Current Students

Exam Regulations

A Note About These Exam Regulations

These Exam Regulations came into effect in September 2018 (BA) and September 2015 (MA) in line with the Plan d'études


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 modules BA4 and BA6a, 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, and BA5) 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.

As a guideline: BA graded papers should be 15-20 pages (approximately 5000-6000 words) excluding bibliography; MA attestations and graded papers should be 15-20 pages (approximately 5000-6000 words) excluding bibliography. As a general rule, your teacher’s requirements written in her/his syllabus must be met.  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 Jan./Feb. 2024 session:      Tuesday 2 January 2024
For the May/June 2024 session:    Monday 6 May 2024
For the Aug./Sept. 2024 session:   Monday 5 August 2024

*these dates are indicative and may depend on instructions from individual instructors.


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.)

As a guideline: BA attestation papers should be 12-15 pages (approximately 4000-5000 words); MA attestations should be 15-20 pages (approximately 5000-6000 words).

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 Jan./Feb. 2024 session:      Tuesday 2 January 2024
For the May/June 2024 session:    Monday 6 May 2024
For the Aug./Sept. 2024 session:   Monday 5 August 2024

*these dates are indicative and may depend on instructions from individual instructors.


Mémoires are directed by a Professor, a maître d'enseignement et de recherche (MER), chargé.e de cours (CC) or, under certain circumstances, a chargé.e d'enseignement (CE) or a maître assistant.e (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 60-80 pages, double-spaced, including bibliography. Students should prepare a mémoire proposal and submit it to the staff member who will direct their mémoire.

Format for mémoire proposals

An oral mémoire defense is obligatory, and is taken into account for the overall evaluation of the mémoire. The defense (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 d'enseignement et de recherche, such as an assistant. An outside expert may be the second reader if necessary.

At least one month before the soutenance, the candidate sends an electronic copy of his/her mémoire to the jury (director and second examiner) and drops off a hard copy at the English department secretariat, where it can be consulted by anyone interested in attending the defense. Should the director of the mémoire and/or second examiner specifically request a hard copy of the mémoire, then the student must provide that.

In order for the defense to take place, the student must leave an attestation form (dépôt de mémoire) at the Service des examens, 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.

Students who obtain a grade of 5.50 or higher are encouraged to upload their mémoire in the Archive ouverte, since the library no longer takes printed copies. This needs to be an electronic copy (PDF) with, in addition, an electronic copy of the "autorisation de dépôt de mémoire" form, duly signed by the mémoire director as a separate document in the same deposit. Students can decide whether their mémoire is accessible to all on the Internet (default setting) or if they prefer to have it restricted to UNIGE access only, or even on private access.

To upload the “autorisation de dépôt”, please go to the “fichier administratif” category of Archive Ouverte and select “contrat/autorisation”. This will ensure the document can be deleted or restricted from public view once the deposit is validated, separately from the level of access chosen for the mémoire itself. Here is a recent example: Please note that, since the deposit was validated, the submitted “autorisation de dépôt” no longer displays.

Autorisation de dépôt de mémoire form


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, students have three exam sessions in which to credit the seminar or lecture course.

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

  • January-February of the same academic year
  • May-June of the same academic year
  • August-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:

  • May-June of the same academic year
  • August-September of the same academic year
  • January-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 (Uni-Bastions - Aile Jura, office J.02.72). 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 about the exams they are enrolling to take by completing the departmental Enrolment form, usually available on instructors' moodle and sent via e-mail by Ms Susan Mesa at the beginning of each exam registration period. 

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. For students who have successfully passed their attestation, the English department secretariat will transmit the attestation form directly to the Service des examens.

Cancelling an Exam

Cancelling 'hors session' Exams (contrôles continus or 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; information about deadlines is communicated by the Faculty. After that date, students need written approval from the instructor of the seminar or lecture course in question. Instructors can withdraw students from hors session exams until the last day of the exam session.

Cancelling 'en session' Exams (oral or written exams)

The Service des 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 candidat.e.s 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 electronic format and, for some instructors, in printed (hard copy) format.

Use the Style Sheet

All students must read the English Department Style Sheet 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

It is encouraged that you 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.

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. Please consult the Faculty's vade-mecum on plagiarism.

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: