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CSC-Tübingen PhD Program: Project 18/2020:
Social media use for informal learning

Topic Description:Social media have become a platform for informal learning, e.g., Facebook groups or YouTube videos. Whereas the use of social media for professional purposes has been studied, less is known about using social media for informal learning. An important difference to formal settings is that knowledge is provided often by peers making it more difficult to judge the trustworthiness and expertise of a source; (para)social relationships might play an important role. Central questions of the dissertation could be the motivation for turning to (specific) social media, the effectiveness of using them and the underlying cognitive, affective, and motivational processes.

Faculty: Faculty of Science
Institute/Section/Subject:Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (Knowledge Media Research Center), Media Psychology

Supervising Professors:Prof. Dr. Sonja Utz

About the Supervisors:Sonja Utz is a full professor for Communication via Social Media at University of Tübingen. She is head of the research lab Social Media at Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien in Tübingen. Sonja Utz studied psychology at the Catholic University of Eichstätt from 1991 to 1996, where she also earned her PhD in 1999. Her PhD thesis focused on social identification with virtual communities. Before moving to Tübingen, she held positions in Chemnitz, Amsterdam and Leeuwarden. Her current research focuses on the effects of social media use, especially for (professional) knowledge processes. More information on

Requirements for the application:Required Degrees: Master or equivalent in Psychology
Language Requirements: English

For further instructions on how to apply, more information on the program and contact details please see below.


CSC-Tübingen PhD Program
The China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the University of Tübingen have established a PhD Program which supports Chinese nationals inside and outside of China wishing to carry out all or part of their PhD study in Tübingen.


  • providing high quality research training to qualified students from Chinese universities
  • developing education and research collaborations between the University of Tübingen and Chinese universities and research institutions

Target group:
Excellent postgraduate and doctoral students from Chinese universities who are citizens and permanent residents of the People’s Republic of China at the time of application

Details: Full time fellowship:
  • postgraduate students who want to carry out their complete doctoral studies at the University of Tübingen
  • up to 48 months
  • degree conferred by the University of Tübingen

  • Annual living allowance as prescribed by the Chinese Government (which includes Overseas Student Health Cover)
  • Return airfare to Germany
  • Visa application fees
  • Support for the attendance of international conferences during the second and third year (up to 1000€ granted to successful applicants)

  • Tuition waiver
  • Option to take German language classes provided by the University of Tübingen during the first year
  • Accommodation offered in Tübingen student dormitories depending on availability
  • Opportunities to gain additional teaching and research experience as well as economic benefits from the University of Tübingen from the second year onward (depending on the ability of the applicant and the situation of the respective institute)

Application Process:
  • Jan 15: Application deadline. Applications must be handed in through the online application system of the University of Tübingen
  • by March 1: Successful applicants will be officially informed
  • by April 5: Invited applicants have to register with the CSC according to the regulations of the CSC.
  • by May 31: Final decisions about the allocation of scholarships will be made by the CSC
  • June: Program participants will be invited for a welcome seminar in Beijing
  • by Oct 1: Program participants arrive in Tübingen
  • Successful candidates must return to China upon completion of their studies.

How to Apply:
In order to apply you need to upload the following documents combined in 1 PDF
  • Cover/Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Research proposal
  • Academic transcripts
  • Proof of proficient skills in the required languages (if possible certificates, proficiency=comprehension of a wide range of demanding, longer texts as well as fluent and spontaneous expression allowing a flexible and effective language use for social, academic and professional purposes.)

For questions please contact the representation of the University of Tübingen in Beijing:
European Centre for Chinese Studies (ECCS)
Mr. Christian Buskühl
Peking University Pacific Science and Technology Development Center
52, Haidian Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100080 / Room 708
北京大学太平洋科技发展中心, 北京市 海淀区 海淀路52号 708室 / 邮编: 100080

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