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Can a professor refuse to be my thesis supervisor?

Whatever the subject of your research, a supervisor is always free to choose whether to accept or decline the request to supervise your PhD thesis.

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Why have a co-supervisor?

Depending on the field or subject of your thesis, your supervisor may suggest that you have a co-supervisor. The co-supervisor may be a member of ULB academic staff (Professor or researcher), a permanent member of staff at another higher education institution or a permanent member of staff at a research institute. They may also be a permanent member of staff at an organisation with which the ULB has signed a thesis supervision agreement. The co-supervisor does not necessarily have to hold the title of doctor obtained through the defence of a thesis.

For theses in the domain of “Arts and the Science of Art”, the ULB supervisor may enlist the help of a co-supervisor from an artistic higher education establishment. If you are studying towards your PhD under joint supervision, you will have one supervisor at each of the two universities at which you are enrolled.

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If I am doing a thesis under joint supervision, who will be my official supervisor?

If you are studying towards your PhD under joint supervision, you will have two official supervisors : one supervisor at each of the two universities at which you are enrolled.

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PhD thesis - Université libre de Bruxelles
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Choosing a subject and supervisor for your thesis

The lion’s share of a PhD is made up of research. For at least three years, a PhD student carries out their research under their supervisor with whom they meet regularly. Given the time spent on your thesis, it is important that you choose both the subject of your thesis and your supervisor carefully.

A list of thesis topics is available online but you can also suggest another topic to your potential supervisor.

All permanent members of ULB academic staff are qualified to supervise a thesis, as long as they have obtained a PhD by defending a thesis themselves and they are not retired.

Your choice of supervisor will depend on the subject or planned area of research. To learn more about the research undertaken at the ULB and the particular domaines of each ULB professors and research centres, please visit:

It is important that you contact your potential supervisor before beginning the administrative process. This will enable you to outline your project, make any necessary adjustments, and discuss its feasibility and funding opportunities with your supervisor before submitting your application. You can either contact the supervisor directly (by email or in person during office hours), or contact the Head of department/research centre, detailing your research plans. The Head of department/research centre can then give you the names of any colleagues who could be a suitable supervisor.