Requirements at the end of the PhD

Thesis synopsis

The dissertation can be either cumulative or a monography.

The number of articles is not a prerequisite but the dissertation must show originality, diligent work (ethics, choice of methods, data collection etc.) and a substantial part must have been carried out independently by the student.

UZH/MNF: The PhD student must remain registered at the UZH until the semester in which the obligatory copy of the dissertation is submitted to the Zentralbibliothek.

UZH: Expert reports on the thesis

  • The reports must be based on the version which was submitted electronically to MNF
  • One report must be written by the Official (and Direct Supervisor, if applicable) and one by an external reviewer.
  • The experts’ reports must be finished 15 days prior to the defense.



  • The Official Supervisor is responsible for the Zirkulationskreis and its organization.
  • This may be initiated as soon as the reports are available but at the very latest 14 days before the defense.
  • The Zirkulationskreis consists of at least two MNF faculty members. They may raise objections to the thesis and the reports up until 4 days before the defense.



  • The examination board consists at least of three members, of which two are MNF faculty members.
  • Create a protocol at least four weeks before the defense.
  • The public talk should be a minimum of 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions from the public (total length is one hour).
  • The closed exam should be at least one hour to a maximum of two hours.


After the defense:

  • Send the completed and signed protocol with the signed sheets of the Zirkulationskreis to the dean of studies. Check page 3 (title) very carefully and mark corrections in color.
  • If corrections are required, the responsible faculty member must hand in the corrected version at the office of the dean of studies. The student has one year to comply. The responsible faculty member’s signature confirms the agreement to the corrections.
  • The assembly of the Faculty members decide whether to award or withhold the doctoral degree.
  • After the student submitted the final version to the Zentralbibliothek, the responsible faculty member must sign a red card, indicating to the Kanzlei that this is the end of the journey!

ETH: Expert reports on the thesis

  • The referee (supervisor of the PhD student) and each co-referee (at least one) write a report.
  • The reports must be handed in at the Department at least 12 working days before the exam takes place.
  • The reports are confidential.

ETHZ: Information for lecturers on the administration of doctoral students

D-BIOL doctoral examinations: rules and things to take care of (fact sheet)

D-BIOL evaluation of dissertations (information sheet)

D-HEST: General and detailed information on doctoral studies

D-CHAB: General information on doctoral studies

D-USYS: General information on doctoral studies


D-BAUG: General information for professors



  • The examination board consists of a chair, the referee (supervisor) and the co-referee(s). The head of the department appoints the chairperson.
  • The doctoral exam consists of an oral examination of at least one hour.


After the Defense:

  • The examination committee assesses both the doctoral thesis and the oral examination and submits a report to the respective Department Conference.
  • The Department Conference decides whether to award or withhold the doctoral degree.
  • After the decision to award the doctorate, the doctoral student is asked to submit three bound copies (deposit copies) of the thesis to the Rectorate. On the first page of the deposit copy the thesis supervisor confirms via signature the acceptance of the version sent.