicant's academic legal training. Letters of recommendation should comment in particular on the applicant's ability to conduct academic research.
  5. Applicants must be fluent in English. Non-native speakers can prove their proficiency by successful completion of legal studies (for example an LLM degree) in an English-speaking country, or through other evidence that shows they possess the requisite level of English. A minimum of 90 points in the Internet Based TOEFL (or IELTS equivalent) is required. Originals (or certified copies) of the relevant documents (including TOEFL score) need only be provided after the decision on admission has been made.

Application and Selection Process

IMPRS-SDR doctoral students are selected in a two-stage process. The first stage consists of an evaluation of the written application by an admissions board composed of professors and academics involved in the IMPRS-SDR (the selection committee). Shortlisted applicants subsequently will be invited to interviews (second stage of the application process). The selection committee will aim to invite candidates for personal interviews in Luxembourg. Interviews may also take place via video conference. The selection committee will render its admission decision by June 15th, 2021 the latest, based on the interviews and the written application.

Please note that while applicants may express a preference for a certain supervisor, the IMPRS-SDR will allocate the primary and secondary supervisor upon completion of the selection process.

The Max Planck Institute Luxembourg is an equal opportunity employer.

The deadline for applications for PhD positions expired on 31 March 2021.

For any questions with regard to the IMPRS-SDR and this Call for Applications, please contact:
Dr. Michalis Spyropoulos, IMPRS-SDR Coordinator, at:

Annex: List of potential topics