Some useful guidelines as you begin your studies in the Faculty of Humanities
Choosing your majors
If you are enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program (baccalauréat universitaire ès lettres), you must select two majors offered by the Faculty: http://www.unige.ch/lettres/en/etudes/formations/baccalaureat
You can also opt for certain majors offered by the University of Lausanne (film studies, Southeast Asian languages and culture) or the University of Neuchâtel (ethnology, information and communication sciences). To select a major outside of the University of Geneva, please fill out this form:
Have a look at the timetable and handbook of the program you’ve selected and find out how to enroll in the corresponding faculty.
If you’re planning on becoming a teacher in Switzerland, make sure you know what subjects are taught in Swiss schools. The subjects that will most likely lead to a secondary-school teaching job are German, French and English.
During the first two days of the fall semester, presentations are given on all majors offered by the Faculty:
There won’t be any classes on those first two days, so try to attend as many presentations as possible to make sure that you have made the right choices. Who knows? You may even learn about a program that you never considered before.
You can still switch majors at the beginning of the fall semester. You will receive an e-mail from the student secretary requesting that you register your final choices online (inscription en ligne) and sign up for the modules you’ve selected.
You may also switch majors the following year, provided that you have acquired at least 24 credits by the end of the first two semesters. You will need to write to the academic advisor (conseiller-ère aux études), who will de-register you from the modules linked to the program you initial chose.
N.B. Switching majors does not modify the overall deadline to complete your studies.
What’s a module?
All programs in the Faculty are based on modules. The BA program is made up of 15 modules (7 in major A, 7 in major B and one elective). Each module consists of a set of lectures, seminars (travaux pratiques) and evaluations (papers, exams, etc.) that share the same theme and methodological approach. Each module corresponds to approximately one day of work a week for an entire year. That includes the hours spent in class as well as homework (reading, preparation for written assignments, presentations and exams).
How to select your modules
If you’re studying full-time, you should take 5 modules a year. You can also study part-time: under the BA rules, you must successfully complete a minimum of two modules (24 ECTS credits) in your first year, and at least two and a half modules (30 ECTS credits) each year after that.
If you’re a full-time student, we recommend that you take two modules in each of your majors plus the elective module in your first year. Nevertheless, it’s up to you to decide how you want to distribute your modules. Some of the more advanced modules may have prerequisites.
How does the credit system work?
ECTS (European Credit and Transfer System) credits take into account all work required of students (classes, research, reading, homework, exams, etc.). One credit is equivalent to approximately 25 to 30 hours of work. One university year consists of 60 ECTS credits. Each module is worth 12 credits. Some modules are divided into two half-modules worth 6 credits each.
Grading in the Faculty of Humanities
While credits measure the amount of work you have completed, grades are used to evaluate the quality of your work. The grading scale goes from 0 to 6 in quarter-grade steps (0.25). The pass grade is a 4.
What’s in the program handbook (plan d’études)?
For each major, students are provided with a program handbook (plan d’études), which defines the number and types of courses students must complete for each module, the evaluation method (presentations, written work, oral or written exams, regular assessment, etc.) and any particular requirements (pre-requisites, such as successfully completing basic modules before taking more advanced modules, compulsory modules, etc.). Each major requires 7 modules: BA1, BA2, BA3, BA4, BA5, BA6 and BA7.
What’s an elective (module à option libre, BA15)?
You are required to take a module outside of your two majors for a year. You can choose a module related to one of your main subjects, or take a module in a completely different subject that interests you.
Have a look at the handbook of each program: http://www.unige.ch/lettres/en/etudes/formations/baccalaureat. At the end, there is a section marked “Modules offerts aux étudiant-e-s d’autres disciplines”, which lists the modules that can be taken by students who are not specializing in that subject.
Some modules require knowledge of a classical language (Latin or Greek). If you didn’t take or successfully complete a classical language course in high school, you will be required to take it as your elective.
How should you organize your schedule?
Unlike other Faculties, the Faculty of Humanities does not provide you with a specific schedule. Students put together their own timetable based on their majors, the number of modules required and the elective they have chosen.
