Current Students

Exam Regulations

A Note About These Exam Regulations

These Exam Regulations came into effect in September 2010 in line with the new Plan d'études ("entrée en vigueur septembre 2010"). 


Oral Exams

Except for soutenances de mémoire, oral exams last 30 minutes. Please consult your instructor well in advance of the examination session about the particular modalities of the exam, which may vary in different cases.

Written Exams

Written exams last four hours for module BA4, and six hours for modules MA1 and MA5. Please consult your instructor about the particular modalities of the exam, which may vary in different cases.

Contrôles Continus

Contrôles continus (BA1, BA2, BA5 and BA6) take place during the semester in which a lecture course or seminar is taught.  Their modalities are defined by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.  For students who fail, the Faculty's Règlement d'études comes into force.  The department strongly recommends that students who fail re-take the contrôle continu in a new seminar.  

Graded Papers

A graded paper has the status of a written examination, and thus is evaluated on the basis of the version submitted to the instructor. If judged satisfactory, it cannot be rewritten for a better grade. In the event of a failing grade, the assignment may be retaken in the subsequent exam session and, if necessary, in the third session. In such cases, however, the student must consult with the instructor in order to choose a new paper topic for each attempt.  Alternatively, the student may write a paper based on the material of another seminar. Graded papers should be at least 4,000 words in length (15 pages) excluding bibliography. Graded papers must show evidence of independent research in excess of the readings included on the syllabus.

The deadline for handing in graded papers is, at the very latest, three weeks before the beginning of the exam session in question, i.e. by the following dates :

For the Aug./Sept. 2017 session:  Monday 7 August 2017

For the Jan./Feb. 2018 session:  Wednesday 3 January 2018
For the May/June 2018 session:  Monday 7 May 2018
For the Aug./Sept. 2018 session:  Monday 6 August 2018



Work submitted for an attestation is not given a grade, but is considered satisfactory only if it corresponds in quality to a grade of 4 or higher. The attestation may take the form of an essay or another mode of assessment, such as an in-class test. If in a given exam session a student fails to obtain the attestation, the assignment may be retaken in the subsequent exam session, and, if necessary, in the third session. If an attestation essay is judged unsatisfactory, it may, with the instructor's approval, be rewritten on the same or a similar topic for the subsequent session. Attestations may be based on readings assigned as seminar material.

What counts as an official attempt? Students writing attestations may submit their outline and a section of the paper to their instructor; further advice should then be sought from the Writing Lab. Each time an instructor reads and corrects an entire paper, this counts as a formal submission or “attempt”. Should a student fail an attestation three times, the student is then entitled to take another seminar with a further three attempts. (Graded papers are treated in the same way as written and oral exams, so these provisions do not apply.)

The deadline for submitting attestation essays is, at the very latest, three weeks before the beginning of the exam session in question, i.e. by the following dates:

For the Aug./Sept. 2017 session:  Monday 7 August 2017

For the Jan./Feb. 2018 session:  Wednesday 3 January 2018
For the May/June 2018 session:  Monday 7 May 2018
For the Aug./Sept. 2018 session:  Monday 6 August 2018



Mémoires are directed by a Professor, a maître d'enseignement et de recherche (MER), chargé de cours (CC) or, under certain circumstances, a chargé d'enseignement (CE) or a maître assistant (MA).  With the agreement of the Department director the director of a mémoire can be chosen from outside the department or Faculty; in this case, the second reader must be a member of the corps professoral or an MER of the department concerned.

The mémoire is a research paper of substantial length. It typically runs 60-75 pages, double-spaced, including bibliography. Students should prepare a mémoire proposal and submit it to the staff member who will direct their mémoire.


An oral mémoire defense is obligatory, and is taken into account for the overall evaluation of the mémoire.

The soutenance de mémoire is public; it lasts in principle about one hour.

The mémoire must be defended before a jury consisting of the director of the mémoire and at least one second reader, who may be a member of the corps intermédiaire, such as an assistant. An outside expert may be the second reader if necessary.

At least one month before the soutenance, the candidate gives two copies of his/her mémoire to the jury and leaves a third copy at the secretariat of the English department, where it can be consulted by anyone interested in attending the defense.

In order for the defense to take place, the student must leave at the Service des examens an attestation form (dépôt de mémoire), signed by the professor, which clearly indicates the title of the mémoire, the session at which it will be defended, and also confirms that the mémoire has been deposited with the professor, second reader and at the secretariat of the English department.  This form does not constitute a formal registration at the Service des examens and students must ensure that prior to this they have signed up for the mémoire during the appropriate sign-up dates for the session.  Authorization to defend a mémoire does not in itself ensure that the student will receive a passing grade.


The jury agrees with the candidate on the time, date and place of the defense.

The defense may take place outside an exam session, in which case the grade is validated at the next session.

If the members of the jury judge that the mémoire (having received a grade of 5.00 or higher) deserves to be deposited at the English library reading room, they ask the student to sign the form entitled "autorisation de dépôt de mémoire", which is then sent to the library along with the most recent (i.e. corrected, if necessary) version of the mémoire. If the mémoire has a grade lower than 5.00, or if the student does not agree to deposit his/her mémoire at the library, it is returned to him/her; deposit of the mémoire in the reading room is carried out by the librarian of the English department. It should not be sent to the service des examens.


First-Year Programme

The first year brochure informs you about the modalities and evaluation of your first year of study at the English Department: 


BA students are allowed one module with a failing grade in each of their two subjects provided that, a) the grade is at least a 3.0 and, b) the overall average in each subject is at least 4.0.  

