Please find below an overview of the steps in the formal procedure leading to the public defence of a PhD dissertation. If the text below is not entirely consistent with the applicable regulations, the text of the regulations will apply.
Are you interested in following a PhD track? If so, you can:
- Respond to an advertisement,
- Or make direct contact with a professor or associate professor with ius promovendi in your field of choice to discuss your research plans and find out whether they are prepared to act as your PhD supervisor.
What happens once you have applied for a vacant PhD position?
When you apply for a PhD candidate position, the application process includes a check to see whether you meet the educational requirements and to establish whether a supervisor is available.
What happens after an open application?
- As soon as possible after you have reached an agreement as a potential PhD candidate with your intended supervisor, the relevant professor or associate professor with ius promovendi will let you know in writing whether they are prepared to act as your supervisor.
- You need to find out whether you meet the statutory educational requirements. If not, you can apply to the Dean for an exemption (using form A, see Article 3: Admission to the PhD programme).
- Once you have received confirmation from your intended supervisor that you have been accepted as a PhD candidate, you must request the Dean (in Converis) to appoint the relevant professor or associate professor with ius promovendi as your supervisor, and also to appoint a second or co-supervisor. If you are hired as a PhD candidate in response to a vacancy, this step does not apply.
Admission Graduate School
As soon as the Dean has appointed a supervisor and co-supervisor, you have to request admission to the Graduate School (using the relevant form and submitting the documents requested).
As soon as the Dean has received the request to appoint a professor or associate professor with ius promovendi as supervisor, they check that the PhD candidate meets the educational requirements. If the candidate meets the requirements, or if they have been exempted from the requirements, the Dean appoints as supervisor (in Converis) the professor or associate professor with ius promovendi who has expressed their willingness to act as supervisor.
To ensure that the PhD candidate has more than one supervisor and on behalf of the Doctorate Board, the Dean also appoints a second supervisor in addition to the intended supervisor referred to above, possibly but not necessarily from the Faculty. In exceptional cases and on the Dean’s recommendation, the Doctorate Board may appoint a third supervisor.
Regardless of the division of tasks between the supervisors, each of them bears responsibility for the PhD dissertation as a whole.
Within three months of being appointed as supervisor, and in consultation with the other supervisors and the PhD candidate, the supervisor draws up a training and supervision plan for the PhD candidate. This plan includes regular consultations between the supervisor and co-supervisor(s) and the PhD candidate, and a written report of these consultations. Having discussed this plan with the PhD candidate, the supervisor and co-supervisor(s) determine how to distribute the various tasks among themselves. This division of tasks is set out in writing. Note that the request to appoint a co-supervisor may be submitted to the Dean at any stage of the PhD track.
Note also that this document should also include agreements concerning the training plan as referred to in the PhD Regulations, Article 3, Paragraph 1C.
The PhD candidate submits the manuscript of their dissertation either in its entirety or in sections to the supervisor and co-supervisor(s) so they can ascertain whether it meets the requirements. The PhD candidate implements the changes to the manuscript agreed with the supervisor and co-supervisor(s), prior to submitting the entire manuscript to the supervisor and co-supervisor(s) for approval.
If the supervisor and co-supervisor(s) are of the opinion that the manuscript meets the relevant requirements (including requirements concerning scientific integrity) and that it may serve as proof of competence in conducting independent research, they grant their approval. Within six weeks of the date when the manuscript was submitted to the supervisor, the supervisor informs the PhD candidate whether the manuscript is approved as a PhD dissertation. A copy of this decision is sent to the Dean and the Doctorate Board.
As soon as possible after the manuscript has been approved, the PhD candidate submits to the supervisor:
- a minimum of four propositions that relate to the topic of the dissertation,
- a minimum of four scientific propositions that relate to the field of inquiry of the dissertation,
- and no more than four propositions on one or more topics chosen by the PhD candidate.
The maximum number of total propositions is twelve.
As soon as the supervisor has approved the manuscript as a PhD dissertation, they put together a Doctorate Committee, having first ascertained that the intended members are willing to act as members of this committee. The supervisor then asks the Dean (in Converis) to appoint the committee. The supervisor and co-supervisor(s) are excluded from membership of the Doctorate Committee.
Once the date of the PhD defence is known, the PhD candidate submits the non-scientific sections of the dissertation for approval as soon as possible.
No later than three weeks after receiving the supervisor’s decision to approve the manuscript as a PhD dissertation, the Dean appoints the Doctorate Committee at the request of the supervisor, and nominates one of the members, a Leiden University professor or associate professor with ius promovendi, as Secretary.
