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Contemporary History

Fribourg profile

The doctorate is the third level of training and research at the University of Fribourg. It consists of the independent conceptualisation, formulation and conduct of a research project which is innovative in its content and methods and is an enrichment to research.

Doctoral studies in Contemporary History can be undertaken following a master's degree in Contemporary History or History, or following a master's degree in a related discipline of social sciences or cultural studies. In the latter case, further academic qualifications may be required. At the same time, doctoral students conclude a doctoral agreement which regulates the key steps and tasks during their doctoral studies. After about one year, doctoral students submit a concept of their thesis project.

The Department of Contemporary History offers a dynamic, stimulating and encouraging scientific and social environment and a clear, organisational framework for the pursuit of a doctorate. Great importance is attached to scientific exchange and interdisciplinary cooperation. Doctoral students receive guidance on content and methods, including support in seeking funding. The compatibility of doctoral studies and family life is also a key concern. The Department of Contemporary History encourages periods of research at universities abroad as well as joint supervision of the doctorate at the University of Fribourg and a foreign university via the programme «Cotutelles de thèse/Gemeinsame Dissertationsbetreuung».

The doctorate in Contemporary History offers an outstanding qualification, not only for further research and an academic career, but also for leadership roles and executive positions in a wide array of occupational fields, such as museums, archives, the diplomatic service, communal, cantonal and federal administration, publishing companies, etc.

Doctoral training
Contemporary History offers a number of courses for training at doctoral level: The interdisciplinary doctoral programme Migration and Postcoloniality Meet Switzerland, financed by swissuniversities, deals with various dimensions of inclusion and exclusion and, among other things, looks at present-day migration in the context of the postcolonial present and the colonial past. Further offers are the CUSO Programme doctoral en histoire contemporaine (PDHC), doctoral students' colloquia with presentation of thesis projects, «Study Days Contemporary History» with text readings at a more intensive level, and the «Fribourg Forum for Contemporary History». A core objective of these training and complementary training formats is to promote scientific exchange and to network several disciplines and universities with one another.

Key areas of research
The Department of Contemporary History is the largest of its kind in Switzerland and covers the entire spectrum of Contemporary History as Swiss and European as well as global Contemporary History. In addition to this, the professors in this field have developed focal points and research networks on specific themes.

Professors who are eligible to supervise theses

  • Prof. Jean-Francois Fayet

Areas of specialisation:
– Social and cultural history of politics
– International relations
– Humanitarianism
– Media
– Russian and Soviet world

  • Prof. Matthieu Gillabert

Areas of specialisation:
– Cold War
– Cultural diplomacy, Soft Power and Propaganda
– History of higher Education (Students and university policies)
– History of Centraleurope and Eastern Europe (especially polish space)
– Colonisation and Decolonisation
– Museums and History

  • Prof. Claude Hauser

Areas of specialisation:
– Intellectual history
– History of international cultural relationships
– History of the Second World War
– History of Jura region and national minorities

  • Prof. Anne-Francoise Praz

Areas of specialisation:
– History of childhood and education
– History of social and family policies
– Historical demography and population policies
– Women's history and gender history

  • Prof. Damir Skenderovic

Areas of specialisation:
– European and Swiss contemporary history
– Political and cultural history
– History of political parties
– Right-wing populism, radical right
– Countercultures, 68 movement, life reform movement
– Migration History
– Colonial history

  • Prof. Christina Späti

Areas of specialisation:
– Swiss, European and Canadian contemporary history
– Language politics and bilingualism
– Orientalism
– Antisemitism and anti-Zionism
– History of the left, 68 movement
– Post-history of National Socialism

  • Prof. Siegfried Weichlein

Areas of specialisation:
– European contemporary history
– Political and cultural history
– Nationalism
– Regionalism
– Federalism
– Labour movement
– Modern religious history
– Cultural history of the Cold War
– Political iconography
– Transatlantic history
– History of Zionism and the State of Israel

Studies organisation

Structure of studies

No ECTS credits can be earned.

Doctoral school



In order to be admitted to a doctorate the candidate must have been awarded an academic bachelor's and master's degree or an equivalent qualification from a university recognised by the University of Fribourg.

Before applying for a doctorate the candidate must contact a professor who would be willing to supervise the thesis work.

There is no general right to be admitted to a doctorate.

The respective conditions of admission for each doctoral study programme are reserved.