The LUS Doctoral Programme

The Doctoral Programme at the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies (LUS), ETH Zurich D-ARCH, focuses on contemporary issues of urban and environmental transformation within their broader socio-cultural, political-economic, and theoretical contexts. The programme seeks to promote critical discourse and to cultivate independent, inventive, and proactive research addressing urgent social and environmental challenges.

The LUS Institute tackles the production of landscape, territory, and human settlements across a range of scales and diverse geographies. Research areas currently in the foreground include studies around landscape and designed ecologies, energy transition, agroecology, hydrology, and regenerative agriculture, adaptive infrastructures, housing, and socio-economic development addressing urban inequality. The geographical focus of the LUS Institute lies mostly within Switzerland, Europe, and across the wider global South.

The doctoral programme at the LUS Institute therefore attempts to bring together the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban and territorial design and planning, and the social sciences. Inter- and transdisciplinary research thus lies at the core of the LUS Institute. It is practiced through a diverse set of methodological approaches, both qualitative and quantitative, ranging from ethnographic research and critical cartography to design-based action research, systems research, and urban theory.

Your Profile

We are seeking individuals with a background in architecture, landscape architecture, urban and territorial design and planning, and social sciences, with strong research or design experience that can benefit from the inter- and transdisciplinary engagements offered by the institute.

You must hold a university diploma or master’s degree obtained at university level (equivalent to the FHEQ-Level 7) in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning, and social science, or related fields.

You must additionally demonstrate excellent research and writing skills.


Applications must be addressed to the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies rather than to individual professors. Applicants must note that the application will be solely evaluated for their content and the applicants are thus requested to not contact individual professors before applying.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by 15 March 2023, 23:59 CET:

  • Letter of motivation (1 page).
  • Outline of the proposed research project (max. 4 pages + max. 3 illustrations + bibliography and project timeline).
  • Curriculum vitae (including publications, portfolio, and work samples, max. 10 pages).
  • Published piece of writing if available (1 text, max. 15 pages)
  • Name, affiliation, and email addresses of 2 referees.

Please note that applications missing any of the documents listed above and/or exceeding specified page limits will not be considered for evaluation.

The programme exclusively accepts application documents submitted through the ETH online application portal. Applications submitted via email or postal services will not be considered.

Application Timeline

  • 15 March 2023: Submission deadline (23:59 CET).
  • Middle of April 2023: Notification to shortlisted candidates.
  • End of April 2023: Interviews with shortlisted candidates.
  • Beginning of May 2023: Notification to successful applicants.
  • 1 October 2023: Start of programme.

About the Programme

The language of instruction of the doctoral programme is English. With over 25 participants currently enrolled, the LUS Doctoral Programme cultivates both individual research and collective exchange within the doctoral community. These modes of exchange include the LUS methods seminar, institute-wide colloquia, workshops, and doctoral reviews. The LUS Doctoral Programme is part of a larger, highly stimulating environment of doctoral education offered within the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. A close collaboration with the Doctoral Programme in History and Theory of Architecture offered by the gta Institute has been established.

Participating Chairs at the LUS

While an overall alignment between the research proposed by the candidates and the individual and collective research agendas of the participating chairs at the LUS Institute is desirable, candidates are free to apply with an independent research topic. The following seven chairs currently form part of the LUS Institute:

  • Chair of History and Theory of Urban Design, Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete
  • Chair of Architecture and Housing, Prof. Maria Conen
  • Chair of Landscape Architecture, Prof. Dr. Teresa Galí-Izard
  • Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, Prof. Hubert Klumpner
  • Chair of Architecture and Urban Transformation, Prof. Freek Persyn
  • Chair of Sociology, Prof. Dr. Christian Schmid
  • Chair of Architecture and Territorial Planning, Prof. Milica Topalovic

Employment, Residence & Funding

The programme offers to fund for only up to three years. You will receive full employment (100% Pensum), based on the ETH Zurich doctoral student contract, with monthly salaries according to the ‘standard rate’. For a detailed calculation of salaries please refer here.

You are required to take up residency in Zurich during the period of the scholarship.

Further Information

Applicants are requested to refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before approaching the programme coordinator. Only for questions that cannot be addressed through the FAQs contact the doctoral programme coordinator Nitin Bathla at bathla@arch.ethz.ch. Requests sent to any other email will not be considered.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


– Could you give me some additional information about the doctoral programme?

