Vademecum for PhD Students

Transitional adaptation for private colloquia and public defenses of theses (as of November 4, 2020)

Private colloquia continue to be held as much as possible by videoconference. If they take place in person because the participants wish or for technical reasons, the rules laid down by the OFSP continue to apply in the premises used at UNIL.

At the end of the private colloquium, and depending on the result, the jury and the candidate propose a date at least three weeks after the date of the private symposium, in accordance with usual practice.

Public defenses can no longer take place in full attendance (jury, candidate and public) from November 4, 2020: they are allowed within the limit of 10 persons, with a new restriction however: they can only gather the persons directly involved in the defense and evaluation of the thesis, and are therefore closed as such to any external audience. The latter can be invited only in the form of a videoconference

The presentation is limited to a duration of 40 to 45 minutes and the candidate then answers questions from the jury which may also relate to scientific communication, the transmission of science to the general public (scientific mediation) in the field of his thesis.

The public defense in partial presence is then carried out in front of a video camera and retransmitted by digital means to the public or part of the public (transmission of the Zoom/Webex link to the public for example).

When the public defense is entirely by videoconference (jury, candidate, public), it takes place under the same conditions of duration and exchange with the jury as in partial face-to-face.

The doctoral students' secretariat is at your disposal in case of questions and for the concrete organisation related to the procedures mentioned above. Please contact Mrs Joëlle Richard.

We would like to remind you that these are transitional measures, subject to modifications within a fairly short period of time. In this context, we try to preserve as much as possible the interests of the candidates and the juries.

Steps related to the printing of the thesis

The situation is now back to normal (printing and then physical deposit at the Cantonal University Library (BCU) and other copies requested in the Faculty).

Before the PhD - Initial steps

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


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:


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:

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

Please take 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 (NB: your choice can still be modified later).


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 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 during the first year of your thesis (see art. 14 RegDoc).


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.

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.


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.

At least six weeks before the private thesis defense

Submit a printed copy of the thesis to the SD with

  • its electronic copy
  • 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
  • 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) related to the thesis.

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

Between the private defense and the public defence

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 and send to the Doctoral Students' Secretariat within a maximum of three months (and at least one week before the date of the defense if it was scheduled at the end of the private colloquium), a new handwritten copy of the thesis signed for validation by your thesis director or by the person designated by the jury to validate the revised version. Check that the formal requirements for the presentation of the manuscript are perfectly fulfilled.

After the public defence - Obtaining your degree

Deposit your imprimatur as soon as possible at the Cantonal and University Library (BCU-Dorigny) - at the latest six months after the defense - and make the required deposit of the various final copies of the thesis according to the RegDoc FGSE.


Print three copies of the notice of deposit of thesis downloadable opposite and send back one copy to the SD, duly completed and validated by the official stamp of the BCU.


Pay the registration fee for your defense (500.- CHF) within 10 days (an invoice will be sent to you between the date of the defense and the public defense).


Once these steps have been taken, you will receive a link by email allowing you to order your grade online. Notify the Doctoral Students' Secretariat by email once this last step has been completed to ensure that the order can be tracked. To deposit on SERVAL, complete and send to the Doctoral Students' Secretariat 3 copies of the SERVAL electronic deposit contract.

Suivez nous:    

FGSE Doctoral Secretariat

Joëlle Richard
Géopolis - office 4611
CH-1015 Lausanne

Tel: +41 (0)21 692 62 93

Absent on Friday

Thesis deposit or personalized information by appointment