FAQ – Master

How does one choose a subject of master / a host laboratory?

To find a subject and a host laboratory, there are three possibilities:

1) answer project announcements, in which case you must contact the person mentioned.
See http://biologie.unige.ch/en/biology-studies/job-offers/

2) contact directly the person(s) in charge of the option of the master of interest
See http://biologie.unige.ch/en/biology-studies/undergraduate-training/masters/master-in-biology/

3) explore the web pages of departments and laboratories of the Section of Biology and write to professors /researchers of interest to make an appointment to discuss possibilities and a potential master subject.
See http://biologie.unige.ch/en/the-section/the-departments/

Students should request a meeting with the chosen supervisor to discuss the possibility of starting a master’s thesis in his/her laboratory. In this case, the master’s subject is proposed by the supervisor, in agreement with the student. It is recommended that students contact the future supervisor during the third year, and not at the last moment. Announcements and information on the internet can provide very useful information. If the master is done in a laboratory outside the Section of Biology, it will still be necessary to find a supervisor within the Section.


Can a host laboratory refuse an application?

Yes, because each laboratory has a limited capacity due to its infrastructure, resources and mentoring opportunities. Moreover, each discipline requires a good basic training and a student who does not have a good level in the discipline(s) of interest will not have priority.


Can one freely choose one’s optional master’s courses?

It depends on the choice of the master:

– For a master with free specialization (FS), all courses are basically “free choice.” However, the choice of the courses must be approved by the Director of the master. This may require attending certain courses that he/she deems essential for the discipline in connection with the master’s thesis. It may be a few courses only, in which case the majority of courses are freely chosen by the student. The requirements, however, may also involve a higher proportion of courses.

– For a master with a specific option (BDS, MPS, BIADB or GDE), some courses are mandatory, others are restricted choices, and others are free choice (see description of the options on the web site of the Section or the student’s guide).


Is one entitled to holidays during one’s master?

Yes, of course, but the timing and duration of the holiday must, if possible, be agreed in advance with the supervisor of the master, to avoid any misunderstanding. As an indication, the directives of the Section of Biology specify that the duration of the master’s thesis is of 45 full time-weeks without counting any holidays (see the Annex to the Regulations on the back of the registration form). On this basis, holidays are to be taken in agreement with the Director.


Can one be excluded from the master at the end of the first year?

The student who did not obtain at least 20 credits ECTS during the 2 first semesters of his/her master studies is excluded.

In case of lack of compliance with the Art. 19 letter c of the General Regulations of the Faculty of Science, the Students Office of the Section of Biology will transmit a certificate to the Director and the supervisor (if applicable), to confirm or not that the master’s work made during the 2 first semesters (work + courses) is equivalent to at least 20 ECTS.


What if one needs to extend the duration of a master?

If you did not complete the master within the regulatory time (3 semesters), you must submit a written request for an extension to the Vice-President of the Section. The request must be adequately justified and the letter must be countersigned by the Director of the master. The Vice-President of the Section and the Vice-Dean of the Faculty in charge of the students will then grant, by mutual agreement, an extension.


Can one write a master’s thesis in English?

Yes, in agreement with the Director / supervisor of the master.


When one is writing a master’s thesis, does one have the right to re-use texts or parts of texts from other masters or other documents?

No! This is plagiarism and, as such, considered as a very serious matter. The penalties can be very severe. For more details, see the page on the policy on plagiarism at the University.


Can one do a master in two disciplines (e.g. physics and biology, or a combined master in physics and biology, etc.)?

Subjects of masters can overlap two disciplines, with, for example, a co-directorship in each of the disciplines. In any case, to obtain a master in biology requires the involvement of a professor responsible within the Section, who guarantees the consistency of the chosen subject with respect to the training in biology. It is also possible to register simultaneously for two masters to obtain two titles in two different sections (e.g. physics and biology). However, the requirements for each title must be fulfilled, that is to say a master’s thesis and courses’ credits required for each of them. A given exam cannot be validated for two different titles.
Finally, there are bi-disciplinary masters within the Faculty of Science, which include a major discipline (e.g. biology) in which the student completes a 60 ECTS master’s thesis, and a minor discipline (e.g. mathematics ) in which the student pursues an accelerated curriculum in a year or two, depending on the courses taken and the prerequisites of each minor discipline. The head of the bi-disciplinary masters is the academic advisor of the Faculty, who should be contacted for information.


Can one do a bi-disciplinary master by choosing another Faculty than that of Science?

No, the list of disciplines is limited to that Faculty. The minor disciplines that can be chosen are: mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology or earth sciences.