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PhD in the English department


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The English Department offers promising post-graduate students the opportunity to pursue a PhD with any of its permanent members of staff (i.e. professors and maîtres d’enseignement et de recherche, also known as MERs).

There is no doctoral-level course-work so students are expected to have excelled at a high-quality MA program before they arrive and be able to carry out independent research. Advanced training is, however, available to UNIL students through the CUSO-funded Doctoral School in English in Western Switzerland (encompassing the universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Bern), which offers doctoral workshops, seminars and conferences several times a year. For more information see here.


There are several ways to finance a doctorate degree in the English department:

- The English department employs some doctoral students as assistants (5-year research and teaching positions) in the different fields taught in the department. An assistant position rarely becomes available (see advertisements here) and is extremely competitive

- Students can fund their PhD projects themselves by working part-time as they are writing

- Finally, students can apply for external funding through the FNS (National Science Foundation) (see also here)


In any of these cases, the first step to inquiring about a doctoral study is to talk to a potential supervisor and determine if that person is willing and able to take you on based on a solid research proposal. We privilege close working conditions with a small group of highly qualified students and many staff members are already working with a full load.

When contacting a prospective supervisor by email or post, please send a research proposal and cover letter explaining why that person would be ideal to direct your project. Please be aware that we do not offer financial aid or scholarships, so please be prepared to explain how you will fund yourself.

If you have the agreement of a supervisor in the department, you may enroll either in October or February (students without a UNIL degree need to apply in July) and submit a 5-10 page thesis proposal (including bibliography).

You will find more administrative and practical information about doctoral studies at the University of Lausanne’s Faculty of Arts here.


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