Course information

Mandatory courses:

CEE foundationsStatisticsScientific Programming
Data scienceMachine learningImage processing
Mathematical modellingETHZ

You have to choose at least one of these courses during your first PhD year. Be aware that you also need to have 4 credits to pass the first year.
This list may not be updated so please check the course site for exact information.

CEE foundations

Image processing for earth observation  ENV-540 (4 credits) – FALL

This course covers optical remote sensing from satellites and airborne platforms. The different systems are presented. The students will acquire skills in image processing and machine learning to extract end-products, such as land cover or risk maps, from the images.

Advanced composites in Engineering Structures  CIVIL-443 (3 credits) – FALL

The objective of the course is to: 1. Introduce topics in properties, processing, mechanical behavior, characterization, analysis and structural design of Fiber Reinforced Composites 2. Help students develop their research skills through independent investigations on research topics.

Air pollution ENV-409 (5 credits) – SPRING

A survey course describing the origins of air pollution and climate change.

Fourier analysis and boundary value problems ENV-614 (4 credits)SPRING

Learning Fourier Series and Boundary Value Problems with a view to a variety of science and engineering problems. Learn the use of special functions like Bessel functions and applications. Introduce the doctoral students to general Sturm-Liouville problems and applications.

Structural stability  CIVIL-369 (4 credits) SPRING

Advanced topics in structural stability; elastic & inelastic column buckling; beam-columns; lateral-torsional buckling of bridge girders; nonlinear geometric effects; frame stability; computational formulation of stability theory; stiffness & flexibility methods


Applied biostatistics  MATH-493 (5 credits) – SPRING

This course covers topics in applied biostatistics, with an emphasis on practical aspects of data analysis using R statistical software. Topics include types of studies and their design and analysis, high dimensional data analysis (genetic/genomic) and other topics as time and interest permit.

Biostatistics  MATH-449: (5 credits) – SPRING

Statistics for life sciences – seems to cover a lot of basic statistic information that was present in the cancelled courses so it may still be relevant.

Multivariate statistics with R   ENV-513 (4 credits) – FALL

Data required for ecosystem assessment is typically multidimensional. Multivariate statistical tools allow us to summarize and model multiple ecological parameters. This course provides a conceptual introduction and guidelines for the use of multivariate statistical tools using the R platform.

Sensing and spatial modeling for earth observation ENV-408 (5 credits) – SPRING

In this course students get acquainted with the process of image (orthophoto and DEM) creation, as well as with methods for monitoring the Earth surface using remotely sensed data. Methods will span from machine learning to geostatistics and model the spatiotemporal variability of processes.

Understanding statistics and Experimental design  BIO-449 (4 credits) – FALL

This course is neither an introduction to the mathematics of statistics nor an introduction to a statistics program such as R. The aim of the course is to understand statistics from its experimental design and to avoid common pitfalls of statistical reasoning. There is space to discuss ongoing work.

Scientific Programming

Scientific programming for engineers  MATH-611 (4 credits) FALL

The students will acquire a solid knowledge on the processes necessary to design, write and use scientific software, including the analysis of results. Modeling aspects, which constrain software design, will lead the students to algorithmic and complexity concepts inherent to all numerical calculation.

Data science

Applied data analysis  CS-401 (8 credits)

This course introduces the key concepts and algorithms from the areas of information retrieval, data mining and knowledge bases, which constitute the foundations of today’s Web-based distributed information systems. credits) – FALL

Distributed information systems  CS-423 (4 credits) – FALL

This course introduces the key concepts and algorithms from the areas of information retrieval, data mining and knowledge bases, which constitute the foundations of today’s Web-based distributed information systems.

Systems for data management and data science  CS-460 (8 credits) – SPRING

This course is intended for students who want to understand modern large-scale data analysis systems and database systems. The course covers fundamental principles for understanding and building systems for managing and analyzing large amounts of data. It covers a wide range of topics and technologi

Machine learning

Machine learning CS-433 (8 credits) – FALL

Machine learning and data analysis are becoming increasingly central in many sciences and applications. In this course, fundamental principles and methods of machine learning will be introduced, analyzed and practically implemented.

Deep learning EE-559 (4 credits) SPRING

The objective of this course is to provide a complete introduction to deep machine learning. How to design a neural network, how to train it, and what are the modern techniques that specifically handle very large networks.

