From submission to defence at HF - PhD

Norsk versjon: Fra innlevering til disputas ved HF

This page is aimed at PhD-candidates at the Faculty of Humanities that have submitted their doctoral work.

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The assessment committee's work

Once you have submitted your thesis, the Faculty will appoint an assessment committee based on a suggestion by the Department. Within one week of being notified of the composition of the committee, you may submit written comments to the composition. The Faculty sends the thesis to the committee and sets a deadline of approx. three months for them to evaluate the thesis. The committee’s job is to evaluate the thesis against the requirements of the PhD-regulations. The Guidelines for the assessment of Norwegian doctoral degrees may also aid the committees in their work.

One of the first order of business for the committee is to suggest a date for the thesis defence. This is done prior to evaluating the thesis and the date is therefore no guarantee that the thesis will be approved. You will be notified of the suggested date as soon as it is ready. The Faculty takes care of the venue etc. Please let us know if you have any special needs in this context.

The committee can make the following recommendations:

  • The thesis is worthy of public defence
  • Minor revisions
  • Not worthy of defence

The Faculty makes the final decision on whether the thesis is worthy of being defended for the doctoral degree, but the Faculty will generally follow the committee’s recommendations. If the committee’s decision is non-unanimous, the Faculty will usually follow the majority decision. For more information about the Faculty’s options, see Section 16 of the PhD-regulations. As the candidate, you may submit written comments to the committee’s report within 10 working days of receiving the report.

If the committee and the Faculty allows minor revisions of the thesis, you will be given a deadline normally not exceeding three months to revise the thesis in accordance with the recommendations. The thesis must be resubmitted by the deadline and the evaluation completed by the same committee. This counts as one assessment in total. The committee should not recommend minor revisions if it finds that extensive changes related to the theory, problem area, material or methods are needed in order to deem the thesis worthy of a public defence.

If the Faculty decides that the thesis is not worthy of public defence, you will still be given the opportunity to resubmit the thesis after a waiting period of six months. The decision letter will specify when you are allowed to hand in a revised thesis. A PhD thesis may only be reassessed once. If your thesis is found not worthy a second time, you will not be able to resubmit the work for the doctoral degree again.

Errata list

Once you have submitted your thesis, the only change you are allowed to make is correcting formal errors. If you wish to correct formal errors, you must prepare a complete list of the errors in question and submit the list before the work is made public. Correction of formal errors may only take place once.

Printing your thesis

Shortly after receiving confirmation from the Faculty that your thesis approved for defence, you will get information on how to proceed with printing your thesis.

The Faculty of Humanities generally uses NTNU Grafisk senter for printing doctoral theses. You can send in your manuscript using their ordering system. Use the same cost center and analysis number as when you had the thesis printed for the committee (cost center 62010502, project number 999998888). NB! These numbers are only for candidates at the Faculty of Humanities. The Faculty covers the expenses for 50 copies of the thesis, you will receive three of copies yourself and approx. 28 will be made available to the public. If you want more copies, you will have to cover the expense yourself.

After submitting your thesis for print, you will be sent a trial copy of the thesis for approval. It is important that you give feedback to the printers on this as soon as possible.

Remember to order an ISBN number before sending the thesis to the print shop.

Submission of summary

The final thesis must include a summary of the doctoral work in both Norwegian and English. The summary should also be sent to and will be used in the announcement of the public defense.

The Day of the Defence

The room will generally be booked from the start of the workday, if you wish to test the equipment, look at the facilities etc. Please contact the Faculty for assistance. Both the trial lecture and the defence is open to the public.

Trial lecture

The trial lecture is an independent part of the assessment for the PhD degree. The committee specifies the topic for the trial lecture and undertakes the assessment. You will be notified of the title of the trial lecture 10 working days before it is scheduled to take place. The trial lecture is intended to demonstrate that you are able to acquire and impart knowledge beyond the topic of the thesis. The trial lecture should be conveyed in such a way that students at master's level can benefit from it.

The trial lecture itself usually takes place at the same day and place as the defence itself. The lecture should last for 45 minutes and starts at 10.15 a.m. You should be there at least five minutes before it begins.

After the trial lecture, the committee will retire to assess the lecture. The trial lecture must be approved before the defence commences.

Doctoral lunch

The Faculty invites you to a lunch at 11.30 a.m., between the trial lecture and the defence. You may bring two guests to the lunch. Your supervisors, the Heads of the Department and the PhD-programme, the chair of the defence and the assessment committee are also invited. The Faculty will generally not cover travel expenses for co-supervisors.


The defence itself starts at 12.30 p.m. with a total time frame of 3 h 10 min. You should be at the auditorium no later than five minutes before the defence commences.

The defence begins with a presentation of your doctoral work. You will given up to 20 min to explain the purpose and findings of the doctoral work. This is followed by the opposition.

The first opponent has up to 90 min at their disposal.

After the first opponent, there is a 20 min break. If anyone from the audience wish to participate in the discussion (ex auditioro), they must notify the chair of the defence during this break.

After the break, up to one hour is available for the second opponent.

The opponents are generally quite free in how they carry out the opposition, both in what parts of the thesis they choose to emphasize and how they distribute the questions between themselves. The opponents should critically discuss central aspects of the thesis, the research questions raised, its methodological, empirical and theoretical sources, documentation and form of presentation. The opposition itself should take the form of an academic discussion between you and the opponent. It is normal to be nervous, but most doctoral candidates have good memories of their defence. It is a rare opportunity to discuss in detail the project that you have been working on for years.

Once the opposition is over and any ex auditorio contributions completed, the chair of the defence concludes the defence and hands out flowers. The formal approval comes in the form of a decision letter and certificate from the Faculty shortly after.

Doctoral dinner

Most people want to celebrate the defence with a doctoral dinner. This is a private event so it is completely up to you whether to have a doctoral dinner at all, and where and how it takes place. If you have a doctoral dinner, it is customary to invite the chair of the defence, your supervisors, the assessment committee and the Head of the Department. You can get tax deductions for some of the expenses related to the doctoral dinner.

Electronic publishing

As a PhD, you can make your dissertation openly available through NTNU Open. NTNU Open is NTNU’s archive and publishing service for scientific publications.

Doctoral Awards Ceremony

Some time after the defence, you will be invited to the Doctoral Awards Ceremony where you receive your diploma from the Rector at NTNU. The Doctoral Awards Ceremony generally takes place twice a year. The ceremony in the spring are for the doctors who completed their degree last autumn and the ceremony in the autumn are for those who completed their degree that spring. If you are unable to participate, you will receive the diploma by mail. It is therefore important that the Faculty has your current address.