The Secretary receives from the PhD candidate a sufficient number of paper copies or a digital version of the manuscript for distribution among the members of the Committee. The Secretary provides the Committee members with a copy of the dissertation, with the request to confirm within six weeks whether the doctoral candidate has, with this dissertation, provided such proof of competence in conducting independent research that they may be admitted to the PhD defence. The members of the Doctorate Committee can make use of a form to do so [see new appendix to the PhD Regulations].
Within six weeks of receiving the dissertation, the Doctorate Committee informs the Secretary in writing of their decision concerning admission to the defence. If necessary, the Doctorate Committee may convene to discuss the matter. The supervisor and co-supervisor(s) do not attend this meeting and have no direct contact with the Committee members.
The Secretary of the Doctorate Committee sees to it that the Dean is informed immediately in writing of the Committee’s decision concerning the candidate’s admission to the PhD defence. A copy of this decision is sent to the supervisor and the Doctorate Board.
The supervisor informs the PhD candidate of the Doctorate Committee’s decision concerning their admission to the PhD defence.
As soon as possible after receiving a copy of the decision of the Doctorate Committee concerning the PhD candidate’s admission to the PhD defence, the Dean ascertains whether the PhD candidate may be granted admission to the defence. The Dean immediately informs the PhD candidate, their supervisor, the Beadle and the Doctorate Board of their findings, using Appendix C.
In this communication, the Dean also declares that the PhD candidate meets the requirements of Article 3 of the PhD Regulations, which requires contract and grant PhD candidates who are taken on starting from 1 January 2024 to state that they have completed a pre-agreed training plan.
A slightly different procedure applies for admission to the defence for a PhD dissertation in the Arts, namely that the Dean grants the PhD candidate admission to the defence prior to the decision of the Doctorate Committee, but subject to this decision (see Article 2.4.2 of the 2021 PhD Regulations).
The PhD candidate registers for the defence of their dissertation with the Beadle, using Appendix F. The PhD candidate is only allowed to duplicate the dissertation once the Doctorate Committee has decided and the Dean has ascertained that the PhD candidate is granted admission to the defence (see Step 13).
The PhD candidate is only allowed to duplicate the non-scientific sections of the dissertation once the Dean has given them permission to do so. The title page and the back cover of the dissertation must also be approved by the Beadle, who is required to grant this permission in timely fashion.
The Beadle sets the date and time of the defence in consultation with the supervisor, the PhD candidate, and the Dean. This date and time are not set until the Dean has established that the PhD candidate may be granted admission to the defence (see Step 13). The wishes of the PhD candidate regarding the date and time of the defence are taken into account as much as possible.
No later than four weeks before the date of the defence, the PhD candidate submits a short public summary of their dissertation via an online form. This summary is published in the agenda item concerning the PhD defence on the Leiden University website. The website editors decide whether they wish to publicise the results of the PhD research to a wider audience, for example by publishing a press release and/or bringing this to the attention of the press. This depends on the newsworthiness of the research, and can only be done in consultation with the PhD candidate.
No later than three weeks before the defence, the PhD candidate submits the following:
- Two copies of the dissertation, including separate sheets with the propositions, to the Beadle’s Office,
- A number of copies – to be determined by the Dean – to the Dean,
- As many copies as required to the Examining Committee, and
- Four copies to the University Library.
The PhD candidate also submits the dissertation to the University Library in an electronic format to be determined by the librarian so that the dissertation can be included in Scholarly Publications.
No later than three weeks before the date of the defence, the PhD candidate provides the University with a licence for non-exclusive publication of the dissertation in digital form, if necessary under a temporary embargo. To do so, the PhD candidate must sign the standard licence contract (Appendix B) established by the Executive Board.
The supervisor submits a written proposal to the Dean regarding the composition of the Examining Committee. The supervisor and co-supervisor(s) are excluded from membership of the Examining Committee. The Rector and the Dean (or appointed substitutes) act respectively as Chair and Secretary.
The Dean determines the composition of the Examining Committee.
The PhD candidate defends their dissertation in public in the presence of the Examining Committee. The supervisor and co-supervisor(s) are excluded from membership of the Examining Committee, but they may take part in the opposition debate.
The rules relating to the award of a doctorate ‘cum laude’ are set out in Article 32 of the PhD Regulations. The procedure is described in the Cum Laude Regulations (Appendix D).
Following the oral defence, the Examining Committee withdraws for deliberation. The supervisor and co-supervisor(s) attend this deliberation and put forward a proposal regarding the award of the doctoral degree, but they may not vote on this proposal. If the Examining Committee decides to award the doctoral degree, the supervisor is authorised by the Rector to award this degree.