Defense Day

This page will describe the actions by the student and the opponents for a thesis defense. It will also detail the schedule of a thesis defense. (Remark: typically, the opponents are recruited among the students who present their thesis.)

The required task for a defense is that the opponents have to read the thesis, which they have been assigned and prepare questions on the topic, content and results of the thesis. These questions have to be prepared before the defense day.

The student (which is defending a thesis) has to prepare a talk, which will introduce and outline the topic of the thesis, which outlines the goal of the thesis and applied methods, which summarizes the results and findings from thesis, and which gives a brief outlook on future work in area of thesis.

On the defense day, all students and opponents are expected to be on time and are required to be present at the start of the talks (no exceptions). In addition, the participants might not leave all before they accomplished all duties on that day. This rule applies in particular to the opponents.

The defense day is filled with defense presentations and discussions. In order to increase efficiency there is no break between the presentations. However, a 5min leg stretcher might be possible. So, if you are presenting paper 2 or 3, then you need to be in the room when paper 1 starts its presentation.

The defense of the thesis comprises a) of a presentation of the thesis by a talk by the student and b) of the discussion of thesis between the student, opponents, general audience and examiner. The student has to defend their work (therefore the name “defense”).

Each thesis presentation will be allocation a maximum of 20min of presentation time. It is expected that this time will be fully used by the student (not used time might have an impact on the grading; Remark: it is assumed that the content of an MSc thesis is rather complex and the description of its content is not trivial. Hence, it is assumed that the whole amount of talk time is needed by the student to explain the content of the thesis. If this talk time is not used then typically it can be assumed not all topics of the thesis or its depth/scientific contribution has sufficiently been described. Hence, it is suggested that a student doesn’t uses more but also doesn’t use less then the 20min for its presentation.).

The examiner might signal to the students when the time has or is running out. After 20min, however, the examiner might stop the presentation at any point of time without further notice. If two students defend a thesis then the speaking time should be evenly split between them. (Advise: please practice your defense, time it, and make sure that you use at least 18 minutes).

The thesis discussion consists of a discussion of the students with the opponents, the examiner and a brief discussion with the general audience. The discussion needs to critical but polite!

At least two opponents are assigned to a thesis. The discussion of them with the presenting students will take 20min. The opponents are required to provide a fair and thorough opposition. The notion “fair” means here that the opponent should ask in a polite manner and the term “thorough” stands for valid and non-trivial scientific questions.

After the opponents, the examiner will ask the students for another 5min. Following that, the general audience may ask questions for 5-10min. Finally, the students, the supervisor and the examiner step a side and the examiner gives his current view of the thesis and of the defense. However, this opinion is just an indication and doesn’t guarantee of any grade. i.e. the final grade can be either lower, higher or fail. The final grade will be known only after the thesis evaluation from the Faculty Reviewer has been received.

After the first defense, the defense will continue until all theses, scheduled for defense on that day, are defended.


Good Luck

Kurt Tutschku

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