Vademecum for PhD Students

Transitional adaptation for conferences and public thesis defenses (as of December 9, 2021)

For private colloquia and public defence

In both cases, refer to the document to the  Protocole d'application du Plan de protection sanitaire COVID-19 - UNIL dans le cadre de manifestations hébergées dans les locaux de l'UNIL- Dorigny(Protocol for the application of the COVID-19 - UNIL Health Protection Plan for events held on the premises of UNIL-Dorigny), for the fall semester 2021-2022, in its revised version of 9 December 2021.

The doctoral students' secretariat establishes the Zoom link. If a semi-presentation is requested, the doctoral student and/or the thesis director will coordinate in advance with the jury president and the doctoral secretariat.

The doctoral students' secretariat is at your disposal in case of questions and for the concrete organization of the above-mentioned procedures. To do so, please contact

We remind you that these are transitional measures, which can be modified within a short period of time. We try to preserve as much as possible the interests of the candidates and the juries in this context.

Private colloquia

They are considered as examinations and are subject to this regime. There is no need for a COVID certificate if the following requirements are met :

  • A mask must be worn at all times.
  • Participants are known and listed by the organizer.
  • No food or beverages are consumed other than in a campus restaurant/cafeteria.

The colloquium can also take place in a co-modal setting.

Public Defences

Upon presentation of the COVID certificate :

  • There are no restrictions on the number of participants, except for the capacity of the room reserved.
  • The doctoral student must submit in advance a protection plan to AEGS/UniSEP, indicating how he (as organizer), will ensure that access is restricted only to persons with a certificate. The organizer ensures (or delegates to a trusted person) that access is restricted as mentioned above (with the exception of UNIL staff members), for the entire duration of the event, including the aperitif.
  • Masks must be worn at all times.
  • No food or drink will be consumed elsewhere than in a restaurant/cafeteria on campus. The doctoral student is explicitly responsible for the respect of these rules, as the organizer.

People without a COVID certificate will follow the event in Zoom without being present at UNIL.

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:

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.


Please ensure that each member of the jury receives the same version of the manuscript in paper or electronic format as the one submitted to the Secretariat des doctorants.

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. Make sure that the entire jury has the latest version with the corrections validated at the end of this stage.

After the public defence - Obtaining your degree

Pay the registration fee for your defense (500 CHF) within 10 days (an invoice will be sent to you by the doctoral secretariat).


Please deposit written and electronic copies of the thesis as follows:

a. University Library. Deposit three paper copies of the final thesis including the imprimatur as soon as possible at the University Library (BCU-Dorigny) - at the latest six months after the defense.

b. UNIL institutional online Open Access repository (SERVAL). Upload your electronic final thesis to SERVAL through the MyUnil website (not mandatory, see Directive 3.10 of the Direction). If done, fill out and send to the doctoral secretariat three copies of the Serval electronic deposit contract.

c) Thesis Director(s). Send a paper and electronic copy of the final version to your thesis director (and co-director if relevant).

d) Institute Libraries or Documentation Centres. Instructions differ depending upon your affiliation:

  • IGD - for each thesis in geography, environment or tourism carried out under the (co)supervision of a member of the IGD: one paper copy is to be deposited or sent to the PhD Students' Secretariat/Secretariat des doctorants (for the IGD Documentation Center).
    Tourism studies: an additional paper copy must be deposited or sent to the PhD' Students Secretariat/Secretariat des doctorants (intended for the library of the Sion site).
  • IDYST or ISTE - for each thesis carried out under the (co)direction of a member of the IDYST or ISTE in Earth science or in environmental sciences: two paper copies and a digital version must be deposited at the Earth Sciences Library (Bibliothèque des sciences de la Terre), 2nd floor of Géopolis.

e) FGSE Doctoral Secretariat. Finally, provide the following to the FGSE Doctoral Students’ Secretariat in the same email:

  • An electronic copy of your final version
  • Confirmation that you have followed the steps a,b,c,d above
  • If relevant, three copies of the Serval electronic deposit contract mentioned above (b)


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.