Defence of doctoral and licentiate thesis

Approaching your defence of doctoral and licentiate thesis? Here you will find useful information guiding you through the process, from printing your thesis to finally applying for your degree certificate.

When is it time to start planning for the defence?

When the supervisor and doctoral student assesses that the dissertation has come so far that a time for the defence can be determined, the examiner is informed. The published articles and any manuscripts that will be included in the dissertation, as well as a possible summary will be handed to the examiner. If the defence is a monograph, the manuscript is handed over.

When planning your defence there are a few deadlines you must keep in order for your preferred defence date to be approved.

  1. No later than twelve weeks before the defence you must contact the faculty office by e-mail to the address to make a preliminary booking of the time and date for your defence.
  2. As soon as your date and time is confirmed by the faculty office you must send in the formal application for public defence of thesis. You must send this to the Registrar at no later than eight weeks before the suggested date.

Please note that if you are planning your public defences in September and the first week of October each year you need to consider summer vacation in the planning stage. This means that you must book these defence dates no later than the first half of June in order to get approval for your preferred defence date.

Doctoral thesis

A doctoral thesis can be designed as a coherent scientific work, a so-called monograph, or as a compilation thesis. A compilation thesis is the most common option within the Faculty of Science and Technology and usually consists of 3-5 scientific publications and summary report. In the summary report the main results are to be analyzed, discussed and summarized. Even new results that are not part of any of the publications included, but which are relevant to the thesis, can be included in the summary report. It is then essential that these results are presented in such a way that they can be examined in the same way as the results published in scientific journals.


A doctoral thesis in science and technology is usually written in English, but may in exceptional cases be written in Swedish. The parliamentary investigation Mål i mun (SOU 2002:27) proposes that a summary in Swedish be compulsory if the thesis is written in another language.
The abstract which should be on the back of the notification of submission of the doctoral thesis should be written in English.

ISBN and ISSN number 
• Templates

Date for the defence

When the thesis meets the formal requirements, and an opponent has been contacted, you and the supervisor should decide the day of the defence. The time for the dissertation is presented by the doctoral student to the Faculty office no later than twelve weeks before the suggested date of defence.

When the suggested date has been approved by the Faculty office the doctoral candidate formally applies for the time and place of the dissertation on a special form. The form should be sent by e-mail to the Registrar at least eight weeks before the day of planned dissertation defence. Once the application is approved, a copy of the decision is sent to the doctoral student, the faculty office and the press communicator. A further copy of the decision is used when the dissertation is made official.

At least eight weeks prior to the approved defence date, the examiner must notify the faculty board in writing of the defence. The proposal must contain:

  • the doctoral student's name,
  • title of thesis,
  • time and place for the defence, and
  • proposals for opponent, grading committee and chairman of the dissertation. The choice of opponent and grading committee must be motivated.

It should always be stated if the supervisors or doctoral student has had any cooperation with the opponent or any of the members of the grading committee. A PDF-version of the opponent's cv is attached to the proposal. Decisions on the opponent, the examining board and the chairman of the defence are taken by the faculty dean. The proposal is sent at least eight weeks prior to the planned defence date to


The thesis' edition should be planned to be sufficient for:

• Copies to the library: 3 copies of the thesis must be submitted by the doctoral student
copy of the opponent, grading committee and the chairman of the dissertation (5-7 ex)
• Institutional copies for dissemination to other institutions/researchers with knowledge and interest in the subject area (number determined in consultation with the supervisor)
• The doctoral student's own needs (number decided in consultation with the supervisor)


It is important to plan printing well in advance before the thesis is completed. This is especially important in the spring when many people present their theses.
• Verify that all data, such as day, time and location, are included in the manuscript, as well as information about ISSN, number in series and ISBN.
• Do not forget about the notification of submission of a doctoral thesis.

• ISBN is an international standard book number that should be printed in the thesis. ISBN is ordered from the University Library (UB) by sending an inquiry to

• ISSN is an international standard serial number that should be printed on the thesis if it is part of a series.

• ISSN with number in the series, like ISBN and printing information, will be printed on the back of the thesis title sheet (first book page after the cover).


