Defence and conferment ceremony

Defence proceedings
The defence is led by a chairman, who is appointed by the Head of Department or Vice Head of Department. Usually the examiner or main supervisor are appointed as chairman.

Guidelines for the public defence
The common procedure for public defences is outlined here. Please note that there are no detailed rules describing how the actual examination of the thesis and the defence should be conducted; the procedure may be modified by the head of the department or the chairman. If, however, significant changes are made in the procedure outlined here, the candidate and the opponent must be notified well in advance.

  1. The chairman welcomes those present and introduces the candidate, the opponent, and the evaluation committee. The chairman also states where the research has been conducted, who besides the candidate has contributed to it, how the work has been financially supported, etc. The chairman then explains the procedure of the public defence.
  2. The chairman turns the floor over to the candidate giving him/her the opportunity to present formal comments on the thesis, e.g. the errata sheet.
  3. The candidate briefly introduces and summarises the thesis (15 - 20 minutes). The work should be presented in such a way that it allows a scientist not specialised in the work of the candidate (but working in the same general field) to appreciate the work and the contribution of the candidate. The problems addressed and the results achieved should be stated in the contexts of their relation to other relevant work in the same field and of their importance to science and society. Please note that the presentation should deal with the thesis. It should not be a lecture on current research problems in the particular scientific field. The opponent should be given the opportunity to complement or comment the presentation.
  4. The opponent discusses the thesis with the candidate by asking questions, giving the candidate ample opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the topic and the ability to counter criticism. The questions should be precise and deal primarily with the work reported in the thesis. Thus, the discussion should be concentrated on matters such as the relevance of assumptions made, the validity of methods used, and the scientific and engineering significance of the results presented. It is also desirable, however, to place the thesis in a wider context. During the discussion the opponent should indicate satisfaction with the candidate's answers, or lack of it, and point out any section of the thesis that is particularly valuable. Also, it should be made clear when any part of the thesis or the candidate's answers may deserve criticism. This part of the defence may take one to two hours. It is concluded when the opponent declares the examination to be completed and perhaps, may choose to compliment the candidate on the work. The candidate then thanks the opponent for the review work. During this stage of the defence, the audience does not usually participate in the discussion.
  5. The chairman invites the evaluation committe to ask questions to the candidate.
  6. The chairman invites questions and comments from the audience.
  7. The chairman concludes by thanking the opponent and the candidate on behalf of the school and the university.

The whole procedure should normally take no more than two and a half hours.

Evaluation committee
Immediately after the public defence the evaluation committee meets to decide whether the candidate has passed. The opponent and the main adviser are present at the meeting of the evaluation committee in order to provide additional information and opinions about the thesis and the defence. However, they do not have a formal part in the final decision.

Grades
Only a Pass or Fail grade is awarded for a PhD thesis. When the grade is awarded, consideration is given to both the content and the defence of the thesis.

Doctoral conferment ceremony
Chalmers invites everyone who has obtained a PhD degree to a Doctoral conferment ceremony. The ceremony takes place in May and to receive an invitation you must have a PhD degree issued by the last of February at the latest. More information about the Doctoral conferment ceremony

Published: Tue 08 Nov 2016. Modified: Thu 25 Jan 2018