Suppose I setup a simple php web server with a page that can be accessed by HTTPS. The URL has simple parameters, like
Is it true that the parameter here in this case will be safe from people sniffing the packets? And would this be true if the server does not employ any SSL certificate?
Yes your URL would be safe from sniffing; however, one hole that is easily overlooken is if your page references any third party resources such as Google Analytics, Add Content anything, your entire URL will be sent to the third party in the referer. If its really sensitive it doesn't belong in the query string.
As for your second part of the question, you can't use SSL if you don't have a certificate on the server.