The English PhD program offers students who have excelled at BA and MA level, in Switzerland or elsewhere, the opportunity to produce a book-length piece of original scholarship (the dissertation) which, if successful, will earn them the title of “Dr.” PhD students conduct their research on a focused topic under the supervision of a permanent member of staff who is a specialist in the proposed area of research. There is no coursework associated with the PhD degree, so students must be prepared to work largely independently for the duration of their doctoral work. That said, the English Department maintains a vibrant intellectual culture comprised of lectures, symposia, study trips, and other events. Moreover, the inter-institutional CUSO Doctoral Workshop offers opportunities for specialized training in most areas of English literary studies and linguistics. Traditionally, the PhD is envisaged as the gateway to an academic career. While this remains the case, those who hold a PhD in English also possess skills essential for careers in arts administration, archival work, education leadership, government, and research.
Enrollment and Funding
Those wishing to enter the PhD program should be fluent, or near fluent, in English and should have strong MA credentials. In particular, they should have received a top grade for their MA thesis. The first step in enrolling in the PhD program is to try to secure a dissertation supervisor. Our permanent staff members (professors and MERs) have scholarly credentials in specific fields of English literary studies and linguistics, information on which can be found in the “Staff” section of the English Department website. If you find a permanent staff member whose scholarly interests intersect with your own, you may send them an inquiry comprised of a cover letter and a 3-5-page research proposal (inclusive of bibliography). These materials should explain the proposed dissertation topic, why the staff member in question would be qualified to supervise it, and how the applicant plans to fund themself. Regarding the latter, UNIL does not offer its own scholarships or financial aid. The three main options are as follows: (1) secure a departmental “assistant” position. These are rare and highly competitive; (2) apply for external funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation; or (3) self-fund by working part-time.