Applied machine learning  MICRO-455 (4 credits) – FALL

Real-world engineering applications must cope with a large dataset of dynamic variables, which cannot be well approximated by classical or deterministic models. This course gives an overview of methods from Machine Learning for the analysis of non-linear, highly noisy and multi dimensional data.

Machine learning for engineers  EE-613 (EDOC)  (4 credits) – FALL

The objective of this course is to give an overview of machine learning techniques used for real-world applications, and to teach how to implement and use them in practice.

Image processing

Image analysis and pattern recognition  EE-451 (4 credits) – SPRING

This course gives an introduction to the main methods of image analysis and pattern recognition.

Visual intelligence: machines and minds CS-503 ( 5 credits) – SPRING

The course will discuss classic material as well as recent advances in computer vision and machine learning relevant to processing visual data. The primary focus of the course will be on embodied intelligence and perception for active agents.

Mathematical modelling

Optimization and simulation  MATH-600 (4 credits) – SPRING

Master state-of-the art methods in discrete optimization and simulation. Work involves: – reading the material beforehand – class hours to discuss the material and solve problems – homework

Mathematical modelling of behaviour  MATH-463 (5 credits) – FALL

Discrete choice models allow for the analysis and prediction of individuals’ choice behavior. The objective of the course is to introduce both methodological and applied aspects, in the field of marketing, transportation, and finance.

Courses at ETHZ

Design of Experiments

The course introduces ‘classical’ statistical design of experiments, particularly designs for blocking, full and fractional factorial designs with confounding, and response surface methods. Topics covered include (restricted) randomization and blocking, sample size and power calculations, confounding, and basics of analysis-​of-variance methods for analysis including random effects and nesting. 3h per week (5 credits?).

Applied Analysis of Variance and Experimental Design– 5 credits

Principles of experimental design, one-way analysis of variance, contrasts and multiple comparisons, multi-factor designs and analysis of variance, complete block designs, Latin square designs, random effects and mixed effects models, split-plot designs, incomplete block designs, two-series factorials and fractional designs, power.


How can I get credits from courses?

  • See the EDCE regulations about credit allocation.
  • No credits can be obtained from Bachelor courses
  • Maximum 4 credits can be obtained from transferrable skill courses
  • Credits from master courses and courses given at other universities must be pre-approved by the thesis director and the director of the doctoral program. The credits will be awarded only after the reception of an official transcript describing explicitly that an exam was passed, and providing the exact number of ECTS credits.
  • Credits can be obtained from short courses or summer schools under the following conditions:
    • The thesis director and the director of the doctoral program must approve the course
    • An official transcript must be provided indicating the number of course hours, plus the number of ECTS credits if available.
    • A formal exam must be passed to evaluate the learning outcomes of the course (a certificate of participation is not sufficient)

Note that the number of ECTS credits proposed by the course organizer does not necessarily correspond to the number of ECTS credits awarded by the doctoral program. The general rule is that a 5-day course is worth 1 ECTS.

  • No credit can be obtained from conferences, seminars, symposium, workshops, internships, etc.

I have a 4 year Bachelor degree and have to take extra credits, what are the rules?

We ask for 8 extra credits, resulting in 20 total credits throughout the PhD. Of the extra credits, 4 have to be taken the first year (in addition to the 4 credits required by EDOC). The thesis director must send a proposal with the planned courses to the EDCE office when starting the doctoral school. This proposal must be validated by the program director.

How to know the number of credits?

EDCE program regulation, section 2:

EDCE external course list

These are lists of courses followed by oher EDCE Phd students, its main purpose is to help you find interesting courses that you can’t find at EPFL


Course nameLocation
Applied analysis of variance and experimental designETHZ
Applied Statistical RegressionETHZ
Applied statistics for Ph.D studentsUniversity of Zürich
Designing experiments on the hyporheic zoneUniversity of Birmingham
Environmental data miningUNIL
Introduction to statisticsSwiss institute of bioinformatics
Méthodes statistiques: théories et applicationsUNIL
Statistics for experimental researchETHZ
Uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of numerical modelsDTU, Denmark
Using R for Data Analysis and GraphicsETHZ
Introduction to spatial analysis of ecological data using RPR statistics head-office, Glasgow, scotland

