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Earth Sciences

Fribourg profile

The Earth Sciences Unit of the Department of Geosciences offers doctoral programmes in various fields of Earth sciences.

Areas of research
The Earth Sciences Unit's activities are developing in several fields.
One key focus is research on the understanding of carbonate rock formation processes (sedimentology) and the study of the evolution of living organisms (palaeontology and micropalaeontology). These approaches contribute to an understanding of palaeoenvironments, their evolution over time and interactions between the geosphere and the biosphere.
The tectonic group is investigating the formation of mountain ranges and rock deformation mechanisms.
Others are studying the properties of mineral materials and rocks (petrology). This approach has applications in both industrial development and environmental protection (applied mineralogy). Archaeometry studies the materials used by man in the past to reconstruct ancient technologies and exchange networks.

Contents of the doctoral programme
The PhD programme focuses on a personal research project conducted under the supervision of a professor over a period of three to four years. The final product is a doctoral thesis, which is an original written document meeting the requirements for scientific publication. As a general rule, doctoral research projects fall within one of the research orientations of one of the unit's professors. They include field work in Switzerland or abroad in addition to laboratory work. During their research, PhD students participate in national and international conferences and prepare publications. They also participate in teaching (practical assignments, field camps, supervision). PhD students are strongly advised to participate in conference cycles, professional development courses and CUSO doctoral school activities.

Competences acquired
– Developing in-depth knowledge in a field of Earth sciences by mastering specific knowledge, methodological concepts and analytical methods;
– Completing high-quality personal scientific research as part of a large-scale research project;
– Making an innovative contribution to the chosen field and critically evaluating knowledge;
– Teamworking and communicating with the specialised scientific community and society at large.

Positions for doctoral candidates
Open positions are published on the Earth Sciences Unit website (https://www3.unifr.ch/geo/en/department/jobs/). Interested persons can also contact the unit's professors to express their interest or propose a research project.

Funding and salary
Doctoral research is financed through a job as an assistant within the unit or by outside funds obtained by the thesis supervisor. PhD students' pay is determined according to the university's salary scale.

PhD theses are supervised by professors and senior researchers from the Earth Sciences Unit:

  • Prof. Bernard Grobéty

– Applied mineralogy

  • Prof. Vincent Serneels

– Archaeometry

  • Prof. Anneleen Foubert

– Carbonate sedimentology

  • Prof. Walter Joyce

– Palaeontology

  • Adj.Prof. Jon Mosar

– Tectonics - Geology

  • Dr Silvia Spezzaferri

– Micropalaeontology

  • Dr Afifé El Korh

– Metamorphic petrology

In the field of palaeontology, there is close collaboration with the Jurassica Museum in Porrentruy (Dr Damien Becker and Dr Olivier Maridet).

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.