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Faculty of Social Sciences

Submission, assessment and public defence

This document provides an overview of the routines and procedures from the point when the doctoral thesis is submitted and until the University’s doctoral award ceremony.

The following guidelines are intended for the doctoral candidate, the department, the faculty, the evaluation committee and the leader of the public defence. It pertains to the evaluation and public defence of the PhD and Dr.Philos. degrees.  

The doctoral candidate

Prior to submission

The training component must be completed and approved before scheduled submission. As you approach the last stages of working on your thesis, you must inform your department of the forthcoming submission. This will help your department in finding an evaluation committee in due time.

While working with the Dissertation, we recommend that you to look into the advice concerning format. It can be well worth making decisions early in the writing process.

The dissertation cannot be submitted for assessment at any other institution

Printing copies for the evaluation committee

When you are ready to submit your dissertation, order first a pdf-file in the Faculty format and 4 physical copies for evaluation. Go to Printing and public availability to make the order for Committee. Fill out this remark in the form before you complete the order: "I need a single pdf file of the thesis for digital submission". Once you have placed your order, you will receive an confirmation from Skipnes with your order. Forward the email to the order manager at your Department (PhD candidates). Use the pdf file of the thesis when you apply for submission with the faculty form. You may have to wait a few hours for the pdf-file from Skipnes.

See UiB's template for doctoral dissertations if you are in doubt about the design.

Apply for assessment, PhD candidates

When the order of standard pdf file is done, you may apply for submission by using the form Application for assessment of PhD theses at Faculty of Social Sciences.

Please be aware that the following has to be uploaded in the application:  

  • Pdf file of the thesis (the version you received from Skipnes)
  • Thesis’ abstract in a separate file. The abstract shall normally be of 1-3 pages and written in English. Please note that the abstract must also be included in the thesis itself
  • If the doctoral thesis contains joint work, a declaration from the co-authors that identifies the effort of the doctoral candidate must be enclosed. The declaration(s) must be signed by the co-author(s). The declaration(s) must be written in the language of the thesis. Use the form for Statement of co-authorship
  • Documentation of necessary permits, such as ethical clarifications etc.

The doctoral candidate will be informed about the members of the doctoral evaluation committee through a copy of the letter of appointment to the committee members. The doctoral candidate will receive a copy of their evaluation report as soon as it is submitted, and the doctoral candidate is allowed to present comments to the evaluation report within a deadline duly specified. 

Apply for assessment, Dr.Philos.

When the order of standard pdf file is done, you may apply for assessment of a Dr.Philos thesis by using the form Application for submission of doctoral dissertation, Dr.Philos.

The following attachements must be included in the application:

  • Pdf file of the thesis (the version you received from Skipnes)
  • Thesis’ abstract in a separate file. The abstract shall normally be of 1-3 pages and written in English. Please note that the abstract must also be included in the thesis itself
  • A substantiated application in which s/he applies to defend the thesis for the Dr.Philos.-degree for non-nordic citizens 
  • Documentation of the applicant’s academic education
  • A signed declaration in case of co-author(s)
  • Documentation of necessary permits, such as ethical clarifications etc.
  • A declaration that the thesis or parts thereof is neither currently being evaluated nor has ever been submitted for evaluation towards a doctoral degree at any other academic institution in Norway or abroad

The doctoral candidate will be informed about the members of the doctoral evaluation committee through a copy of the letter of appointment to the committee members. The doctoral candidate will receive a copy of their evaluation report as soon as it is submitted, and the doctoral candidate is allowed to present comments to the evaluation report within a deadline duly specified.

Printing copies for the public defence

Should the thesis be found worthy of public defence, the following points pertain:

Go to Printing and public availability. Here you can place an online order, upload your thesis and find detailed advice regarding the printing process.

Physical defence:

You must order minimum 28 copies of the thesis from Skipnes. 20 copies will be sent to your department and will be made available during the public defence. 8 copies will be sent to the university library and the national library. On the library the thesis will be made accessible to the general public. The thesis must be publicly accessible no later than two weeks ahead of the public defence for the PhD degree, and no later than four weeks ahead of the public defence for the Dr.Philos. degree. For more information, please see "Production and printing" under Thesis

Digital defence:

You must order minimum 8 copies of the thesis from Skipnes. The copies will be sent to the university library and the national library. On the library the thesis will be made accessible to the general public. The thesis must be publicly accessible no later than two weeks ahead of the public defence for the PhD degree, and no later than four weeks ahead of the public defence for the Dr.Philos. degree. For more information, please see "Production and printing" under Thesis

Press release

In Avhandlingsportalen you submit your press release to the University webpage over new doctorates. Please note that the press release must be written in Norwegian. Ask for help from colleagues or your supervisor with the translation if you’re not fluent in Norwegian.

