Study Programme

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General information


  University of Lausanne - Faculty of Biology and Medicine
School of Biology
Head of the Master   Vincent Varlet (Swiss Human Institute of Forensic Taphonomy)
Grade    Master of Science in Human Taphonomy - Maîtrise universitaire ès Sciences en Taphonomie Humaine
Credits   120 ECTS
Beginning   Mid-September
Duration   2 years (4 semesters)
Registration Deadline   April 30 (February 28 for candidates needing a study visa)
Charges   CHF 580.- per semester
Teaching Language   English
Contact   Secrétariat de l'Ecole de biologie
Amphipôle 312
CH-1015 Lausanne
Tél. 021 692 40 10
Fax. 021 692 40 05
Email: biologie-etudiants[@]
Structure of the studies

The following programme is still provisional, and thus subject to change.



Each semester contains one module of 30 ECTS :

Module 1 - Human Body

Lectures, demonstrations and hands-on courses provide an introduction to human anatomy and the diversity of states in which human bodies can be found. The acquired knowledge and skills will be applied in the context of three short projects.

Module 2 - Human Body Environment

Lectures, demonstrations and hands-on courses explore the organic and inorganic material surrounding the dead human body, also called Cadaver Decomposition Island (CDI), and its temporal evolution. Teaching also includes environmental topics (i.e., microbiology, entomology and botany) and social topics related to human remains (i.e., localisation sciences, laws and ethics).

The acquired knowledge and skills will be applied in the context of two short projects.

This module also includes a hands-on course on real exhumations, providing the unique opportunity to work in true conditions.

Module 3 - Forensic Human Body

Lectures, demonstrations and hands-on courses provide knowledge in forensic medicine, imaging, archaeology, anthropology, odontology, biology, genetics and toxicology, following concepts used in forensic routine at the Lausanne University Centre of Legal Medicine (CURML).

Communication skills will be acquired through workshops and seminars. The acquired knowledge will be used to design a website dedicated to a specific forensic discipline.

Module 4 - Research project

This module consists in carrying out an individual Master research project.

Course schedules

Course schedules will be published in 2024.

Study plan


The pandemic has shown us that circumstances beyond our control may require us to make the following adjustments /adaptations to study plans during the semester:

  • possibility to switch from one mode of teaching to another (face-to-face <-> distance, synchronous <-> asynchronous, switch to co-modal teaching where it was not initially planned).
  • change / modification of evaluation modalities, without inducing derogations from the Study Regulations (oral <-> written, exam <-> validation, individual work <-> group work, practical work <-> theoretical work, face-to-face evaluation <-> online evaluation, etc.)
  • alternative or time-shifted modalities for teachings, internships, practical work, fieldworks and camps that could not take place or teachings that could no longer take place in the form initially planned.  

Students are invited to consult this document regularly (Study Plan & Evaluation Procedure).

Study Plan - 2024-2025 - Master HT

Master of Science in Human Taphonomy
Study Plan Master HT - 2024-2025  (117 Ko)

Course descriptions

The course descriptions are available on the internet of the University of Lausanne at the page: Programmes offered at the UNIL under the heading Structure of the Stage struc.png.


For the study plans of previous academic years, please visit our Archives page.


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Campus map


Use interactive maps to find auditorium, office or cafeteria


Online schedules


Course schedules are also available on MyUNIL