Doctoral Program in Geology 2017–2018


The Geology is a basic science with a long research tradition. Onwards from the creation of the academic studies in Geology at the University of Zaragoza back in 1973, they were linked to the research in field areas located, both in Aragon and in other Spanish and foreign countries. This research has resulted in the completion of many PhD Theses in Geology since 1977 supervised by staff from our center, in many cases in collaboration with professors from other national and foreign universities. These PhD Theses have had a strong impact on the scientific knowledge in the different fields of Geology. The doctoral program has close collaboration with the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (CSIC) and the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (Zaragoza headquarters), so that research doctors from both institutes participate in training activities and doctoral thesis management.

The doctoral program in Geology at the University of Zaragoza has been adapted to the regulations in force at each stage. It enjoyed the Quality Mention of the Spanish Government between 2006 and 2011. Later, the program was distinguished with the Mention for Excellence, and in 2013 the program obtained the official title verification. A significant part of the PhD theses carried out in the program are based on Master's Thesis carried out in the context of the "Master in Geology: Techniques and Applications" of the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Zaragoza. This Master, which has been taught since the 2013/14 academic year, offers advanced training in Geology but with a marked transversal and interdisciplinary character

Program Objectives

The objective of the program is to train doctors who will be able to carry out basic and applied research tasks in the different filed of the Geology.

The doctors will acquire the critical scientific spirit, the methodological approach capacity, the practical skill in the field and laboratory work, and the communication and teamwork capacity. In particular, they will achieve an ethical sense of professional work to perform an effective service to society with honesty and responsibility.

Outgoing Student Profile

The output profile includes:

1- Professional development in the academia, both university or secondary education centers.

2- Geological research in national and foreign centers.

3- Work applied to the company. In this regard, the doctoral studies have potential application in fields such as geological substrate-civil works, geological risks, oil industry, geological storage systems, mining activity, and geological and paleontological heritage preservation.


Secretaría del Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra
Edificio Geológicas
Pedro Cerbuna, 12. 50009 Zaragoza

Phone: +34 976761105


Prof. Marcos Aurell

Phone: +34 976761087

Basic Skills

The students of the program acquire the basic competences indicated in article 5 of Royal Decree 99/2011 on doctorate. They are the following:

  1. Systematic understanding of their field of study and mastery of research skills and methods related to that field.
  2. Ability to conceive, design or create, implement and adopt a substantial process of research or creation.
  3. Ability to contribute to the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge through original research.
  4. Ability to perform a critical analysis and evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas.
  5. Ability to communicate with the academic and scientific community and with society in general about their fields of knowledge in the modes and languages commonly used in their international scientific community.
  6. Ability to promote, in academic and professional contexts, scientific, technological, social, artistic or cultural advancement within a society based on knowledge.

Personal Abilities and Skills

The RD 99/2011 highlights the high professional training of doctors in various fields, especially those that require creativity and innovation. Therefore, the doctors of the program will have acquired, at least, personal skills and abilities to:

  1. Develop in contexts in which there is little specific information.
  2. Find the key questions that must be answered to solve a complex problem.
  3. Design, create, develop and undertake innovative and innovative projects in their field of knowledge.
  4. Work both as a team and independently in an international or multidisciplinary context.
  5. Integrate knowledge, face complexity and formulate judgements with limited information.
  6. The criticism and intellectual defence of solutions.

Other Specific Program Competences

No additional competencies are considered

General Information

The requirements for access to doctorate studies are set in RD 99/2011 and can be consulted in the corresponding Instruction of the Doctorate School (pdf). In general, an official Spanish Bachelor's and Master's degrees or equivalent are required, with a minimum global extension of 300 ECTS credits.

Candidates with university degrees issued by a country of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) may request admission directly (info). If the degree is issued by a country outside the EHEA, the application for access with a non-homologated foreign degree must be submitted (info).

Those interested can expand their information in the administrative section of the Doctoral School (web) or the administration of the program (see contact data in the program general information section).

Program Specific Information

Oferta de plazas: 11

Admission to the doctorate program in Geology

The academic commission of the program has to admit the doctoral student. To obtain such admission, the student must contact the academic commission of the program by requesting it at the administrative headquarters of the Doctorate in Geology program.

Preferred profile

The preferred profile, which gives direct access to the Doctorate program in Geology without the need for additional courses, is that of graduates in Geology who have completed the Master in Earth Sciences or Geological Engineering. These degrees may be from any higher education institution with official studies of Spain. Likewise, students from countries outside Spain may be admitted if the accredited degrees in the field of Earth Sciences correspond to a level of training equivalent to that of the official Spanish Master's Degree and entitle them to access Doctoral studies in the country of expedition.

