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Information for the chair of the defence

As chair of the defence you must preside over the trial lecture and public defence in a professional manner.

This is a practical guide for you as chair of the defence. The guide is based on the rules and regulations for the degree of PhD.

Your role

As chair of the defence you will preside over the trial lecture and public defence i.e. the PhD examination. As acting dean you are acting on behalf of the faculty.

Prior to the public defence you will be sent information about the defence, a text to be used during the public defence and the candidate’s thesis.

Both the trial lecture and the public defence follow a specific order.

Trial lecture

You open the trial lecture by informing the audience that the lecture is part of the PhD examination. The objective of the trial lecture is for the candidate to show his or her ability to give a clear and pedagogic presentation of a scientific topic while using technical aids.

You must inform the audience that the candidate has 45 minutes at his or her disposal.

The candidate’s lecture is followed by 15 minutes allocated to questions and comments chaired by you. You must talk with the candidate and committee about this prior to the trial lecture.

Public defence

A public defence is a public event. It is therefore important that it is conducted in a manner that makes the main points of the discussion understandable to the audience at large.

Before the public defence

Make sure all technical aids are working.

You must tell the candidate and the committee members about the procedures before you enter the hall in the following order:

  • Candidate
  • Secretary to the committee
  • 2nd opponent
  • 1st opponent
  • Chair of the defence


The public defence should show the candidate’s ability to convey information and should therefore maintain a high educational level.

The candidate starts the public defence with a presentation of his or her thesis lasting a maximum of 20 minutes. The presentation should be held in a popular scientific form.

Afterwards the 1st opponent has up to 75 minutes and the 2nd opponent has up to 60 minutes to question the candidate.

The public defence of the thesis should be a lively scientific discussion, and you should as acting dean actively encourage questions from the audience. Any questions from members of the audience should be asked after the 1st opponent’s arguments but before the 2nd opponent’s arguments.

You may also allow short comments after the 2nd opponent has concluded his or her arguments. As chair of the defence you may also ask the candidate questions.

Before you conclude the public defence the candidate must be given an opportunity to say a few words. The candidate should show his or her gratitude to the members of the opposition and the faculty for having had the opportunity to present him or herself for the PhD examination.

After the public defence

After the public defence has been concluded you leave the hall in reverse order:

  • Chair of the defence
  • 1st opponent
  • 2nd opponent
  • Secretary to the committee
  • Candidate

You must submit the attestation forms, which the evaluation committee have signed if the trial lecture and public defence are approved, to the faculty.

Doctoral dinner

The candidate often hosts a doctoral dinner after the public defence, both to celebrate and to thank the committee members and supervisors for their efforts. This should be reflected in the speech.

The first speech should be held by the candidate who thanks the University of Oslo, the evaluation committee and his or her supervisors.

The next speech should be given by you as chair of the defence. You should welcome the candidate as a doctor at the faculty, and congratulate him or her on having successfully completed the PhD. You may also account for what the faculty has contributed in the form of:

  • infrastructure
  • training
  • supervision
  • recruitment environment
  • and any other matters

On behalf of the University you should also thank the evaluation committee for their efforts.

Towards the end of this relatively formal speech you might like to take the opportunity to talk about the value of scientific research, and any other important faculty matters that you might find relevant, or any other matters of strategic importance.

The next speeches are normally given by the secretary to the committee and supervisor.


Externally appointed chairs of defence receive NOK 1 575,50 for managing a public defence including preparations.

Chairs of defence who are emeriti receive NOK 955,00 for managing a public defence including preparations.

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Published Apr. 22, 2015 8:22 AM - Last modified Sep. 26, 2018 8:53 AM