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Guidelines for conducting the public defence

Adopted by the rector on behalf of the university board 17 January 2017.

The PhD examination and the public defence marks the end of a research education. It is also an expression of the university's role as a research institution. The university therefore places emphasis on conducting the public defence in a solemn manner. This is done through the following elements:

Choice of venue

The institute / research group books a venue which has enough room for a public audience for the trial lectures and the public defence. Flowers on the podium marks the occasion. These are given to the doctoral candidate as a greeting from the academic community. 

Dress code

Formal attire is expected by both the doctoral candidate and the members of the assessment committee. The chair of the public defence, the dean or his/her proxy, wears the dean's robe at the public defence.

Chair of the public defence

The chair of the public defence instructs the doctoral candidate and the members of the assessment committee on the procedures and their roles during the trial lecture(s) and the public defence. The chair may decide to deviate from the general procedures in special cases. In agreement with the opponents, the chair decides the timeframe for their presentations.


At the public defence, the audience should have taken a seat and rise when the doctoral candidate and the rest of the procession enter the room. The faculty determines the order of the procession. The members of the committee sit in reserved seats on the first row. The chair of the public defence takes place in front of the podium, facing the audience where the room allows for this.

If the public defence is divided into two sessions, the first session ends with a procession out of the room in reverse order compared to the opening procession, and the second session begins with a procession in the same order as the opening procession.

The chair of the public defence, in consultation with the candidate and the members of the assessment committee, decides whether to leave the room in procession at the end of the public defence.

The faculty decides whether there should be a procession at the trial lecture(s) as well.

Conducting the public defence

The chair opens the public defence with a short formal introduction of the doctoral candidate and gives a brief account of the thesis and the evaluation of the thesis and the trial lecture(s). The chair also announces at what time any opponents ex auditorio should sign up. The chair decides whether there will be a break during the public defence.

Then, the candidate explains the purpose and results of the scientific study. The faculty may decide that the first opponent shall explain this instead of the candidate.

The first opponent opens the discussion, and the candidate is given the opportunity to defend the thesis. The audience shall be given the opportunity to oppose ex auditorio. The faculty decides whether this is done before or after the second opponent. The chair may also allow for short questions from the audience and answers from the candidate.

The chair should intervene if opponents significantly exceed the timeframe or do not allow the candidate to respond, if someone uses language clearly exceeding reasonable academic traditions, or if the audience disturbs the public defence.

When the opposition is concluded, the candidate is given a short opportunity to thank the opponents for the discussion and to thank the university for being admitted to the doctoral examination. Then, the chair declares the public defence for ended, traditionally with a standard wording such as: "The Act has ended" / "This concludes the dispute ceremony" / "Disputatio peracta est" and announces that the committee's recommendation will be sent to the faculty.

The chair ensures that the members of the committee sign the necessary documents and that these, together with information on any opponents ex auditorio, are delivered to the faculty.

Celebration after the public defence

It is optional for the doctoral candidate to arrange a dinner or social gathering after the public defence, where the chair of the public defence, the members of the assessment committee, supervisor(s) as well as the head of department are invited. The candidate may also invite family and friends. If there are speeches, they are commonly held in this order: the candidate, the chair of the public defence or his/her proxy, the third member of the assessment committee and the supervisor(s).


Published July 9, 2018 1:31 PM - Last modified July 9, 2018 1:36 PM