The student must prove the following training requirements:

Capabilities: Search and management of geological documentation, both in the field and laboratory. Fieldwork skills are required, such as the ability to move in open areas, cope with adverse situations (weather, difficult journeys) and field data adquisition on all types of terrain (mountain, plain).

Previous knowledge: Knowledge of Geology at grade level or equivalent in Earth Sciences; know how to use tools to locate and obtain field data: topographic maps, geological maps, compass, GPS; and the specifics of each specialization.

To be admitted to the program, a level B2 of the Common European Framework for Language Recognition (CEFR) is required for those students whose native language is different from that of the program.

Admission criteria and evaluation of merits

In the event that there are more applicants than places, the academic commission will apply the following weighted selection criteria.
- Academic resume of the candidate: type of training and grades obtained: 55%
- Previous research experience. It will be valued to have obtained a collaboration scholarship, participation in practical work (field work, laboratories), articles or communications: 20%
- Scholarships and / or study grants available: 10%
- Other academic merits. Other studies, knowledge of other languages, completion of complementary training courses will be valued: 15%

Specific Training Activities

1a) Related profiles: Income profiles related to the preferred profile are considered:
    · Graduates + Master in Biology
    · Graduates + Master in Geography
    · Graduates + Master in Marine Sciences
    · Graduates + Master in Natural Sciences
    · Graduates + Master in Environmental Sciences
    · Graduates + Master of Science in Antiquity
    · Graduate + Master in Civil Engineering
    · Graduate + Master in Building Engineering
    · Master's Degree in Territorial and Environmental Planning,
    · University Master in Cultural Heritage Management
    · University Master's Degree in Geographic Information Technologies for Spatial Planning: GIS and Remote Sensing

2a) Complements to be taken: Students who request admission to the PD in Geology, having completed the related profiles, may be required to take complementary courses, which will be determined in each case by the academic commission. These courses will preferably taken from the Master in Initiation to Research in Geology from the University of Zaragoza or other Master's degrees in the field of Earth Sciences. The Academic Commission will determine those specific courses to be taken by the applicant based on their entry profile and the line of research in which they are going to carry out their doctoral studies. In no case may they exceed 18 ECTS. Detailed information on the subjects from which the training supplements will be chosen can be found at posgeol / contenido / master.html

1b) Other profiles: Any other case other than the preferred profile not included in the previous section (“related profiles”),

2b) Complements to be taken: The academic commission of the program will assess the applicant's training path and will establish the appropriate training complements for each case. These complements will consist of a training period of up to 30 ECTS, of subjects related to Geology and research methodology in Geology, to be determined among the subjects of the Degree and the Master in Geology of the academic offer of studies of the University of Zaragoza or, where appropriate, other equivalents, that the academic commission of the Doctoral Program may also consider appropriate. In this regard, the possible proposals of the doctoral student and his / her thesis director may also be taken into account.

Enrolment Dates, Deadlines and Procedure

Doctoral students, as researchers in training and students of the University of Zaragoza, have to formalize every year the enrollment with the corresponding rights to the academic tutorship while continuing their doctoral training. The enrollment period will be set  in the academiccalendar approved each year by the Doctoral School. 

As a general rule, enrollment will be done online through the Secretaría Virtual ofthe University of Zaragoza. Previously a personal identification number (NIP) and password will have been obtained in the identity management service. Face-to-face registration will be allowed to those who cannot do it online, by going to the doctoral school during public service hours. PhD students must submit every year in which they enroll, documentation about their previous studies, depending on whether they have been taken in countries of the European Education Area or outside that space.

Full and up-to-date information on the enrollment procedure, including key points, is provided on the website of the Doctoral School, as well as prices, discounts and insurance, legalization and translation of documents and some others practical details.

Thesis Supervision

The procedures for the supervision of doctoral students are set in article 11 of Royal Decree 99/2011, which regulates doctoral studies and the rules about Thesis (Reglamento sobre Tesis Doctorales de la Universidad de Zaragoza)The doctoral student admitted to the program has to enrol each academic year in academic tutelage at the University of Zaragoza. The Academic Committee of the program will assign a Thesis Director and a tutor, who may or may not be the same. The Thesis Director will be the person in charge of the overall management of the doctoral student's research tasks, of the coherence and adequacy of the training activities, of the impact and novelty in his/her field of the subject of the doctoral thesis and of the guide in other projects and activities where the doctoral student is involved. The tutor is responsible for the adaptation of the training and the research activity to the principles of the program and the Doctoral School and will ensure the interaction of the doctoral student with the Academic Committee of the program, the body responsible for supervising the progress of the research and training and the authorization of the thesis presentation of each doctoral student of the program.

