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Defense of the Thesis

Disputation / Defense

Disputation / Defense
Image Credit: Marion Kuka

If the dissertation is recommended for acceptance, the doctoral candidate will be requested to make an appointment with the doctoral committee members. The doctoral candidate organises the defense in consultation with the chairperson of the doctoral committee.

Information on the different formats of the disputation (pure presence, hybrid, pure video format) and the requirements to be fulfilled in each case can be obtained from the doctoral office. Disputations generally take place in public, but the doctoral candidate also has the option to exclude the public so that only the doctoral candidate and the doctoral committee may attend the disputation.

Please first clarify possible appointments with the two reviewers because the two reviewers must participate at the disputation in any case. Individual members of the doctoral committee can be exchanged if no date can be found with the appointed members. Please note that the date should also be coordinated with the alternate members, as the disputation will only be valid if the doctoral committee (consisting of four university lecturers and one postdoctoral academic employee) is complete. The alternate members should also keep the date free, so that they can stand in at short notice if one of the main members should spontaneously drop out. It is advisable for each doctoral candidate to contact each member of the doctoral committee in order to enquire whether they would be interested in a copy or an PDF of the thesis.

As soon as the date, time and format of the disputation are fixed, please send an e-mail to the doctoral office to book a suitable room.

The doctoral office sends out the official invitation for defense to the doctoral candidate and to all doctoral committee members approx. 14 days before the date of the disputation and also announces the disputation on the FU's website (so far as the disputation takes place open to the public). The doctoral candidate confirms the date bindingly to all doctoral committee members in advance.

The doctoral committee meets 15 minutes before the defense to jointly evaluate the dissertation and sets the written grade. The defense begins with a lecture of approx. 30 minutes, in which the doctoral candidate presents and discusses the results of his/her thesis in the context of the field as a whole. The doctoral candidate then defends the dissertation by responding to the doctoral committee members' criticism and questions. The discussion must take at least 30 minutes but no longer than 60 minutes. The use of additionally prepared slides during the defense (following the presentation) is not permitted. Only slides that have already been used in the presentation may be used. The recording of the disputation is expressly prohibited.

When determining the grade to be awarded, the outcome of the discussion is in principal more important than priority against the presentation. But the dissertation is also taken primarily in principal into account for determining the overall grade.

You can find an overview of current defenses here.

Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) can be found here.

Read on for the next topic 'Publication of the Thesis'.