Professor putting on his gown

PhD Office

Whether you are commencing your PhD journey or reaching its culmination, the PhD Office, a division of Academic Affairs, serves as your primary point of contact. We maintain a comprehensive record of all your documentation and stand ready to assist with any organisational inquiries throughout your academic pursuit. When you are preparing for your public defence we are your initial point of contact. We offer guidance on all essential paperwork, facilitate communication with your supervisors and promoter, coordinate the logistics of the event (whether online or in-person), and provide dedicated support, allowing you to concentrate on your defence.

We are a small team of six people located at the Minderbroedersberg. You are always welcome to visit us or contact us via e-mail. Within these pages, you will find comprehensive guidance on the practical matters that need attention both before and during your doctoral research. We also provide detailed instructions on the process of preparing for your PhD defence.

  More information on PhD defence ceremonies
  Overview of upcoming PhD defences
  FAQ and Support for PhD Candidates

The PhD defence

The PhD defence is a formal occasion characterised by strict protocols dictating the roles, responsibilities, and language used by each participant. It bears a resemblance to a trial, hence the term 'PhD defence'. The ceremony begins with the gathering of the degree committee members presided over by the pro-rector. The pro-rector chairs the ceremony and ensures the protocol is followed.

The defence team comprises the candidate's supervisor and co-supervisor, both of whom have guided the candidate through the project and granted approval for an official PhD defence. Opposite them sit experts in the candidate‚Äôs field of research who assume the role of critical examiners, posing questions to assess the candidate's preparedness for a PhD.

The structure of the ceremony unfolds as follows: The candidate delivers a 15-minute presentation, followed by a 45-minute period during which the opposition questions the candidate. Subsequently, the degree committee members adjourn for a confidential evaluation of the defence.

Please consult the Model Letters on the Support for PhD Candidates page for more information on how to apply for you defence.

Upcoming PhD defences

More information

Below you will find additional information such as frequently asked questions and practical information.