Research project : First step & Master research project


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  • Develop the ability to understand a biological system

  • Learn to develop a research question, formulate a hypothesis and define an appropriate experimental approach to answer the question

  • Develop analytical and critical thinking

  • Be part of a research group

  • Communicate results orally and in writing

  • Develop autonomy in conducting a research project

To achieve their objectives, the three Masters of the School of Biology offer two research projects:

The First step project takes place during the first year and provides an introduction to the individual Master project.

The Master project is a major research project taking place over several senesters, which provides students with the opportunity to work at the frontier of knowledge in their field.

You can find more information regarding the duration and structure of each Master on their respective webpage.

To achieve this objective, each student is supervised by a project director who proposes the research theme and is responsible for monitoring the project. The project  director may also appoint  a “ direct supervisor” who is usually a member of the laboratory and is responsible for closely supervising the project and the student. For both practical projects, the three following aspects are assessed:

  • The practical work performed throughout the project
  • The preparation of a report for the First-step project or a thesis for the Master thesis project 
  • The oral defence

The Master thesis reports are kept in the Library of Biology of UNIL.

Project selection & registration (for students)

First step and Master projects are offered by the UNIL project Directors. The project registration is compulsory and is made via a SylviaAcad database.

Research project registration tutorials and deadlines are available on each Master's webpage.
Registration is only possible via your Master's webpage!

(Research Project > Project selection & registration for students)


Outside the defined registration periods, the access to the database is not possible. 

Project submission (for teachers)

The School of Biology has a SylviaAcad database for First step and Master projects. Teachers who would like to offer projects can use it, following the procedure.

To ensure a good balance between proposed First step and Master projects, teachers must offer a First step project to be able to propose a Master project.

Also, students are not permitted to perform their First step and Master projects under the same director.

Please, look at our Guide to research work for the Master of Science in Biology in the last tab of this section.


Consultation and submission of research projects :

Procedure: Step by step procedure for directors

Acces to the database :

BEC et MB : Deadline for submission September 4th 2023, 11:59pm (First step and Master)

MLS : Deadline for submission of First step October 31st 2023, 11:59pm
                                                      Master     February 4th 2024, 11:59pm

For an overview of project submissions and attributions, see the following document:
submission deadlines

Your Master thesis project outside of UNIL (Switzerland or abroad)


MLS: April 15th

BEC, MB, HT: November 1st

Administrative procedures

❗️Please ensure that you open the following documents with Adobe❗️

For students who want to do the Master project in another institution, the above registration deadlines apply so as to enable the Council of the School of Biology to approve your proposal.

The application file, done by the student, must include:

The project description must enable members of the Council of the School of Biology to judge the scientific content of the proposed project and to determine if it corresponds to the expected level for a Master project.

The CV of the external Director must enable members of the Council of the School of Biology to evaluate if the person, according to his skills, experience and work environment will be able to support the student in the achievement of the practical work, the analysis of the results, the writing of the report… while offering satisfactory work conditions.

The choice of the UNIL Director is also important to consider because he/she will guarantee that the work done conforms to the requirements of a UNIL Master project. We invite you to discuss this issue with your head of the Master.

For Master projects proposed in a public or nonprofit organization, the student may receive limited financial support (eg. for field trip fees). To apply, the student must complete his·her application with a detailed budget, emitted and signed by the external Director stating that the fees mentioned cannot be supported by the host organization. This document must also be approved by the co-Director UNIL.

Kindly note that you will also have to make your 3 choices of Master projects on the database online offered by UNIL. In case your external Master project is not accepted by the Council of the School of Biology, your UNIL project choices will be considered.

Assistance and insurance while abroad

Information on assistance and insurance while abroad.

Extension request for a Master project

This calendar is not applicable to part-time students.

❗️Please ensure that you open the following document using Adobe❗️

Extension request form

Guide to research work for the Master of Science in Biology
Amphipôle - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 40 10
Fax +41 21 692 40 05