Studying at UNIL

| Nominations and enrolments at UNIL | UNIL academic calendar and length of exchange | UNIL campus | Academic information


Nominations and enrolments at UNIL

First of all, your home university needs to put your name forward (“nominate” you) to UNIL as an exchange student. Once this has been done, we will contact you to ask you to enrol online. When you enrol, you will be asked to select the type of agreement under which your exchange is taking place (general agreement, faculty agreement, Swiss-European Mobility Programme/ex-Erasmus or Swiss mobility) and then the area or areas of study in which you would like to take classes during your time at UNIL.


At this stage, if you intend to take French classes alongside your programme of studies in your faculty/school/section during your exchange, you will need to select the “Plan libre EFLE” (École de Français langue étrangère – School of French as a Foreign Language free plan) as a secondary study plan (your first plan is the one for your faculty/school/section).


You do not need to enrol for classes and examinations at this point: this only happens after the start of the semester, once you have arrived at UNIL.


Once your enrolment has been finalised, you will receive an acknowledgement of receipt: this is not a confirmation of your admission to UNIL; it simply confirms that your enrolment has been recorded.


You will then receive an e-mail, confirming that you have been admitted to UNIL as an exchange student, an official admission letter and some practical information about your time in Lausanne. No documents will be sent to you by post.


Enrolment for classes and examinations takes place after the start of the semester, once you have arrived. There is therefore nothing to do in this respect when you enrol online.



UNIL academic calendar and length of exchange

The academic year at UNIL is broken down as follows:


  • Autumn semester: from September to the end of January;
  • Spring semester: from February to the beginning of July.


As an exchange student, you can come to study at UNIL either for one of the two semesters, or for two consecutive semesters (usually during the same academic year, i.e. from September to the beginning of July).


Please note, however, that in almost all faculties (except the Faculty of Arts, including the EFLE, where there is no final examination in January), examinations for the autumn semester take place during the month of January. As a result, depending on the academic calendar at your home university, you may not be able to sit them. It is therefore advisable to come for a full academic year or for the spring semester only. An additional examination session takes place in August for students who need to resit.


If you are coming to UNIL for a placement, the dates of your exchange may be shorter than the semesters shown above.


Finally, as an exchange student, you have special status, which means you are exempt from paying any course enrolment and examination fees at UNIL. In addition, depending on the terms of the agreement between your university and UNIL under which your exchange is taking place, you may be entitled to a mobility grant.



UNIL campus

The UNIL campus is on the shore of Lake Geneva and offers a beautiful natural environment. The campus aims to be sustainable and you will find waste recycling bins throughout the site.


The UNIL-EPFL Sports Centre is in the south of the campus, literally next to the lake, and offers a wide range of sporting activities.


The campus is easily accessible by public transport from the centre of Lausanne (metro M1); the journey time to the city centre is around 10 minutes by metro. Parking on site is very limited and you are strongly advised to travel to the campus by public transport or bike.


When you arrive at UNIL, you will be given your student card (Campus Card), which you can use to print documents anywhere on campus but also to purchase food and drink in the various cafeterias. You will need to validate your card at one of the dedicated terminals and then top it up with cash at one of the other terminals. You will also be given your UNIL IT credentials.


To get your Campus Card and IT credentials, please go to the SASME office from September onwards if you are coming to UNIL for the autumn semester or the whole academic year, and from February onwards if you are coming for the spring semester.


You will also find a branch of the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV) on campus (on the lower ground floor of the Internef building), where you can easily open a bank account for your time in Switzerland and withdraw cash. You are, of course, free to open an account with any bank in Switzerland. However, it can be somewhat complicated to open an account, particularly if you are staying in Switzerland for less than six months.

You will also find a Postomat (Postfinance cash machine) on the 1st floor of the Anthropole building.



Academic information

Academic information about course programmes and the conditions for admission to a faculty at UNIL can be found on the faculty websites. You can also contact your mobility adviser, please click here to find your contact person.


Select your faculty or school:



Teaching language


UNIL is a French-speaking university. The main teaching language is therefore French. However, some Master’s programmes and several undergraduate classes are taught in English.

Most language and literature courses are taught in the language concerned.


Courses taught in English


At undergraduate level, courses taught in English are offered in:

  • Business and Economics
  • Biology
  • English Literature

At graduate level, English-taught courses are available in:

  • Business and Economics
  • Geosciences and Environment
  • Biology
  • English Literature
  • Law and Public Administration

A list of courses taught in English is available on Courses taught in English at UNIL 2022-2023

For a more detailed description, please use the search engine below (select “English” in the “Teaching language” menu).


Language level required


  • Level B2 of the CEFR  for regular courses taught in French or English.
  • Level A1 for classes in the School of French as a Foreign Language offered during the semester and for the Cours de vacances offered during the winter vacation. The EFLE offers only two courses for complete beginners (level A0) per semester, for a total of five ECTS credits.
  • No minimum required for six-week summer Cours de vacances (level A1 required for three-week summer courses).


Study French online (free)



Classes for exchange students


While you are at UNIL, you can take:

  • regular classes in French
  • regular classes in English (see below)
  • classes in French as a foreign language, full time, during the academic year in the School of French as a Foreign Language, or during the university vacation with the Cours de vacances *
  • classes in French as a foreign language, part time, alongside regular classes in French or English.


* The Cours de vacances intensive course is a paid programme, unless there is a special agreement in place with your university (please contact the student exchange coordinator at your university).


Courses not available to exchange students


Unless there is a specific agreement in place (please check with the mobility coordinator at your university), courses offered under the following programmes are not available to exchange students:


  • Courses in the School of Medicine
  • Courses in the School of Criminal Justice
  • Master’s in Medical Biology
  • Master’s in Accounting, Control and Finance
  • Continuing Education programmes (MBA, EMBA, Master of Advanced Studies, etc.)




UNIL uses ECTS credits. 60 ECTS credits represent one year of full-time study. Credits linked to a teaching unit (course or module) are only granted if the student passes the assessment for the unit concerned (written or oral examination, dissertation, continuous assessment, etc.). Exchange students are not obliged to take a minimum number of credits. However, we recommend that you do not aim for more than 30 credits per semester.


Grading scale


The grading scale goes from 0 to 6, where 6 is the highest and 4 is the pass mark.



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