Public defence

Before the public defence

Before a public defence, many questions normally arise. This webpage will hopefully give you answers to some of your main questions.

Approved times for public defences

Check that the planned period for the public defence is within the dates established and approved by the university for when a public defence may take place. A public defence must occur during the regular academic term.

  • For the autumn semester the following dates are approved: 20 August - 22 December
  • For the spring semester the following dates are approved:  January 10 - the Thursday before midsummer.

Notification of the public defence

The Research education committee / KFU decides (from a proposal) on the time and place of the defence. The doctoral student together with the supervisor fills in the form Registration for doctoral thesis. Notification of a defence contains proposals for the date, examining committee, external examiner, and chair of the public defence. Decisions in regards to the public defence should preferably be made no later than three months before the preliminary date for defence.


At the same time as you traditionally notify the public of the date of the defence via “spikning” or nailing your doctoral thesis with a hammer and nail to a post in the University Library, it must also be published digitally in DiVA.

Press releases on doctoral thesis results

The Communications Office sends out press releases about doctoral thesis results to the media nearly every month. Many of the university's press releases result in articles in newspapers and making features on radio and television about our research.

Public defence in hybrid form

Given the experiences learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic, the university has made it possible for the public defence to continue to take place in a hybrid form. Opponents and grading members can, if there are special reasons, participate via a link, while the doctoral student and the chair of the public defense must be physically present at the campus.

It is also possible to send the dissertation via a webinar so that the public can take part in the public defense digitally.

Actors in public defence

The following main actors are involved in the public defence

  • Examining committee: Usually three in number. The majority of the members of the grading committee must come from another higher education institution. Each member must be an associate professor or professor. They determine the outcome of the defence.
  • External examiner: A prominent researcher in a relevant subject area who discusses the doctoral thesis with the doctoral student and asks questions about the doctoral thesis.
  • Chair of the public defence: Should be an associate professor or professor. The chair should not be the same person who has supervised the doctoral student or is a member of the examining committee. The chair leads the public defence through the various steps.
  • Doctoral student: Defends their doctoral thesis at the public defence, often called the respondent in the context.

General proceedings of a public defence

  1. The chair of the public defence welcomes everyone, presents the doctoral student, the external examiner and the members of the examining committee. The chair presents any relevant information about where the research was carried out and about others involved. Furthermore, the chair presents the time table and process for the public defence.
  2. The chair hands over the floor to the doctoral student with a request to present any error list.
  3. The doctoral student presents a summary of the doctoral thesis and its scientific contribution. Alternatively, the external examiner can present the doctoral thesis and its place in relation to the existing research within the subject area. In that case, the doctoral student must be given the opportunity to comment on the external examiner’s view of the doctoral thesis.
  4. The external examiner discusses the doctoral thesis with the doctoral student by asking questions that enable the doctoral student to show their knowledge and ability to discuss the results. During this part of the public defence, the audience may not participate in the discussion.
  5. The chair gives the members of the examining committee the opportunity to ask questions of the doctoral student.
  6. The chair gives the audience the opportunity to ask questions of the doctoral student and comment on the doctoral thesis.
  7. The chair declares the public defence completed.
  8. The examining committee meets and then announces its decision as soon as possible.

The whole event normally takes about 2-3 hours.