Defence – University of Copenhagen


PhD defence

You must inform the Graduate School about the date and time of the defence at least three weeks before it takes place.

Inform the Graduate School

Planning the defence

If the assessment committee’s recommendation is positive, the principal supervisor and the PhD student can begin planning the defence. Together, you are responsible for:

  • booking the venue for the defence (does not need to be at UCPH)
  • if necessary, helping the assessors make travel arrangements. However, this is in principle the assessors own obligation.

More about assessment work

The oral defence

  • The assessment committee examines the PhD student and facilitates an academic discussion based on the thesis and the presentation.
  • The defence normally takes place in English and can be a video conference if necessary. In order for the defence to be conducted in Danish, all members of the assessment committee must agree to this. In addition, it should be clarified whether anyone in the audience would prefer the defence to be held in English.
  • Overall, the defence should not take more than three hours, including any break(s). The PhD student is given up to 45 minutes to present the main findings of the PhD project. Afterwards, the assessment committee asks the PhD student questions. At the end of the defence, the audience is given the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Supervisors have no formal role during the oral defence. However, they should attend the event in order to support the PhD student and celebrate his or her achievements.

Chairing of the defence

Usually, the chair of the assessment committee moderates the defence. In certain situations, a substitute can be appointed. The substitute moderator must be appointed by the Head of Graduate School and must be a permanently employed member of academic staff at SUND with insight into the area covered by the PhD thesis, e.g. an academic staff member from  the department, the head of the graduate programme or the head of department.

PhD certificate and documentation

  • You will receive your PhD certificate approximately 1–2 months after a successful defence.
  • Shortly after the defence, you will receive an e-mail from the Graduate School confirming that the Academic Council has awarded you the PhD degree. This e-mail serves as temporary documentation.