MA students are required to pass each module with a grade of at least 4.0.


Handing in Written Work or Defining Oral Exam Topics

Graded papers, attestations, as well as statements of intent defining the topic of an oral exam need to be handed in at the very latest three weeks before the beginning of the exam session at which the work is to be evaluated (see specific dates under the headings Graded Papers and Attestations above). Work submitted after the deadline will be graded for the following session.

Evaluation: Which Session?

Unless a seminar or lecture course is evaluated by means of contrôle continu only, students have until one semester after the end of the lecture course or seminar to make the first attempt at validating work.

Work done for a seminar or lecture course taken in the Fall semester must be evaluated in one of the following sessions:

  • February of the same academic year
  • June of the same academic year
  • September of the same academic year

Work done for a seminar or lecture course taken in the Spring semester must be evaluated in one of the following sessions:

  • June of the same academic year
  • September of the same academic year
  • February of the following academic year

If the first attempt fails, the student may renew the attempt up to two more times, each time in the session immediately following the failed attempt.

Each further attempt at evaluation, attestations excepted, requires a change of topic.

Signing Up For Exams

Consult the dates for exam enrolment for the current academic year on the Faculty website or at the Service des examens (office A 215 or A 216). Exam registration is also required for the validation of modules for which graded papers have been written.  Additionally candidates must inform the secretariat of the English department by e-mail about the exams for which they are enrolling (clare.tierque(at) 

NB:  If a student signs up for an exam but does not attend the exam, the Service des examens automatically registers the grade as 0. 

Attestations do not require exam registration.  Please note, however, the revised procedure for registration of attestations at the Service des examens.  English literature teachers will inform their students that they must pick up their attestation form (and the written paper) from the English department secretariat; the student then takes his/her attestation form directly to the Service des examens.  English linguistics staff will continue with their usual policy concerning attestations.

Cancelling an Exam

Cancelling 'hors session' Exams / Graded Papers

Registration for validation of papers written hors session may normally be cancelled at the service des examens by the student, without written approval from the instructor, during the week following sign-up for an exam. After that date, students need written approval from the instructor of the seminar or lecture course in question.

Cancelling 'en session' Exams

The service the examens will cancel enrolments for exams en session only on the basis of a medical certificate or a valid excuse accompanied by a letter from the instructor.

Rules Concerning Validation of MA Seminars Before Completion of the BA

Students may proceed to attend MA seminars in the English Department when 60 ECTS in English have been obtained; however, MA seminars cannot be validated until the BA (or complément d'études) has been completed. Both Faculty and departmental regulations regulate admission to the MA programme. The Faculty regulation for admission to the MA (2.i) specifies that "Les candidats doivent en outre être en possession d’un grade de Baccalauréat universitaire ès lettres (Bachelor of Arts, ci-dessous : BA) ou d’un titre jugé équivalent par le Doyen de la Faculté." The English MA plan d'études specifies: "Pour l'admission à la Maîtrise, il faut justifier d'un BA comportant un minimum de 60 crédits ECTS dans cette discipline ou de connaissances jugées équivalentes." Thus, a student who has obtained 60 ECTS in English can attend an MA seminar (as indicated by the English MA plan d'études) but, according to the Faculty regulation, cannot submit any assessment for the seminar until the BA or complément d'études has been completed and the student has been authorized to sign up officially for an MA exam with the Service des examens .

General Remarks

Submission of Written Work

All papers must be submitted in both printed (hard copy) and electronic (e-mail attachment) formats. Failure to submit a printed copy of work to be evaluated is tolerated only in extraordinary circumstances and with the prior agreement of the instructor.

Use the Style Sheet

All students must read the English Department Style Sheet (available online or as a brochure at the department secretariat) and follow the instructions for the formal presentation of written work (this includes a correct bibliography for books, articles, films, and internet documents, the correct use of references, formatting etc.). Attestations which do not observe the rules given in the Style Sheet will be returned for correction before they are read. Please note that this may mean that such essays will miss the deadline for the exam session.

Use the Writing Lab

You can go to the writing lab with your texts at any point of the writing process. The staff will analyse and discuss your argument and give you valuable advice for your compositional skills. However, note that the purpose of the writing lab is NOT to write your paper or to correct your English. More information on the writing lab

Statement on Plagiarism

In order that staff can check potential cases of plagiarism, students must submit their work in hard copy AND in electronic form.

Plagiarism is the misrepresentation of the words or ideas of another as one's own. It applies to published material (whether in print or electronically), as well as unpublished material, such as the work of another student. At the University of Geneva, plagiarism is treated as a form of fraud. Article 38 of the Règlement de l'Université provides for a series of disciplinary measures to be taken against such conduct, ranging from the annulment of the student's examination session to expulsion from the University:

  1. En cas de fraude ou de tentative de fraude, le jury ou, le cas échéant, le surveillant fait immédiatement rapport au doyen de la faculté ou au président de l'école.
  2. Sur proposition de l'ensemble des enseignants responsables des matières qui font l'objet des examens, le collège des professeurs peut annuler tous les examens subis par le candidat dans la session et ajourner les examens du candidat à une autre session. L'annulation de la session entraîne l'échec du candidat à cette session.
  3. Le collège des professeurs peut aussi, le cas échéant, proposer au rectorat l'exclusion temporaire, pour une année au plus, ou l'exclusion définitive du candidat.

Avoiding plagiarism is basically a matter of acknowledging one's sources. The procedures for doing so are explained in detail in the Style Sheet (also available at the English Department secretariat). For more information about plagiarism and how to avoid it, please consult the following website