The supervisory functions of the doctoral students will be documented in the Doctorate Letter which, once the registration is made, will be signed by the doctoral student, its tutor and its director, the program coordinator and the director of the Doctoral School. Those interested can expand the information on the thesis supervision in the administrative headquarters of the program (see contact information in the general information of the program) or by consulting the program coordinator.

Student's Follow-up and Evaluation

The follow-up of the training process leading to the presentation of the doctoral thesis is carried out through the research plan and the doctoral student's document of activities. The research plan is presented before the end of the first year of enrolment and includes, at least, the methodology to be used and the objectives to be achieved, as well as the means and the temporal planning to achieve it. The plan may be improved and detailed later and must be endorsed by the Director and the tutor. The document of activities is the register of all the activities -research stays, courses, attendance to congresses, or others- that the doctorate carries out from his enrolment until the presentation of the doctoral thesis. Annually, the Academic Committee of the program will evaluate the follow-up of the research plan together with the document of activities. The positive evaluation will be an essential requirement to continue in the program. In the case of a negative evaluation, the doctoral student must be evaluated again within a maximum period of six months. Those interested can expand this information in the administrative headquarters of the program (see contact information in the general information of the program) or by consulting the program coordinator.

Once the thesis is concluded, the doctoral student must proceed to deposit and defend it according to the dispositions included in the thesis regulation of the University of Zaragoza and its procedure (info).

Other Specific Program Procedures

There are no other specific program procedures.

Transversal Training Activities

The Doctoral School offers an annual series of voluntary activities for all doctoral students. This formation has a transversal and interdisciplinary nature. The offer is dynamic and covers the following formative aspects: communication (oral and written), access and information management, and skills for a future social and professional performance.  Information about the activities, admission and enrolment can be found in the website of the Doctoral School  (info).

Additionally, other formative activities of interest for a wide range of our doctoral students are disseminated through our web (info).

Specific Training Activities

As specific training activities, students enrolled in the doctorate program in geology must carry out the following activities:

Activity 1: Attendance at transversal activities offered by the School (20-40 hours):

The students of the PD in Geology must take at least two of the transversal activities offered by the Doctoral School of the University of Zaragoza throughout their stay in the program. The new knowledge reached by the student will be variable depending on the transversal activity that he chooses. In addition, from these activities, the doctoral student will improve competencies of interest for his scientific work from the interaction with doctoral students and professors from other disciplines other than his own.

Activity 2: Cycle of Geology conferences (10 hours):

Before the start of the academic year, the Geology PhD Commission schedules a series of conferences with talks of scientific and professional relevance, given by prestigious Spanish and foreign researchers. They aim to provide knowledge of interest to doctoral students. For this, the topics of the conferences are selected, so that at least one of them deals with each of the research lines of the program.

Around 8–10 conferences a year are scheduled, distributed from October to May at the rate of one or two each month. By participating in conferences that deal with topics of special relevance in Geology, the student acquires new knowledge within the field of Geology, not necessarily from his/her line of research. In addition, in a very particular way, he/she improves in other competences of interest for his/her scientific work, such as oral communication techniques or how to organize a scientific discourse.

Activity 3: Geology Seminars (16 hours):

In the activity, the doctoral students of the program present the results of their research during three of the academic courses of their stay in the program. As a general rule, in the first talk the student shows the general planning and objectives of his work, with some preliminary preliminary results. In the second talk the results obtained in some of the specific tasks programmed in the thesis are shown. The third talk aims to show the results achieved in a more global way.

Depending on the number of students involved, two to three sessions are scheduled during the academic year, around October, March and May. In these sessions, students have 10 minutes to present the progress of their PhD Thesis work, followed by 5 minutes in which students and teachers pose possible questions. The first seminar session usually consists of a field day, in which the visit of around six field work areas of different doctoral students is schedulled. In the successive stops, the student presents and discusses the results of his work facing a representative outcrop. By giving his own talk at the seminar, the PhD student gains oral communication skills, increasing their ability to defend ideas in public, discuss and synthesize their research. Furthermore, the activity reinforces and strengthens interdisciplinary interchange and ties.

Activity 4: Mobility (480 hours):

The doctoral program in Geology strongly recommends that students carry out mobility activities, since visits and stays at other national and foreign centers are considered essential for their academic and scientific training. Is it aimed: to interact with other teams, improve language and communication, learn new work techniques, internalize the results, etc. It is recommended that at the end of the stay in the program at least 3 months of stays in foreign centers have been achieved. The mobility of the students and the success of these activities will be programmed and prepared with the help of the PhD supervisor, and will be financed to the extent possible by specific financial aid and / or by the research teams to which they belong.


