After the dissertation defense

As stated previously, every university has a different way of handling the dissertation defense process. You put a lot of time and effort into your dissertation, you should be confident in presenting and defending it, your confidence and knowledge of the subject is the only thing you can truly control. Have your friends, colleagues, family members, or anyone available ask questions so you can prepare to answer them. Read your dissertation and write your own questions so that you can practice answering them.

The best offense, is a good defense. You should keep that in mind when determining how to speak to it. Yes, you will be presenting to a highly-credentialed committee, but they are less versed in your topic than you are. Be sure to speak in a manner that is understandable, formal, and professional, but not overtly specific to your field, or terminology that is only prevalent in your field. You are presenting an illustrious piece of research, not a pilot script for a sitcom, keep your speech focused. Easier said than done with something so important on your calendar, but you will be much better prepared if you are getting a healthy amount of sleep.

Never underestimate the power of sleep. Keep your anxiety in check, answer questions confidently, and remember that the committee is there to help you improve. There may be revisions to your dissertation after your defense, this is normal and assists in making your document the best it can possibly be.


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The hard work and time you put in will finally have amounted to you being a doctor and a contributor to your field, but use this as motivation, not a distraction. In the case of a master's degree by research the thesis is usually examined by only two examiners. Typically one of these examiners will be from within the candidate's own department; the other s will usually be from other universities and often from overseas.

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Following submission of the thesis, copies are sent by mail to examiners and then reports sent back to the institution. Similar to a master's degree by research thesis, a thesis for the research component of a master's degree by coursework is also usually examined by two examiners, one from the candidate's department and one from another university. For an Honours year, which is a fourth year in addition to the usual three-year bachelor's degree, the thesis is also examined by two examiners, though both are usually from the candidate's own department.

Honours and Master's theses sometimes require an oral defense before they are accepted.

Narrow the focus

In Germany, a thesis is usually examined with an oral examination. This applies to almost all Diplom , Magister , master's and doctoral degrees as well as to most bachelor's degrees. However, a process that allows for revisions of the thesis is usually only implemented for doctoral degrees. There are several different kinds of oral examinations used in practice. The Disputation , also called Verteidigung "defense" , is usually public at least to members of the university and is focused on the topic of the thesis.


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  • In contrast, the Rigorosum is not held in public and also encompasses fields in addition to the topic of the thesis. The Rigorosum is only common for doctoral degrees. Another term for an oral examination is Kolloquium , which generally refers to a usually public scientific discussion and is often used synonymously with Verteidigung.

    In each case, what exactly is expected differs between universities and between faculties.

    Dissertation Defense Requirements and Guidelines | Physics | Brown University

    Some universities also demand a combination of several of these forms. Like the British model, the PHD or MPhil student is required to submit their theses or dissertation for examination by two or three examiners. The first examiner is from the university concerned, the second examiner is from another local university and the third examiner is from a suitable foreign university usually from Commonwealth countries.

    The choice of examiners must be approved by the university senate. In some public universities, a PhD or MPhil candidate may also have to show a number publications in peer reviewed academic journals as part of the requirement. An oral viva is conducted after the examiners have submitted their reports to the university. The oral viva session is attended by the Oral Viva chairman, a rapporteur with a PhD qualification, the first examiner, the second examiner and sometimes the third examiner.

    Branch campuses of British, Australian and Middle East universities in Malaysia use the respective models of the home campuses to examine their PhD or MPhil candidates. In the Philippines, a thesis is followed by an oral defense. In most universities, this applies to all bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. However, the oral defense is held in once per semester usually in the middle or by the end with a presentation of revisions so-called "plenary presentation" at the end of each semester. The oral defense is typically not held in public for bachelor and master oral defenses, however a colloquium is held for doctorate degrees.

    Typical duration for the total exam is 1 hour 30 minutes for the MSc and 3 hours for the PhD. In North America, the thesis defense or oral defense is the final examination for doctoral candidates, and sometimes for master's candidates. The examining committee normally consists of the thesis committee, usually a given number of professors mainly from the student's university plus his or her primary supervisor, an external examiner someone not otherwise connected to the university , and a chair person.

    Each committee member will have been given a completed copy of the dissertation prior to the defense, and will come prepared to ask questions about the thesis itself and the subject matter. In many schools, master's thesis defenses are restricted to the examinee and the examiners, but doctoral defenses are open to the public.

    The typical format will see the candidate giving a short 20—minute presentation of his or her research, followed by one to two hours of questions. At some U. A student in Ukraine or Russia has to complete a thesis and then defend it in front of their department. Sometimes the defense meeting is made up of the learning institute's professionals and sometimes the students peers are allowed to view or join in.

    After the presentation and defense of the thesis, the final conclusion of the department should be that none of them have reservations on the content and quality of the thesis. A conclusion on the thesis has to be approved by the rector of the educational institute. The former Diploma de estudios avanzados DEA lasted two years and candidates were required to complete coursework and demonstrate their ability to research the specific topics they have studied. From on, these courses were replaced by academic Master's programmes that include specific training on epistemology, and scientific methodology.

    After its completion, students are able to enrol in a specific PhD programme programa de doctorado and begin a dissertation on a set topic for a maximum time of three years full-time and five years part-time. All students must have a full professor as an academic advisor director de tesis and a tutor, who is usually the same person. A dissertation tesis doctoral , with an average of pages, is the main requisite along with typically one previously published journal article.

    Once candidates have published their written dissertations, they will be evaluated by two external academics evaluadores externos and subsequently it is usually exhibited publicly for fifteen natural days. After its approval, candidates must defend publicly their research before a three-member committee tribunal with at least one visiting academic: chair, secretary and member presidente , secretario y vocal.

    I failed my dissertation defense. But I am not a failure.

    A typical public Thesis Defence defensa lasts 45 minutes and all attendants holding a doctoral degree are suitable to ask questions. In Hong Kong, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the thesis defense is called a viva voce Latin for "by live voice" examination viva for short. A typical viva lasts for approximately 3 hours, though there is no formal time limit. Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. Usually, one examiner is an academic from the candidate's own university department but not one of the candidate's supervisors and the other is an external examiner from a different university.

    Dissertation defense

    Increasingly, the examination may involve a third academic, the 'chair'; this person, from the candidate's institution, acts as an impartial observer with oversight of the examination process to ensure that the examination is fair. The 'chair' does not ask academic questions of the candidate. In the United Kingdom, there are only two or at most three examiners, and in many universities the examination is held in private.

    The candidate's primary supervisor is not permitted to ask or answer questions during the viva, and their presence is not necessary. However, some universities permit members of the faculty or the university to attend. At the University of Oxford, for instance, any member of the University may attend a DPhil viva the University's regulations require that details of the examination and its time and place be published formally in advance provided he or she attends in full academic dress.

    A submission of the thesis is the last formal requirement for most students after the defense. By the final deadline , the student must submit a complete copy of the thesis to the appropriate body within the accepting institution, along with the appropriate forms, bearing the signatures of the primary supervisor, the examiners, and in some cases, the head of the student's department.