Program Details

The DSI Excellence Program

The program features interdisciplinary courses about digital skills and technical knowledge, interdisciplinary thinking and problem-solving, and critical reflection on all aspects of a digital society, including ethical, legal, and societal aspects of digital change. The Excellence Program is usually completed within two years and consists of compulsory and elective courses. It is designed as a complementary curriculum to a UZH doctoral degree program. All participants must either already be enrolled in a doctoral degree program in their discipline or be accepted into one.

Curriculum details

The Excellence Program starts with a kickoff course before the official beginning of the Fall Semester. This is followed by block courses and few semester-long courses. In the first year the fundamentals of digitalization and interdisciplinary studies are taught. Examples include skills in data handling and analytics, data visualization, legal and ethical aspects of data management, and research methods in various disciplines. The second year puts the emphasis on application. Participants will collaborate in cross-faculty teams to tackle interdisciplinary research problems in digitalization. The program also promotes interdisciplinary networking across all UZH faculties. This is further strengthened with the DSI Fellowship network. DSI Excellence Program participants are expected to use the co-working space of the DSI at least one day per week. Regular events such as the DSI day and DSI summer school support networking during the entire PhD period. The DSI courses include performance assessments (module exams, presentations, paper writing, etc.).

For the program, the following modules are planned in the scope of 12 ECTS (this information is subject to change!). The modules are interdisciplinary and are usually held by at least two lecturers from different faculties (exceptions possible):

Compulsory courses

  • Kickoff course (3-day course) 
  • Block courses
    • Data Management (data administration, data management plans, etc)
    • Law (Introduction to Data Regulation)    
    • One-Stop-Shop Tool (data privacy, ethics)
  • Weekly course „Professor Pitches“ (presentation of the research activities)
  • Monthly course „Interdisciplinary Reading Seminar“ (PhD candidates present significant papers from their disciplines, these are discussed from the perspectives of the different disciplines)
  • Summer School (5 days)

Elective courses (at least two must be chosen)

  • Interdisciplinary Data Analysis & Visualization
  • Algorithms and Machine Learning
  • Digital & Mobile Health
  • Digital Humanities
  • Ethics & Reflection
  • Cybersecurity
  • ...

In exceptional cases, it is possible to postpone the attendance of a module by one year if there are scheduling conflicts with the disciplinary doctoral program.