Umeå University theses are distributed in printed and electronic form. The thesis itself, in printed and electronic form, as well as information about time and place for the dissertation shall be available no later than three weeks before the dissertation.


Posting of the thesis is to be done no later than three weeks before the defence. The thesis defence should take place during term time.
At Umeå University electronic posting of doctoral theses is applied. The actual posting is when the thesis is published in the DiVA database. It is also possible to physically post the thesis at Umeå University Library in a traditional manner.

Manual for publication in the DiVA database and traditional posting

News article about the thesis

One of the university's most important tasks is to inform the public about the research conducted. An excellent way for you to contribute to this and to spread your research results is to write a news article about your thesis in collaboration with the Faculty Office's research communicator. For more information, please contact when your defence date is set!


There are many elements involved in the planning of a thesis defence. It is therefore important that the doctoral student and supervisor discuss at an early stage the various elements, book a preliminary defence date, acquire the required documents and that the supervisor contacts the appropriate opponent. Preliminary booking shall be made no later than twelve weeks prior to the suggested date.

Most departments offer a grant for the defence. This will cover printing, opponent's fees, trips and more. Costs in excess of this contribution are covered by the supervisor's research grant.

Defence with digital components

The dissertation is typically defended on-site at Umeå University campus. There is, however, a possibility to arrange the defence with digital components under the following conditions:

  • The defence itself takes place in a booked room at Umeå University. The public shall have access, and can, in addition, be offered the possibility to follow the defence on link.
  • The respondent, chairperson, and at least one of the grading committee members must be physically present in the room during the defence.
  • The opponent and the rest of the grading committee can, if they wish, take part by link, but must guarantee that they can take part during the whole defence.
  • If the opponent or any grading committee members take part through link, at least one substitute must be present during the defence in order to be able to immediately step in if there are technical issues.
  • All present in the room must be able to see and hear opponent and grading committee members that partake through link. Opponent and grading committee members partaking by link must also be able to hear questions from the auditorium.
  • Opponent and grading committee members partaking by link must be available to establish telephone contact with the defence chairperson in order to solve any potential technical issues.
  • After the defence, the grading committee must be available to conduct a separate meeting where they can ask questions to supervisor and opponent, as well as discuss amongst themselves to reach their decision.

Faculty opponent

The faculty opponent appointed should have scientific competence in the subject area of the defence. The opponent should at least hold the docent's competence.
When choosing an opponent, one should strive to have as skilled a researcher as possible, preferably within the subject area. Opponents should not be chosen from their own faculty. Proposals for opponent and grading committee (usually three persons) are provided by the examiner after consultation with the supervisor. This should be done no later than three months before the defence. Before submitting proposals for opponent, the principal supervisor must ensure that the person is able to undertake the assignment and that the booked day and time are appropriate. For appointed opponents who are not familiar with the procedure in Swedish defence, it is the responsibility of the main supervisor to provide the opponent with adequate information about the requirements and expectations that the faculty places on an opponent. It is up to the principal supervisor to ensure that the opponent receives all work that makes up the thesis as soon as possible, as well as the final thesis no later than three weeks before the defence.

Chairman of the defence

A lecturer at Umeå University is appointed as chairman, usually not the supervisor. The chairman is entitled to attend and participate in the deliberations of the grading committee but not to participate in its decision. The dean appoints the chairman. If the dean is a supervisor, the pro dean decides.

The requirements and guidelines that apply to the composition and commitment of the grading committee are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance. Proposals for the exam committee are given by the examiner after consultation with the supervisor and decided by the faculty dean.

Grading committee

The committee shall consist of three or five members.
• A conflict of interest must not exist between the respondents/supervisors and any grading committee members. For example, a member of the grading committee may not have ongoing research with or have been published with the respondent or any of the supervisors in the past five years.
• Members of the committee must be at least the equivalent of docents or professor.
• At least one committee member should come from another university/university college or equivalent.
• If the grading committee consists of 3 members, a maximum of 1 person may be from the department in which the doctoral student student has mainly been active.
• If the grading committee consists of 5 members, a maximum of 2 persons may be from the department in which the doctoral student has mainly been active.
• Principal supervisor, assistant supervisor or examiner can not be included in the grading committee.
• Both sexes should be represented in the grading committee. If this can not be met, special motivation must be submitted together with the proposal for grading committee.
• If the respondent is of the underrepresented sex, he/she should approve the submitted proposal in writing.

