How Switzerland got rich

UZH International Summer Schools 30 June - 19 July 2019


Course Description

This Summer School looks at the development of Switzerland into one of the richest and most globalized countries in the world.

During the three weeks of the program, you will:

  • find out how some Swiss companies evolved into big transnational corporations and how they manage to export Swiss-made goods under the condition of a strong currency, the Swiss Franc.
  • find out how Switzerland, a landlocked country in the mountains, managed to establish itself as a wealthy nation state.
  • learn about the humble beginnings of Medieval guilds, the origins of the banking system as well as the associational way of state-building in a world of monarchies.
  • hear about early globalizers and industrializers, who pioneered hydropower, textiles and heavy machinery.
  • study the Swiss labor movement, from class struggle to social partnership and welfare state.
  • find out how various Swiss industries, for instance food, finance or watch-making, continue to be successful globally.

The course director Prof. Dr. Patrick Ziltener will introduce you to the state of research and scholarly debate on “how Switzerland got rich”. You will evaluate this topic from a sociological, historical, economical, and political point of view.

As part of the program, you will have the opportunity to travel to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other scenic locations in Switzerland, including La Chaux-de-Fonds and Lucerne. You will also discover the country's political roots and its main economic sectors when visiting the capital city of Bern, as well as Nestlé, the largest food company in the world.

The program is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Patrick Ziltener, Institute of Sociology UZH, with distinguished guest speakers from other UZH departments (history, economics, anthropology).

Participating in this Summer School will not only allow you to get to know the University of Zurich but also to experience Zurich as one of the world's most attractive student cities. As part of our social program, we will introduce you to some of the most beautiful spots in the city and the region and provide you with plenty of opportunities to socialize and make friends. 


Hosting Institute: Institute of Sociology, UZH

Course Director: Prof. Dr. Patrick Ziltener

Language of Instruction: English

Credits: 6 ECTS

Target audience: 2nd or 3rd year Bachelor students and Master students

Entry Requirements and Application Process

Entry Requirements

  • Master students or good Bachelor students who have completed their first year of study are encouraged to apply. This course is open to students from all subject areas.
  • Applicants must possess a sufficient command of English (broadly CEFR B2 or equivalent) to be able to actively contribute to classes. This needs to be visible from your motivation letter, previous studies or work experience.

Application Process

Applications are now open.

  1. Compete the Online Application Form and send your documents (PDF, 80 KB) to
  2. We will carefully check your documents and let you know within 4 weeks whether or not we can make you an offer.
  3. Once you have received your offer letter, you will need to accept your place by replying by email and pay your application fee (CHF 200) within 2 weeks to secure your spot on the program.
  4. You will need to pay the full tuition fee (as outlined in your offer letter) no later than 20 May 2019 to successfully enroll in the program. 
  5. Once we have received full payment, we will send you a letter confirming your successful registration and, if necessary, your visa invitation letter.

Application Deadline: 23 April 2019
Application Fee: CHF 200 
Tuition Fee Deadline: 20 May 2019


UZH International Summer Schools 2019 Regulations (PDF, 101 KB)

UZH Students please note that it is possible to register for this summer program directly via the regular module booking tool. Additional information on the course can be found in the course catalogue. You can register for the course by sending an email to (please mention your student ID number). The number of UZH participants is restricted. Depending on your subject area, the transfer of credit has to be approved by the responsible UZH department.
Participation in the UZH International Summer School is free of charge for UZH students. In return we expect some organizational support in running the summer school. A briefing for UZH students will take place on 16 May 2019, 12:15 - 14:00. Invitations will be sent out a few weeks ahead.

Fees and Discounts

The regular fee for this summer school is: CHF 2,000.

This includes:

  • Tuition and Application Fee
  • Final Certificate and Transcript of Records
  • Academic Trips to Lucerne, Bern, La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Nestlé museum in Vevey and more
  • Various social events including a welcome dinner, a lakeside picnic, a trip to Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls and an optional day hike to the Uetliberg

Not included: Costs for room and board.


Students from UZH partner universities, particularly Strategic Partners and U21 network partners, may qualify for a tuition fee discount. Once we have received your application, we will notify you of any potential discounts available to you.  

Schedule and Classes

The preliminary program includes:

  • Around 20 hours of classroom teaching per week
  • Full day study trip to Lucerne, Altdorf and Schwyz
  • Full day study trip to Bern (World Heritage Site) and the Nestlé museum in Vevey, where you will also have the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular view of the vineyard terraces of the Lavaux winegrowing region (World Heritage Site)
  • Full day study trip to La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle (World Heritage Site)
  • Study tours through Zurich
  • Various social events including a welcome dinner, a lakeside picnic, a trip to Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls and an optional day hike to the Uetliberg

Note: The program may be subject to change.

Practical Information


Accommodation in Zurich has to be organized by the participants themselves. If you struggle to find a suitable place to stay, the International Relations Office can provide some support. Depending on the desired degree of comfort, you should expect accommodation costs to range from about CHF 1,500 to approx. CHF 2,000 for the 3 weeks of the Summer School.

Here is a list of low-cost options for temporary living arrangements in Zurich:
Youth Hostel
City Backpacker
Oldtown Hostel Otter
Ibis Budget Hotel
Airbnb Zurich
Advertisements for Student Apartments (website only in German)

Visa Requirements

Depending on your nationality, you may be required to apply for a visa to enter Switzerland. Please make sure you fulfill the visa provisions that apply for your country before traveling to Switzerland.

EU / EFTA Nationals: EU and EFTA nationals may directly enter Switzerland with a valid travel document that is recognized by the Swiss authorities. 

Non-EU / Non-EFTA Nationals: Citizens of non-EU and non-EFTA countries require a visa to enter Switzerland. Please note that some non-EU / non-EFTA nationals do not need a visa if their stay is less than 90 days.

Overview of visa provisions according to nationality
List of Swiss embassies and consulates of Switzerland

Note: Please keep in mind that you will receive the official letter confirming your successful registration for this program only after having paid the full tuition fee. If you require this document for visa purposes, please make sure to plan enough time between the payment and your entry to Switzerland.


Arriving in Zurich

Zurich can easily be reached by train, plane, bus or car. The Zurich Tourism website has all the relevant information on how to reach the city.

Arriving in Zurich (Zurich Tourism)

Arriving at Zurich Airport: Zurich has a very well connected international airport. If you arrive at Zurich Airport, you can take a direct train or tram to the city center. Trains depart from the airport train station on the lower level, the tram and bus stops are located outside check-in area 3.

From Zurich Airport to Downtown (Zurich Tourism)