Specialized experimental methods

Course nameLocation
3D VisionETHZ
Combining Structural & Analytical Investigations of Matter at the Micro-, nano- and Atomic ScalesCCMX, Lausanne
Cook and look: Synchroton techniquesETHZ
DIA/SWATH course, Mass spectrometryETHZ
Ecole d’automne de techniques laser pour la mécanique de fluidesLa Rochelle, FR
Mass spectrometry School in Biotechnology and MedicineDubrovnik, summer school
Microbial biofilm techniquesDTU, Denmark
Modern mass spectrometry, Hyphenated methods, and chemometricsETHZ
Sampling in hyporheic zones, in situ measurement techniquesUniversity of Birmingham
Spectroscopy of the earth systemUniversity of Zürich


Course nameLocation
Computable general equilibrium in climate and energy economicsUNIBE
Environmental crisis and society changeUNIL
Swiss program for beginning of doctoral studies in economic macroeconomicsStudy center Gerzensee
Swiss program for beginning of doctoral studies in economic microeconomicsStudy center Gerzensee

General Civil and Environmental Engineering courses

Course nameLocation
Aerosol I: Physical and Chemical principlesETHZ
Analysis of climate and weather dataETHZ
Arctic environmental toxicologyUniversity center in Svalbard, Norway
Atmospheric general circulation dynamicsETHZ
Boundary Layer MeteorologyETHZ
Concrete with Supplementary cementitious materialsDTU, Lyngby, Denmark
Current topics in Grassland SciencesETHZ
DGPT Molecular cell toxicologyZurich University
Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment of ChemicalsETHZ
Environmental systems analysisEAWAG, summer school, switzerland
EURO Ph.D school on routing and logisticsUniversity of Brescia, Italy
Fragrance chemistryETHZ
Frontiers in plant sciences, application of stable isotopes in plant sciencesETHZ
Geomonitoring and GeosensorsETHZ
Global change biologyETHZ
HypobasicsLeibniz institue of freshwater ecology and inland fisheries, Berlin
Infectious disease dynamicsETHZ
Marges aridesUNIL
Material recovery methods and TechnologiesFHNW, Muttenz, CH
Mechanical and Physics of fracture: Multi-scale Modeling of the failure behaviour of SolidsInternational center for Mechanical Sciences, Udine, Italy
Microbiology and disposal of radioactive wasteETHZ
Modern pesticides – Mode of action, Residus and Environmental FateETHZ
Nanomaterials in the EnvironmentETHZ
Physical chemistryETHZ
Physical LimnologyUniversity of Heidelberg
Physics as a basis for modelingUNIL
Plant-atmosphere interactions in a changing climateGöteborgs universitet, Sweden
Project INFRASTAR fatigue and risk analysis of structuresBAM, Berlin
Quantitative flow visualizationETHZ
Quantitative microbial risk assessmentMichigan State University, USA
Resevoir GeomechanicsStanford university
Seismic response and analysis of structuresUME school Pavia, Italy
Selected chapters in BioinformaticsUNIGE
Shaping the energy transitionSCCER school, Switzerland
Snowcover: physics and modelingETHZ
Summer school of fluvial geomorphologyETHZ
System models in life cycle assessment, summer schoolETHZ
Tropospheric ChemistryETHZ
Virology: Principles of molecular biology, pathogenesis and control of human virusesUniversity of Zürich
Virus-host InteractionsUNIL
Visions for sustainable agricultureUNINE
Water resources and drinking waterETHZ
Winter school on the observation and modeling of high-latitude and Arctic CloudsFinland

EDCE external transferrable skills list

Course nameLocation
Discovering managementETHZ
Environmental communication teachingCampus virtual ISM, Spain
Reading in environmental thinkingETHZ
Research ethicsETHZ
Responsible conduct in researchETHZ

Interesting sites for courses:
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
EMBO – Excellence in the life sciences.

This list includes doctoral courses only, master courses are not listed. 
All external courses are subject to approval by the thesis director and the doctoral school. Contact the EDCE office for all external courses.
Listed credits may not correspond to the number of credits awarded by EPFL.
Check if an equivalent course at EPFL exists.
Courses on the list may not longer be taught.