The public defence

Please note: Temporary routines apply as a result of the spread of the new corona virus.

Read about the temporary routines here

Doctoral theses are to be defended in public and preferably in English, although Swedish is also allowed.


The chairperson opens the public defence by introducing the respondent (you), the thesis, the opponent and the members of the Examination Board. The respondent is then given the opportunity to add any last minute changes or corrections, after which either the respondent or the opponent are required to give a brief presentation of the subject field and thesis. It is common nowadays for the opponent to introduce the subject and for the respondent to present a concise summary of the thesis and its most important results.


The opponent now initiates a discussion with the respondent, after which the chairperson will invite the members of the Examination Board to question the respondent before opening the floor to the audience to ask questions and discuss the thesis further.

There is no time limit to a public defence, but if it takes longer than expected the chairperson may call for a recess. Proceedings may not be concluded until all questions and discussion points from the opponent, Examination Board and the public have been exhausted.

The Examination Board’s decision

After the public defence the Examination Board convenes to decide the grade to be awarded (pass or fail). The decision is taken by majority vote. The defence chairperson, supervisor(s) and opponent may be present during the first part of the meeting to discuss the respondent’s performance with the board. The second part of the meeting is held by the members of the Examination Board only, at which time the grade and any necessary explanatory statement are decided upon, and the transcript completed and signed. The transcript is then submitted by the principal supervisor to the departmental administrator.


If the opponent is unable to attend the public defence, the Examination Board may assume his/her role. If an Examination Board member is unable to attend, the chairperson must contact the Dissertation Committee administrator at the University Administration.

The Public Defence chairperson

The chairperson is to ensure that all members of the Examination Board and the opponent have confirmed their intention to attend the public defence and that any travel plans that they are required to make are reasonable so as to avoid the risk of cancellation. Once the chairperson has made sure that the opponent and members of the Examination Board are present when the public defence is due to begin, he or she leads proceedings.

The Dissertation Committee

Questions about the public defence application