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Public defence of doctoral and licentiate thesis

The doctoral education culminates in handing in a doctoral thesis, or in some cases a licentiate thesis as a part or the end of the doctoral education.

A doctoral or licentiate thesis must be publicly defended in the presence of an expert within the field from another university, known as an opponent. The opponent is chosen (after proposal) by the Committee for Doctoral Education. The Committee also decides (after proposal) on the chairman of the public defence and the examining committee (usually three people). For licentiate seminars, the Committee appoints (after proposal) an examiner instead of the examining committee. The examining committee and the examiner asses the thesis and the doctoral student's defence of the doctoral/licentiate thesis. Based on their assessment, the thesis is either ’Passed’ or ’Failed’.

Plan a date for the licentiate seminar or dissertation

When you are planning a day for a dissertation or licentiate seminar, take a look at the calendar ”Disputation och lic.seminarium (preliminär)” which is available in the calendar function in Outlook. The purpose of the calendar is for you to be able to enter preliminary dates of upcoming dissertations and licentiate seminar to avoid a clash of time. Booking of a room must be done separately, this should be done in good time, contact your principal supervisor about this.

To add the calendar:

In the Outlook client on the computer:

  •  
  • Go to the calendar
  • Click Open Calendar
  • Select From Address Book
  • Select the Address Book ”Global Address List” or ”Global Calendars”
  • Search for the calendar by starting to enter the name ”Disputation och …”, the calendar will then appear
  • Double-click the name and
  • Click OK

In Outlook on the Web:

  •  Go to the calendar
  • Select import calendar
  • Select From directory and start typing: ”Disputation och …”
  • Select the hit that appears. If no one comes up, write disputation_och_lic_seminarium_prel@hh.se

Applying for the public defence of doctoral thesis/licentiate seminar

The Committee for Doctoral Education decides (after proposal) on the time and place for the public defence of doctoral thesis/licentiate seminar. The principal supervisor is responsible for booking a room for the public defence of doctoral thesis/licentiate seminar. The doctoral student, alongside the supervisor fills out the form Application regarding the public defence of a doctoral thesis, or the Application regarding licentiate seminar.

The application regarding the public defence of a doctoral thesis contains suggestions with regard to dates, examining committee, opponent and chairman of the public defence. This form should be submitted in at least three months prior to the preliminary date set for the public defence. The form is to be submitted during the semester. At this time, a preliminary yet assessable version of the thesis must be available.

Form Application regarding the public defence of a doctoral thesis Pdf, 250.8 kB, opens in new window.

Form Distribution list – doctoral thesis Pdf, 81.3 kB, opens in new window.

The application regarding the licentiate seminar includes suggestions with regard to the date of the licentiate seminar as well as suggestions regarding the opponent and the examiner. This form should be submitted in at least three months prior to the preliminary date set for the licentiate seminar. The form is to be submitted during the semester. At this time, a preliminary yet assessable version of the thesis must be available.

Form Application regarding licentiate seminar Pdf, 693.3 kB, opens in new window.

Form Distribution list – licentiate thesis Pdf, 104 kB, opens in new window.

Things to consider before the public defence of doctoral thesis/licentiate seminar

Around 3–4 month before the public defence/lic. seminar

  • Update the individual study plan.
  • Fill out the distribution list for the doctoral-/licentiate thesis.
  • Fill out the Application regarding the public defence of a doctoral thesis or Application regarding licentiate seminar.

3 months before the public defence/lic. seminar

  • The application regarding the public defence/lic. seminar should be submitted in at least three months before the intended date of the public defence/lic. seminar. The application must be sent during the semester to the Committee for Doctoral Education to be processed by them. Remember that the Committee for Doctoral Education needs to be sent all the relevant documentation at least one week before they meet to consider your application, which means that all the application's appendices should be finished prior to this.
  • When the application is being prepared, there must be a preliminary yet assessable version of the thesis available.

1–2 months before the public defence/licentiate seminar 

  • The Communicator at the relevant School sends a questionnaire to the doctoral student which will be the basis for a press release and an article. Read more under ’Communication’ in the previous chapter.
  • Submit the material for print, see previous chapter (please note 6 term weeks before the public defence/seminar *).

3 academic weeks* before the public defence/licentiate seminar

  • The thesis is available in print and is being distributed in accordance with the distribution list.
  • The doctoral-/licentiate thesis must be registered in DiVA (link). Through DiVA, the thesis' title sheet is generated in preparation of the notification of the date of the defence of a doctoral thesis (i.e. ’spikning’).
  • When all parts of the thesis are registered in DiVA the complete version of the introductory chapter is made available. Please note that the printed and e-published edition have different ISBNs.
  • A notification is made in the University's internal and external calendars found on the University's website. This is done by the relevant Communicator.
  • Send the answers to the questionnaire and a high resolution photo (personal portrait) to the relevant School's Communicator. Read more under ’Communication’ in the previous chapter.


* Please note that ’term weeks’ implies that the weeks between spring term and autumn term are not taken into account, as well as the period around Christmas and New Year. Therefore, please take this into consideration and contact the Communications Department in good time.

