The public defence of a doctoral thesis
The following are present at the public defence: the opponent, the PhD student (here called the respondent), the members of the examination board (at least three), the chairman for the public defence and the supervisors. The public defence is open to the general public.
There are no detailed regulations about the procedure for the opposition and defence of the thesis. At the Faculty of Educational Sciences, the following procedure is normally adopted. There may however be minor deviations.
- The chairman, appointed by the faculty, opens the public defence and greets the audience. He or she introduces the respondent, the title of the thesis, the opponent and the members of the examination board and describes the procedure of the defence.
- The chairman ends the introduction by informing the audience that they will have the opportunity to ask questions after the opponent's review.
- The respondent then takes the floor and can report any formal errors in the thesis. He or she may do this by distributing a list of errata or other corrections.
- The opponent then normally gives a summary of the thesis with a description of the scientific relevance, methods and results. The purpose of this summary is to make sure that the opponent and respondent are agreed on the structure and results of the thesis and to give the respondent a chance to comment on and supplement the summary.
- After the respondent has had the chance to comment on the summary, the opponent often gives a general opinion of the thesis and indicates what parts he or she will discuss.
- Then there is a discussion, with the opponent offering questions and views on the content of the thesis and the student orally defending it in relation to these questions.
- The members of the examination board and the audience then have the opportunity to ask the respondent questions and/or comment on the thesis.
The whole act normally takes about 2-3 hours.
The examination board normally meets directly after the public defence. The opponent may be present at this meeting but may not take part in the decision. The main supervisor should be present at this meeting but may not take part in the decision. The meeting results in a report where the grade pass or fail is given. The content of the thesis and its public defence should be taken into account the grade is set. The examination board then announces its decision.
A thesis written by two or more persons jointly may be accepted as a doctoral thesis if the individual efforts of the authors can be distinguished.
Last updated: 2011-04-19