You need to send a draft of the press release, written according to certain specific criteria to the Faculty, no later than three weeks ahead of the public defence. Detailed information regarding deadlines, photo to accompany the press release and submission of the thesis will be sent directly to you in cases of thesis approved for public defence.

A successful submission in Avhandlingsportalen presupposes the following:

  • A press release in Norwegian that has been approved by your Faculty.
  • A short and catchy title capturing the essence of the thesis.
  • Personal information (short).
  • Your contact information (e-mail and voluntary phone number).
  • A picture for the press release, with information about the photographer.
  • Time and place for the public defence.
  • Title, time and place for the trial lecture (not obligatory).

The form also submits data to the calendar entry to uib.no on your defence and trial lecture.

Trial lecture

The title of the trial lecture on the assigned topic and the brief written reason for the choice of topic will be sent to the doctoral candidate ten working days prior to the trial lecture. Candidates for Dr.Philos. will submit the title of their chosen topic of their trial lecture to the faculty one month ahead of the public defence.

The auditorium support service must be notified well in advance, on telephone number 55 58 91 87, should the candidate wish to make use of computer, video projector or other means of technical equipment during the trial lecture or the public defence.

The hosting of a doctoral dinner following the public defence is entirely a private matter. However, should the doctoral candidate wish to do so it is customary to invite the members of the evaluation committee, the supervisor(s), the leader of the public defence and the head of the department.

The department

The department will suggest the members of the evaluation committee to the faculty for appointment. The requirements for the composition of the committee can be found in the Regulations’ Section 11.2. Unless special conditions apply, the committee should be appointed no later than one month after the candidate has submitted the thesis.

The following information about each committee member must be supplied:
- name
- position
- academic degree
- institutional affiliation
- e-mail address

It is the responsibility of the department to ensure that the premises for the trial lecture and public defence are tidy and in presentable order, and that lighting and technical equipment will be in working order. Please contact the auditorium support service well in advance (telephone 55 58 91 87). Furthermore, it is the department’s responsibility to decorate the auditorium, to ensure that the purple tablecloth will be placed on the podium table, and that drinking water and glasses will be available to the opponents and the doctoral candidate. The tablecloth and a sign to place at the pavement in front of Ulrike Phils Building can be found in the office of the faculty administration. The faculty administration also has a key available for storing of luggage and valuables in a designated room at Ulrike Phils Building. Moreover, it is the department’s responsibility that (at least) twenty copies of the doctoral thesis will be available for browsing during the public defence.

The department will make arrangements for a joint lunch for the committee, the doctoral candidate, the supervisor(s) and the leader of the public defence on the day of the public defence.

It is the responsibility of the department to arrange hotel accommodation for the committee members for the public defence, and to certify their travel expense forms. The appropriately filled in and certified forms must be sent to the faculty. The faculty will order the amount to be paid out.

It is the department’s responsibility to make tax arrangements for committee members based abroad and to arrange for their fees to be paid out. Forms for this purpose will be attached to the letter of appointment from the faculty, for return to the department. No fees will be awarded to the internal committee members. The fee rates can be found in the letter of appointment of which the department will receive a copy. The committee members will receive the appropriate fees even if the thesis should not be found worthy of public defence. In such an event, the basic fee applies. The appropriately filled in and certified form must be sent to the faculty.

The faculty 

The evaluation committee will be appointed by the Dean no later than one month after the thesis has been submitted if possible. The faculty administration will send the letter of appointment to the committee members enclosed with the thesis and Guidelines for evaluation for the PhD degree at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The faculty shall provide for the public defence to be held within five months after submission.

It is the responsibility of the faculty to book the auditorium in which the trial lecture and public defence will be held as soon as the leader of the evaluation committee has determined the dates and times, and when the leader of the public defence has been appointed.

These dates will be confirmed through e-mail to the members of the committee, the doctoral candidate, the department in question, the department’s financial officer, and to the head of the public defence.

