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PhD ceremony

Your PhD studies culminate in a ceremony. The thesis defence is the most important part of the ceremony, and your supervisor or co-supervisor also delivers a eulogy about your work. Find out about the PhD ceremony and what is expected of you as a PhD candidate.

PhD protocol and online PhD ceremonies

The PhD ceremony follows a fixed protocol: the thesis is defended, the beadle announces ‘hora est!’, the committee deliberates and the eulogy is given. There are set formulae for some of these elements, which you can find in the PhD protocol (Dutch only). 

As a result of the coronavirus restrictions, most PhD ceremonies currently take place online or in a hybrid form. The Protocol for online PhD ceremonies outlines the procedures for these ceremonies.

Laymen's talk

Under normal circumstances, the ceremony may be preceded by a general introduction, in which you explain the most important findings of your thesis to your family and friends.

If you wish to give such an introductory talk, you need to reserve a room in the Academy Building at least one month before the date of your PhD ceremony. You can do this by sending an email to the Office of the Beadle. 

The lay talk starts 60 minutes before the promotion and lasts a maximum of 30 minutes.

It is not compulsory to give a laymen's talk. You can also include a short popular-scientific summary of your dissertation with the invitation. This summary will be scientifically justified, but is not part of the dissertation.

The defence: an academic debate

Pivotal to the PhD ceremony is an academic debate on the content of your thesis, between you and as many as possible of the members of the examining committee. To ensure there is the opportunity for debate, the following rules apply:

  • The members of the examining committee should not express at length their appreciation of the work that led to the thesis.
  • The members of the examining committee should not summarise the thesis (or parts of it).
  • The members of the examining committee should be succinct and pose clear questions. Any introduction to questions should be as brief as possible and should not be read aloud.
  • The members of the examining must restrict themselves to one question, unless the Rector or acting Rector allows them to pose a second one.

Language of the debate

The opposition and defence at Leiden University are conducted in Dutch, unless the PhD candidate does not speak this language. If a member of the opposition committee does not speak Dutch, he or she can present his or her opposition in another language. The formula spoken to award the doctorate is always in Dutch.

Examining committee 

Those members of the examining committee who do not come from Leiden may present their opposition first. They are also given somewhat more time to conduct their opposition than the committee members from the candidate’s own faculty or the University. Via the beadle, you as candidate are required to provide the Rector and acting Rector and secretary of the committee with a list of all members of the opposition committee. Indicate on the list the place of work of members of the opposition committee who do not come from Leiden, as well as who will give the eulogy.

Forms of address during the ceremony

The following forms of address are used during the PhD ceremony:

Candidate

Geachte kandidaat

Rector / Acting Rector

Geachte Rector Magnificus

Supervisor

hooggeschatte promotor

Co-supervisor

zeergeleerde opponens

Member of the committee who is a professor

hooggeleerde opponens

Member of the committee who is not a professor:

 

but does have a PhD

zeergeleerde opponens

and does not have a PhD

weledelgeleerde opponens

 

Eulogy (maximum of three minutes)

The eulogy is given by the supervisor or co-supervisor. If your supervisor is a professor who is not from Leiden University, he or she is the obvious choice to give the eulogy, but the formula spoken to award the PhD must be delivered by a supervisor from Leiden University.

The eulogy provides an evaluation of the thesis and if desired of your academic skills as well. It may also include a brief personal note. Further personal aspects should be expressed on another occasion.

The eulogy may not take more than three minutes. If the Rector or acting Rector believes that it is going to exceed the allotted time, he or she can indicate – if necessary by expressing the University’s formal congratulations – that the allocated time has elapsed.

Reception

As long as coronavirus restrictions apply, you may not hold a reception after your defence ceremony. As and when circumstances allow, you can contact the party catering service at the General Services Department for information.

 

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