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If the committee’s assessment of your PhD dissertation is positive, the dissertation is accepted for public defence.

The defence must take place no later than three months after submission of the PhD dissertation. The date for the defence is agreed with the assessment committee at the time it is composed.

The date of defence can be postponed if necessary due to special circumstances, for example to protect intellectual property rights.

You are responsible for booking the room and ordering catering, if applicable.

The defence is a public ceremony that can be attended by anyone, and the defence should therefore be publicly announced, just as the dissertation needs to be available to the public in reasonable time before the defence, cf. the PhD order §19 (2).

For access to the dissertation before the defence, the graduate school refers to the PhD student. In order to avoid the risk of (self-)plagiarism, please be aware, not to make your dissertation public available online (e.g. via PURE) if it includes unpublished articles and results.

Conducting the defence

The defence is chaired by the chairman of the assessment committee and the defence must be conducted in accordance with the provisions specified in the PhD order.

The course of events at the defence is as follows:

  • After a brief welcome by the chairman of the assessment committee, the PhD student gives a lecture of 35-45 minutes on the topic of the dissertation.
  • The other members of the assessment committee then examines the student. The subsequent examination must comprise an in-depth discussion and critical analysis of selected parts of the dissertation and the lecture. This part of the defence usually lasts approximately one hour.
  • The audience is then invited to participate in the discussion of the dissertation and can ask the PhD student questions
  • When no more questions arise, the assessment committee deliberates in private and thereafter announces its recommendation on the dissertation and the defence.

Final recommendation and award of the PhD degree

Immediately after the defence, the assessment committee makes a recommendation to the Academic Council as to whether the PhD degree should be awarded.

The PhD degree is awarded if the assessment committee finds that the PhD education and the defence have been completed in a satisfactory manner, cf. §3 of the PhD Order. The recommendation must include an overall assessment of both the dissertation and the defence.

On the basis of the final recommendation, one of the following decisions can be made:

  • All three members agree on a positive recommendation. The recommendation is forwarded by the chairman to the graduate school, which then requests the Academic Council to make the final decision on award of the PhD degree.
  • Two of three members agree on a positive recommendation. The recommendation is forwarded by the chairman to the graduate school, which then requests the Academic Council to make the final decision on award of the PhD degree.
  • Two or three members agree on negative assessment. The recommendation is submitted to the graduate school which informs the author. Before then, the Head of the Graduate School will determine whether the dissertation may qualify for assessment by a new committee. 

The graduate school forwards the final decision to the author together with the PhD diplomas.

Online defence

If you choose to conduct your PhD defence partly online, we recommend you use Zoom. If you are more comfortable using one of the other AU-supported platforms, you are of course welcome to do so.

Digital platforms

Aarhus University has licenses for the following platforms and can provide IT-support if needed.

within meeting
Notes, chat,
ZoomxxxxxZoom login
for Business
xxxxSkype login
Microsoft TeamsxxxxTeams login

Please read the guides and FAQ’s carefully (links in table).

If you have any questions regarding functionality and setup of the system, please contact your local IT-support for technical support.

If you plan to conduct your PhD defence at AUH please be aware, that Health IT-support has limited access to provide technical support. In this case, we recommend that you contact the local IT-support at AUH.

The defence must be publicly available - the press release

All PhD defences must be publicly available. If you conduct your defence online, please make sure to include a link to the defence in the press release, or add a name and e-mail address on a person who can send interested parties a link for the defence.