The faculty will forward the committee’s evaluation report upon receipt to the doctoral candidate for possible comments. A copy of the evaluation report will be sent to the doctoral candidate when all committee members have duly signed.

The committee’s evaluation will be handled by the Dean if the conclusion is unanimous positive or if the committee recommends smaller revisions. In the event that the conclusion of the evaluation is not unanimous, or should the committee not find the thesis worthy of public defence, the matter must be handled by the Faculty Board. 

The faculty issues the manuscript for the leader of the public defence and the letter of approval of the trial lecture and the public defence for the committee members to sign. The faculty will forward the signed letters of approval to the University Board recommending that the doctoral degree be conferred upon the candidate in question.

The faculty buys a gift which the leader of the public defence will present to the candidate on behalf of the faculty, either during the doctoral dinner or at the close of the public defence.

The faculty issues the Doctoral Diploma that will be awarded during the University’s Doctoral Award Ceremony.

The leader of the public defence

The public defence will be headed by the Dean, Deputy Dean or whoever has been delegated such authority. It is the responsibility of the leader of the public defence to ensure that the public defence be conducted in a worthy manner, that the letters of approval be signed by the committee’s members, and that these letters be handed to the faculty. The order of the public defence is described in the section entitled Public Defence. The robe to be worn during the public defence shall be available in the faculty office. The leader of the public defence will present a gift to the candidate on behalf of the faculty, either during the doctoral dinner or at the close of the public defence.

The evaluation committee

The evaluation committee’s mandate is to assess the thesis and issue a written reasoned recommendation to the Faculty whether they find the thesis worthy of being defended for the doctoral degree at the University of Bergen. If the thesis is worthy of being defended in a public defence, the committee must evaluate and approve the trial lecture and the public defence before the doctoral candidate is awarded the PhD degree. Part 1 of the guidelines deals with the committee's assessment of the thesis. Part 2 deals with the committee's assessment of the trial lecture and public defence. Legislation and rules the guidance is authorized in, is at the end of the guidelines.

The committee will communicate with the faculty through the leader of the committee. Practical matters such as booking of hotel accommodation, fees, etc. must be discussed directly with the doctoral candidate’s department.

The duties of the chairperson

The chairperson of the committee:

  • serves as a full member of the committee
  • coordinates the committee evaluation process and ensures that progress is made and deadlines met
  • coordinates the compilation of the committee's report on the thesis and distributes tasks among the committee members in connection with the public defence.
  • serves as a link between the committee and the faculty
  • clarifies a tentative date for public defence as early as possible and communicates this to the faculty officer
  • sends the title of the trial lecture on the assigned topic and a brief written reason for the choice of topic to the faculty contact person no later than 3 weeks before the date of the public defence.
  • is the department’s link with the external members and meet the opponents upon arrival in Bergen.

The trial lecture

Requirements

For the PhD degree, the candidate will hold one trial lecture over a given topic, while the Dr.Philos. degree requires one trial lecture to be held over a given topic and one lecture over a topic of the candidate’s choice. Each trial lecture will last 45 minutes.

The Dean or his or her appointee will preside over the trial lecture(s) and introduce the trial lecture(s) using a manuscript provided by the faculty administration, and announce the time and venue of the public defence when the trial lecture(s) have been successfully completed.

All members of the evaluation committee will be present during the trial lecture(s). Immediately following the lecture(s), the committee will decide on the approval of the lecture(s). All committee members will sign a written declaration of approval to be returned to the leader of the public defence. The trial lecture(s) must be approved prior to the public defence.

Objective and level requirements

The objective of the trial lecture is to document the doctoral candidate's ability to impart to others the knowledge gained through research. The trial lecture should last for 45 minutes and should be structured so as to be accessible to an audience with knowledge of the subject equivalent to one year of study in the academic field.

Title and written argumentation

The faculty announces the assigned topic for the trial lecture, including the written argumentation for the doctoral candidate 10 working days before the lecture. The lecture must not be a summary of the thesis and findings therein, but must represent an independent academic contribution to the field. The title of the trial lecture on the assigned topic and the brief written reason for the choice of topic is made known to the public by the Dean or his or her appointee shortly prior to the lecture is held.

Evaluation of the trial lecture

In the evaluation of the trial lecture, emphasis should be placed on both the academic content and the candidate's ability to impart knowledge. The trial lecture is part of the doctoral degree examination and must be approved prior to the public defence. If the trial lecture is not satisfactory, a second attempt at the trial lecture and public defence may be made once, and no later than 6 months after the first trial.

