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I will apply for a PhD soon. I would be applying to the Politics department, but there is a professor in a different department who holds really interesting seminars on political topics. However, as I said, he is not affiliated at all with this department. How do I ask him / how could I phrase this best?

PS: My question is not whether I can attend his lectures as a guest -I would love to take these seminars for credit, if I can. I just don't know whether that's an option, or whether students from the politics department will be allowed in these lectures/seminars.

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The answer to your question is easy. Simply ask:

I am very interested by your lectures. Can I attend them as a student in the politics department?

The professor, however, is probably not the best resource to answer your question, especially if you want to enroll in the course. You should enquire at your future department what is allowed and what is not. Rules can vary between departments and programs.

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    This. Almost always the question for "How do I ask..." is "You ask." – Fomite Jan 22 '18 at 21:59
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I agree with Emilie, and would emphasise first checking the regulations/technicalities with administrative staff who can advise you on that.

My experience (in Germany) is that taking a related class in another department is totally possible, but may require that lecturer's permission, which would be the point at which you contact the lecturer.

Emilie's suggested phrasing sounds good. I would suggest to maybe include (very succinctly, in one or two sentences) why you are interested in their course and a bit more specificity regarding who you are (rather than "a politics student"). This just makes it a bit easier for them to remember you, which is helpful if you need to go up to them at the beginning or the end of the first class in order to get a form signed indicating their permission for you to take the course.

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