Doctoral students enrolled in doctoral programs benefit from mobility aids established in various national and international calls. The calls for the Erasmus + program stand out.

In the Erasmus + Studies mode, doctoral students can choose a wide range of destinations, since most of the agreements signed by the University of Zaragoza with other universities include places for PhD students of all branches.

In the Erasmus + Stays / Practices in companies modality, PhD students access two calls: the one from the University of Zaragoza and the one carried out by the Iberus International Campus of Excellence for the universities that comprise it, the one from Zaragoza among them.

Other mobility calls are specifically designed for Latin American students and for international stays of students with predoctoral contracts. The mobility of doctoral students of the University of Zaragoza is also encouraged with cotutela agreements signed with foreign universities.

Research Lines

    Research Teams

    Academic Regulations

    The Doctoral School of the University of Zaragoza has rules and procedures to achieve its various goals, which have been written with the agreement of the different levels of the Doctoral School, and are published on its website.

    The regulations section of the Doctoral School website contains other important regulations, both national and of the University of Zaragoza, such as RD 99/2011 por el que se regulan las enseñanzas oficiales de doctorado, el Reglamento de los Estudios de Doctorado (2012) y el Reglamento sobre tesis doctorales (2014).

    PhD Duration and Their Management Rules

    Rules of duration and permanence in the doctorate are established in Instrucción de23 de mayo de 2018 de la Escuela de Doctorado relativa al acceso, admisión,dedicación y permanencia en los estudios de doctorado de la Universidad deZaragoza (R.D. 99/2011).

    Full-time thesis should be complete in three years, from the date of admission to the doctoral program, although the Academic Committee of the program may authorize the extension of this period for one more year. Part-time doctoral students will have five years from their admission to the presentation of the thesis, and the Academic Committee may authorize an extension for two more years. Exceptionally, an additional year of extension can be added.

    PhD candidates may request a change in dedication (full-time / part-time) as well as the temporary withdrawal for justified reasons of the Academic Committee. They can cause a definitive withdrawal and see their file closed in these cases: if the available time to deposit the thesis is exceeded or if they receive two consecutive negative evaluations of the research plan.

    These processes are explained in detail on our website (info) and the doctoral students are told how to proceed in cases of temporary withdrawal (info).

    Academic Calendar

    The academic year is governed by the deadlines established in the specific Doctoral School´s academic calendar.

    This calendar sets the periods of request for entry, admission to the programs, enrollment at the University of Zaragoza, as well as how the students must present every year the research plan and the activities document, deadlines for defending doctoral theses, etc.

    The Doctoral School website publishes the calendar of the current course as well as the two previous courses (info).

    Learning Resources

    1) Geology Laboratories of the Department of Earth Sciences.
    Specialized laboratories are available for the various research tasks and activities of the Doctorate: Geochemistry and Petrography laboratories; Optical Microscopy; fossil restoration and preparation; Geophysical Prospecting;  Crystallography and Mineralogy; Magnetic Fabrics, among others.

    2) Research Support Services (SAI) of the University of Zaragoza.
    The following SAI facilities are frequently used in Geology: Materials Electron Microscopy Service; Microscopic Photography Service; Digital Image Treatment Service; Geographical-Historical Sciences Service; Rock and Hard Materials Preparation Service; Scientific Instrumentation Service; Physical Measurements Area (Magnetic, Thermal, Electrical); Precision Mechanics Service; Cryogenic liquids service.

    3) Library and Documentation Service of the University of Zaragoza. The university libraries have easy access and offer a wide range of services such as the loan of books, access to collections on paper and in electronic format, spaces with computers and spaces for individual and group work. In particular, the
    Geology Library facilitate access to the main documentary resources, bibliographic databases and scientific publications related to the Geology doctoral program.

    4) Third Cycle Section. It is the unit of the University of Zaragoza in charge of giving technical and administrative support to the university community linked to doctoral studies.

    5) International Relations Section. Through the international student reception offices, the International Relations Service promotes mobility, welcomes international PhD students and facilitates their integration into the University. International PhD students are provided with support and information about the city, accommodation, Spanish and other language courses, medical care, aid and scholarships, etc.

    6) Professional guidance service at the University of Zaragoza, Universa. Students of the program have at their disposal the service provided by Universa (, made up of professional counselors who are experts in Human Resources. Universa provides personalized information on job search, company selection tests and the preparation of CVs and cover letters.