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Trial lecture, public defence of the thesis, and doctoral conferment

After the evaluation committee and INN University have found the doctoral thesis worthy of defence, the PhD candidate will face two doctoral examinations: trial lecture and public defence of the thesis (disputas). At INN University, these are normally held on the same day, usually one to two months after the committee has issued a recommendation.

INN University aims to ensure that the time and place of the public defence are announced well in advance, together with information on how the thesis has been published. Therefore, once you have received the announcement of the doctoral examinations, you must complete the Dissemination of PhD Thesis – Popular Scientific Summary to be submitted to INN University within one week.

Dissemination of PhD Thesis – Popular Scientific Summary 

Trial lecture for the PhD degree

The trial lecture and public defence of the thesis are an important part of the highest academic knowledge ritual, and the course of the day and procedures are of a formal nature. The trial lecture is an independent part of the doctoral examination. The trial lecture must revolve a pre-assigned topic that is determined by the evaluation committee. The assigned topic is announced to the candidate 10 working days before the lecture. The trial lecture should last 45 minutes. You need to decide if you want to use the entire duration of the lecture yourself or if you prefer to allow questions in the last five minutes. The person conducting the trial lecture should be notified of what you decide. You should create a schedule within the time frame – and practice adhering to it. The purpose is to test your ability to acquire knowledge beyond the topic of your thesis and your ability to convey research-based knowledge, aimed at the target group of advanced students within the discipline (at least one-year background).

The trial lecture will be assessed by the evaluation committee and must be passed before the public defence of the thesis can be held. The assessment of the trial lecture will emphasize both the formal aspects of the trial lecture, the academic content, and your ability to convey the content.

Disputas – the public defence of the doctoral thesis

Once the trial lecture is held and approved, the doctoral student must publically defend their thesis in a “disputes”. The public defence is conducted in the language in which the thesis is written, unless otherwise agreed. The Rector, or a party appointed by the Rector, leads the public defence. It is expected that the doctoral candidate and the committee are formally dressed.

During the public defence, two of the committee members will act as opponents. The committee decides regarding the distribution of the tasks. Persons who wish to oppose ex auditorio must notify of this to the chair of the public defence during the defence.

In your preparation for the public defence, you should carefully review the recommendation of the evaluation committee, and discuss with your supervisor other topics that the opponents may wish to follow up in the public defence. Your public defence should be attentive and active, and you should demonstrate the ability to reflect on critical remarks. You should contribute to ensuring a positive atmosphere during the public defence, and carry out your defence as clearly and accurately as possible.

Standard course of a public defence:

  • The chair of the public defence, the PhD candidate and the committee go into the disputas room in procession.
  • The chair opens the ceremony and assigns the PhD candidate and the committee to their seats.
  • The first opponent or the PhD candidate briefly presents the research focus and the main research question in the thesis. This is detailed in procedures set by the relevant faculty.
  • The first opponent relays her/his opposition and the candidate provides her/his defence.
  • Break (The remaining people who wish to comment ex auditorio must sign up for this during the break.)
  • Procession into the room in the same order as above.
  • The second opponent relays her/his opposition and the candidate provides her/his defence.
  • Opponents ex auditorio are given the opportunity to comment.
  • In a short closing speech, the doctoral candidate expresses her/his gratitude for having the opportunity to partake in the doctoral examination, and thanks the committee for the work it has done.
  • The chair concludes the public defence.
  • The PhD programme holds a reception in honour of the PhD candidate and the public defence.
  • The evaluation committee arrives at the reception and issues an opinion on whether the defence should be approved. The recommendation shall be justified if the public defence is not approved.

After the public defence, the evaluation committee sends a report to INN University, explaining its consideration of the public defence of the thesis. The report shall conclude with whether the thesis is approved/rejected. INN University shall process the decision. If the public defence is not approved, a new public defence may be scheduled within shortly after. As far as possible, a new public defence shall be assessed by the original evaluation committee.

Practical information

  • You should dress in formal attire for your public defence.
  • Normally, INN University arranges a lunch for the candidate, the evaluation committee, the chair of the public defence and the supervisors between the trial lecture and the public defence.
  • The public defence is a public event. You are encouraged to invite friends and family.
  • Your supervisors have no formal role during the public defence, but you are encouraged to invite them as listeners.
  • After the public defence you may choose to arrange a doctoral dinner.

Doctoral dinner

If you choose to end the day of your public defence with a doctoral dinner, the following tips may be useful.

Who should be invited for dinner and what roles do they have?

The doctoral dinner is your event. It is you who invite the chair of the public defence, committee members and supervisor for dinner. In addition, it is natural to invite colleagues and people who have helped you in the work towards your thesis.

There are no fixed rules for seating, but it is common for you and those accompanying you, the members of the evaluation committee, the chair of the public defence, and the main supervisor to be seated together.

It is common for the chair of the public defence, the third member of the evaluation committee, and the supervisor to hold speeches. The toastmaster must be informed that the head of the chair of the public defence is the first speaker during the doctoral dinner. Moreover, it is traditional for you to hold a speech, in which you thank the institution, the committee, the academic community, family, etc.

Can you get any of the cost of dinner covered?

You cover all expenses for the doctoral dinner yourself. There is a possibility to deduct a certain amount for your doctoral dinner from your tax return, see the Norwegian Tax Administration's website on Deduction for PhD expenses. The prerequisite for tax exemption is that the doctoral dinner is an official event with the aforementioned participants.

If you do not wish to arrange a formal doctoral dinner, you should inform the PhD administration so that the chair of the public defence, committee members, and supervisors are prepared for this.

Doctoral conferment

Upon the completion of the doctoral examinations INN University confers the Doctor of Philosophy degree as well as awards a diploma to the PhD candidate. The diploma shall also provide information about the academic training programme the PhD candidate has participated in, and the names of supervisors. INN University determines which additional information will be included in the diploma.

A separate ceremony will be held annually, where candidates who have had their thesis approved and have passed their public defence will receive their diploma from INN University.