I am currently considering Ph.D. or postdoctoral opportunities in Europe and have a strong preference for research-focused positions. I am interested in pursuing a program or position where the primary emphasis is on research, and teaching assistance responsibilities are minimal or non-existent.

I understand that teaching assistance can be an essential part of many academic programs, and I am open to some level of involvement in teaching. However, I am particularly interested in finding opportunities where I can dedicate most of my time and energy to conducting research and contributing to academic advancements in my field.

Are there universities or research institutions in Europe that offer Ph.D. or postdoctoral positions with a primary focus on research and minimal teaching assistance responsibilities? If so, could you please provide some examples or share your experiences with such programs?

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    how can you be considering PhD or postdoc positions when the first is a requirement for the second? Jul 21, 2023 at 22:01
  • Yes, you’re correct that a Ph.D. is usually a requirement for a postdoc. When I say I’m considering both, I simply mean I’m exploring different academic paths. My main focus at this time is finding roles that emphasize research over teaching. @ZeroTheHero. Additionally, I’m interested in understanding the academic and funding culture in Europe for both doctoral and postdoctoral studies. I believe this information will be beneficial for me.
    – hanugm
    Jul 21, 2023 at 22:09
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    I’m not sure there’s a unique answer, or even a uniform answer. In some cases teaching is viewed as a way to supplement the income from a research grant or projet, but this is highly dependent on individual circumstances. Jul 21, 2023 at 22:16
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    "particularly interested in finding opportunities where I can dedicate most of my time and energy to conducting research and contributing to academic advancements in my field." Not an answer to the question, but I'd like to point out that teaching can be quite helpful for doing research and contributing advancements in one's field. Jul 22, 2023 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


At least in the U.K. in STEM subjects, many PhD positions are part of doctoral training programs now. These are fully funded and do not require any teaching. However, individual universities may require some minimal amount of teaching - I think mine was four hours total across the whole program.

Similarly, in the U.K., in STEM, I’m not aware of any post-doc colleagues who have any kind of teaching mandated, it’s purely research.

On the other hand, I think it is much more common for students in the arts and humanities to have teaching as part of their contract, as there is obviously a lot less funding for those kind of positions.

  • How many hours are you supposed to stay in labs, and is there a need to send a detailed email every day about the progress?
    – hanugm
    Jul 21, 2023 at 19:01
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    Well my contract says 9-5 but nobody ever checks on my hours ever. Certainly no need to send emails daily,I go weeks without taking to my line manager. As long as you do your week on a longer timescale it’s very flexible. But that’s just my experience and it may be different to others.
    – user438383
    Jul 21, 2023 at 19:04

Short answer is, yes, there are.
A simple search on Indeed or Academicgate or LinkedIn or any other will bring them up.

The essence of a postdoc (or PGRA/PGRF - postdoctoral research associate/fellow) is to engage with research rather than academic teaching.
Whether a unit/dept/school/university allows that is a different topic. To 'run' away from teaching, one avoids associate lecturer, lecturer, assistant professor positions. Well, some allow for research-focussed track.

Lumping PhD and postdocs together as in this question might however do a disservice to the question.
The structure (form and format) of PhD varies across Europe. Even within the UK, there's the traditional funded/unfunded, the doctoral training, the industrial professional doctorate, other structured doctorate. More so , the UK/Ireland doctoral training format doesn't equate to Scandinavian PhD (generally speaking).
Hence, I'll say, rather approach PhD positions different from postdocs.

  • 1
    Thanks for respondng. In my country, Ph.D. and postdoc candidates are typically required to do teaching assistant (TA) work, which led me to inquire about both Ph.D. and postdoc opportunities. However, I understand the importance of distinguishing between the roles, and I agree that lumping them together may not fully address the nuances of their responsibilities. My intention is to understand the prevalent culture surrounding teaching assistantship and research focus in both Ph.D. and postdoc positions.
    – hanugm
    Jul 21, 2023 at 19:26
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    US National Lab postdocs generally have no teaching requirements. Analogous labs in Europe are similar. 30+ years ago I had no teaching responsibilities at the institute I did my postdoc at.
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 21, 2023 at 19:48
  • Could you elaborate on "To 'run' away from teaching, one avoids [...] assistant professor positions"? In my experience (mathematics in Germany) it would in most cases be close to insane to decline an offer for an assistant professorship in favour of a postdoc position in order to run away from teaching. People will only take postdoc positions as long as they don't have an offer for a professorship. Jul 22, 2023 at 16:27

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