Fiches de cours 2017-2018


Communication for Research Engineers


Lecturer(s) :

Smith Ian




Every year


Fall 2017


Communication proficiency is one of the most important results of a good PhD and postdoc experience and it is valued equally in academia and in industry. EPFL PhD students and postdocs are expected to have excellent written, oral and graphic skills in order to transmit their ideas effectively.


The course is divided into modules that are related to typical communication tasks that PhDs and postdocs are expected to perform. There is also a module related to publication ethics.


Teaching modules are


- Writing clearly in English

- Preparing a research abstract

- Giving a seminar to a small audience

- Preparing and presenting a poster

- Writing a journal paper

- Publication ethics

- Writing a conference paper

- Presenting a paper at a conference

- Writing a research proposal

- Chairing a seminar

- Preparing a thesis document


Interactive workshops will be held between teaching modules. Typical subjects are


- Creating effective and understandable tables, images and figures

- Simplify the message

- Non-verbal communication including body language

- Making yourself heard, understood and remembered

- Know your audience

- Designing a pilot project

- Managing question-and-answer sessions

- Communication and email etiquette

- Aspects related to creating clear and unambiguous text


The course begins with an assignment for each student to write and then present a ten-sentence summary of their research. The course is subsequently tailored to the average proficiency that is observed and to specific weaknesses that are identified.


There will be a priority given to PhD students. The ethics module will be given in collaboration with personnel from the EPFL Library.


Oral communication
Technical writing and graphics for engineers

Learning Prerequisites

Required courses


Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

Teaching methods



Expected student activities

Short written texts

Short films of 5-minute presentations

Assessment methods

Improvement in written and oral skills over course

In the programs

Reference week

      Exercise, TP
      Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German