The LUS Doctoral Programme

The doctoral programme at the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies (LUS), ETH Zurich D-ARCH, is dedicated to exploring contemporary challenges in urban and environmental transformation within broader socio-cultural, political-economic, and theoretical frameworks. This programme is designed to foster critical discourse and nurture independent, innovative, and proactive research that addresses pressing social and environmental issues.

The LUS Institute engages with the production of landscape, territory, and human settlements across various scales and diverse global geographies. Key research areas include landscape and designed ecologies, energy transition, agroecology, hydrology, regenerative agriculture, adaptive infrastructures, housing, and socio-economic development with a focus on urban inequality. Geographically, the LUS Institute’s research spans Switzerland, Europe, and the broader global South.

By bringing together disciplines such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban and territorial design, and planning, as well as the social sciences, the doctoral programme at the LUS Institute adopts an inter- and transdisciplinary approach. This approach encompasses a diverse range of methodological approaches, from qualitative and quantitative research to ethnography, critical cartography, design-based action research, systems research, and urban theory.

About the Programme

The doctoral programme is conducted in English. With a current enrollment of over 25 participants, the LUS doctoral programme encourages both individual research and collaborative engagement within the doctoral community. The programme offers multiple platforms for interaction, such as the LUS methods seminar, institute-wide colloquia, workshops, and doctoral reviews. Embedded in the vibrant doctoral education environment of the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich, the LUS doctoral programme actively collaborates with the doctoral programme at the Institute of History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zurich. This collaboration enhances interdisciplinary perspectives and provides enriched research opportunities.

Participating Chairs at the LUS

While the proposed research should align with the individual and collective research agendas of the participating chairs at the LUS Institute, candidates are welcome to apply with an independent research topic, provided it aligns with the collective competencies of the Institute. The LUS Institute currently comprises seven chairs, each contributing to its diverse research landscape:

Job description

Conduct original doctoral research on an individually determined topic within the disciplines of landscape and urban studies. The fellowship places no restriction on the geography or time period of the proposed research project. You are expected to devote a small part of your time to community building activities at the LUS doctoral school and co-curate LUS Talks during the second year of your studies. See past LUS Talks here.

100% doctoral employment at the ETH standard rate, with an expected term of three-and-a-half years to completion, pending successful approval of the doctoral plan at the end of year one.

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.

We offer

The programme provides funding for up to three-and-a-half years, with a potential extension. You will be employed at 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 to this link.

You are required to take up residency in Zurich during the period of the scholarship. Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

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 are looking forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by 15 March 2024, 23:59 CET:

  1. Letter of motivation (1 page).
  2. Outline for the Proposed Research Project (4 pages + addendums). The document should include the research title, a review of the current state-of-the-art related to the proposed topic, clearly defined research questions, articulated aims and objectives, anticipated formats for publication, and a demonstration of why the LUS Institute is an ideal host for the proposed research. The main content must adhere to a 4-page limit, utilizing 11pt. font and single-spacing. Supplementary pages may be used for up to three illustrations (maps, drawings, images), bibliography, and a project timeline.
  3. Curriculum vitae (including publications, portfolio, and work samples, max. 10 pages).
  4. Published piece of writing if available (1 text, max. 15 pages).
  5. 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 2024: Submission deadline (23:59 CET).
  • Middle of April 2024: Notification to shortlisted candidates.
  • End of April 2024: Interviews with shortlisted candidates.
  • Beginning of May 2024: Notification to successful applicants.
  • 1 October 2024: Start of programme.

Further information about the programme, the participating faculty and the application process.

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. 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.