Doctoral Thesis & Doctoral examination

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It is worth considering some formal aspects before you start to write your doctoral thesis.


The doctoral thesis title page (PDF, 10 KB) must comply with the requirements of Appendix 2 of the Rector’s Implementation Provisions for the Regulations for Doctoral Studies (RSETHZ 340.311).

The doctoral thesis must include an abstract in one official Swiss language and in English, plus a CV. For data security reasons, the CV may be omitted from the electronic version.

Make sure your quotes and references are correct when using paragraphs, images, charts, etc. from other works, whether word-for-word or giving the gist of them. See also “Citation etiquette” – the information sheet on plagiarism (PDF, 67 KB)

For copyright reasons, paragraphs, images, charts, etc. from other works may only be used if the quotation serves as an explanation, a reference or illustration, and the extent of the quotation is justified for that purpose (Art. 251 Copyright Law). In all other cases you must obtain authorisation from the owner of the right of reproduction.

The title and content of the doctoral thesis may not be altered once they have been approved by the Department Conference. (Rector’s Implementation Provisions, section 11).


The copyright to a doctoral thesis belongs solely to the author/doctoral student (Art. 34 Regulations for Doctoral Studies ETH Zurich).

Once the electronic version of the doctoral thesis has been delivered, ETH Zurich has the right to make it available to the public and process it for archiving purposes, except in the case of a written declaration by the candidate stating otherwise (a waiver) or conflicting rights of third parties (Art. 34 para. 5 Regulations for Doctoral Studies ETH Zurich).

The author/doctoral student may transfer the right of use to his/her work to third parties in full or in part (e.g. to a publisher).

We advise against transferring your rights of use entirely. Instead, you are recommended to retain some limited contractually recorded rights yourself (e.g. the right to make and distribute copies, distribute the work electronically, etc.).

Cumulative doctoral thesis

A cumulative doctoral thesis incorporates articles which have already been published or submitted for publication (see Section 10 lit. b of the Rector’s Implementation Provisions for the Regulations for Doctoral Studies).

Before the doctoral thesis is printed, the author/doctoral student must clarify with the relevant publisher the options for reuse that have been granted and the terms. These form part of the publication contract and may also be found in the so-called Sherpa-Romeo list.

You are also recommended to check in advance if there are any other rights or contractual agreements involved (e.g. with the SNSF or other funding organisations).

In most cases, the pre-print version (original manuscript prior to review) may be used without any problems.

Articles may only be added to the doctoral thesis in the post-print version (reviewed original manuscript) if the copyright allows it.

Most publishers will not allow further use of the final version or the published article unless you pay compensation for the rights in question, as in the case of a special edition.

The publisher may require certain declarations to be made.

In the case of more than one author, all the co-authors must also agree to the further distribution.

When it comes to archiving doctoral theses, making them available to lend, and reusing either the printed or the electronic version, the ETH-Bibliothek requires the above points to be considered and clarified in advance (Publishing in the Research Collection).

If a doctoral thesis does not meet these requirements, there may be consequences for the author.

If electronic publication is not possible for copyright reasons, then the electronic version must still be submitted with a waiver excluding it from publication in the Research Collection.

You can register for the examination in person at the Doctoral Administration Office or by post. In either case, you must do so at least twelve working days (Monday to Friday) before the date of the examination. You should check with your department whether they have an earlier deadline.

To register for the examination at the Doctoral Administration Office, you will need:

  1. A completed copy of the form Registering for the doctoral examination (PDF, 479 KB) including confirmation from the department of your credits (with original stamp ans signature of the department).
  2. A bound copy (ring or adhesive binding) of your thesis. This must include an abstract in German, French or Italian and in English, plus a CV.
    Template of doctoral thesis title page (PDF, 10 KB)
  3. A separate copy of your CV.

Note: Please check with the Student Administration of your department that all your co-examiners who require approval have been confirmed.

The tuition fee of CHF 1200.00 will be invoiced after registration for your doctoral examination.

Videoconferencing at doctoral examinations

The minimum number of persons from the Examination Committee obliged to be physically present at any doctoral examination are the chairperson, the examiner and at least one co-examiner.

Other members of the Examination Committee do not necessarily have to travel specially to attend the examination. Instead – for the sake of the environment as well as for their convenience – they can participate via videoconferencing.

Details on the matter are provided in the Rectorate’s directive Physical presence of the Examination Committee at doctoral examinations (PDF, 29 KB).

The Videoconferencing factsheet (PDF, 87 KB) issued by our Department of Safety, Security, Health and the Environment (SSHE) explains how to organise a videoconference.

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