Norwegian version of this page

Trial lecture and public defence

A public defence of the thesis is normally held within two months of approval of the thesis.

The trial lecture is normally held on the same day as the public defence. You will give a presentation on an assigned topic. During the public defence you will defend your thesis to an audience. You may invite friends and family to the trial lecture and public defence.

The trial lecture and public defence together form the PhD examination.

Information on trial lecture and public defence

Trial lecture for the PhD degree

After the faculty has found the thesis worthy of defence, you will hold a trial lecture. The trial lecture is an independent part of the PhD examination. The purpose is to test your ability to acquire knowledge beyond the topic of the thesis, and to convey this knowledge in a lecture. The target audience for the trial lecture can be defined as advanced students of the subject, who have studied it for at least one year. The trial lecture will be held prior to the public defence and usually the same day. It is normally held in the Helga Eng building.

The title of the trial lecture is determined by the adjudication committee and will be notified to you by the faculty’s administration 10 working days in advance. The trial lecture will take 45 minutes and is held in the language of the thesis, unless otherwise agreed. 

The chair of the trial lecture (the Dean or a representative of the Dean, such as the Head of Department or a senior researcher at the department) opens the trial lecture and introduces the candidate (you) and adjudication committee, and manages the question and discussion session that follows. The adjudication committee’s role is to determine whether you have passed the trial lecture.

Approval of the trial lecture

The trial lecture will be assessed by the adjudication committee and must be passed before the public defence can be held.

Public defence of the thesis

  • The adjudication committee that assessed your thesis will also assess the public defence, and two of the committee members will serve as the opponents.
  • The public defence will be a scholarly discussion between the opponents and candidate concerning research questions, methods, the theoretical basis, documentation and presentation.
  • You should thoroughly acquaint yourself with the adjudication committee’s recommendation when preparing for your public defence, and if necessary discuss with your supervisors other topics that the opponents may raise during the defence.
  • Your defence should be receptive and active, and you should be willing to reflect on critique you receive. You should help to create a positive atmosphere during the defence, and present your defence as clearly and precisely as possible.

Execution of the public defence

  • The public defence is chaired by the Dean or an appointed representative of the Dean.
  • The public defence normally lasts around three hours.
  • The public defence is held in the language of the thesis, unless otherwise agreed.

Order of entry to the public defence

  • The chair of the public defence, candidate and committee enter the auditorium in procession in a set order: chair of the public defence (master of ceremonies), candidate (you), followed by the first to the third opponents.
  • The audience rises and stands during the procession.
  • The chair of the public defence opens the ceremony and indicates where the parties are to sit.
  • The first opponent gives a brief summary of the research questions covered in the thesis and the main findings before initiating the discussion with the candidate.
  • After a short break, and before the second opponent takes the floor, comments are invited ex auditorio.
  • The chair of the defence concludes the public defence.
  • Finally, you extend brief thanks for being given the opportunity to take your doctoral examination, and to the committee for their work.

The adjudication committee will recommend to the faculty whether your defence should be approved. The recommendation must be substantiated if the recommendation is negative.

Practical information

  • The dress code at the public defence is informal attire/suit.
  • The department normally hosts a lunch for the candidate, adjudication committee, chair of the public defence and supervisors.
  • A public defence is a public event. You are welcome to invite friends and family. Supervisors have no formal role in the public defence, but candidates often invite them as spectators.
  • After the public defence, you may choose to organize a PhD dinner.


Published Apr. 22, 2015 8:22 AM - Last modified Mar. 17, 2022 3:13 PM