Vademecum for PhD Students

This is a summary of the main steps

In the event of a question or dispute, only the current regulations apply. The FGSE doctoral regulation (RegDoc) endeavor to specify the role of each of the actors in the thesis. The role of the doctoral student is described in article 11, and that of the thesis in articles 1 and 16. The role of the thesis supervisor is set out in articles 5 (Thesis supervisor) and 10 (Thesis co-supervisor).

Before the PhD - Initial steps

Make sure that you have a title allowing you to access doctoral studies at UNIL.

Please note: in the case of a non-consecutive or foreign title to be validated by the SI, it is strongly recommended to wait for confirmation of thesis registration before starting any contract at Unil bound to a thesis.

Identify a thesis supervisor who is willing to follow your work within the faculty. Complete list of researchers by research theme:

As soon as a teacher accepts to supervise your thesis, register without delay at the Service des immatriculations et inscriptions (SII), register yourself and announce that you have done so at the following e-mail address:

Be aware that registration with the SII and registration with the FGSE are two distinct procedures which must be carried out in parallel and validated both to be admitted as an FGSE doctoral student.

Obtain the PhD form from the SII and send it or bring two copies of it duly completed and signed (future doctoral student & thesis supervisor) to the following address:

UNIL, Décanat FGSE
Doctoral Secretariat
Géopolis - office 4611
CH-1015 Lausanne

Please note: the section/branch/orientation field of the form can only contain one of the following four mentions: geography, earth sciences, environmental sciences, tourism studies. Your choice can still be modified later (see conditions in point 10 below).

Once your thesis certificate validated by the Vice-Dean for Research, you will receive an e-mail from the Doctoral Students' Secretariat with the Code of ethics form. Sign it and send it back to this Secretariat.

During your thesis

Comply regulary with the FGSE guidelines on safety and protective measures for field work and travel abroad (see attached documents under Deanship Guidelines).

Make sure with your supervisor that a supervisory committee is set up for your thesis and meets already during the first year of your thesis (see art. 14 RegDoc) and then every year throughout your thesis.

Before the annual meeting of your thesis supervisory committee, write your activity report on the basis of the ad hoc form ; the form provides a good guidance for describes this process. Communicate the first part of it to the committee members a few days before the meeting. It is not meant as an exam, and the exercise is not graded.

 What is a PhD committee and how does it work at the FGSE?

At the end of the session, the second part of the form must be completed, and the whole report signed by yourself, your thesis director and the experts (the experts can validate this part of the report by an email). Your supervisor then communicates it to the Vice-Dean of Research via the Doctoral Students' Secretariat.

Then make sure that your thesis director organizes such a meeting at least once a year throughout the thesis.

Every end of spring, you will receive a questionnaire from the Graduate Campus on the status of your thesis. Your thesis director will also receive a form to fill in. This "survey" is above all informative and can, if you wish, remain confidential.

In case of difficulties within the supervision of your thesis, do not wait.

  1. Privilege direct and transparent discussions with your supervisor as soon as a problem appears (cf. art. 15).
  2. Keep notes and records, in particular the annual thesis committee report.
  3. If necessary, ask for the call of an extraordinary meeting of the thesis supervisory committee.
  4. There are several avenues for further discussion and action.
    • The Dean’s office (Vice-dean Research, Research administrator, or doctoral secretary) may be contacted informally for advice.
    • The case should be notified formally to the Vice-Dean if it warrants.
    • Graduate Campus are available for advice.
    • The SHR can advise on contractual, human resources issues.
    • Mediation services.
  5. If the issue concerns only assistantship (HR, not academic issue), take contact with the institute direction first; if it concerns an FNS or other third part funding, please contact the Vice-Dean too. The SHR can advise on contractual, human resources issues.
  6. Useful links : Commission hygiene et sécurité - Aide UNIL.

A change of discipline can occur at any time, but at the latest at the registration for the private colloquium. A letter with a justification, signed by the thesis supervisor, by the doctoral student (and possibly by the designated faculty referent) indicating this intention is to be sent to the Doctoral Students' Secretariat in order to obtain the formal prior agreement of the Vice-Dean RCQ.

If the request for change is made lately at the time of the procedure initiating the private colloquium, it must be explicitly formulated in the letter of proposal of the thesis jury and will be valid only after confirmation by the Vice-Dean. The title page of the thesis is then adapted accordingly, as well as the following correspondence, to avoid confusion.

When the request has been made before the procedure of organization of the colloquium, the written agreement by the V-D must be joined to the documents mentioned under article 19 of the RegDoc FGSE. No request for a change of discipline made after the above mentioned deadline is admissible.

Ask your thesis director about the modalities of the private colloquium (composition of the jury, schedule, proceedings, evaluation criteria, etc.) and coordinate the steps with him/her. Do not hesitate to ask the Secretariat of PhDs for further information if necessary.

Please note: The private defense is scheduled to take place at least six weeks after this deposit, except in cases of force majeure.