The Doctoral Programme of the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies (LUS) at the Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich runs since October 2019. Two scholarships are awarded each year.
The programme’s focus is on the students’ independent thesis research. There are no preset research lines to be followed. The written doctoral thesis should be handed in at the end of the residency. The degree earned is: Dr. sc. ETH Zürich.
All members of the doctoral programme committee (i.e. all professors at LUS Institute) will co-supervise the students’ individual research in graduate colloquia, methods seminars and similar formats. One principal supervisor will be assigned before the end of the first year (see section Application Precedure).


– I’ve graduated from university XYZ. Does my degree allow me to apply for a doctoral position at ETH?

As a prerequisite to start a doctorate, ETH Zurich demands a diploma or Master’s degree of a minimum of 270 ECTS (https://www.ethz.ch/en/doctorate/registration-admission.html – “Admission”; contact: Mr. Picariello Alfredo, alfredo.picariello@akd.ethz.ch.)

– I’ve already obtained a doctorate from university XYZ. Am I still eligible to apply for a doctoral position at ETH?

The programme is aimed at those wishing to obtain a doctorate and therefore does not support people who have already obtained a PhD elsewhere. We would recommend you consider research positions at postdoctoral level. 


– What are the fees for the doctoral course?

The programme is offered through a limited number of competitive fellowships, for which the tuition fees will have been waived.
For other financial considerations, please consult the ETH webpage: https://ethz.ch/en/doctorate/financial.html.


– In which language is supervision available and in which language are courses taught?

Courses at ETH are taught in English or German, and doctoral seminars are usually held in English. Supervision for doctoral students is generally available in English and/or German (and possibly other languages such as French or Italian, depending on the professors involved).

– Do I need to present a language certificate?

No, a language certificate is not required. However, we expect successful candidates to be able to follow – and participate in – discussions held in English and we strongly suggest to learn German during your stay at ETH. You should have an excellent competence in the language that you choose for writing your thesis.

– Should I apply in English or German?

Applications in English are encouraged.


– What are the terms of employment?

The positions are available for a duration of 3 years. There will be an assessment at the end of the first year. 100% is the standard employment of doctoral students at ETH. The salary should be high enough to fully support you for the time of the employment.


– What is the exact deadline for applications?

15 March 2023 (23:59 CET).

– May I arrange a meeting with one of the professors at LUS Institute prior to the submission deadline?

Please understand that, for reasons of equal chances among all the candidates, we cannot discuss individual projects or conduct personal interviews before our application deadline.

– Do I have to name a supervisor/tutor in my application?

No. Even though every doctoral candidate will be assigned to one principal thesis supervisor at the end of the first year, you don’t need to choose your supervisor prior to applying. All professors of the LUS will be involved in the selection process and will participate in doctoral colloquia and offer supervision.
Information about the professors and current research projects at LUS is available on our respective websites: https://lus.arch.ethz.ch/people/

– How do I apply?

You may apply via this link.

– Do I have to pay a fee for applying?

There is no application fee.

– May I arrange a meeting with one of the professors at the LUS Institute prior to the submission deadline?

Please understand that, for reasons of equal chances among all the candidates, we cannot discuss individual projects or conduct personal interviews before our application deadline.

– I am confused. The department website lists finding a supervisor as a prerequisite for application (https://arch.ethz.ch/en/doktorat.html). Which is right?

There are two different paths into the PhD: one general at the level of the entire Architecture Department, the other specific to the LUS Institute Fellowship programme advertised here. The LUS Fellowship is by application only, it has a separate budget and rules of entry. Therefore, the rule stated in the previous question (i.e., no contact with potential supervisors) is valid for this call.

– May I take a doctoral position of less that 100% and thus prolong the LUS fellowship accordingly? May I work part-time?

The LUS doctoral fellowships are only given as 100% positions.

– Can I start a LUS doctoral fellowship and reside elsewhere, with occasional travels to ETH?

As ETH employees on 100% positions, doctoral students are required to reside in Switzerland. Nevertheless, doctoral mobility is encouraged. From the second year onwards, periods of more prolonged absence for academic transfers, archival or fieldwork travel are fully expected and may be agreed with supervisors.