Trial lecture and public defence

Once your PhD thesis has been submitted and approved, you will undertake a public defence of your thesis.

What is a trial lecture?

As part of the PhD examination, you will hold a trial lecture on an assigned topic. This usually takes place on the same day as the public defence. You will be notified of the topic 10 working days before the lecture. The research adviser will notify you of the topic by e-mail.

The purpose of the trial lecture is for you to document your ability to convey research-based knowledge to a target group of advanced students of the subject (who have completed at least one year of studies). The adjudication of the trial lecture will focus on both the academic content and on your ability to convey knowledge.

The trial lecture must be given in English or Norwegian; usually in the language in which the thesis was written.

Procedure for trial lecture

The person who chairs the trial lecture (the Dean or his/her representative) will extend a welcome to the trial lecture, introduce the candidate and the adjudication committee. The adjudication committee will be present in order to determine whether you have passed the trial lecture.

You may invite friends, colleagues from your institution, and family to the trial lecture. You can ask the department who/which institutions it has notified about the trial lecture and public defence.

The trial lecture will take 45 minutes – no more, and not much less. You should endeavour to write a text that adheres to the allotted time – and practice it. The trial lecture normally begins at 10:15.

Approval of the trial lecture

You must pass both the trial lecture and the public defence before the degree and diploma can be conferred. If you hold a very poor trial lecture you risk being adjudicated as a fail. This is very unusual, but if the trial lecture is not approved, the public defence may still go ahead and a new trial lecture may be held within six months. The degree will not be conferred on you, nor will your PhD diploma be awarded until the trial lecture has been approved.

What is a public defence?

A public defence is an open event where you, the (PhD) candidate, present and defend your doctoral thesis in public to two critical opponents from the expert adjudication committee. The public defence is headed by the Dean or his/her representative. You cannot be awarded the PhD degree until you pass the trial lecture and public defence.

Feel free to invite friends and family to the public defence, but tell them about the critical role of the opponents.

Procedure for the public defence

  • The procession enters the auditorium. The candidate enters first, followed by the first opponent, the second opponent and the third member of the adjudication committee. The chair of the defence enters last. The audience rise and stand during the procession.
  • The candidate and the committee sit in designated seats at the front of the venue, while the chair of the defence takes the rostrum and gives a brief introduction.
  • The candidate and the first opponent take their places, and the first opponent presents the thesis and describes the purpose and results of the scientific study (15 minutes maximum).
  • The first ordinary opponent has a discussion with the candidate.
  • Any opponents ex auditorio (the audience) present their remarks (10 minutes max. each).
  • The second ordinary opponent has a discussion with the candidate.

The dress code is informal attire/suit.

The public defence usually begins at 12:00, and normally takes no more than 3–4 hours, including breaks.


Published Apr. 22, 2015 8:22 AM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2015 10:35 AM