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Leiden University introduces lay talk for PhD ceremonies

5 March 2024

As an academic, it is important that you can explain your work to a general audience. And as a university it is our mission to share our knowledge and insights with society. The Doctorate Board has therefore decided to introduce the lay talk at all PhD ceremonies from 1 September. 

A lay talk means that at the beginning of their PhD ceremony, PhD candidates explain in ‘normal language’ what exactly they have spent the past few years researching and why. This makes the rest of the ceremony more accessible to non-specialists in the audience, such as family and friends or professionals from outside academia. The examining committee does not attend the lay talk, nor does the talk count towards the assessment.

Practical information

The lay talk is mandatory, takes ten minutes and can be in Dutch or English. You can also use PowerPoint. Detailed instructions will be announced in April and added to the guidelines for PhD ceremonies from the Beadle’s Office and graduate schools.

At present PhD ceremonies are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. With the introduction of the lay talk, the time assigned per ceremony will increase from 60 to 75 minutes. To maintain the same capacity for PhD ceremonies, the Beadle’s Office will facilitate PhD ceremonies on Friday mornings too from 1 September.

‘A lay talk makes the ceremony more accessible’

Want to find out more about how the lay talk in Leiden came about? Read the interview with PhD candidates Lucia Grijpink and Max van Haastrecht, who submitted the idea to the Beadle’s Office and Doctorate Board at the end of last year.

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