The doctoral candidate defends the thesis at the University in public on the day set by the faculty. The school’s Managing Director and the respective Head of Faculty organise the practical matters of the doctoral defence; decide upon a date and time and make sure that the defence is publicised.
The Head of Faculty chairs the doctoral defence. If someone who is not a nominated opponent wishes to speak at a doctoral defence about the candidate’s thesis; he must inform the Head of Faculty 24 hours prior to the doctoral defence. The Head of Faculty informs the doctoral candidate as soon as a decision of this type is made. The Head of Faculty may allow short comments from the audience without such notice.
The doctoral defence commences with the Head of Faculty’s opening statement. Following the chair’s statement the actual defence begins with the doctoral candidate’s lecture where (s)he presents the research project, the main premises; academic and theoretical aspects; methodology; arguments and conclusions. The duration of the lecture is generally 20–30 minutes and the candidate must observe the timeframe.
Once the doctoral candidate has delivered his lecture the opponents speak according to a pre-arranged programme. The opponents evaluate how they review the research and the doctoral thesis. They can use illustrations or appropriate media in their lecture and pose questions to the doctoral candidate. The opponents are required to discuss briefly the general importance of the work, how the candidate’s research is connected to the creation of knowledge in the scientific field; evaluate the methodology and conclusions. Once the opponent has concluded her/his lecture (s)he poses questions to the doctoral candidate in such a manner that it creates learned conversations rather than lengthy monologues from the opponent followed by long answers from the doctoral candidate.
Once all lectures are delivered, all questions have been posed and answered; the Head of Faculty announces that (s)he along with the opponent will retire to discuss whether the defence be deemed valid, and whether a PhD shall be awarded. If disagreement arises the matter is appealed to the Faculty Forum.
Further description of the process in doctoral defences can be found in the University Council’s procedure policy.