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 for a vacant PhD position or make direct contact with a professor or Associate professor with ius promovendi and who is in your preferred field to discuss your research plans and to ask whether he or she is 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 will include a check on whether you meet the educational requirements and whether a supervisor is available.
What happens after an open application?
- Once you have reached an agreement as a potential PhD candidate with your intended supervisor, you will hear from the professor or Associate professor with ius promovendi whether he or she is prepared to act as your supervisor.
- You should determine whether you meet the statutory educational requirements. If not, you can ask the Dean for an exemption (using form A, see article 3: Admission to the PhD programme).
- When you have received confirmation from your intended supervisor that you have been accepted as a PhD candidate, you should ask the Dean (in Converis [PhD admission]) to appoint the professor or Associate professor with ius promovendi as your supervisor and also to appoint a second or co-supervisor.
Admission Graduate School
Once the Dean has appointed the supervisor and co-supervisor, you should ask the Graduate School for admission (using the relevant form and submitting the documents requested).
When the Dean receives the request to appoint a professor or Associate professor with ius promovendi as supervisor, the Dean will verify whether the PhD candidate meets the educational requirements. If the candidate does meet the requirements, or if the candidate does not meet the requirements but has been exempted from this requirement by the Dean, the Dean will appoint as supervisor (in Converis) the professor or Associate professor with ius promovendi who has expressed willingness to act as supervisor.
To ensure that the doctoral candidate has more than one supervisor, the Dean, on behalf of the Doctorate Board, will appoint a second supervisor or co-supervisor, possibly but not necessarily from the faculty, in addition to the supervisor referred to in Paragraph 2. In exceptional cases, the Doctorate Board will appoint a third supervisor on the recommendation of the Dean.
Regardless of the division of tasks between the supervisors, each of them bears responsibility for the PhD dissertation as a whole. If an Associate professor with ius promovendi is the supervisor for a PhD track, a second supervisor must be appointed who is a professor.
Once the supervisor and co-supervisor are appointed, the PhD candidate must be admitted to the Graduate School of the relevant faculty. The request for admission will be made in line with the procedures of the faculty concerned.
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 (co)supervisor(s) and PhD candidate and a written report of these consultations.
The (co)supervisor(s), having discussed this plan with the PhD candidate, determine how to distribute the various tasks among themselves. This division of tasks is set out in writing.
The request to appoint a co-supervisor can be submitted to the Dean at any stage of the PhD trajectory.
The PhD candidate submits the manuscript of the dissertation either in its entirety or in sections to the supervisor(s) and co-supervisor(s) in order to ascertain whether it meets the requirements applicable for a dissertation to qualify as a basis for obtaining a doctoral degree. The PhD candidate implements the changes to the manuscript agreed with the supervisor(s) and co-supervisor(s) and submits the entire manuscript to the supervisor(s) and co-supervisor(s) for approval.
If the supervisor(s) and co-supervisor(s) are of the opinion that 1) the manuscript meets the relevant requirements (including requirements regarding scientific integrity) and 2) may serve as a proof of competence in independently conducting research, they approve the manuscript. Within six weeks of the date on which the manuscript was submitted to the supervisor(s) and co-supervisor(s), they inform the PhD candidate of their decision whether or not they approve the manuscript as a dissertation. The Dean and the Doctorate Board are then informed of this decision.
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 dissertation, they request the Dean to appoint a Doctorate Committee, having first ascertained that the parties involved are willing to be members of this committee. Supervisors and co-supervisors are excluded from membership of the Doctorate Committee.
The supervisor also informs the PhD candidate whether in their opinion the propositions submitted meet the relevant criteria. If this is the case, the supervisor sends the text of the propositions and his assessment of them to the Dean.
No later than three weeks after receiving the decision of the supervisor to approve the manuscript as a dissertation, the Dean appoints the Doctorate Committee at the request of the supervisor and nominates one of its members as secretary.
The secretary will receive from the PhD candidate sufficient copies or a digital version of the manuscript for distribution among the members of the committee. The secretary will then provide copies of the dissertation to the committee members, requesting them to confirm within six weeks whether the doctoral candidate has, by means of the dissertation, provided such proof of competence in the independent practice of science that he or she can be admitted to the PhD defence.
Within six weeks of receiving the dissertation, the Doctorate Committee informs the secretary in writing whether the dissertation provides sufficient proof of the PhD candidate’s competence in independently conducting research to be allowed to defend it. If necessary, the Doctorate Committee may convene to discuss the matter. The supervisor and co-supervisor attend this meeting.
The secretary of the Doctorate Committee sees that the PhD candidate is informed immediately in writing of the committee’s decision whether or not to allow the PhD candidate to defend the dissertation. A copy of this form is also sent to the supervisor, the Dean and the Doctorate Board.
As soon as possible after receiving a copy of the decision of the Doctorate Committee that the PhD candidate may be allowed to defend the dissertation, the Dean ascertains whether the PhD candidate can be granted admission to the defence. They immediately inform the PhD candidate, the supervisor, the beadle and the Doctorate Board of the findings (appendix C).
A slightly different procedure applies for admission to the defence for a 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 24.2 of the PhD regulations). The Dean informs the PhD candidate of this provisional admission and forwards a copy of the form to the supervisor and the Doctorate Board.
The PhD candidate registers for the defence of his or her dissertation with the beadle using appendix F. The PhD candidate is only allowed to duplicate the dissertation once the Doctorate Committee has decided that the PhD candidate is allowed to defend it and the Dean has ascertained that the PhD candidate can be granted admission to the defence (see above).
The PhD candidate is only allowed to duplicate the front and back matter of the dissertation and the propositions once the Dean has given permission to do so. The formatting of the title page and the back cover of the dissertation must be approved by the beadle.
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 above). The wishes of the PhD candidate regarding the date and time are taken into account as far as possible. The beadle informs the PhD candidate in good time that the title page and the back cover of the dissertation have been approved.
No later than three weeks before the date of the defence, the PhD candidate delivers
- 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,
- and as many copies as required to the Examining Committee, as well as
- four copies of the dissertation 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 the institutional repository (IR) of the University.
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. In order to do so, the PhD candidate is required to sign the standard licence contract (appendix B) established by the Executive Board.
Make sure you submit a short public summary of your dissertation (via an online form) at least four weeks before the date of the PhD ceremony. We will then include the summary in the announcement about your PhD ceremony on the university website. We will also decide whether we want to publicise the results of your PhD research among a wider audience, for example by posting a press release on the website and/or by alerting journalists. This depends on the newsworthiness of the research. Of course, we always do this in consultation with you.
The supervisor submits a written proposal to the Dean regarding the composition of the Examining Committee. Neither the supervisor nor the co-supervisor may be a member of the Examining Committee. The Rector and the Dean (or appointed substitutes) act respectively as chairman and secretary.
The Dean determines the composition of the Examining Committee and informs the PhD candidate, the supervisor and the beadle of this.
The PhD candidate defends the dissertation in public in the presence of the Examining Committee. Neither the supervisor nor the co-supervisor may be a member of the Examining Committee, but they may take part in the opposition debate.
Following the oral defence, the Examining Committee retires for deliberation. The supervisor and/or co-supervisor attend(s) this deliberation and put(s) forward a proposal regarding the award of the doctoral degree but may not vote in the subsequent deliberation regarding this decision. If the Examining Committee decides to award the doctoral degree, the supervisor is authorised by the Rector to award this degree.
The rules relating to the award of a doctorate ‘cum laude’ are set out in article 31 of the PhD regulations. The procedure is described in the ‘Cum laude’ regulations (appendix D).