The public defence

Objective

The PhD candidate must give a public defence of the scientific work in the thesis. The public defence must be an academic discussion between opponents and the PhD candidate regarding the formulation of the research topic, methodical, empirical and theoretical decisions and rationale, use of concepts, as well as the documentation of sources and formal presentation. A primary objective is to test the validity of the central conclusions drawn by the candidate in his/her work. The questions that the opponents choose to pursue need not be limited to those mentioned in the committee’s report. The opponents should seek to give the discussion a form which allows those unfamiliar with the contents of the thesis or the subject area to follow the discussion.

Procedures for the public defence

The public defence will be presided over by the Dean or his or her appointee and will commence by an academic procession. The procession will be headed by the leader of the public defence, followed by the doctoral candidate, the first opponent, the second opponent and finally the third member of the committee. The leader of the public defence will enter the rostrum, while the rest take up their assigned seats.

The leader of the defence will open the proceeding. The doctoral candidate will be kindly requested to enter one platform to give his or her presentation. The leader of the defence takes his or her assigned seat and gives the floor to the candidate.

The candidate must provide an account of the purpose of his/her scientific research, explain the reason for the choice of research questions, and present an overview of the most important results/main findings in the thesis with a duration of 15 minutes.

After the doctoral candidate's introduction, the leader of the defence asks the first opponent to take his or her place at the second platform.

The first opponent positions the thesis in the field of research and gives a presentation and evaluation of the most important elements of the thesis. It is common practice to ask the doctoral candidate whether he or she would like to comment upon the presentation and evaluation as presented. The first opponent then enters into a discussion with the doctoral candidate on more specific themes and questions, in a conversation between the opponent and the candidate. The opponent will conclude the first session by thanking the candidate for the discussion. Both will remain standing until the leader of the defence has adjourned this session of the public defence, announced a break and the time for reconvening.

There will be no procession after the break, but the candidate will return to his or her place, while the committee members take their assigned seats. The leader of the defence will take his or her place at the podium table and announce the commencement of the second part of the defence proceedings. Any ex auditorio opponents will be given the floor ahead of the second opponent, to enable the second opponent to conclude the public defence.

The second opponent may directly enter into a discussion and conversation with the doctoral candidate on particular themes and questions in the content and form of the thesis. The two opponents should be in agreement with one another regarding the distribution of issues to discuss.

The second opponent will conclude the opposition by thanking the doctoral candidate for the discussion. Both will remain standing until the defence has finished.

There are no formal rules for how long time the opponents may spend on their opposition. In actual practice, this may vary considerably. As a general rule, however, the first opponent will use one to two hours, while the second opponent will take somewhat less time, approximately one to one and a half hour. It is up to the opponents’ discretion to decide the length of the opposition.

Evaluation of the public defence

All members of the evaluation committee shall be present during the public defence, and immediately decide whether the doctoral candidate’s defence may be approved and whether the committee may recommend that the candidate be awarded a doctorate. Documents for approval and recommendation shall be signed by all committee members and handed to the leader of the defence immediately after the close of the public defence. 

If a thesis is found to be worthy of public defence, this will normally lead to approval of the thesis and its defence for the doctoral degree. Should the main conclusions of the thesis prove to be untenable through factors which come to light during the course of the public defence, the committee must evaluate the public defence as unsatisfactory. This is also the case if blameworthy factors come to light during the public defence which may be crucial in the evaluation of the work, such as a breach of ethical norms in research or sound academic practice.

If the public defence is not approved, a new defence may be held once. A new defence should as far as possible be evaluated by the original committee.

It is the responsibility of the committee to decide whether or not to recommend the public defence for approval. Should new factors come to light during the course of the public defence which create uncertainty among the committee members and which cannot be resolved during the public defence, the committee should assess the possible consequences of these factors before signing the documents for approval of the public defence.

Doctoral creation and ceremony

According to the recommendation of the Faculty, the University of Bergen Board will confer the philosophiae doctor (PhD) or the doctor philosophiae (Dr.Philos.) degree upon the candidate.

The University of Bergen arranges doctoral ceremonies in the University Aula 3 times a year, in the end of January, then end of April and the end of August respectively. The Rector of the University will present a Diploma to all who have been conferred as doctors during the previous term. Family and friends may be invited to the ceremony.