PhD in Geography

The Geography Unit of the Department of Geosciences offers doctoral programmes in Human Geography and Physical Geography.

Research orientations 

Research in Human Geography at the University of Fribourg examines the ways in which nature and society interact through the lens of power, knowledge and politics. It focuses on Social and Political Ecology, Environmental History and Political Geography. Our research expertise includes Central Asia, Russia, Western and Southern Africa, Oceania, Europe and Switzerland.

Research in Physical Geography at the University of Fribourg centers on the dynamics and evolution of the mountain cryosphere (glacier, permafrost, snow), and the periglacial and geomorphologic environment, with emphasis on the interactions with atmospheric changes. Our approaches include both measuring and modelling techniques, which we apply in remote, cold regions, including the Alps, Scandinavia, Andes, Central Asia, Himalayas, Antarctica, Svalbard and Greenland.

The central part of the doctoral programme is a personal research project which the candidate conducts under supervision during a period of 3-4 years

The final product of the doctoral programme is the PhD thesis. The candidate's research can be part of ongoing research projects within the Unit of Geography, but can also be a single-standing study relevant to the research expertise at the Unit of Geography. 

Degree conferred
Scientiarum doctor in geographia / Doctor of Philosophy in Geography (PhD)


Commencement of Studies
An application for admission may be submitted at any time.

Resources Regulation (FR/GE)Research GroupsOpen Positions

  • Acquired competences

    In accordance with the Dublin Descriptor, the doctoral programme in Geography enables candidates to:

    • develop a systematic understanding of a field of Geography and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with that field;
    • conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity;
    • to make a contribution through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge in Geography;
    • to undertake critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas;
    • to communicate with their peers in Geography, the larger scholarly community and with society in general about their areas of expertise.
  • Funding and salary

    Doctoral research is either financed through assistant positions at the Unit of Geography, or through third party funding acquired by the supervisor or the doctoral candidate himself. Salaries of employed doctoral candidates correspond to the standards of the Faculty of Sciences.

  • Supervisors

    PhD theses are supervised by professors and senior researchers at the Unit of Geography:

    Prof. Reynald Delaloye
    – Mountain geomorphology
    – Periglacial geomorphology
    – Permafrost-related processes
    Prof. Christian Hauck
    – Applied geophysics
    – Permafrost modelling
    – Land-atmosphere interaction
    Prof. Martin Hoelzle
    – Alpine cryosphere
    Prof. Olivier Graefe
    – Political ecology of land
    – Water and park management
    Prof. Christine Bichsel
    – Political geography
    – Environmental history
    – Critical water studies
    Dr. Nadine Salzmann
    – Cryosphere-atmosphere interactions
    – Linking climate and impact models
    – Climate change impacts
    – Risks and adaptation
    Dr. Matthias Huss
    – Glaciers and climate change
    – Mass and energy balance of glaciers
    Dr. Horst Machguth
    – Ice sheets
    – Glacier and climate
    – Surface processes of glaciers and ice sheets
    – Arctic glaciology
    Dr. Luc Braillard

    - Quaternary palaeoenvironments 

    - Paléoenvironnements quaternaires

    - Quartär Palaeoenvironment-Rekonstruktion

     Dr. Jevgeniy Bluwstein

    - Political Ecology of Nature Conservation, Development and Tourism
    - Political Geography


  • Studies organisation

    Structure of Studies
    No ECTS credits can be earned.

    Doctoral School (CUSO)CUSO Website


    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 by a university recognised by the University of Fribourg.

    Before applying for a doctorate the candidate should 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.