I am interested if teaching is a part of duties for people employed on the positions funded by the German Research Foundation (SFBs in particular). To the best of my knowledge, these are pure research positions. However, what is the legal status?

  • Hi and welcome to Academia.SE! Note that most of us are not lawyers here. Perhaps, you want to re-word your question to clarify what sort of "legal status" concerns you? Sep 10, 2018 at 11:27
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    I was on an SFB position as doctoral researcher and had no teaching duties. DFG is not in the job of funding education. However, the university, not the DFG, is your employer. So what's in your actual work contract may vary from case to case.
    – henning
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:31
  • @henning Yes, I completely agree with your vision. Just want to learn more.
    – yarchik
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:36
  • From my experience, DFG only wants you to teach the minimum amount needed for you to keep your university position. Sometimes they only pay 50% or 75% of your position and you can try to fill the rest with teaching, if your university has funds and a need for that. Overall, I would suggest to read the terms and conditions carefully, somewhere it will say what you are supposed and not supposed to do and what they will do if you break these rules.
    – Dirk
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:48
  • @DirkLiebhold That is the point, these terms and conditions are not easy to find. Can you point me in the right direction?
    – yarchik
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:54

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, you shall not teach within your contract as doctoral researcher in a DFG funded SFB. The reason is simple: There is a project proposal and the DFG gives money to do the work that is described in the proposal. If the proposal does say that the PhD student should work on the research project (and does not say that teaching is part of the job) you shall do that and nothing else.

However, there are several caveats: This applies to all the part of your job that is funded by the SFB. It is not unusual that your position has mixed funding, e.g. 50% comes from an SFB (or another DFG project) and 50% comes from something else. You should not do any teaching in your 50% that are related to the research project, what you do in the rest of the time is another matter. I also know that it is indeed common that PhD students in DFG funded research projects actually do teach somehow (e.g. as a TA). (Probably it is worth noting that PhD students who are funded directly by the university always have teaching duties in Germany.) Maybe this is allowed under some circumstances, but I could not find any regulations by the DFG that are explicit about this. The only thing I found is this part:

4.9.2 Eigene Stelle Personen, die mit einer Eigenen Stelle durch die DFG gefördert werden, sind verpflichtet, sich mit ihrer vollen Arbeitszeit dem in der Bewilligung genannten Projekt zu widmen. Darüber hinausgehende Tätigkeiten für die aufnehmende wissenschaftliche Einrichtung (insbesondere Lehrtätigkeiten oder projektfremde Dienstleistungen wie beispielsweise klinische Routinetätigkeiten sowie die Mitwirkung bei der Patientenversorgung) sind im Rahmen der von der DFG finanzierten Stelle nicht zulässig. Solche Tätigkeiten können außerhalb der regelmäßigen wöchentlichen Arbeitszeit der von der DFG finanzierten Stelle im Rahmen des für die wissenschaftliche Einrichtung geltenden Nebentätigkeitsrechts ausgeübt werden.

This is a quote from the "Verwendungsrichtlinien" of the DFG an applies in the case where you write a proposal to fund your own position. The relevent sentence says that no teaching or non-project related service is allowed.

  • Well, the "Eigene Stelle" passage is not relevant for the question. For the rest, my question is not limited to PhD positions.
    – yarchik
    Sep 11, 2018 at 13:42
  • The same applies for postdoc position, as far as I know. For postdoc its a little more common to do teaching (usually by request of the postdoc) since you need some teaching experience to get any job as a prof in Germany.
    – Dirk
    Sep 11, 2018 at 14:01
  • I read the passage as: Teaching is "allowed" only in addition to and outside of the working hours funded by the DFG. That seems logical to me, since the DFG doesn't fund teaching, but what you do in your own time is your decision. However, AFAIK you must notify your employer of any "Nebentätigkeit".
    – henning
    Sep 11, 2018 at 14:13
  • @henning This is also my reading of the situation.
    – Dirk
    Sep 11, 2018 at 14:51

In general, teaching duties are not required as a condition of SFBs and related programs if the funding covers all of the student’s salary. However, in many fields, the position that they receive might only be 50% or 70% of a TV-L 13 (the “standard position” for calculating graduate student salaries in the German government wage scale). The remainder of their time in principle could be used for teaching to make up the salary difference.

In addition, there is often the expectation that everybody in a professor’s group will make some contribution to teaching efforts unless their funding explicitly prohibits it. But this is a matter of “internal culture” and not something imposed or expected by the DFG.

  • I don't think that there is "standard position" for PhD students in Germany. On the contrary, there are field dependent standards on what the DFG calculates per PhD position (e.g. math used to be 100% but is at 75% right now, computer science is still at 100%, as far as I know).
    – Dirk
    Sep 11, 2018 at 19:05
  • @Dirk: I meant it’s the standard for determining salaries.
    – aeismail
    Sep 11, 2018 at 23:23
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    Ah, I see! Makes sense - any PhD student who is a state employee should be paid according to TVL 13, but the percentage varies.
    – Dirk
    Sep 12, 2018 at 1:09

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