To help you create your timetable, go through the program handbook for each of your majors (http://www.unige.ch/lettres/en/etudes/formations/baccalaureat) and look at the academic calendar (http://www.unige.ch/lettres/en/etudes/enseignements).
CR: cours = lecture
SE: séminaire = seminar
CS: cours-séminaire = lecture combined with seminar
TP: travaux pratiques = workshops
A: semestre d’automne = Autumn/Fall semester
P: semestre de printemps = Spring semester
AN: annuel = year-long
Room numbers begin with one or more letters, which refer to the various university buildings:
- Athénée Abeilles
- Athénée Salon
- Battelle (BAT)
- Landolt (L)
- Musée d'art et d'histoire (MAH)
- Pavillon Mail (PM)
- Les Philosophes (PHIL)
- Saint-Ours (SO)
- Uni Dufour (U)
- Uni Mail (MS, MR, M)
With over 30 different programs, there are likely to be conflicts in your timetable. If there are two classes scheduled at the same time, you should give priority to language classes, basic courses and seminars. Larger departments may offer the same class at different times or on different days.
Recordings of some lectures can be found on the Mediaserver.
Another option is to take a more advanced module first (provided that there are no pre-requisites), then take the module that conflicts with your schedule the following year.
Don’t hesitate to contact your teachers, academic advisors or the student administration office for advice.
What are the BA rules and regulations?
The BA rules and regulations (règlement d’études du BA) are contained in a document that can be consulted online: http://www.unige.ch/lettres/fr/etudes/reglements (only available in French)
They address issues such as length of study, leave of absence requests, degree equivalence, studying at other universities, exam procedure and expulsion from the Faculty. You should read this document carefully in order to learn about your rights and obligations.
Student email address:
Once you’re enrolled at the University of Geneva, you’ll be given a student email address:
Click on the link below to access your email:
You can also redirect your school email messages to your personal address. Go to your university email address as indicated above, click on “Options” then “Créer une règle de boîte de reception” (Create a new rule for arriving messages).
NB: You are expected to consult your student email regularly since you will routinely receive messages from the student administration office, your teachers and the Dean’s office.
Signing up for courses and exams:
At the beginning of the semester you must register for the modules you’ve chosen through the online registration (inscription en ligne) database.
A compulsory information session on the online registration process is scheduled for 28 September 2023:
Go to the link below for step-by-step instructions on how to register for your classes online:
Besides registering for classes, you also need to register for exams; unlike in other faculties, you will not be automatically registered for exams.
Preparing yourself for university:
You’ve decided to go to university to study the subjects that you enjoy. But maybe you’re feeling a little lost or overwhelmed, surrounded by so many new faces in a new place. You have a thousand questions and you feel as though you’re the only one who hasn’t settled in yet.
Don’t worry: you’re not alone. Everyone feels that way when they first go to university. In the Faculty of Humanities, you will have a lot of independence. That can take some getting used to, but you shouldn’t keep your worries to yourself. Talk to your teachers, academic advisors, and staff in your department’s student office or the student administration office. Take the time to chat to your fellow students and compare notes with them.
If you’re suffering from psychological problems (stress, eating disorders, sleep disorders, depression, sexual issues, relationship problems, problems related to living away from home, attention-deficit disorder), you can contact the center for psychological counselling: https://www.unige.ch/sse/
And if you truly think you’ve made a mistake, there are three options:
- During the first three weeks of the semester, you can still switch programs and register in another faculty (with the exception of the Faculty of Translation and Interpretation and the Faculty of Medicine). In order to switch faculties, you will need to go to Admission Services in Uni Dufour with your student card or another valid piece of ID.
- After the first three weeks, you can still go to Admission Services and ask to be de-registered. However, if you de-register in the second semester then decide to come back to the Faculty the following year, you will only be readmitted on a conditional basis.
- Or, you can complete your first year of studies (you must obtain a minimum of 24 credits by the end of the year), then drop by Admission Services between 1 July and 15 August to switch faculties.
To improve your note-taking, time management, memorization or exam preparation skills, consider signing up for the “Réussir ses études” (Succeeding in your studies) workshops run by the University of Geneva: https://vie-de-campus.unige.ch/se-perfectionner/reussir
We wish you all the best as you begin your studies!