NB! Digital public defence of doctoral and licentiate thesis with regard to Covid-19

At the public defence of a doctoral thesis, the doctoral student, the chairman of the public defence, the members of the examining committee, the opponent and the supervisors can participate digitally or on campus. Other persons are directed to follow the public defence via digital channels.

  • When the Office of the Research and Education Board states that a decision has been made regarding a public defence of doctoral or licentiate thesis, the event group at the Communications department will pass this message on to the IT-department. The IT-department also receives a list of persons who will have an active role during the public defence (the doctoral student, the chairman of the public defence, the members of the examining committee, the opponent and thus supervisors). The list should contain names, e-mail addresses and role during the public defence. The list is used to communicate different issues and perform technical tests with individual participants.
  • The IT-department is responsible for all technical issues before and during the defence, including web camera and a Zoom-room with sound and view.
  • Three weeks before the defence, the IT-department will send a Zoom-link concerning the upcoming defence to the doctoral student and the event group. The doctoral student sends the link to family, friends and colleagues. The event group send the link to the School Communcations Officer in question.
  • The members of the examining committee receives, from the IT-department, a separate Zoom-link to have meetings via, in case the whole examining committee can’t be present at Campus during the defence.
  • The School Communications Officer publishes the defence in the University calendar, with a link to the defence (see above) and handles the communication in other external channels (web and social media).
  • The event group orders, if requested, coffee, water, lunch and other practicalities connected to the public defence.

Actors at the public defence of the doctoral thesis

  • Members of the examining committee: Usually three in number. At least one of the members of the examining committee has to come from another university. Each member must be either a Docent (Associate Professor) or a Professor. They award the grade of the thesis as well as the defence of it.
  • Opponent: An internationally distinguished researcher within the relevant field who discusses the thesis with the doctoral student and asks questions during the public defence of the doctoral thesis.
  • The chairman of the public defence: Should be either a Docent (Associate Professor) or a Professor. The chairman should not be the same person as the student's supervisor, nor a member of the examining committee. The chairman leads the public defence through its different stages.
  • Doctoral student: Defends his/her doctoral thesis during the public defence and is often referred to as the respondent of the thesis in the context of the public defence.

Actors at the licentiate seminar

  • Examiner: Must be a Docent (Associate Professor) or a Professor employed by Halmstad University. Is not allowed for the examiner to have supervised the doctoral student. Awards the grade of the thesis as well as the defence of it. The examiner leads the seminar through its different stages.
  • Opponent: An internationally distinguished researcher within the relevant field who discusses the thesis with the doctoral student and asks questions during the licentiate seminar.
  • Doctoral student: Defends his/her licentiate thesis during the licentiate seminar and is often referred to as the respondent of the thesis in this context.

The outline of a public defence of a doctoral thesis

  1. The chairman of the public defence welcomes everyone, presents the doctoral student, the opponent and the members of the examining committee. The chairman presents any relevant information regarding where the research has been carried out and whether any others have been involved. In addition, the chairman presents how the public defence will be organised.
  2. The chairman gives the doctoral student the floor and invites him/her to present any eventual errata.
  3. The doctoral student* presents a summary of the thesis as well as its scientific contributions during approx. 20 minutes. Alternatively, the opponent presents the thesis and compares it relatively to other research in the field. The doctoral student must then be given the opportunity to comment on the opponent's perception of the thesis.
  4. The opponent discusses the thesis with the doctoral student by asking questions which enables the doctoral student to show his or her expected knowledge and ability to discuss the results. During this part of the defence other listeners may not participate in the discussion.
  5. The chairman gives the members of the examining committee the opportunity to ask the doctoral student questions.
  6. The chairman gives all listeners the opportunity to ask questions to the candidate and comment on the thesis.
  7. The chairman formally closes the public defence.
  8. The examining committee convenes and reports its decision as soon as possible.

The entire process normally takes approximately 2–3 hours.

*For the area of Health and Lifestyle, the normal case is that the opponent presents a summary of the thesis as well as its scientific contributions.

The outline of a licentiate seminar

  1. The examiner welcomes everyone and then presents the doctoral student and the opponent. The examiner presents any relevant information regarding where the research has been carried out and whether any others have been involved. In addition, the examiner presents how the seminar will be organised.
  2. The examiner gives the doctoral student the floor and invites him/her to present any eventual errata.
  3. After presenting any eventual errata the doctoral student presents a summary of the thesis as well as its scientific contributions during approx. 30–40 minutes.
  4. The opponent discusses the thesis with the doctoral student during approximately 45–60 minutes by asking questions which enables the doctoral student to show his or her expected knowledge and ability to discuss the results. Alternatively, the opponent presents the thesis and compares it relatively to other research in the field. The doctoral student must then be given the opportunity to comment on the opponent's perception of the thesis. During this part of the seminar other listeners may not participate in the discussion.
  5. The examiner invites all listeners to ask the doctoral student questions and to comment on the thesis.

The entire process normally takes around 2 hours.

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