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Information for the chair of the defence

This is a practical guide for those chairing a public defence. The guide is based on the Regulations for the degree of PhD at UiO and traditions at the Faculty of Law.

Your role

As the chair of a public defence, you will lead both the trial lecture and the public defence, and will represent the faculty. Prior to the trial lecture and public defence, you will be sent information and a script that you will read before the trial lecture and public defence begin. The candidate’s thesis will also be sent to you.

Both the trial lecture and public defence will follow a set format.

Trial lecture

You will open the trial lecture by notifying those present that this forms part of the doctoral examination, and announce the title of the lecture. The purpose of the trial lecture is for the candidate to demonstrate their ability to give a clear and pedagogical presentation of a research topic using technical aids.

You will inform the audience that the candidate has 45 minutes at their disposal.

Public defence

A public defence is a public event that profiles the university externally. It is therefore important that it is carried out in way that enables those present to understand the main points of the discussion.


The parties enter the public defence in the following order:

  • chair of public defence

  • candidate

  • head of committee

  • 2nd opponent

  • 1st opponent

  • professors

You will give a brief account of the submission and adjudication of the thesis, and for the trial lecture and its assessment. The public defence aims to show the candidate’s ability to convey knowledge and should therefore be of a high pedagogical level.

The PhD candidate will then explain the purpose of and the results of the scientific investigation. The faculty may decide that the first ordinary opponent gives an account of this instead of the candidate. The introduction will be given in a form that those present are expected to understand.

The first opponent then has between 90 and 105 minutes and the second opponent has around 60 minutes to question the candidate. There will be a 30-minute break between the opponents. During this break, the faculty will invite the adjudication committee, the doctoral candidate and his/her guests to lunch. The faculty will notify the audience of when the public defence will continue after the break, and escort the candidate and guests to the lunch.

You should intervene if the opponents exceed the time limit significantly or do not give the doctoral candidate the opportunity to be heard, or if the language used clearly exceeds reasonable academic decorum or if the audience is causing a disturbance.

Before you declare the public defence closed, the candidate should have the final word. The candidate should conclude with a few sentences thanking the opponents for their contribution and the faculty for the opportunity to present themselves for the doctoral examination.

After the public defence

When the public defence is concluded, you will lead the participants out in the reverse order in which they arrived:

  • chair of public defence

  • 1st opponent

  • 2nd opponent

  • head of committee

  • candidate

You will send the faculty the forms signed by the committee as approval of the trial lecture and public defence.

Public defence dinner

Candidates often host a dinner following the public defence, both to celebrate and to thank the committee and supervisors for their work. This is reflected in the speeches.

After a welcome to the dinner, the first speech is given by the candidate, who thanks the University of Oslo, the adjudication committee and the supervisors.

The next speech is given by you, the chair of the public defence. You welcome the candidate as a doctor to the faculty, and congratulate them on successful completion of their doctoral degree. You should also thank the adjudication committee for their efforts on behalf of the university.

You can use the remainder of this relatively formal and ceremonious speech to talk about the value of the research, or any important views of the faculty that are appropriate, or other topics of strategical significance.

The next speeches are normally given by the head of the committee and the supervisor(s).

Published Apr. 22, 2015 8:22 AM - Last modified Dec. 9, 2017 12:27 PM