At least six weeks before the private thesis defense
NB The private defense is scheduled to take place at least six weeks after this deposit, except in cases of force majeure.

Submit the following documents to the SD:

  • its electronic copy (for example),
  • a letter signed by your thesis director (with the composition of the jury and its contact information, including email, plus the date and time of the conference), countersigned by you for acceptance of the composition of your jury, whose all experts must be independent of the thesis work,
  • confirmation of the discipline in which the thesis is being defended (in the event of a change since registration at the beginning of the thesis, a copy of the decision of the Dean's Office must be included in the accompanying documents) - if this has not been done and is desired and justified, the request must be made in this same letter, and argumented. The valid discipline must also appear on the cover page in the form "Doctoral degree in …",
  • a complete CV,
  • a list of publications,
  • a one-page summary in French and a one-page summary in English of your thesis and a one-page summary in French of equivalent size for the general public,
  • a royalty-free image (photo, computer graphics or portrait / at least 1200 pixel wide) related to the thesis.

You don't need to reserve a room for the conference or the defense, the FGSE SD office takes care of it.

Please ensure that each member of the jury receives the same version of the manuscript in paper or electronic format as the one submitted to the Secretariat des doctorants.

Between the private defense and the public defence
NB The public defense takes place, except in cases of force majeure, at the earliest three weeks and, as a general rule, at the latest four months after the private defense. If the decision taken at the private defense is non-admissibility or admissibility with a request for modifications (cf. article 21.7, points 2 and 3 of the present Rules), a waiting period of at least 31 days after the private defense applies for the setting of a date for a new private defense or accordingly, for the public defense.

Ask the thesis director about the modalities of the public defense (calendar, composition of the jury, procedure, evaluation criteria, etc.) and coordinate with him/her the steps to be taken.

Make any corrections requested by the thesis jury. Have them validated by your thesis director or by the person designated by the jury. Send the revised electronic version of your thesis to the Secrétariat des doctorants, along with a validation email from your thesis director (this new version of the thesis must be sent to the Secrétariat des doctorants within a maximum of three months after the colloquium, and at least one week before the date of the defense set at the end of the private colloquium). Make sure that the formal requirements for the presentation of the thesis document are perfectly fulfilled, notably that the discipline (« Title of Doctor in … » ) appears on it. Make sure that the whole jury has the last electronic version with the corrections validated at the end of this step.

After the public defence - Obtaining your degree

After your defense, please fill out your pre-order of grade before you come to BCU. Please deposit your thesis at BCU before February 28 for the fall semester and before October 15 for the spring semester and thus be exempt from the registration fee for the following semester.

Before bringing your thesis to BCU, don't forget to pre-fill your grade order so that BCU can validate your deposit. Pay the registration fee for your defense (500 CHF) within 10 days (an invoice will be sent to you by the doctoral secretariat).

Before bringing your thesis to BCU, don't forget to pre-fill your grade order so that BCU can validate your deposit.

Please deposit written and electronic copies of the thesis (including systematically imprimatur) as follows:

a. University Library. Deposit three paper copies of the final thesis including the imprimatur as soon as possible at the University Library (BCU-Dorigny) - at the latest six months after the defense.

b. UNIL institutional online Open Access repository (SERVAL). Upload your electronic final thesis to SERVAL through the MyUnil website (not mandatory, see Directive 3.10 of the Direction). If done, fill out and send to the doctoral secretariat three copies of the Serval electronic deposit contract.

c) Thesis Director(s). Send a paper and electronic copy of the final version to your thesis director (and co-director if relevant).

d) Institute Libraries or Documentation Centres. Instructions differ depending upon your affiliation:

  • IGD - for each thesis in geography, environment or tourism carried out under the (co)supervision of a member of the IGD: one paper copy is to be deposited or sent to the PhD Students' Secretariat/Secretariat des doctorants (for the IGD Documentation Center).
    Tourism studies: an additional paper copy must be deposited or sent to the PhD' Students Secretariat/Secretariat des doctorants (intended for the library of the Sion site).
  • IDYST or ISTE - for each thesis carried out under the (co)direction of a member of the IDYST or ISTE in Earth science or in environmental sciences: two paper copies and a digital version must be deposited at the Earth Sciences Library (Bibliothèque des sciences de la Terre), 2nd floor of Géopolis.

e) FGSE Doctoral Secretariat. Finally, provide the following to the FGSE Doctoral Students’ Secretariat in the same email:

f) You may want to communicate your final version to other people related to the thesis and your work (members of the Comité de suivi de thèse, other people who contributed to your thesis work, ...), think about it at this last step.

  • An electronic copy of your final version
  • Confirmation that you have followed the steps a,b,c,d above and paid the registration fee for your defense (500 CHF)
  • If relevant, three copies of the Serval electronic deposit contract mentioned above (b)

Notify the Doctoral Students' Secretariat by email once this last step has been completed to ensure that the order can be tracked.