The grading committee's duty

The grading committee's duty is to review and assess the thesis and the defense of the thesis.

The following points shall be assessed:

– clarity in the described purpose and questions
– if adequate methods have been used
– relevance, originality and newsworthiness
– if adequate discussion and interpretation of the scientific results has been carried out

If a member has questions regarding the thesis, the doctoral student will be given the opportunity to answer these in connection with the dissertation. An active participation by the members of the grading committee in the subsequent discussion is desirable.

Defence checklist

If you follow the checklist below, you should have a very good advance:

• Email or call the faculty office to present a time for the defence (check before the appointment of the defence time that the proposed opponent, the chairman and the grading committee are available).
• Book a room (should be done well in advance, especially important at the end of the term).
• Make an agreement with a printing company.
• Fill in the request for defence and send this to the registrary office. It is important that the title of the thesis is in Swedish and English. The dean's office then receives this from the registrary and will then confirm the time for the defence and that decisions have been made.
• The names of the requested opponent, chairman and grading committee, title and background are submitted to the examiner to approve these by signing the proposal. Signed proposal is then sent to the dean's office.
• When the proposal is approved and the dean has signed the proposal, the secretary will inform the doctoral student, supervisor, examiner, administrator, DiVA and the registrar that they have made decisions regarding the dissertation.
• Book time for posting of the thesis at UB (at least three semesters before dissertation day) regardless of whether it is physical or electronic posting, please email
• Duty copy and delivery of the thesis in electronic form to the library (before posting).

The defence

The different departments within the faculty can have different variants on the actual dissertation. Usually the act starts with the chairman presenting the respondent, the title of the thesis, faculty opponent and the members of the grading board.

The chairman then gives the word to the respondent who is now able to inform about any corrections in the thesis. Then the chairman gives the word to the opponent or the respondent for presentation and summary of the thesis. How the actual dissertation act occurs can distinguish between departments.

After that, the examination of the thesis itself takes place. This may vary in terms and scope but should primarily be a dialogue between opponent and respondent. After the opponent's review, the grading committee and the auditorium shall be given an opportunity to ask questions and comment. There is no scheduled time for a defence, but usually takes place in two to three hours. The chairman concludes the dissertation.

The grading committee's meeting

The grading committee meets immediately after the defence. Opponent and supervisor have the right to attend the grading committee's meeting and participate in the deliberations, but not in the decisions. The grading committee appoints the chairman and secretary of the group. The thesis and defense are given a joint grade; approved or not approved.

The main supervisor together with the department's administrator are responsible for the drafting of the grade protocols and that the minutes after the grading committee's meeting are sent to the registrary, Umeå University, no later than one week after the defence.

Degree certificate

Doctoral studies lead to a doctorate (240 ECTS credits) in one of the various third-cycle subject areas. In some cases, a licentiate degree is awarded as a final grade towards the doctorate (licentiate degree may also be a final goal). Read more about how you apply for a diploma under Forms.

Spring Graduation

Umeå University invites all doctors who have obtained their doctorate at the university to be promoted during the Spring Graduation, but participation is voluntary. Those promoted are called promovendi. Note that the defence must have been completed by the beginning of May to ensure participation in the promotion that year. You do not need to be promoted the year you take your doctoral exam, you can also do it at a later date.

Spring graduation

The doctoral insignia of the Faculty of Science and Technology consist of a diploma, ring and laurel wreath. The diploma is printed by care of the university and handed in as a gift from the faculty. The doctor's ring of gold is made in a special Umeå model that varies with the degree designation. Only a symbolic handover of the ring takes place at the ceremony. The laurel wreath is ordered by the promotion office to all those who sign up for the promotion.


Frankie Ekerholm