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It takes four years of full-time studies to obtain a doctoral degree. However, in practice, it takes longer, as doctoral students tend to participate in other work such as teaching. The research programme culminates in the submission of a doctoral thesis. A doctoral thesis at a Swedish university must be defended in public in the presence of an expert in the field from another university, known as the opponent. The opponent is officially appointed by the Faculty Board. The Faculty Board also appoints a chairman of the public defence and an examining board (usually three people). The examining board evaluates the thesis and the candidate's defence of the thesis. Based on their evaluation, the Board assigns a grade of “Pass" or “Fail". The thesis defence is a formal event for which the procedure is explained below.
The doctoral thesis may be presented either as a monograph or as a compilation thesis.
A distinguished researcher, who is a specialist in the relevant field, is selected to oppose the doctoral thesis at the public defence.
The candidate is the author of the doctoral thesis. During the defence the candidate (in Swedish “respondent") may be addressed either by his or her first name, or more formally as Mr. X, Ms. X.
The chairman of the public defence
The chairman of the public defence is often a professor or associate professor from the candidate's department
The examination board
The examination board is appointed by the Faculty Board, and consists of three to five members, normally three. At least one board member must be from another university. The grade for the thesis is to be decided by the board.
The audience will include the candidate's friends, relatives, and colleagues, and can be addressed simply as “Ladies and Gentlemen".
It is very rare for a Swedish thesis to be rejected after the formal defence. The content of the thesis has already been reviewed internally and also externally. However, if as opponent you find that the thesis is not of the standard required for a PhD degree, please contact the supervisor or examiner well in advance so that the public defence can be called off.
The entire act usually takes approximately 2–3 hours.
The public defence may be held in Swedish or English. The language is determined primarily with regard to the candidate, opponent and the members of the examination board, and secondly with regard to the expected audience.