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A habilitation (in Germany and Austria at least) gives you the venia legendi, or the formal licence ot teach at higher education institutes - and now comes the important part - for a given discipline.

Does it mean that if I feel home in two different disciplines (say, sociology on the one hand and computer science on the other), and if I want to teach in both, that I need two habilitations?

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The habilitation is awarded by your faculty and is only valid for that faculty. Even if you feel at home in two disciplines, you can only belong to one faculty. Thus, you can only have one habilitation.

There is something called "Umhabilitation" (re-habilitation) for when you change faculties or move to a different university. That is a simplified procedure where you give up your habilitation at the old faculty and get a new habilitation at the new faculty.

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The venia legendi gives you the right to teach independently in a certain field at a certain university. This does not mean that you are not allowed to teach in a different field but you might have to get permission from the department or organize your lecture with a professor from the department.

From my personal experience different departments have very different attitudes towards habilitation. In all computer science departments I have been part of the habilitation was not really necessary for anything.

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  • Is it really true that a habilitation is specific to a single university? That would seem odd to me if true.
    – Buffy
    Aug 18, 2022 at 13:20
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    @Buffy Yes, it is true.
    – user9482
    Aug 18, 2022 at 14:10
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For teaching you don't need the habitation at all. And more specifically: I dont think that I've ever seen a person with two different habitations (because it requires not only significant teaching experience but also a lot of publications in the area which hardly anyone will have for 2 different areas).

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