Art. 7.2. The oral examination must take place at the end of the first year. If the doctoral student has not taken the exam after 15 months, he or she is eliminated from the doctoral program.
Art. 8. Further meetings between the doctoral student and the TAC for feedback on the progress made are encouraged. The TAC may be convened at the request of the doctoral student, the thesis director and/or co-director, or the director of the doctoral program, for questions related to the scientific project or the conditions in which the project is progressing. The TAC is required to meet with the doctoral student and the thesis director (and, if applicable, the thesis co-director), for any request for an extension of the length of studies.
Please allow sufficient time to i) write the report and prepare the presentation, ii) have the report read by your committee members, and iii) find a suitable date for all committee members.
Faculty of Sciences (BIOMO, PHYVI, ECOVO, and PHARM programs): please fill in the TAC registration form and email it to the program coordinator (phd-lifesciences-sciences or Claudine Neyen). The program coordinator will verify that your committee composition follows the regulations, and then send you & your PI the TAC report form and the ‘PV-TAC’ by email.
For GESAN, please contact phd-lifesciences-medecine to organize your TAC.
Art. 7.8. A positive assessment report permits the doctoral student to pursue his or her thesis. If the report is negative, the examination can be taken a second and final time before the end of the first 18 months. If the doctoral student does not make the second attempt, or if he or she fails on the second attempt, he or she is eliminated from the doctorate.
Art. 7.6. In preparation for the oral examination, the doctoral student submits to the TAC members a written report on the progress made on research projects and the thesis project. The examination begins with an oral presentation by the doctoral student, followed by a series of questions.
Art. 7.5. The TAC comprises a minimum of 2 members, and if applicable the thesis co-director, approved by the director of the doctoral program concerned. In principle, the members of the TAC are Professors or Research and Teaching Associates, and must hold a doctorate. At least one of the members must hold a doctorate in the sciences. At least one of the members must be from a department other than that of the doctoral student. The thesis director, and if applicable the thesis co-director, participate in the TAC in an advisory capacity.
Ideally, the program director is present at your TAC; if unavailable, he or she has to designate a substitute among the committee members who will report to the program director.
For the BIOMED program, the PI and the student should identify and invite an external expert. The external expert should be a professor or a “MER” and should ideally come from outside the University of Geneva. Experts from the UNIGE are exceptionally allowed but have to be from a different department. The doctoral school will invite additional “local” experts in agreement with the PI.
Guidelines for your TAC report: it should be a summary of 1500 words (2-3 pages) of your project (introduction, objectives, experimental approaches, preliminary data, “contingency plan”, perspectives). This report should be sent two weeks prior to the TAC meeting to the jury members (BIOMO, ECOVO, PHYVI, PHARM, GESAN) or to phd-lifesciences-medecine (BIOMED).
Your presentation can be PowerPoint or similar and should not exceed 30 minutes (count 20-25 slides). The presentation is followed by a discussion with the committee members.
Art. 7.3. The oral examination covers general disciplinary knowledge, the progress made by the doctoral student on research projects, and the thesis project.
Note that the TAC exam is meant to evaluate not only the student’s progress but also (and crucially) the quality of the supervision and the student-supervisor relationship. Your thesis ADVISORY committee is there to give helpful advice, and as such, you are encouraged to use the TAC whenever you feel you need external advice.
It is more important to show that you have a solid grasp of the literature surrounding your topic and that you have a clear idea of what the objectives of your project are, how your project will evolve, and what you will do in case something does not work out the way you predicted.
First, you give your presentation (30 minutes) and the committee asks questions. You then leave the room and the committee discusses your progress with your supervisor. Next, your supervisor leaves the room and you can discuss freely with the committee about how you feel your PhD is going. Finally, the committee writes the TAC report. The report is signed by everyone, including the student. The PV TAC is signed ONLY by the committee (not the student nor the supervisor).
Art. 7.7. After having heard independently from the student and the thesis director (and, if applicable, the thesis co-director), the TAC, in their absence, produces a report assessing:
i. the scientific knowledge acquired by the student, in general and more precisely in connection with his or her project, ii. the quality of the thesis project, iii. the quantity and quality of the work produced by the student to achieve prescribed objectives, iv. the specific strengths and weaknesses of the student in relation to his or her thesis project, v. the quality of the interactions between the student and his or her thesis director (and thesis codirector if applicable), vi. and delivers an assessment report, signed by the members of the TAC, the doctoral student, the thesis director, and the thesis co-director (if applicable).
The program director is bound by the statutes to assess the quality of the TAC exam, and to read your TAC report in full. He or she is either present during the TAC, or designates a reporting member among the committee members, who will report back to the program director.
You can at any point approach the program coordinator or the program director to discuss matters of supervision.
Before the TAC exam, at any point during the first year, you are encourage to use the ‘Expectation Scales’ document which helps spot any differences in your and your supervisor’s expectations towards the PhD relationship. It is a good idea to discuss these things early on so that no misunderstandings arise.
Art. 3.3. This research project is accompanied by complementary theoretical and/or practical training, called the “doctoral training”, associated with the different specializations. This training corresponds to a total of 20 ECTS credits, regardless of the specialization. The credits obtained during the doctoral training must be earned no later than the end of the 3rd year of studies, and in all cases prior to the thesis defence, on pain of elimination.
You need to gain a set minimum of credits from the core training offered by the program you are affiliated with, and the remaining credits either among the 6 programs or outside.
There is no upper limit to the number of courses taken or the number of credits accrued. You can continue following courses after you have reached the 20 ECTS or after you have finished your 3rd year.
The grid above is a general guideline. The following program-specific differences apply:
BIOMO, ECOVO: Core training gives 12 credits. You are completely free to pick activities for the remaining 8 credits; there are no caps on credits gained from specific activities.
BIOMED: 10 credits must be obtained from the core training. You need to choose a minimum of 3 modules (each worth 1.5 or 2 ECTS) and 9 ‘Chapitres choisis’ (0.5 ECTS each). Credits from conferences, from courses and workshops, from volunteering, and from attending PhD retreats are all capped at 3. There is no upper limit to credits obtained from core training.
PHARM: See the credit validation grid here.
PHYVI: Core training gives 4 credits. You are completely free to pick activities for the remaining 16 credits; there are no caps on credits gained from specific activities.
GESAN: 10 credits must be obtained from the core training.
PIs should encourage their students to broaden their scientific and professional skills. Although the student is in charge of composing the portfolio of the 20 required credits, the PI should agree on and validate all courses and events the student selects.
You are responsible for keeping a record of all activities that may generate ECTS. An attendance certificate is mandatory for all courses and activities. At the end of year 3, the program director will evaluate your record and issue a certificate that the ECTS requirements have been fulfilled. This document, along with the TAC attestation, is necessary to apply for the thesis defence (‘soutenance’).
You will be able to upload all your records in the student database linked to the website of the doctoral school when it will be online beginning of 2019. Further information will follow in due time.